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Modern Sociological Theory

Modern Sociological Theory

Ninth Edition

Other Titles in:
Social Theory

February 2021 | 688 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The authors are proud sponsors of the SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Modern Sociological Theory
 gives readers a comprehensive overview of the major theorists and schools of sociological thought, from sociology's 19th century origins through the mid-20th century. Written by an author team that includes one of the leading contemporary thinkers, the text integrates key theories with with biographical sketches of theorists, placing them in historical and intellectual context.
Biographical and Autobiographical Sketches
About the Authors
Chapter 1. A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Early Years

Premodern Sociological Theory

Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory

Intellectual Forces and the Rise of Sociological Theory

The Development of French Sociology

The Development of German Sociology

The Origins of British Sociology

The Key Figure in Early Italian Sociology

Non-European Classical Theory

Chapter 2. A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Later Years
Early American Sociological Theory

Sociological Theory to Midcentury

Sociological Theory From Midcentury

Late-Twentieth-Century Integrative Theory

Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity

Social Theory in the Twenty-First Century

Chapter 3. Structural Functionalism, Systems Theory, and Conflict Theory
Structural Functionalism

Systems Theory

Conflict Theory

Chapter 4. Varieties of Neo-Marxian Theory
Economic Determinism

Hegelian Marxism

Critical Theory

Neo-Marxian Economic Sociology

Historically Oriented Marxism

Neo-Marxian Spatial Analysis

Post-Marxist Theory

Chapter 5. Symbolic Interactionism
The Major Historical Roots

The Ideas of George Herbert Mead

Symbolic Interactionism: The Basic Principles

The Self and the Work of Erving Goffman

The Sociology of Emotions


The Future of Symbolic Interactionism

Chapter 6. Ethnomethodology
Defining Ethnomethodology

The Diversification of Ethnomethodology

Some Early Examples

Conversation Analysis

Studies of Institutions

Criticisms of Traditional Sociology

Stresses and Strains in Ethnomethodology

Synthesis and Integration

Chapter 7. Exchange, Network, and Rational Choice Theories
Exchange Theory

Network Theory

Network Exchange Theory

Rational Choice Theory

Chapter 8. Contemporary Feminist Theory
Feminism’s Basic Questions

Historical Framing—The Second Wave: Feminism, Sociology, and Gender

Varieties of Contemporary Feminist Theory

Challenges to Feminism

Feminist Sociological Theorizing

Chapter 9. Micro-Macro and Agency-Structure Integration
Micro-Macro Integration

Agency-Structure Integration

Agency-Structure and Micro-Macro Linkages: Fundamental Differences

Chapter 10. Contemporary Theories of Modernity
Classical Theorists on Modernity

The Juggernaut of Modernity

The Risk Society

The Holocaust and Liquid Modernity

Modernity’s Unfinished Project

Self, Society, and Religion

Informationalism and the Network Society

Chapter 11. Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Postmodern Social Theory


Postmodern Social Theory


Chapter 12. 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

Chapter 13. Globalization Theory
Major Contemporary Theorists on Globalization

Cultural Theory

Economic Theory

Political Theory


Chapter 14. Science, Technology, and Nature
Affect Theory

Science Studies and Actor-Network Theory

Theories of the Anthropocene

Consumption and Prosumption Theory

Name Index
Subject Index
Key features


  • A clear, unbiased style of presenting sociological theory, which Ritzer's readers have come to expect, makes the text accessible to students.
  • The comprehensive approach covers all of the major schools of thought, as well as the key works and concepts associated with each.
  • Chronological organization allows for easy use of supplementary readers to enhance classroom discussion or to broaden students' understanding of theories and concepts.
  • Biographical boxes help students place sociological theories within a personal and social context.

In order to improve the flow of the text the chapter on poststructuralism and postmodernism (formerly Ch.13, now Ch. 11) has been moved to follow the chapter on modernity (Ch. 10).

The piece on queer theory, formerly part of Ch. 14, has been moved into the chapter on postructuralism and postmodernism (Ch. 11).

Ch. 1 has several new additions: a stand-alone section on Ibn Khaldun to provide the reader with an example of premodern sociological theory; a section on Harriet Martineau to better contextualize her feminist writings within the history of sociological thought; and a section on “non-European” classical theory.

New biographies on Hannah Ardent (Ch. 2), Raewyn Connell (Ch. 8), Bruno Latour (Ch. 14), and Donna Harway (Ch. 14).

Ch. 8 has been updated with new sections on Hegemonic Masculinity, Postcolonial feminism, Neoliberalism and a biography on Raewyn Connell

Ch. 13, on globalization, includes a new section on the work of historical comparative sociologist Saskia Sassen and her concepts of the global city and expulsions.

Ch. 14 has been redesigned with a focus on science, technology, nature, and consumption and an opening discussion of the relevance of these themes for sociological theory. The largest new addition is a section Theories of the Anthropocene, a set of theories that theorize the connection between climate change and human society.

The Ch. 14 section on actor-network theory and posthumanism has been significantly rewritten with a more detailed focus on Bruno Latour and Donna Haraway, especially Haraway’s work on cyborgs and companion species.