Living Theory: The Application of Classical Social Theory to Contemporary Life / Edition 2

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This short, jargon-free text helps students see how the classical theories of Marx, Durkheim, Simmel, and Weber address many of the issues and problems of contemporary society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205452231
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 1/12/2005
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents


1. The Contemporary Relevance of Old Theories.


Organization of the Book.

Symptoms of Strain and Change.

The Value of Theory and Theories of Value.

The Relevance of Theories Past: A Primer.

on Their Perspectives.

The View from Marx's Eyes.

The View from Durkheim's Eyes.

The View from Simmel's Eyes.

The View from Weber's Eyes.


Questions to Ponder.

2. The Janus-Faced Nature of Society.


Modern Western Society.

Society as Industrial, Urban, and Centralized.

Society as Rational.

Society as Individualistic.

The Postmodern Element.

Forces of Integration and Disintegration:.

Society's Janus Face.

Durkheim: The Division of Labor and Collective Conscience.

Marx: The State, Ideology, and Capitalism.

Simmel: The Web of Modern Life.

Weber: Modern Society's Rational Structuring.


Questions to Ponder.

3. Private Lives and Public Connections.


The Meaning of the Natural Self.

The individual and the community: a delicate balance.

The Public Eye in the Private Life.

Separation and Suicide.


Questions to Ponder.

4. Separatism and Status.


The Arrangement of Space.

Gated Communities.

The Maintenance of Exclusivity.

Racial Ghettos.


Questions to Ponder.

5. Cynicism, Distrust, and Corruption


Symptoms of an Uncivil Society.

Unraveling the Roots of Political Corruption.

The Role of Education.

Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Money, and Corruption.

The Misanthropic Tendency.

Money Talks.

The Push for Profit.

"Well Whatever."


Questions to Ponder.

6. Commodification and the Value of Human Life.


The Superficial Self.

Beauty as Cult and Body as Icon.

The Influence of Class and Capitalism.

People Bought and Sold: The World of Celebrities.

Capitalism in Entertainment.

Enchantment and Disenchantment of Celebrity.

The Value of Human Life.

Rational Medicine and the Giving of Life.


Questions to Ponder.

7. The Polarization of Economic Resources.


Inside the U.S. Class Structure.

Understanding Processes of Economic Inequality.

Economic Inequality Between Status Groups.

Accounting for Inequality Between Groups.


Questions to Ponder.

A Summing Up.

Glossary of Classical Theoretical Terms.


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  • Posted May 21, 2009

    Clear and relevant

    I am a doctoral student and picked up this book in preparation for my comprehensive exam. It was fantastic. Geared towards an undergraduate audience, Hurst gives adequate history of the theories and a thorough treatment of the theorists' major constructs. He applies them to contemporary issues in a concrete way that makes this a practical and easily accessible guide for anyone looking to learn about or refresh their memories on grand social theories.

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