Classical Social Theory: Investigation and Application / Edition 1

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Overview

Offering an excellent overview of approximately 400 years of social theory with a concentration on sociological thought, this book reflects the convergence of social science, natural science, philosophy, and history. It features a concise review of each major theorist¿s biography, the influences on their works, and a review of their major contributions. KEY TOPICS Individual chapters examine the lives and thoughts of Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, Charles Cooley, George Herbert Mead, Thorstein Veblen, Karl Mannheim, Talcott Parsons, and George Homans. A concluding chapter provides a comprehensive review of the many contributions from women. For individuals interested in the study of social theory with an appreciation for synthetic thought and for history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131109001
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 6/6/2003
  • Series: MySearchLab Series 15% off Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Tim Delaney, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Oswego, holds a B.S. degree in sociology from the State University of New York at Brockport, an M.A. degree in sociology from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Delaney is the author of Community, Sport and Leisure, Second Edition (2001); co-editor of Values, Society and Evolution (2002); and co-editor of Philosophical and Sociological Implications of Deviant Behavior (2003). He has published nearly forty book reviews, numerous book 1thapters, journal and encyclopedia articles, and served as Guest Editor for Philosophy Now. Delaney is an international author.

Dr. Delaney has presented thirty papers at regional, national, and international conferences, including papers that were presented for the Russian Academy of Sciences during international conferences at both St. Petersburg (1999) and Moscow (2001). He is the Associate Founder of The Anthropology Society (Western New York) and is in the process of creating the Social Theory Society, an academic society that promotes "learning through thinking and experience." Delaney maintains membership in ten professional associations, including the American Sociological Association, Pacific Sociological Association, and the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. In 2002, he was selected as a charter member to the "Wall of Tolerance" sponsored by the National Campaign for Tolerance, co-chaired by Rosa Parks and Morris Dees, in recognition of his community activism and scholarship efforts in the fight against social injustice. Delaney has also been selected for inclusion in the 2003 Marquis Who's Who in America for his outstanding achievements.

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Read an Excerpt

Humans often attempt to find a meaning for life and aspire to understand the world around them. Understanding is derived from a number of sources that include: faith, tradition, common sense, and science. All of these approaches, except science, have major flaws. Sociology is a science. It is a science as much as any of the so-called "natural" sciences. Sociology teaches us to look beyond the limits of common sense—that not everything one was led to believe is necessarily true. This contradiction often leads to culture shock. Culture shock is evidence contrary to previously held beliefs regarding a social group, place, or phenomena. Social thinkers, including sociologists, have long fought the validity of a reliance on a religious belief system or a social order maintained by tradition (e.g., "royalty"). Sociology has its roots strongly entrenched in empirical science and moral reform. It analyzes human social behavior from a socio-historic perspective.

C. Wright Mills recognized that an individual's meaning of inner life is linked to external social events. A series of previous events all shape the formation of current events. In other words, human behavior and social reality is a product of historically linked events of behavior and phenomena. Mills (1959) used the term sociological imagination. The sociological imagination allows its possessor to understand individual events from the historical perspective. It allows us to comprehend individual biography and history and the relationship between the two within society. From this perspective, individuals come to realize that their problems are a result of the greater societal strain. For example, an individual may feel bad about him/herself after being laid off from work. But these feelings of self-remorse subside with the realization that the socio-economic structure in society has changed and consequently, a large number of people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

When teaching theory, it is important to analyze the biography of social thinkers and provide a glimpse of the historic events occurring in conjunction with the theorist. In addition, it should be obvious that students need to be exposed to key concepts and contributions of each theorist. However, the most important goal to teaching social theory is, perhaps, demonstrating the relevance of such material to the students' daily lives. Teaching the relevance of sociology should be the focus of the discipline. This goal can be attained by incorporating everyday events into the classroom (and textbooks). Some of the sources of relevance to students' every day lives include newspaper and magazine articles; recently released movies; the news; sports; arts and entertainment (especially television); campus activities; professors' first-hand accounts of behavior in different cultures; and pop culture.

Classical Social Theory: Investigation and Application provides an excellent overview of classical social theory with a concentration on sociological thought. This book reflects the convergence of social science, natural science, philosophy, and history into a collective body of classical discourse.

Chapter One provides a brief overview of the many social, political, and philosophical antecedents that preceded the founding of sociology. The story of social theory is generally acknowledged as beginning with Machiavelli's The Prince, a book published in 1513, at the height of the Italian Renaissance. The Prince was a controversial book for its time, as it provided a realistic view of human actions and challenged the long-held belief in the Divine Rights of Kings. In 1517, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany, lighting the fires of the Reformation and Protestantism.

A review of the impact of the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau follows, as these early thinkers had a tremendous impression on early sociological thinkers. The chapter concludes with a review of the importance of the Enlightenment, the large number of revolutions (industrial and political), and the contributions of Claude-Henri Saint-Simon. This chapter is important because it establishes that all social thinkers were influenced by the works and thoughts that preceded them.

