The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology / Edition 5

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The Practical Skeptic, a concise introduction to sociology, focuses on core concepts as the central building blocks for understanding sociology. Lisa McIntyre's straightforward, lively style and her emphasis on critical thinking make this an engaging and user-friendly text for students of all levels. Through this conversational narrative, students are able to grasp key sociological concepts and learn the essential lesson that there is much that goes on in the social world that escapes the sociologically untrained eye.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780073404400
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • Publication date: 6/11/2010
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 401,982
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa J. McIntyre is associate professor in sociology at Washington State University. She received the PhD in sociology from The University of Chicago. She is the author of three books including The Public Defender: The Practice of Law in the Shadows of Repute; Law in the Sociological Enterprise and The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology and the editor of The Practical Skeptic: Readings in Sociology. With Marvin Sussman, McIntyre edited Families and Law. An enthusiastic teacher and popular lecturer, McIntyre is a winner of Washington State University’s William F. Mullen Teaching Medal and numerous departmental teaching awards. Her central research focus is on how law and social behavior interact.
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Table of Contents



So, What is Sociology?

The Value of Sociology to Students

Tips for Studying Sociology-And An Invitation

Chapter 1: Responding to Chaos: A Brief History of Sociology

Inquiries into the Physical World

Technology, Urbanization, and Social Upheaval

The Origins of Modern Sociology in France: Emile Durkheim

Excerpt: Emile Durkheim, from Suicide (1897) and The Rules of the Sociological Method (1904)

The Origins of Modern Sociology in Germany: Ferdinand Tonnies and Max Weber

Excerpt: Ferdinand Tonnies, from Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (1887)

Karl Marx

The Origins of Modern Sociology in England: Herbert Spencer

Sociology in the United States

Box: One small step for sociology

The Place of Sociology in Modern Society

Chapter 2: The Sociological Eye

The Focus on the Social


Box: Nail down that distinction between manifest and latent functions

Chapter 3: Science and Fuzzy Objects: Specialization in Sociology

Dividing Up the Task

Topic Area or Subject Matter

Theoretical Perspectives (Paradigms): Functionalist, Conflict, and Symbolic Interactionist

Which Paradigm Is Correct?

Levels of Analysis: Microsociology and Macrosociology

Chapter 4: Who's Afraid of Sociology?

The Empirical World and Inconvenient Facts


Avoiding Ethnocentrism Can Be Difficult

Cultural Relativism

Chapter 5: The Vocabulary of Science



Kinds of Variables: Independent Versus Dependent

Kinds of Relationships: Directionality

Operational Definitions

Tables and Figures

Chapter 6: Doing Social Research

Two Traditions: Quantitative and Qualitative Research

First Things First: The Lit Review

The Survey

Box: Six guidelines for crafting survey-questions

The Experiment

Box: Five rules of doing true experiments


Unobtrusive (Nonreactive) Research

The Importance of Triangulation


Box: Ethics and social research

Chapter 7: Culture

Material and Nonmaterial Culture

Box: The power of informal sanctions

Box: What do Americans value?

Box: Ideology

Box: Ponder

Box: Statements of Belief

How It Adds Up

Culture as a Product of Action

Culture as a Conditioning Element of Further Action

Box: Varieties of cultural wisdom

Social Institutions

Social Change: Cultural Diffusion and Leveling

Subcultures and Countercultures


Excerpt: Margaret Visser, from Much Depends upon Dinner (1986)

Chapter 8: Social Structure



Box: Tricky tricky situations

Master Status


Chapter 9: Society and Social Institutions

Societal Needs

The Nature of Social Institutions

Box: Polygamy and monogamy

Social Change: The Trend Toward Increasing Specialization

Chapter 10: Socialization

Nature and Nurture: Biological and Social Processes

How Socialization Works

Excerpt: George Herbert Mead, From Play and Games in the Genesis of Self (1934)

Box: Rites of passage

Resocialization and Total Institutions


Chapter 11: Deviance and Social Control

The Relativity of Deviance (What We Already Know)

Nonsociological Theories of Deviance

Sociological Theories of Deviance: Emile Durkheim and Suicide

More Structural Strain: Robert Merton and Anomie

Learning to Be Deviant: Howard Becker's Study of Marijuana Use

The Societal Reaction Perspective: Labeling Theory

The Functions of Deviance: Maintenance of the Status Quo and Social Change

Box: Ponder

Chapter 12: Stratification and Inequality

Caste Systems

Estate Systems

Box: A year in the life of the peasant

Class Systems

Theoretical Conceptions of Class

Box: Ponder

Some Words About Slavery

Social Mobility and Open Versus Closed Systems

Chapter 13: Inequality and Achievement: Social Class

Box: The Mathew effect

Explaining Social Stratification

Box: Beyond academics

The Pygmalion Effect: The Power of Expectations

The Fallacy of Hard Work

Social Mobility, Social Structure, and Social Change

Chapter 14: Inequality and Ascription: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Why a Dollar Is Not Always a Dollar



Discrimination and "Isms"

The Social Construction of Minority Groups


Box: Sex or gender?




Each chapter ends with End of Chapter Review and Stop and Review: Answers and Discussion
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