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Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era

Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era
Text and Readings

Third Edition
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Other Titles in:
Social Theory | Sociology

July 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
September 28, 2016

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
March 15, 2016

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
February 18, 2016

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
February 12, 2016

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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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: 9781452203607