Contemporary Introduction to Sociology: Culture and Society in Transition, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Contemporary Introduction to Sociology

Culture and Society in Transition, 1st Edition

By Jeffrey C. Alexander, Kenneth Thompson

Routledge

636 pages

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Paperback: 9781594512704
pub: 2008-01-30
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Description

It has been decades since a truly new introduction to sociology has appeared-let alone one from two leading sociologists at the cutting edge of theory and research. Alexander and Thompson's is such a text-the first that takes its lead from the cultural turn in social science and how it transforms the recent practice of sociology. Jargon-free, the text reflects the idioms and interests of contemporary American life and global social issues. It invites students to come to terms with their lives within the current world transition - a combustible leap from modern to postmodern life. It shows how culture is central to understanding many world problems as it challenges readers to confront the risks and potentialities of a postmodern era in which the futures of both the physical and social environment seem uncertain.

Reviews

“Alexander and Thompson’s new book is the best I have ever seen in blending sophistication and accessibility. In the spirit of Peter Berger’s now-classic Invitation to Sociology, this new text brings the wonderful world of sociology to life for the beginning student without diluting its central concepts and ideas. Chock full of scintillating examples and provocative media stories that capture and hold the reader’s attention while at the same time exemplifying central points, the book is a pleasure for both professor and student to read.”Laura Desfor Edles, CSU Northridge “Treats sociology as a living, vibrant discipline that changes just as the societies and cultures it seeks to comprehend also change. The authors offer a masterful synthesis that beautifully captures the best and most vital developments in contemporary sociology, while remaining faithful to and deeply rooted in the sociological tradition. The book is written in a style that is at once sophisticated, engaging, and accessible to its intended undergraduate audience. I can think of no better way to introduce my students to the discipline.”Peter Kivisto, Augustana College“Alexander and Thompson have produced the modern textbook we have all been waiting for—comprehensive and coherent, but above all intelligent. Designed to make teaching sociology unproblematic, difficult concepts and issues are addressed with consummate ease and confidence. As one might expect from Alexander and Thompson, the theoretical underpinnings are subtle and sophisticated. The result is the ideal combination of theory, evidence, and accessibility.”Bryan S. Turner, editor of The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology“This book draws on cutting edge advances in sociological research and theory to produce a truly contemporary sociology, one that mines the classics of sociology for insights into a profoundly changed, postmodern world. It captures both the range of sociological interests and the questions that recur in all substantive areas—questions about free will and determinism; culture and structure; and the limits of generalization. Most important, the book reminds us of sociology’s capacity to surprise—to think about what we took for granted in new ways.”Francesca Polletta, UC Irvine“An extraordinary textbook that synthesizes a wealth of sociological studies. The range and scope of the material boggles the mind. The book is engaging and highly readable, key concepts are clearly defined, and important theories are succinctly explicated. I highly recommend A Contemporary Introduction to Sociology to students and faculty alike.”William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

Table of Contents

List of Boxes, Tables, and Figures Preface Part One: What is Sociology Chapter 1: Sociological Stories and Key Concepts* The Individual and the Social* The Sociological Imagination* Society Today: So What's New?* How Do We Understand Today's Social World?* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 2: Sociological Methods* Some Key Research Terms* Concepts and Theories* Methodology and Methods* Postmodernism, Relativism, and Research Methods* Research in the Future* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingPart Two: Meanings and Media Chapter 3: Cultural Structures* An Individual or a Social Story?* Thinking Sociologically about Culture* Postmodernity, Globalization, and the Cultural Turn* Are Cultures Wholes or Parts?* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 4: Media and Communication* An Individual or a Social Story?* The Importance of the Mass Media* Keeping Informed: U.S. Public News Habits* The Mass Media: Concepts and History* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingPart Three: Personal Worlds and Identity Chapter 5: Socialization and the Life Cycle* An Individual or a Social Story?* The Paradox of Socialization* The "Self" in History* Creating the Self* Primary Socialization: The Family* Secondary Socialization* Life Stages and the Life Cycle* Emotion Work in Postmodern Life* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 6: Sexuality* An Individual or a Social Story?* Naturalism versus Constructivism* Beyond Essentialism* Sexuality before Modernity* Modern Sexuality* Polluting Nonprocreative Sex* Sexualizing Nonwhite Races* Underground Sexual Practices* Sexuality in the Postmodern Transition* Historical Developments* The Women's Movement* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 7: Marriage and the Family* An Individual or a Social Story?* Marriage and Family: The Social Forces of Change* Marriage and the Transition from Modern to Postmodern Society* The Modern Family* The Postmodern Family: Emerging Possibilities* The Conservative Backlash* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingPart Four: Inequalities and Identities Chapter 8: Inequality* An Individual or a Social Story?* Social Stratification* Social Mobility* Beliefs and Attitudes* Inequality: Past, Present, and Future* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 9: Gender* An Individual or Social Story?* Hardly Fair Play: Gender and Sports* Gender at Work* A Universal Problem: Exploitation and Violence* Everyday Culture and Mass Media* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 10: Race and Ethnicity* An Individual or a Social Story?* The Social Construction of "Race" and "Ethnicity"* Minority Group Theory* The Great Debate: Origins of the Racial Underclass in America* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 11: Crime and Deviance* An Individual or a Social Story?* Defining and Describing Deviance and Crime* Theories of Crime and Deviance* The Future of Crime and Deviance in Postmodern Society* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingPart Five: Institutions Chapter 12: Work and the Economy* An Individual or a Social Story?* Structural and Cultural Dimensions of Work and the Economy* Structure of the Economy: Economic Systems* Organization of Work* Conflict and Control* The Cultural Dimension: Values and Attitudes at Work* The Future of Work, Organization, and the Economy* From Modernity to Postmodernity* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 13: Education* An Individual or a Social Story?* Education and Modernity* Different Perspectives on Education* Education in a Multicultural, Postmodern Society* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 14: Health and Medicine* An Individual or a Social Story?* Medicine, Structure, and Organization* Social and Cultural Construction of Health and Medicine* Social Structure and Health Care Inequalities* Race, Ethnicity, and Gender* Health and Medicine in the Twenty-First Century* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 15: Religion* An Individual or a Social Story?* What Is Religion?* Religion, Modernity, and the Secularization Thesis* The American Christian Mosaic* Religion and Cultural Change* Personal Stories and Ethnographies* New Age* Public Religion* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingPart Six: Politics, Globalization, and Social Change Chapter 16: Urbanism and Population* An Individual or a Social Story?* The Growth of Cities* Urban Sociology in the Twentieth Century* The City of the Future: Postmodern Urbanism* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 17: Politics, Publics, and the State* An Individual or a Social Story?* States and Impersonal Power* Politics and Personal Power* Citizenship, Publics, and the Civil Sphere* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingChapter 18: Social Change, Collective Action, and Social Movements* An Individual or a Social Story?* Industrial Society* Postindustrial Society* Information Society, Globalization, and Social Movements* Globalization* Conclusion* Exercises* Study Questions* Further ReadingBibliography Index Credits

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General