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Revised and expanded to incorporate recent research, this classic text now offers a more comprehensive introduction to many of sociology's most interesting and elegant ideas, written with a grace and wit that have delighted a generation of students. Beginning with a central problem that distinguishes sociology from most other ways of looking at the world, Randall Collins examines the limits of human rationality and sociological theories of religion, showing how they open up a general theory of social rituals that holds the key to much of the rest of sociology. With these conceptual tools in hand, he invites students to ponder how sociological analysis can illuminate a variety of urgent topics—power, crime, sex, love, and the position of women in society—as it reveals both their visible social symbols and their paradoxical deep structures. In a new final chapter, Collins stakes out an important role for sociology in the information age, while coming full circle to the theories of rationality and ritual with which he began, showing that artificial intelligence can approximate human creativity only if it can take part in ritual interactions. Uniquely engaging, Sociological Insight dramatizes the major issues and concerns of sociology in a way that gets students thinking and talking, and whets their appetites for more.
1. The Nonrational Foundations of Rationality
2. The Sociology of God
3. Paradoxes of Power
4. The Normalcy of Crime
5. Love and Property
6. Can Sociology Create an Artificial Intelligence?