Modern Sociological Theory / Edition 1

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This innovative textbook presents a comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of the central debates in contemporary social thought. It enables the reader with a basic grasp of sociology to develop an advanced understanding of the vast and complex body of sociological theory. Malcolm Waters offers a different and illuminating framework for the study of social theory. By focusing on the core concepts and issues - rather than on schools of thought or individual theorists - he relates past and present theory to the key concerns of sociology today. Modern Sociological Theory gives a lucid overview of the core concepts that sociological theory must address and attempt to reconcile agency, rationality, structure and system; and the main phenomena that sociological theory seeks to explain - culture, power, gender, differentiation and stratification. It not only explains the major contributions to the analysis of each concept or phenomenon by both classical and contemporary theorists, but also links these ideas to current sociological issues, such as change and globalization, feminism and social theory and the return to cultural analysis. Covering a wide range of material in an accessible and engaging way, this is an invaluable textbook for all students of sociology, as well as for those in cultural studies, women's studies, organization studies, urban studies and geography who are interested in social theory.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Waters manages to be worthy, thorough and intelligible... Waters organizes his books around four formal concepts: agency, rationality, structure and system, and four substantive areas: culture and ideology, power and the state, gender and feminism, and differentiation and stratification.... His treatment of each is systematic and his coverage extremely thorough.... He writes in a straightforward way that would be within the range of all but the weakest student. Although he acknowledges that we cannot find a systematic body of theory in sociology, he comes close to presenting the complexity of contemporary theory as if it were systematic, and I suspect he really wishes it were.... I would recommend Water's book to beginners or to any student who was not particularly interested in social theory but had an exam to pass; I am not sure whether that is taking the easy way out or being a good teacher' - Ian Craib, British Journal of Sociology

'The publication of Malcolm Waters' Modern Sociological Theory marks a new stage in the teaching of contemporary social theory .In contrast to texts based on individual thinkers or ritualized accounts of schools, Waters provides an ingenious analytical framework for presenting virtually all of the major issues of contemporary social theory: from the varieties of interactionims to rational choice and exchange theory; structuralism and poststructuralism; functionalism and neofunctionalism; feminist theory to the latest variations in neo-Marxist, critical and postmodernist theory. Its what we have been waiting for and more. A focus on agency, rationality, structure and system effectively sets out the unifying terms of debate. Moreover, substantively oriented chapters on culture and idelology, power, gender and stratification link social theory and empirical research in an unparalleld manner. The major individual contributors are concisely presented, and helpful charts quickly convey the relations among abstract concepts. In short, there is no current text that can begin to compare with respect to scope, range, clarity, balance and sophistication. But this book is not only for moving students rapidly to the frontier of theory, it is also a must for anyone interested in catching up with the transformations of social theory over the past two decades. Those not using it for their courses will probably be relying on it for rewriting their lecture notes' - Professor Raymond A Morrow, University of Alberta, Edmonton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803985322
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 1/21/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

1 General theory in sociology 1
The practice of sociological theory 2
Approaches to sociological theory 5
The main concepts 11
2 Agency: meaning and motives in social arrangements 15
Founding arguments 17
Symbolic interactionism: the self-made society 22
Phenomenology: seeing things 31
Ethnomethodology: not taking the taken-for-granted for granted 36
Parsons: volunteering for action 40
Habermas: arguments resolved 42
Giddens' structuration theory: society by accident 45
3 Rationality: the maximization of individual interest 56
Founding arguments 59
Exchange theory: trading associations 66
Public choice: power to the people who have power 72
Rational choice: games Marxists play 78
4 Structure: secret patterns which determine experience 92
Founding arguments 94
Contemporary theories of social structure 104
Giddens: the constructionist version 104
Parsons: the functionalist version 107
Althusser: the structuralist version 115
Recent French structuralism and poststructuralism 122
5 System: an overarching order 131
Founding arguments: Durkheimian functionalism 133
Parsonsian structural-functionalism: systems within systems 142
Neofunctionalism: paradise regained 152
Habermas' communicationism: steering theory straight 161
6 Culture and ideology 173
Founding arguments 175
NeoMarxian critical theory 182
Contemporary constructionist theories of culture 192
The neoWeberian critique of ideology theory 202
Postmodernism: culture triumphant 206
7 Power and the state 217
Founding arguments 219
Critical structuralism: power from the possession of property 226
Functionalism and constructionism: power as politics 235
Utilitarianism: power as individual performance 240
Polymorphic power 244
8 Gender and feminism 250
Malestream theory 251
Foundations 252
Contemporary developments 256
Feminist critiques 260
Biological and sexual structuralist theory 266
Psychoanalytic structuralist theory 271
Critical and materialist structuralist theory 274
Constructionist theories 279
Poststructuralist theories 285
9 Differentiation and stratification 291
Founding arguments 294
Modernization: the utopias of functionalism 301
Theories of the future of differentiation 310
Founding arguments 322
Critical structuralist theory: possession is all 328
Constructionist theory: market forces 333
Functionalist theory: class as status 336
10 Conclusion: the past and the future of sociological theory 344
Three diagnoses 346
The accomplishments of theory 349
Moving forward 351
References 355
Index 364
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