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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.
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Jeffrey C. Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University, where he is co-director of the Center for Cultural Sociology. Among his many influential books is The Civic Sphere (Oxford University Press, 2006). He is also co-editor of the Yale Cultural Sociology Series (Paradigm Publishers).Review:
“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
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