Applied Sociology  book cover
1st Edition

Applied Sociology

ISBN 9781138629707
Published September 25, 2017 by Routledge
220 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Sociology offers fascinating insights into social life that tell us so much about people and society. But what can we do with those insights? How can we put them to good use? That is exactly what this book is all about. It explores the practical value of sociology, how sociological understanding can be of help in a variety of settings.

Neil Thompson’s wealth of experience in using sociology in practice comes shining through in this clearly written and accessible text that succeeds in conveying complex ideas without oversimplifying them. Key concepts are explained and clear links are drawn with how the ideas can be used to inform professional practice and cast light on a wide range of situations across all sectors of working life, and in our personal lives too.

So, whether you are involved in the helping professions or any other occupation where success depends on having a good understanding of people; a student of sociology wanting to put your learning into practice; or simply interested in how sociology can help address social issues, this book offers a solid foundation of understanding. It is an ideal text for anyone seeking to use sociological ideas to make a positive difference.

Table of Contents



About the author


Part One: Making Sense of Sociology

Introduction to Part One

Chapter 1: What is sociology?


Defining Sociology

Historical Overview

The Sociological Imagination

How Is it Useful?

Who Uses Sociology?


Points to Ponder

Exercise 1

Chapter 2: The Sociological Imagination


Thinking Sociologically Revisited

Social Construction

Ideology, Discourse, and Common Sense

Sociology in Action: Praxis


Points to Ponder

Exercise 2

Part Two: Making Sense of Society

Introduction to Part Two: The Web of Society

Chapter 3: Social Structures

What Are Structures?

Social Divisions and Inequality

Structuration Theory and Beyond

Structures and Power

Implications for Practice


Points to Ponder

Exercise 3

Chapter 4: Social Processes


Social Construction



Social Control



Implications for Practice


Points to Ponder

Exercise 4

Chapter 5: Social Institutions



The Family



The Law

The Media


Implications for Practice


Points to Ponder

Exercise 5

Chapter 6: Social Discourses and Ideologies




Discourse and Ideology Compared


The Work Ethic

Implications for Practice


Points to Ponder

Exercise 6

Chapter 7: Social Expectations


Symbolic Interactionism

Role Theory

Gender Roles

Culture, Ethnicity, and Race

Act Your Age!

Implications for Practice


Points to Ponder

Exercise 7

Chapter 8: Social Relations





Conflict, Aggression and Violence

Abuse and Exploitation

Work Relationships

Implications for Practice


Points to Ponder

Exercise 8

Part Three: Sociologically Informed Practice

Introduction to Part Three

Chapter 9: The individual in Social Context


What does it Mean to Be an Individual?

The Role of the Social Context

PCS Analysis Revisited

People, Problems, Potential

Beyond Psychotherapy


Points to Ponder

Exercise 9

Chapter 10: The Organizational Context


Organizational Culture

The Changing World of Work

Workplace Well-being



Points to Ponder

Exercise 10

Chapter 11: Holistic Practice


HOW Is Sociology Useful?

WHO Can Use Sociology?

WHERE Can Sociology Be Used?

WHEN Can Sociology Be Used?

WHAT Can Sociology Offer?

WHY Should You Use Sociology?

Making It Happen

The PATCH Model


Points to Ponder

Exercise 11

Guide to Further Learning



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Neil Thompson PhD, DLitt, is an independent writer and educator with over 40 years’ experience in the people professions. He is a sought-after consultant and international conference speaker, and is currently involved in developing a range of online learning resources and surveys. His website and blog are at

Featured Author Profiles


This book is a tour de force! Engaging and accessible, comprehensive in its coverage and scope, Applied Sociology fills a useful gap. With his applied focus and "real world" scenarios, Thompson illustrates how sociological knowledge can be put to effective use in providing both insight and remedy for a wide variety of practical, everyday problems. Whether encountering sociology for the first time or engaging in person-oriented professional practice, readers will find Applied Sociology an indispensable resource.

Michael Brennan, Liverpool Hope University, UK

Applied Sociology offers the theoretical concepts that can be used in real-life situations. No one brings such a vast knowledge of theory and practice as Neil Thompson. When faced with actual situations, theories often take a back seat. Thompson offers not only educators and their students, but also those engaging in various professions ways to use sociology in their work. The practical wisdom contained in this volume will be a major contribution to the field of sociology!

Gerry Cox, Emeritus Professor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Wonderfully relevant and readable, this book makes a solid case for the need to recognize sociology as a foundational aspect of the human experience. Clear explanations and examples describe the inseparable interplay between the individual experience within the broader social framework and context. This is a real gem for anyone who wishes to have a greater understanding of the many facets of the human experience.

Darcy Harris, King’s University College at Western University, Canada

Neil Thompson has written a must-read primer raising critical questions that have long concerned those of us in sociology. Could the sociological imagination enhance the professional knowledge base necessary for a more holistic approach for people and their problems? Applied Sociology is a compelling read for all students, regardless of discipline, as well as those preparing for, or immersed in, a "helping profession." Definitely my go-to-text for years to come.

Laurel Hilliker, University of Michigan

This book is destined to be a key text, a "must read," not only for sociologists, but across the humanities, social sciences, social work and health care disciplines.

Jan Pascal, Keele University, UK