You are here

The Social Lens
Share

The Social Lens
An Invitation to Social and Sociological Theory

Third Edition


May 2013 | 632 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This fully updated edition of Kenneth Allan’s acclaimed social theory text emphasizes the diversity of classical and contemporary theory, critical thinking, and the importance of historical context. Chosen for the diversity of their perspectives and their suitability for introducing students to contemporary social thought, a wide variety of theorists appear in the text with their individual voices vividly intact. The author engages students in the historic and contemporary changes that have spawned diverse social theories and invites them to see theory as an element within a broader range of critical thinking skills that can be applied to current social problems.

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award

Find out more at www.sagepub.com/sociologyaward


 
Part I: Modernity and the Sociological Response
 
Chapter 1. On Theory
A Lesson From History

 
Critical Thinking and Theory

 
Theory in Brief

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 2. The Evolution of Society: Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
Theorist's Digest

 
The Life and Times of Herbert Spencer

 
Concepts and Theory: Social Evolution

 
Concepts and Theory: Social Institutions

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 3. Contradictions in Capitalism: Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Theorist's Digest

 
The Life and Times of Karl Marx

 
Concepts and Theory: Human Nature and History

 
Concepts and Theory: Contradictions in Capitalism

 
Concepts and Theory: The Problem of Consciousness

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 4. The Irrationality of Rationality: Max Weber (1864-1920)
Theorist's Digest

 
The Life and Times of Max Weber

 
Concepts and Theory: The Rationalization of Society--Religion

 
Concepts and Theory: The Rationalization of Society--Capitalism

 
Concepts and Theory: The Rationalization of Society--Bureaucracy

 
Concepts and Theory: Class, Authority, and Social Change

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 5. The Problem With Diversity: Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
Theorist's Digest

 
The Life and Times of Emile Durkheim

 
Concepts and Theory: Religious Roots of Society

 
Concepts and Theory: Social Diversity and Morality

 
Concepts and Theory: Individualism in Modern Society

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 6. The Modern Person: George Herbert Mead and Georg Simmel
George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Truth, Meaning, and Action

 
Concepts and Theory: Meaning and Interaction

 
Concepts and Theory: Making Yourself

 
Summary

 
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Individual in Society

 
Concepts and Theory: The Self in the City

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 7. The Challenges of Gender and Race: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and W. E. B. Du Bois
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Social Evolution of Gender

 
Summary

 
W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963)

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Cultural Oppression

 
Concepts and Theory: The Dark Nations and World Capitalism

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part II: Contemporary Sociological Theory
 
Chapter 8. Structural Functionalism: Talcott Parsons, Robert K. Merton, and Jeffrey C. Alexander
Social Systems: Talcott Parsons

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Making the Social System

 
Concepts and Theory: System Functions and Control

 
Summary

 
Unanticipated Consequences and Ambivalence: Robert K. Merton

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Critiquing Parsons' Functionalism

 
Concepts and Theory: Dynamic Functionalism

 
Summary

 
Democracy and Civil Society: Jeffrey C. Alexander

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The New Civil Sphere

 
Concepts and Theory: Civil Institutions

 
Concepts and Theory: Civil Society Outcomes

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 9. Conflict Theory: Lewis Coser, Ralf Dahrendorf, and Randall Collins
The Functional Consequences of Conflict: Lewis Coser

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Variation in Conflict

 
Concepts and Theory: The Integrating Forces of Conflict

 
Summary

 
Power and Dialectical Change: Ralf Dahrendorf

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Power and Group Interests

 
Concepts and Theory: Conditions of Conflict and Social Change

 
Summary

 
Emotion and the World in Conflict: Randall Collins

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Four Main Points in Conflict Sociology

 
Concepts and Theory: Geopolitics

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 10: What Happened to Class? Erik Olin Wright, Daniel Bell, and Pierre Bourdieu
Making Class Count: Erik Olin Wright

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Analytical Marxism

 
Concepts and Theory: Specifying Class

 
Summary

 
Postindustrial Society: Daniel Bell

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Rethinking Society

 
Concepts and Theory: The Decline of Class

 
Concepts and Theory: Polity and Culture

 
Summary

 
Embodying Class: Pierre Bourdieu

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Structuring Class

 
Concepts and Theory: Replicating Class

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 11. Structures of Racial and Gender Inequality: William Julius Wilson and Janet Saltzman Chafetz
The Declining Significance of Race: William Julius Wilson

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: American Racial History

 
Concepts and Theory: Policy Implications

 
Summary

 
Structures of Gender Inequality: Janet Saltzman Chafetz

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Coercive Structures of Gender Inequality

 
Concepts and Theory: Changing Gender Inequality

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 12. Exchange Theory: George Homans, Peter Blau, and Randall Collins
Elementary Forms of Social Behavior: George Homans

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Basic Principles of Behavioral Psychology

 
Summary

 
Social Exchanges and Power: Peter Blau

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Social Exchanges

 
Concepts and Theory: Creating Power and Social Structures

 
Summary

 
Ritualized Exchanges: Randall Collins

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Emotion--The Generalized Media of Exchange

 
Concepts and Theory: Interaction Ritual Chains (IRCs)

 
Concepts and Theory: The Ritualized Production of Stratification

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 13. Self and Situation: Erving Goffman, R. S. Perinbanayagam, and Harold Garfinkel
Managing Your Self-Image: Erving Goffman

