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Introduction to Sociology, Seagull Tenth Edition
Introduction to Sociology focuses only on what students need to know in order to master the sociological concepts taught in the introductory course. Each chapter in the Tenth Edition follows the same consistent four-part structure: First, the authors introduce the basic concepts before discussing sociological theory. They then turn their attention to current research and finally wrap up by exploring unanswered questions that face sociologists today. This consistent, thoughtful organization―coupled with learning objectives, Concept Checks, and Big Picture concept maps―keeps students focused on the core concepts. Now supported by InQuizitive, the Tenth Edition builds on the book’s long-standing strengths: emphasis on linking micro and macro sociology, coverage of the best recent research, and an exceptionally affordable price relative to other comprehensive texts.
We wrote this book with the belief that sociology plays a key role in modern intellectual culture and occupies a central place within the social sciences. We have aimed to write a book that combines classic theories of sociology with empirically grounded studies and examples from real life that reveal the basic issues of interest to sociologists today. The book does not bring in overly sophisticated notions; nevertheless, ideas and findings drawn from the cutting edge of the discipline are incorporated throughout. We hope it is a fair and nonpartisan treatment; we endeavored to cover the major perspectives in sociology and the major findings of contemporary American research in an evenhanded, although not indiscriminate, way.
The book is constructed around eight basic themes, each of which helps give the work a distinctive character. One of the central themes is the micro and macro link. At many points in the book, we show that interaction in micro-level contexts affects larger, or macro-level, social processes, and that these macro-level processes influence our day-to-day lives. We emphasize that one can better understand a social situation by analyzing it at both the micro and macro levels.
A second theme is that of the world in change. Sociology was born out of the transformations that wrenched the industrializing social order of the West away from the ways of life that characterized earlier societies. The world created by these changes is the primary object of sociological analysis. The pace of social change has continued to accelerate, and it is possible that we stand on the threshold of transitions as significant as those that occurred in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sociology has prime responsibility for charting the transformations of the past and grasping the major lines of development taking place today.
Another fundamental theme is the globalization of social life. For far too long, sociology has been dominated by the view that societies can be studied as independent and distinctive entities. But even in the past, societies never really existed in isolation. In current times, we can see a clear acceleration in processes of global integration. This is obvious, for example, in the expansion of international trade across the world, or the use of social media, which played a key role in recent popular uprisings against repressive governments throughout the Middle East. The emphasis on globalization also connects closely with the weight given to the interdependence of the industrialized and developing worlds today. The book also focuses on the importance of comparative study. Sociology cannot be taught solely by understanding the institutions of any one particular society. Although we have focused our discussion primarily on the United States, we have balanced it with a rich variety of materials drawn from other cultures.
These include research carried out in other Western countries and in Russia and eastern European societies, which are currently undergoing substantial changes.
The book also includes much more material on developing countries than has been usual in introductory texts. In addition, we strongly emphasize the relationship between sociology and anthropology, whose concerns often overlap. Given the close connections that now mesh societies across the world and the virtual disappearance of traditional social systems, sociology and anthropology have increasingly become indistinguishable.
A fifth theme is the necessity of taking a historical approach to sociology. This involves more than just filling in the historical context within which events occur. One of the most important developments in sociology over the past few years has been an increasing emphasis on historical analysis. This should be understood not solely as applying a sociological outlook to the past but as a way of contributing to our understanding of institutions in the present. Recent work in historical sociology is discussed throughout the text and provides a framework for the interpretations offered in the chapters. Throughout the text, particular attention is given to a sixth theme—issues of social class, gender, and race. The study of social differentiation is ordinarily regarded as a series of specific fields within sociology as a whole—and this volume contains chapters that specifically explore thinking and research on each subject (Chapters 8, 10, and 11, respectively). However, questions about gender, race, and class relations are so fundamental to sociological analysis that they cannot simply be considered a subdivision. Thus, many chapters contain sections concerned with the ways that multiple sources of social stratification shape the human experience.
A seventh theme is that a strong grasp of sociological research methods is crucial for understanding the world around us. A strong understanding of how social science research is conducted is crucial for interpreting and making sense of the many social “facts” that the media trumpet. The final major theme is the relation between the social and the personal. Sociological thinking is a vital help to self-understanding, which in turn can be focused back on an improved understanding of the social world. Studying sociology should be a liberating experience: The field enlarges our sympathies and imagination, opens up new perspectives on the sources of our own behavior, and creates an awareness of cultural settings different from our own. Insofar as sociological ideas challenge dogma, teach appreciation of cultural variety, and allow us insight into the working of social institutions, the practice of sociology enhances the possibilities of human freedom.