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Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory

Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory
Text and Readings

Third Edition

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November 2015 | 896 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Proud sponsor of the 2019 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory, Third Edition
is a text/reader that introduces students to the ideas and writings of key theorists from sociology’s 19th century founders through the present. 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 overarching 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 Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era a lively, engaging, and “student-friendly” introduction to the world of theory.  

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award  

Find out more at
List of Illustrations and Photos
List of Figures and Tables
About the Authors
Chapter 1: Introduction
Part I: Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory
Chapter 2: Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Chapter 3: Émile Durkheim (1858–1917)
Chapter 4: Max Weber (1864-1920)
Part II: Classical Sociological Theory: Expanding the Foundation
Chapter 5: Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935)
Chapter 6: Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
Chapter 7: W.E.B Du Bois (1868-1963)
Chapter 8: George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)
Part III: Twentieth-Century Sociological Traditions
Chapter 9: Structural Functionalism
Talcott C. Parsons

Robert K. Merton

Chapter 10: Critical Theory
Max Horkheimer

Theodor Adorno

Herbert Marcuse

Jürgen Habermas

Patricia Hill Collins

Chapter 11: Exchange and Rational Choice Theories
George C. Homans

Peter M. Blau

James S. Coleman

Chapter 12: Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy
Erving Goffman

Arlie Russell Hochschild

Chapter 13: Phenomenology
Alfred Schutz

Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann

Dorothy E. Smith

Chapter 14: Poststructuralism
Michel Foucault

Pierre Bourdieu

Edward Said

Chapter 15: Postmodernism
Jean Baudrillard

Jean-François Lyotard

Judith Butler

Chapter 16: The Global Society
Immanuel Wallerstein

George Ritzer

Anthony Giddens

Glossary and Terminology


Instructor Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer assistance with lecture and review preparation by highlighting essential content, features, and artwork from the book.
  • Chapter-specific discussion questions help launch conversation 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

A very useful collection of foundational texts covering all relevant traditions of interest for teaching an introsoc class.

Professor Jesper Jorgensen
College Library, Niels Brock
March 16, 2020

The text covers a wide array of social theories and theorists. Content is not too heavy but rich enough that students can understand the socio-historical context and current applications. I have paired this with the Woman Founders text to ensure more inclusive coverage for sociological theory.

Dr Jessica Leveto
Sociology, Kent State Univ-Ashtabula
January 11, 2021

Black Feminism and Intersectionality, Black Feminist Epistemology is well taught in Chapter 15. Text, Power and Women written by Dorothy E. Smith (chapter 16) and Exposing Gender written by Judith Butler (Chapter 17) are important topics that I will teach in my lecture.

Political Science, Izmir Katip Celebi University
September 19, 2019

In my political sociology course, I teach Frankfurt School. This book deals Frankfurt School in its Chapter 2. Power is another topic that I teach in this lecture. Structures of Power- Michel Foucault (Chapter 9) will help me to explain power dimension according to Foucault. In my last week, I teach the significance of global society. For this week, World System Theory- I. Wallerstein (Chapter 10) and Network Society -M. Castells (Chapter 11) will help me to explain the impact of capitalist system and globalization over societies.

Political Science, Izmir Katip Celebi University
September 19, 2019

This text offers the both a sound and clear summary of the key ideas for each theorist and an opportunity for students to read excerpts from the original works so that they can "hear" the voices of the theorists themselves. (Even though I had one student comment that she felt like she was being yelled at in German for the first few weeks :-))
I do not find the analytic frame that Applerouth and Edles use to compare theories especially helpful, however can appreciate that some folks do need a frame to make sense of things.

Kate Krug
Anthropologysociology Dept, Cape Breton University
June 4, 2018

Robust, in-depth coverage of both classical and contemporary sociological theory.

Mrs Sarah Mullins
Social Science , North Lindsey College
June 3, 2016

A good text, interesting new thoeries

Ms Lorna Harris
Hillsborough College, Sheffield College
April 26, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 14

Scott A. Appelrouth

Scott Appelrouth (PhD, New York University, 2000) is Professor of Sociology at California State University, Northridge. His interests include sociological theory, cultural sociology, and social movements. He has taught classical and contemporary theory at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has published several articles in research- and teaching-oriented journals on social movements, theory, and the controversies over jazz during the 1920s and rap during the 1980s. His current research focuses on political discourse in American party platforms. More About Author

Laura Desfor Edles

Laura Desfor Edles (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 1990) is Professor of Sociology at California State University, Northridge. She is the author of Symbol and Ritual in the New Spain: The Transition to Democracy after Franco (1998) and Cultural Sociology in Practice (2002), as well as various articles on culture, theory, race/ethnicity, and social movements. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781452203621