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Impression Management

 
Concepts and Theory: Frames and Keys

 
Summary

 
The Language of the Self: R. S. Perinbanayagam

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Dialogic Acts and Agency

 
Concepts and Theory: Language of Identity

 
Summary

 
Organizing Ordinary Life: Harold Garfinkel

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Everyday Social Order as an Accomplishment

 
Concepts and Theory: Doing Society--Reflexively

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part III: Contemporary New Visions and Critiques
 
Chapter 14. Problems in Modernity: Jurgen Habermas and Anthony Giddens
Democracy in Danger: Jurgen Habermas

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Capitalism and Legitimation

 
Concepts and Theory: The Colonization of Democracy

 
Concepts and Theory: Communicative Action and Civil Society

 
Summary

 
Runaway Modernity: Anthony Giddens

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Dynamics of Modernity

 
Concepts and Theory: The Experience of Modernity

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 15. Globalizing Systems: Immanuel Wallerstein and Manuel Castells
Global Capitalism: Immanuel Wallerstein

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Dialectics of Capitalism

 
Concepts and Theory: The End of the World as We Know It

 
Summary

 
The Network Society: Manuel Castells

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Information Technology

 
Concepts and Theory: Networks, Identities, and Democracy

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 16. Upsetting Reality: Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard
Defining the Possible and Impossible: Michel Foucault

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Truth About Truth

 
Concepts and Theory: The Practices of Power

 
Concepts and Theory: Disciplining the Body

 
Summary

 
The End of Everything: Jean Baudrillard

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Mediating the World

 
Concepts and Theory: Losing the World

 
Concepts and Theory: The Postmodern Person

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 17. Politics of Identity: Dorothy E. Smith, Patricia Hill Collins, and Cornel West
Gendered Consciousness: Dorothy E. Smith

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Problem With Facts

 
Concepts and Theory: The Standpoint of Women

 
Summary

 
Race and Matrices of Domination: Patricia Hill Collins

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Standpoint of Black Women

 
Concepts and Theory: Intersectionality and Matrices of Domination

 
Summary

 
Race and Democracy: Cornel West

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Black Existence in America

 
Concepts and Theory: The Post-Democratic Age

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
References
 
Index
 
About the Author

An excellent, essential text for students in sociology!

Miss Engela Van der klashorst
biokinetics, sport and recreation, University of Pretoria
June 22, 2015

The Social Lens is a well-written and comprehensive text that explores theorists proposals regarding inequality. I would recommend this text for anyone seeking to develop a course in sociological theory that will provide a great overview of theories that are essential to the field of sociology. This text is easy to read and is complete with several tables and figures that provide a useful visual description of complex sociological concepts.

Ms Michelle Holliday
Sociology Dept, Portland State University
September 12, 2014

Sticking with Edles and Appelrouth, Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Text and Readings.

Professor Carol Thompson
Sociology Crim Just Anth Dept, Texas Christian University
August 24, 2014

This book provides excellent overviews of sociological theories, from the basic, consensus and conflict perspectives to their contemporary and more complex post modern understandings. The book would be most useful for A-level and first year undergraduate students, who are developing their critical thinking and evaluation skills.

Mr Dennis Hamilton
Humanities, Bournville College of Further Education
August 12, 2014

Great critical thinking exercises, good organization and breadth of topics. The reading level was good for an undergraduate course.

Professor Joseph Simpson
Sociology , Texas A&M San Antonio
December 2, 2013

A text which is recommended as background reading for students.
Well written and clear.

Dr Kate D'Arcy
social studies, Bedfordshire University
November 30, 2013

will be used with level 5 and 6 also

Dr Donna Peacock
Faculty of Education and Society, Sunderland University
November 21, 2013

This book gives dissertation students an excellent review of the sociological theory they have studied in previous modules, allowing them the deeper insight and connection such a text brings

Mrs Fiona Porter
Dept of Social Sciences & Humanities, Bradford University
September 9, 2013

Excellent -- even better than the second edition! Easy to read, easy to use. I like the added piece on critical thinking and the exercises in critical thinking at the end of each chapter.

Dr Marilyn Swisher
Family, Youth & Community Sciences, University of Florida
September 6, 2013

Good introduction and discussion of thinking sociologically

Dr Andrzej Zieleniec
Sociology , Keele University
August 15, 2013
Key features
NEW TO THIS EDITION:
  • A new introductory chapter focuses on theory as an element of critical thinking.
  • New chapter and section introductions emphasize the historical development of modern thought and the issues that occupy our minds today.
  • Revised “Building Your Theory Toolbox” sections promote critical thinking.
  • A new chapter, “What Happened to Class?” has been added, which clarifies the shift from classic Marxian analysis to contemporary postindustrial understandings of economic inequality.
  • Three new theorists, Jeffrey C. Alexander, Eric Olin Wright, and Daniel Bell, expand the scope of the book, offering more comprehensive coverage. 
  • A greater emphasis on the diversity of approaches and theories in sociology is reflected throughout the book.  
  • The development of sociological and social theories is now historically situated within the theme of modernity. 
KEY FEATURES:
  • Comprehensive coverage of social theory and its key thinkers enables readers to grasp complex issues and set them in context in the world today.
  • “Theory you can use” sections encourage students to think beyond the theory on the page to its implications for global society.
  • Helpful pedagogical tools that guide students through the world in theoretical terms include “Building Your Theoretical Toolbox” and “Theorist’s Digest.”

Preview this book

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
$60.00*
*180 day rental

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.