Contemporary Sociological Theory: An Integrated Multi-Level Approach

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9780387765211: Contemporary Sociological Theory: An Integrated Multi-Level Approach

This volume is designed as a basic text for upper level and graduate courses in contemporary sociological theory. Most sociology programs require their majors to take at least one course in sociological theory, sometimes two. A typical breakdown is between classical and contemporary theory. Theory is perhaps one of the bro- est areas of sociological inquiry and serves as a foundation or framework for more specialized study in specific substantive areas of the field. In addition, the study of sociological theory can readily be related to various aspects of other social science disciplines as well. From the very beginning sociology has been characterized by alternative theoretical perspectives. Classical theory includes the European founding figures of the dis- pline whose works were produced during the later half of the nineteenth century and the first couple of decades of the twentieth century plus early American th- rists. For most of the second half of the twentieth century, a fairly high consensus has developed among American sociologists regarding these major founders, p- ticularly with regard to the works of Durkheim and Weber in analyzing the overall society and of Simmel in analyzing social interaction processes. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s the influence of Marx has also been recognized. Recent decades have also witnessed an increased emphasis on the important contributions of several pioneering feminist perspectives in the early years of sociology.

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From the Back Cover:

"My graduate students thought it was very-well written, clear and organized. Several left class saying they have a much better understanding of theory as a result of the text. So, continued kudos  and thanks for the great book for my MA level theory course." Mike McMullen, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Contemporary Sociological Theory: An Integrated, Multi-level Approach
by D. Paul Johnson, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

This book covers the major theoretical orientations that have been influential in American sociology since the mid-twentieth century. These include symbolic interaction, phenomenological sociology and ethnomethodology, social exchange and rational choice theories, sociology of emotions, functionalism and neofunctionalism, conflict and critical theory, selected feminist theories, structuration theory, systems theory, sociobiology, selected sociology of culture perspectives, and major themes from postmodern orientations.

The distinctions between micro, meso, and macro levels serve as the organizing framework, with the micro/macro distinction related to the contrast between agency and structure. The various theories and theorists are compared, contrasted, and integrated as appropriate in portraying the complex and multidimensional features of the social world. Everyday life examples enable students to apply these abstract ideas to personal experiences and current social issues.

Distinctive features include:

  • Summaries of major ideas of the classical stage theorists which serve as a foundation for contemporary theories, including previously neglected contributions of women theorists;
  • A chapter on formal theory construction, with discussion of its relevance to both quantitative and qualitative data analysis and to the status of sociology as a multiple-paradigm discipline;
  • Coverage of communities, complex organizations, markets, and socioeconomic classes as distinctive meso-level social formations;
  • Integration of rational choice theory and sociology of emotions, with application to communities and complex organizations;
  • Focus on contrasting perspectives within each major theoretical orientation, plus conceptual and analytical linkages among these different orientations;
  • Cultural systems and sociobiological characteristics covered in separate chapters distinct from the micro/meso/macro levels of the social world;
  • Explicit attention given to individual identities, personal relationships, social networks, groups, residential and other kinds of communities, internal and external organizational relations, impersonal market transactions, socioeconomic class distinctions, institutional structures, and international relations.

About the Author:

D. Paul Johnson is a Professor and the former Chair of the Department of Sociology at Texas Tech University. 

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