Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life / Edition 5

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In fifteen years, Charles Lemert's Social Things has become a much-loved modern classic among teachers, students, and many other readers for introducing the sociological imagination through lively, memorable stories and interpretations. This fifth edition is fresh: the history of sociology section is updated to incorporate new discussions of the way sociological ideas have spread into numerous other fields to inform the new post-disciplinary social theory; the book now includes original yet practically vivid presentations of globalization, queer theory, critical race theory, and much else; and an entirely new chapter, "Global Things on a Fragile Planet," addresses the environmental crises that challenge our global world. Lemert focuses on man-made disasters like the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010 and natural tragedies like the 2011 earthquakes and tsunami in Japan in which the fragility of organized human life and the sociological incompetence of many social structures are dramatically illustrated.

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Editorial Reviews

Joe Feagin
Charles Lemert makes sociology vital and alive in this provocative yet friendly introduction. Lemert uses personal biography and the life stories of sociologists, including female, gay and lesbian, and black social thinkers too often overlooked. He asks tough questions of race, class, and gender that most other introductions bypass.
Rhonda F. Levine
With its significantly updated chapter on the state of the discipline since the 1960s, Lemert's Social Things continues to be the best book about the discipline and practice of sociology since C. Wright Mills's The Sociological Imagination.
Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez
Social Things is indispensable for teaching sociology well, with all of its nuances and mind-bending complexities. Lemert meets students where they are and then demonstrates to them how deeply relevant is the discipline for any thoughtful understanding of their social worlds. This has certainly been true of the first four editions and, with the welcome addition of a new chapter on 'global things on a fragile planet' in the fifth edition, it will remain required reading for all of my students.
Joe R. Feagin
Charles Lemert makes sociology vital and alive in this provocative yet friendly introduction. Lemert uses personal biography and the life stories of sociologists, including female, gay and lesbian, and black social thinkers too often overlooked. He asks tough questions of race, class, and gender that most other introductions bypass.
The first edition appeared in 1977. The book is primarily for use in introductory sociology classes. Part story and history, it shows how we would not encounter "individuals who trust or threaten us were it not for social forces beyond our reach...." What this means is that Lemert (sociology, Wesleyan) is interested in how individuals' lives are shaped not only by intention and local conditions, but also by global forces, especially political and economic events and trends. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Sociological Analysis
Social Things is a triumph. In a time when sociologists must convince others that sociology is not the study of the obvious, Lemert shows that it is highly relevant, both in the classroom and especially in living a fulfilled social life. It is a text that will get new students excited about sociology, and it will remind the professional sociologist of sociology's responsibility and possibility.
— Christopher Bartley
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442211629
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/5/2011
  • Edition description: 5th Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 308,532
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Lemert is university professor and John C. Andrus Professor of Social Theory Emeritus at Wesleyan University and senior fellow of the Center for Comparative Research at Yale University. He is the author or editor of many books, including Why Niebuhr Matters, The Structural Lie, Globalization: A Reader (edited with Anthony Elliott, Daniel Chafee, and Eric Hsu), and The New Individualism (with Anthony Elliott).

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Fifth Edition

The Sociological Life
Chapter 1: Imagining Social Things, Competently
Chapter 2: Personal Courage and Practical Sociologies
Chapter 3: Practicing the Discipline of Social Things

Chapter 4: Sociology and Lost Worlds of A New World Order: 1848 - 1920
Chapter 5: Sociology Becomes a Science of Structures: 1920 - 1960
Chapter 6: Sociology Reaches Out Into the World: 1968 - 2000s

Social Things
Chapter 7: The Mysterious Power of Social Structures
Chapter 8: The Lively Subjects of Dead Structures
Chapter 9: Well-Measured Lives in a World of Differences

Global Things
Chapter 10: Global Methods
Chapter 11: Global Things on a Fragile Planet
Chapter 12: Living against the Conclusion

About the Author

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Wonderful introduction to Sociology

    This book is the perfect introduction to the field of sociology. Lemert uses real life examples which help to make seemly abstract concepts much more palatable. Lemert is a genius

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2010


    this book is very hard to read and very dry.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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