Chapters Two through Thirteen provide a review of specific social thinkers critically important to the development and expansion of the field of sociology. All of these specific theorists provided major contributions in their own unique ways. In each chapter, a biographical sketch of each theorist is provided (family background, education, personal life, publications, and so on); a review of those significant intellectual influences on each theorist that helped to shape his own thoughts; a concise and clear review of the concepts and contributions of each theorist; and an application of the relevancy of their concepts and contributions to contemporary and future society.

The biographical sketch of each theorist has proven to be of special value to students in my social theory classes. It is an interesting way of making these "names" more "real" and human to the student as they learn about the challenges, pitfalls, and accomplishments of each theorist. It also reveals that people are most definitely a product of their time and place in history. The section concerning the influences on each theorist demonstrates the fact that ideas are not created in a vacuum. Instead, they are the result of the knowledge and wisdom of those enlightened thinkers who came before each of them. From a purely academic standpoint, the section on concepts and contributions attributed to each theorist is perhaps the most critical and therefore represents the bulk of each chapter. These concepts and terms are explained in a clear manner that the reader should be able to comprehend.

What should stimulate students the most is the section on the relevancy of these social concepts to today's world. The ability to link social thought with everyday real events becomes the critical challenge of any social theory text. The relevancy section provides glimpses of the application of specific concepts. The examples do not represent an exhaustive list, but rather an attempt to show its practicality to present-day reality.

Critical thought and pragmatic discussion in the application of this material will help to develop the student's rational thought processes and analytical skills, as well as to instill an appreciation for synthetic thought. It is this section, Chapters Two through Thirteen, that separates and distinguishes this book from all other social theory texts.

Chapter Fourteen, "Contributions from Women to Classical Social Theory," is dedicated to the progressive, and reformist, contributions from a select number of significant women in the areas of classical social theory and the advancement of sociology. This is a meaningful chapter as it provides a solid foundation to the role of women in the development of sociological thought, and symbolizes the discrimination felt by women throughout the classical era. To place this chapter anywhere else in the book seemed to force it upon the reader. As a final chapter, it serves as a statement that the role of women in sociological theory is just beginning. Thus, Chapter Fourteen partially serves as the transition chapter into the contemporary social theory era.

The women discussed in Chapter Fourteen include Harriet Martineau, Beatrice Potter Webb, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida Wells-Barnett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jane Addams, Marianne Weber, and the Ladies of Seneca Falls—Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott. Far too often, women are ignored in classical social theory books; and indeed, other women such as Alexandra Kollontai could have been included in this chapter.

In fact, making a decision as to which theorists to include and exclude is often difficult. Certain theorists such as Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, and George Herbert Mead are "givens" for any classical social theory book. Other theorists such as Herbert Spencer, Charles Cooley, Karl Mannheim, Talcott Parsons, and George Homans have a high probability of appearing in such a textbook. Other theorists (e.g., W. E. B. Dubois, E. F. Frazier, and Vilfredo Pareto) received a great deal of consideration for inclusion, but ultimately the decision was made to use the theorists found in this current edition, as they seemed the most representative of a comprehensive approach to social theory. Additionally, there is always a concern of whether or not a book gets too lengthy.

A couple of reviewers suggested a companion reader filled with quotes from theorists so that students might better interpret the works of these great thinkers. What a wonderful suggestion for a future book, thanks!

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Table of Contents

1. Antecedents: Social, Political, and Philosophical.

2. Auguste Comte.

3. Herbert Spencer.

4. Karl Marx.

5. Emile Durkheim.

6. Georg Simmel.

7. Max Weber.

8. Charles Cooley.

9. George Herbert Mead.

10. Thorstein Veblen.

11. Karl Mannheim.

12. Talcott Parsons.

13. George Homans.

14. Contributions from Women to Classical Social Theory.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Preface

Humans often attempt to find a meaning for life and aspire to understand the world around them. Understanding is derived from a number of sources that include: faith, tradition, common sense, and science. All of these approaches, except science, have major flaws. Sociology is a science. It is a science as much as any of the so-called "natural" sciences. Sociology teaches us to look beyond the limits of common sense—that not everything one was led to believe is necessarily true. This contradiction often leads to culture shock. Culture shock is evidence contrary to previously held beliefs regarding a social group, place, or phenomena. Social thinkers, including sociologists, have long fought the validity of a reliance on a religious belief system or a social order maintained by tradition (e.g., "royalty"). Sociology has its roots strongly entrenched in empirical science and moral reform. It analyzes human social behavior from a socio-historic perspective.

