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Our Social World

Our Social World
Introduction to Sociology

Seventh Edition
Additional resources:

January 2019 | 648 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The authors are proud sponsors of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Our Social World: Introduction to Sociology inspires students to develop their sociological imaginations, to see the world and personal events from a new perspective, and to confront sociological issues on a day-to-day basis. Organized around the "Social World" model, a conceptual framework that demonstrates the relationships among individuals (the micro level); organizations, institutions, and subcultures (the meso level); and societies and global structures (the macro level), the authors use this framework to help students develop the practice of using three levels of analysis, and to view sociology as an integrated whole, rather than a set of discrete subjects.

The Seventh Edition includes new coverage of climate change, the influence of robots and artificial intelligence on workers, race relations in the Trump era, transgender identity and gender fluidity, sexual harassment in the workplace and the #MeToo movement, declining marriage rates, the impact of tracking for students at all academic achievement levels, smoking as an example of health and inequality in the U.S., gun violence and the student movement to control access to guns, social media, and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Preface: To Our Students
Instructors: How to Make This Book Work for You
A Personal Note to the Instructor
Chapter 1: Sociology: A Unique Way to View the World
What Is Sociology?

Why Does Sociology Matter?

The Social World Model

Chapter 2: Examining the Social World: How Do We Know What We Know?
Development of Sociology

Sociology’s Major Theoretical Perspectives

Ideas Underlying Science

How Sociologists Study the Social World

Chapter 3: Society and Culture: Hardware and Software of Our Social World
Society: The Hardware

Culture: The Software

Society, Culture, and Our Social World

Theories of Culture

Fit Between Hardware and Software

Chapter 4: Socialization: Becoming Human and Humane
Nature Versus Nurture—or Both Working Together?

Importance of Socialization

Socialization and the Social World

Development of the Self: Micro-Level Analysis

Agents of Socialization: The Micro-Meso Connection

Socialization and Macro-Level Issues

Policy and Practice

Chapter 5: Interaction, Groups, and Organization: Connections That Work
Networks and Connections in Our Social World

The Process of Interaction: Connections at the Micro Level

Groups in Our Social World: The Micro-Meso Connection

Organizations and Bureaucracies: The Meso-Macro Connection

National and Global Networks: The Macro Level

Chapter 6: Deviance and Social Control: Sickos, Weirdos, Freaks, and Folks Like Us
What Is Deviance?

What Causes Deviant Behavior? Theoretical Perspectives

Crime and Individuals: Micro-Level Analysis

Crime and Organizations: Meso-Level Analysis

National and Global Crime: Macro-Level Analysis

Controlling Crime: Social Policy Considerations

Chapter 7: Stratification: Rich and Famous—or Rags and Famine?
Importance of Social Stratification

Theoretical Explanations of Stratification

Individuals’ Social Status: The Micro Level

Social Mobility: The Micro-Meso Connection

Major Stratification Systems: Macro-Level Analysis

Poverty and Social Policy

Bridging the National and Global Digital Divide: Macro-Level Stratification

Chapter 8: Race and Ethnic Group Stratification: Beyond “Us” and “Them”
What Characterizes Racial and Ethnic Groups?

Prejudice: Micro-Level Analysis

Discrimination: Meso-Level Analysis

Dominant and Minority Group Contact: Macro-Level Analysis

Policies Governing Minority and Dominant Group Relations

Chapter 9: Gender Stratification: She/He—Who Goes First?
Sex, Gender, and the Stratification System

Gender Socialization: Micro- and Meso-Level Analyses

Gender Stratification: Meso- and Macro-Level Processes

Gender Stratification: Micro- to Macro-Level Theories

Costs and Consequences of Gender Stratification

Changing Gender Stratification and Social Policy

Importance of Institutions

Development of Modern Institutions

Connections Among Institutions

Chapter 10: Family: Partner Taking, People Making, and Contract Breaking
What Is a Family?

