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Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era

Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era
Text and Readings

Third Edition

November 2015 | 680 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era, Third Edition is a text/reader that introduces students to the ideas and writings of key twentieth and twenty-first century theorists. Authors Scott Appelrouth and Laura Desfor Edles combine original texts, edited for classroom use, with extensive framing discussions that provide crucial biographical, historical, and theoretical context for readings. The book also provides an over-arching scaffolding that students can use to examine, compare, and contrast each theorist’s major themes and concepts. This unique format, combined with frequent use of photos, tables, and diagrams, makes Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era a lively, engaging, and “student-friendly” introduction to the world of contemporary theory.  

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations & Professional Development Award  

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Chapter 1: Introduction
What Is Sociological Theory?

Why Read Original Works?

Who Are Sociology's Core Theorists?

Who are Sociology's Core Contemporary Theorists?

How Can We Navigate Sociological Theory?

Discussion Questions

Chapter 2: Structural Functionalism
Talcott C. Parsons (1902-1979): A Biographical Sketch

Parson's Intellecutal Influences and Core Ideas

Parson's Theoretical Orientation


Categories of the Orientation and Organization of Action (1951)

Sex Roles in the American Kinship System (1943)

Robert K. Merton (1910-2003): A Biographical Sketch

Merton's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Merton's Theoretical Orientation


Manifest and Latent Functions (1949)

Social Structure and Anomie (1967)

Discussion Questions

Chapter 3: Critical Theory
Mark Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse: Biographical Sketches

Horkheimer's, Adorno's, and Marcuse's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Horkheimer's, Adorno'a, and Marcuse's Theoretical Orientations


Eclipse of Reason (1947)

The Culture Industry Reconsidered (1975)

One-Dimensional Man (1964)

Jurgen Habermas (1929- ): A Biographical Sketch

Habermas's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Habermas's Theoretical Orientation


Civil Society, Public Opinion, and Communicative Power (1996)

The Tasks of a Critical Theory of Society (1987)

Patricia Hill Collins (1948- ): A Biographical Sketch

Collins's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Collins's Theoretical Orientation


Black Feminist Thought (1990)

Discussion Questions

Chaper 4: Exchange and Rational Choice Theories
George C. Homans (1910-1989): A Biographical Sketch

Homan's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Homan's Theoretical Orientation


Social Behavior as Exchange (1958)

Peter M. Blau (1918-2002): A Biographical Sketch

Blau's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Blau's Theoretical Orientation


Exchange and Power in Social Life (1964)

James S. Coleman (1926-1995): A Biographical Sketch

Coleman's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Coleman's Theoretical Orientation


Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital (1988)

Discussion Questions

Chapter 5: Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy
Herbert Blumer (1900-1987): A Biographical Sketch

Blumer's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Blumer's Theoretical Orientation


The Methodological Position of Symbolic Interactionism (1969)

Erving Goffman (1922-1982): A Biographical Sketch

Goffman's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Goffman's Theoretical Orientation


The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life (1959)

Asylums (1961)

Arlie Russell Hochschild (1940- ): A Biographical Sketch

Hochschild's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Hochschild's Theoretical Orientation


Working on Feeling (2003)

The Managed Heart (1983)

Discussion Questions

Chapter 6: Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology
Alfred Schutz (1899-1959): A Biographical Sketch

Schutz's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Schutz's Theoreitcal Orientation


The Phenomenology of the Social World (1967)

Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann: Biographical Sketches

Berger and Luckmann's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Berger and Luckmann's Theoretial Orientation


The Social Construction of Reality (1966)

Harold Garfinkle (1917- ): A Biographical Sketch

Garfinkle's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Garfinkle's Theoretical Orientation


Studies in Ethnomethodology (1967)

Dorothy E. Smith (1926- ): A Biographical Sketch

Smith's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Smith's Theoretical Orientation


Institutional Ethnography (2005)

The Everyday World as Problematic (1987)

Discussion Questions

Chapter 7: Poststructuralism
Defining Poststructuralism

Michel Foucault (1926-1984): A Biographical Sketch

Foucault's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Foucault's Theoretical Orientation


Social Space and the Genesis of Groups (1982)

Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002): A Biographical Sketch

Bourdieu's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Bourdieu's Theoretical Orientation


Discipline and Punish (1975)

Outline of a Sociological Theory of Art Perception (1968)

Edward Said (1935-2003): A Biographical Sketch

Said's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Said's Theoretical Orientation


Orientalism (1978)

Discussion Questions

Chapter 8: Postmodernism
Defining Postmodernism

Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007): A Biographical Sketch

Baudrillard's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Baudrillard's Theoretical Orientation


Simulacra and Simulations (1981)

Jean-Francois Lyotard (1924-1998): A Biographical Sketch

Lyotard's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Lyotard's Theoretical Orientation


The Postmodern Condition (1979)

Judith Butler (1956- ): A Biographical Sketch

Butler's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Butler's Theoretical Orientation


Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire (1990)

Discussion Questions

Chapter 9: The Global Society
Defining Globalization

Immanuel Wallerstein (1930- ): A Biographical Sketch

Wallerstein's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Wallerstein's Theoretical Orientation


The Modern World-System as a Capitalist World-Economy: Production, Surplus Value, and Polarization (2004)

Leslie Sklair (1940- ): A Biographical Sketch

Sklair's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Sklair's Theoretical Orientation


Globalization: Capitalism and Its Alternatives (2002)

George Ritzer (1940- ): A Biographical Sketch

Ritzer's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Ritzer's Theoretical Orientation


Rethinking Globalization: Glocalization/Grobalization and Something/Nothing (2003)

Anthony Giddens (1938- ): A Biographical Sketch

Gidden's Intellectual Influences and Core Ideas

Gidden's Theoretical Orientation


The Consequences of Modernity (1990)

Discussion Questions



Instructor Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following: 

  • A Microsoft® Word® test bank is available containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding. 
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
  • Chapter-specific discussion questions help launch classroom interaction by prompting students to engage with the material and by reinforcing important content. 
  • Suggested Writing Assignments for individual or group projects provide lively and stimulating ideas for use in and out of class reinforce active learning.
  • Tables and Figures are available in an easily-downloadable format for use in papers, hand-outs, and presentations

This text provides a comprehensive review of important contemporary theories. The text is well written and concise enough to effectively communicate to undergraduate students. I provided this book on my syllabus as an additional book they should keep for future reference.

Mr Billy Brocato
Sociology Dept, Texas A & M Univ-Clg Station
October 20, 2015

This book is an essential, well-written and extremely comprehensive addition to any Sociology course syllabus. It includes very well-chosen original scripts and illuminating summaries of sociological concepts. With this book, I had the chance to include my introductory course the discussions of Habermas, Bourdieu, Baudrillard and Butler. Strongly recommended.

Dr Hakan Ovunc Ongur
Department of Political Science, TOBB Ekonomi ve Teknoloji Universitesi
October 7, 2015

This book presents a user-friendly introduction to sociological theory. Students will profit from its comprehensive yet focused approach.

Professor Gabriele Vogt
Asian Studies , University of Hamburg
October 29, 2015

Very accessible introduction to contemporary social theory. Good selection of readings and discussion questions.

Dr Hardina Ohlendorf
International College, Social Science, Mahidol University
February 15, 2016

I like the set up of this book very much. I will suggest it for the second semester of sociology at my University.

Professor Ann-Zofie Duvander
Accounting , Deaprtment of Sociology
October 29, 2015

This book is outstanding in every respect. It covers all the major areas of contemporary theories of society, offering a broad range of perspectives, from structural functionalism, Habermas, Goffman and Foucault perspectives.

The structure is easy to follow, and allows students to find the areas required for their writings quickly and concisely. It is very well written, and offers in-depth analysis of social theory.

The book is particularly relevant for undergraduate students, for any course exploring social theory. The book is also useful to provide additional information regarding contemporary social theory. The concepts and discussions are in-depth, and highly detailed.

I would strongly advise any institution offering courses exploring social theory to use this as a key supplemental resource, although at undergraduate level, I would consider it essential reading.

Mr Gavin Hatton
Sociology , St David's College
September 17, 2015

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ISBN: 9781452203607