Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots : The Basics

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-05-22
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
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This is the first textbook for sociological theory that is modeled after the texts routinely available for introductory sociology courses. It is concise (although it covers a lot of ground), written in a highly accessible fashion, and includes much of the pedagogy that one expects to find in an introductory text. The book stems from the need of some instructors for a short text to be used in one-semester courses in contemporary sociological theory, or sociological theory more generally. At least some students (and their instructors) have found other texts too long, too dense and too complex. This volume is not only short, but comparatively light (but not lightweight) and less technical.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction


2. Classical Grand Theories

Auguste Comte: The Law of the Three Stages

Biographical Sketch

Box: Key Concept: Positivism

Emile Durkheim: From Mechanical to Organic Solidarity

Biographical Sketch

Box: Key Concept: Social Facts

Box: A Neat Distinction: The Sacred and the Profane

Herbert Spencer: Compounding and from Militant to Industrial Society

Biographical Sketch

Box: An Unfortunate Idea: Survival-of-the-Fittest

Karl Marx: From Capitalism to Communism

Biographical Sketch

Box: A Key Concept: Dialectical Materialism

Max Weber: The Rationalization of Society

Biographical Sketch

Box: Key Concepts: The Ideal Type and the Ideal-Typical Bureaucracy

Georg Simmel: The Growing Tragedy of Culture

Biographical Sketch

Thorstein Veblen: From Industry to Business

Biographical Sketch

BOX: Key Concepts: Conspicuous Leisure and Conspicuous Consumption

3. Classical Theories of Everyday Life

Max Weber: Social Action

Box: Key Concept: Verstehen

Georg Simmel: Association

Box: Key Concept: Secrecy

George Herbert Mead: Social Behaviorism

Biographical Sketch

Other Key Ideas Associated with the Chicago School

Biographical Sketch: Charles Horton Cooley

Talcott Parsons: Action Theory

Biographical Sketch

Alfred Schutz; The Lifeworld

Biographical Sketch


4. Contemporary Theoretical Portraits of the Social World

Structural Functionalism

The Functional Theory of Stratification and Its Critics

Talcott Parsons’s Structural Functionalism

Robert Merton’s Structural Functionalism

Biographical Sketch

Conflict Theory

The Work of Ralf Dahrendorf

Niklas Luhmann’s General System Theory

Autopoietic Systems

Society and Psychic Systems


5. Contemporary Grand Theories

A Structural Functional Theory of Change: Talcott Parsons on Social Evolution

Neo-Marxian Theory

Critical Theory and the Emergence of the “Culture Industry”

Monopoly Capitalism: The Changing Nature of the

Capitalist Economy

From Fordism to Post-Fordism

Rational Choice Theory: James Coleman and the Rise of the Corporate Actor

Biographical Sketch

Micro-Macro Analysis: Norbert Elias and the Civilizing Process

Biographical Sketch

Analyzing Modernity: Jurgen Habermas and the

Colonization of the Life World

Biographical Sketch

Analyzing Modernity: Anthony Giddens’ “Juggernaut” and

Ulrich Beck’s Risk Society

Biographical Sketch: Anthony Giddens

Analyzing Modernity: George Ritzer’s “McDonaldization of Society”

Analyzing Modernity: Manuel Castells’ Informationalism and the Network Society

6. Contemporary Theories of Everyday Life

Dramaturgy (And Other Aspects of Symbolic Interaction): Erving Goffman

Biographical Sketch

Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis: Harold


Biographical Sketch

Exchange Theory: George Homans

Biographical Sketch

Rational Choice Theory: James Coleman

The Everyday World from a Feminist Perspective

Modernity, Identity and Intimacy: Anthony Giddens

7. Contemporary Integrative Theories

The Micro Foundations of Macrosociology

Autobiographical Sketch: Randall Collins

The Work of Richard Emerson and His Disciples on a More

Integrated Exchange Theory

Biographical Sketch: Richard Emerson

Toward a More Integrative Rational Choice Theory: James Coleman

Structuration Theory: Anthony Giddens

Culture and Agency: Margaret Archer

Habitus and Field: Pierre Bourdieu

Biographical Sketch: Pierre Bourdieu

Colonization of the Life-World: Jurgen Habermas

An Integrated Feminist Sociological Theory

8. Contemporary Feminist Theories

The Basic Theoretical Questions

Contemporary Feminist Grand Theories

Gender Difference

Cultural Feminism

Explanatory Theories

Existential and Phenomenological Analyses

Gender Inequality

Liberal Feminism

Biographical Sketch: Jessie Bernard

Gender Oppression

Psychoanalytic Feminism

Radical Feminism

Biographical Sketch: Dorothy E. Smith

Structural Oppression

Socialist Feminism

Intersectionality Theory

Biographical Sketch: Patricia Hill Collins

9. Postmodern Grand Theories

Toward Postmodern Grand Narratives: Daniel Bell and the

Transition from Industrial to Post-Industrial Society

Postmodern Analysis: Michel Foucault and

Increasing “Governmentality”

Biographical Sketch

From Modern to Postmodern: Zygmunt Bauman

Postmodern Analysis: Jean Baudrillard’s Rise of

Consumer Society, Loss of “Symbolic Exchange” and Increase in “Simulations”

Postmodern Analysis: The Consumer Society and the New

Means of Consumption

Biographical Sketch: George Ritzer

Feminism and Postmodern Social Theory

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