C. Wright Mills recognized that an individual's meaning of inner life is linked to external social events. A series of previous events all shape the formation of current events. In other words, human behavior and social reality is a product of historically linked events of behavior and phenomena. Mills (1959) used the term sociological imagination. The sociological imagination allows its possessor to understand individual events from the historical perspective. It allows us to comprehend individual biography and history and the relationship between the two within society. From this perspective, individuals come to realize that their problems are a result of the greater societal strain. For example, an individual may feel bad about him/herself after being laid off from work. But these feelings of self-remorse subside with the realization that the socio-economic structure in society has changed and consequently, a large number of people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

When teaching theory, it is important to analyze the biography of social thinkers and provide a glimpse of the historic events occurring in conjunction with the theorist. In addition, it should be obvious that students need to be exposed to key concepts and contributions of each theorist. However, the most important goal to teaching social theory is, perhaps, demonstrating the relevance of such material to the students' daily lives. Teaching the relevance of sociology should be the focus of the discipline. This goal can be attained by incorporating everyday events into the classroom (and textbooks). Some of the sources of relevance to students' every day lives include newspaper and magazine articles; recently released movies; the news; sports; arts and entertainment (especially television); campus activities; professors' first-hand accounts of behavior in different cultures; and pop culture.

Classical Social Theory: Investigation and Application provides an excellent overview of classical social theory with a concentration on sociological thought. This book reflects the convergence of social science, natural science, philosophy, and history into a collective body of classical discourse.

Chapter One provides a brief overview of the many social, political, and philosophical antecedents that preceded the founding of sociology. The story of social theory is generally acknowledged as beginning with Machiavelli's The Prince, a book published in 1513, at the height of the Italian Renaissance. The Prince was a controversial book for its time, as it provided a realistic view of human actions and challenged the long-held belief in the Divine Rights of Kings. In 1517, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany, lighting the fires of the Reformation and Protestantism.

A review of the impact of the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau follows, as these early thinkers had a tremendous impression on early sociological thinkers. The chapter concludes with a review of the importance of the Enlightenment, the large number of revolutions (industrial and political), and the contributions of Claude-Henri Saint-Simon. This chapter is important because it establishes that all social thinkers were influenced by the works and thoughts that preceded them.

Chapters Two through Thirteen provide a review of specific social thinkers critically important to the development and expansion of the field of sociology. All of these specific theorists provided major contributions in their own unique ways. In each chapter, a biographical sketch of each theorist is provided (family background, education, personal life, publications, and so on); a review of those significant intellectual influences on each theorist that helped to shape his own thoughts; a concise and clear review of the concepts and contributions of each theorist; and an application of the relevancy of their concepts and contributions to contemporary and future society.

The biographical sketch of each theorist has proven to be of special value to students in my social theory classes. It is an interesting way of making these "names" more "real" and human to the student as they learn about the challenges, pitfalls, and accomplishments of each theorist. It also reveals that people are most definitely a product of their time and place in history. The section concerning the influences on each theorist demonstrates the fact that ideas are not created in a vacuum. Instead, they are the result of the knowledge and wisdom of those enlightened thinkers who came before each of them. From a purely academic standpoint, the section on concepts and contributions attributed to each theorist is perhaps the most critical and therefore represents the bulk of each chapter. These concepts and terms are explained in a clear manner that the reader should be able to comprehend.

What should stimulate students the most is the section on the relevancy of these social concepts to today's world. The ability to link social thought with everyday real events becomes the critical challenge of any social theory text. The relevancy section provides glimpses of the application of specific concepts. The examples do not represent an exhaustive list, but rather an attempt to show its practicality to present-day reality.

Critical thought and pragmatic discussion in the application of this material will help to develop the student's rational thought processes and analytical skills, as well as to instill an appreciation for synthetic thought. It is this section, Chapters Two through Thirteen, that separates and distinguishes this book from all other social theory texts.

Chapter Fourteen, "Contributions from Women to Classical Social Theory," is dedicated to the progressive, and reformist, contributions from a select number of significant women in the areas of classical social theory and the advancement of sociology. This is a meaningful chapter as it provides a solid foundation to the role of women in the development of sociological thought, and symbolizes the discrimination felt by women throughout the classical era. To place this chapter anywhere else in the book seemed to force it upon the reader. As a final chapter, it serves as a statement that the role of women in sociological theory is just beginning. Thus, Chapter Fourteen partially serves as the transition chapter into the contemporary social theory era.

The women discussed in Chapter Fourteen include Harriet Martineau, Beatrice Potter Webb, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida Wells-Barnett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jane Addams, Marianne Weber, and the Ladies of Seneca Falls—Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott. Far too often, women are ignored in classical social theory books; and indeed, other women such as Alexandra Kollontai could have been included in this chapter.

In fact, making a decision as to which theorists to include and exclude is often difficult. Certain theorists such as Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, and George Herbert Mead are "givens" for any classical social theory book. Other theorists such as Herbert Spencer, Charles Cooley, Karl Mannheim, Talcott Parsons, and George Homans have a high probability of appearing in such a textbook. Other theorists (e.g., W. E. B. Dubois, E. F. Frazier, and Vilfredo Pareto) received a great deal of consideration for inclusion, but ultimately the decision was made to use the theorists found in this current edition, as they seemed the most representative of a comprehensive approach to social theory. Additionally, there is always a concern of whether or not a book gets too lengthy.

A couple of reviewers suggested a companion reader filled with quotes from theorists so that students might better interpret the works of these great thinkers. What a wonderful suggestion for a future book, thanks!

Read More Show Less

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