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Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots

Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots
The Basics

Sixth Edition

Other Titles in:
Social Theory

April 2022 | 488 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics, is a brief survey of sociology's major theorists and theoretical approaches, from the Classical founders to the present. The content is adapted from Ritzer/Stepnisky, Sociological Theory, and the authors connect many theorists together into chapters with broad headings (Contemporary Integrative Theories, Contemporary Theories of Everyday Life, etc.) that offer students a big-picture, synthesized view of sociological theory. Because of its size, price, and flexible organization, the text can be used in a variety of undergraduate sociological theory classes: Classical, Contemporary, or Combined.
CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Sociological Theory
Creating Sociological Theory

Defining Sociological Theory

Creating Sociological Theory: A More Realistic View

Overview of the Book


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 2 Classical Theories I
Émile Durkheim: From Mechanical to Organic Solidarity

Karl Marx: From Capitalism to Communism

Max Weber: The Rationalization of Society


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 3 Classical Theories II
Georg Simmel: The Growing Tragedy of Culture

Thorstein Veblen: Increasing Control of Business Over Industry

George Herbert Mead: Social Behaviorism

W. E. B. Du Bois: Race and Racism in Modern Society


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 4 Contemporary Grand Theories I
Structural Functionalism

Conflict Theory

General Systems Theory


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 5 Contemporary Grand Theories II
Neo-Marxian Theory

The Civilizing Process

The Colonization of the Lifeworld

The Juggernaut of Modernity


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 6 Contemporary Theories of Everyday Life
Symbolic Interactionism


Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Exchange Theory

Rational Choice Theory


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 7 Contemporary Integrative Theories
A More Integrated Exchange Theory

Structuration Theory

Culture and Agency

Habitus and Field


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 8 Contemporary Feminist Theories
The Basic Theoretical Questions

The Classical Roots

Contemporary Feminist Theories

Challenges to Feminism


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 9 Theories of Race and Colonialism
Fanon and the Colonial Subject

Postcolonial Theory

Critical Theories of Race and Racism

Racial Formation

A Systematic Theory of Race

Southern Theory and Indigenous Resurgence


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 10 Postmodern Grand Theories
The Transition From Industrial to Postindustrial Society

Increasing Governmentality (and Other Grand Theories)

Postmodernity as Modernity’s Coming of Age

The Rise of Consumer Society, Loss of Symbolic Exchange, and Increase in Simulations

The Consumer Society and the New Means of Consumption

Queer Theory: Sex and Sexuality


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 11 Globalization Theory
Major Contemporary Theorists on Globalization

Cultural Theory

Economic Theory

Political Theory


Suggested Readings

CHAPTER 12 Science, technology, and nature
Affect Theory and the New Materialism

Science Studies and Actor-Network Theory

Theories of the Anthropocene


Suggested Readings


Source Acknowledgments



Instructor Resource Site

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Key features
  • Co-author George Ritzer is a distinguished theorist in his own right and an accomplished scholar of sociological theory, known for his clear, authoritative writing on this subject.
  • The chronological organization allows for easy use of supplementary readers to enhance classroom discussion or to broaden students' understanding of theories and concepts.
  • The chapter on Contemporary Feminist Theories has been revised by two feminist scholars, Patricia Lengermann and Gillian Niebrugge.
  • “Key Concept” boxes summarize over 30 ideas that are widely used and debated in the field, from “Social Facts” to “Civil Society.”
  • “Contemporary Application” boxes examine the relevance of many classical theories to social life in today’s global society.
  • Short biographies of key theorists help readers to see their ideas in the context of personal and historical circumstances.

A new chapter (Ch. 12) examines the relationship between science, technology, and nature, and discusses one of the newest areas of sociological theory--theories of the Anthropocene.

The chapter on Feminist Theory has been extensively revised, with new sections on hegemonic masculinity, postcolonial theory, and neoliberalism, and a new biography of Raewyn Connell.

New "Contemporary Application" topics include The #MeToo Movement, anticolonialim and the destruction of statues, "fake" news, and the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and society.