Theoretical Perspectives on Family

Family Dynamics: Micro-Level Processes

Family as an Institution: Meso-Level Analysis

National and Global Family Issues: Macro-Level Analysis

Marriage, Divorce, and Public Sociology

Chapter 11: Education: What Are We Learning?
State of the World’s Education: An Overview

The Ins and Outs of Local Schools: Micro-Level Interactions in Educational Organizations

After the School Bell Rings: Meso-Level Analysis of Educational Organizations

Education, Society, and the Road to Opportunity: The Macro Level

Education and Public Policy

Chapter 12: Religion: The Social Meaning of Sacred Meaning
What Does Religion Do for Us?

Becoming Part of a Faith Community: Micro-Level Analysis

Religion and Modern Life: Meso-Level Analysis

Religion in Society: Macro-Level Analysis

Religion in the Modern World

Social Policy: Same-Sex Marriage, Gay or Lesbian Clergy, and Transgender People

Chapter 13: Politics and Economics: Probing Power; Dissecting Distribution
What Is Power?

Power and Privilege in Our Social World

Theoretical Perspectives on Power and Privilege

Individuals, Power, and Participation: Micro-Level Analysis

Power and Resource Distribution: Meso-Level Analysis

National and Global Systems: Macro-Level Analysis

Chapter 14: Health Care: An Anatomy of Health and Illness
Why Is Health a Social Issue?

Theoretical Perspectives on Health and Illness

Status and Roles of the Sick Person: Micro-Level Analysis

Modern Health Care Systems: Meso-Level Analysis

Health Care Issues at the National and Global Level: Macro-Level Analysis

Chapter 15: Environmental Sociology: Population, Urbanization, and Climate Change
Macro-Level Patterns in World Population Growth

Meso-Level Institutional Influences on Population Change

Micro-Level Population Patterns

Urbanization: Movement From Rural to Urban Areas

Cities as Micro-Level Living Environments

How Did Cities Evolve? Meso-Level Organizational Structures

The Urban Environment and Social Policy: Macro-Level Perspectives

Chapter 16: Process of Change: We Can Make a Difference!
Complexity of Change in Our Social World

Social Change: Process and Theories

Collective Behavior: Micro- to Meso-Level Change

Planned Change in Organizations: Meso-Level Change

Social Movements: Macro-Level Change

About the Authors


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Key features
  • SAGE course outcomes help you track and measure student success. Crafted with specific course outcomes in mind and vetted by advisors in the field, SAGE course outcomes clearly define and benchmark the knowledge and skills students are expected to achieve upon completion of your course. See how outcomes tie in with this book’s chapter-level objectives.
  • Urban Sociology and Population (Ch. 15) has been recast under the heading of Environmental Sociology, with a major new section on climate change.
  • Four new Sociology in Action boxes and one new Sociology in Our Social World box on the Sociology of Sports (written by a student) is included.
  • Added explanation of how Our Social World relates to The Sociology Literacy Framework in the note to the instructor at the beginning of the book.
  • Hundreds of new maps, photos, and figures add new critical topics.
  • Hundreds of new/updated references represent new information and data.
  • Updated "Contributing to Our Social World: What Can We Do?" features encourage social awareness and involvement.


  • All three members of this distinguished author team have been recognized for their contributions to undergraduate teaching.
  • Chapters open with the “Our Social World” model, a full-page diagram that shows how the key concepts and issues in that chapter fit into the book’s micro-to-macro framework.
  • Sociologists in Action boxes profile “public” sociologists who are making a difference, illustrating the practical side of sociology.
  • “Contributing to Our Social World” at the end of each chapter highlights volunteer opportunities for sociology students at the local, institutional, and national/global level.
  • The text describes a range of research strategies and illustrates concrete examples of the method being used, encouraging critical thinking and helping students develop a more sophisticated epistemology.
  • Think About It questions, relevant to everyday life and posed at the outset of each chapter, encourage students to be curious, active, and reflective readers.
  • Opening vignettes help students connect to the chapters’ content through personalized stories.
  • Thinking Sociologically questions ask students to apply material to some aspect of their lives or the social world, and can be the basis for productive discussions with classmates, friends, and family.
  • Engaging Sociology features provide opportunities for students to analyze research data, apply what they’ve learned to new situations, or reflect on their personal experiences and those of others.

Preview this book

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1. Sociology

Chapter 2. Examining the Social World

For instructors

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