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Classical Sociological Theory
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Classical Sociological Theory

  • Bert N. Adams - University of Wisconsin - Madison, Chile, University of Wisconsin, USA
  • R A Sydie - University of Alberta - Edmonton, Canada


© 2002 | 384 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"This is an eminently lucid, readable, and comprehensive survey of classical sociological theory. Adams and Sydie provide thoughtful summaries and assessments of the works of dozens of social thinkers….By significantly broadening the cannon and devoting special attention to call, gender, and race, they bring theory up to date even as they take seriously the rich legacy of the past. I have never read a more exciting introduction to the theories of our discipline."
--Mustafa Emirbayer, University of Wisconsin, Madison

A concise, yet surprisingly comprehensive theory text, given the range of ideas, historical context, and theorists discussed. Unlike other books of the type, Classical Sociological Theory focuses on how the pivotal theories contributed not only to the development of the field, but also to the evolution of ideas concerning social life.

 
Preface
 
A Note to Students
 
SECTION I. THE EUROPEAN ROOTS OF SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY
 
1. The Origins of Sociological Theory
The Contours of Sociological Theory  
The Philosophical Precursors of Sociology  
Final Thoughts on the Philosophical Precursors  
References  
 
2. Theorizing After the Revolution
Claude-Henri, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825)  
Auguste Comte (1798-1857)  
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
SECTION II. CONSERVATIVE THEORIES
 
3. Evolutionism and Functionalism
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)  
William Graham Sumner (1840-1910)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
4. Society as Sui Generis
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
SECTION III. RADICAL THEORY
 
5. Radical Anticapitalism
Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
6. Marxism Extended
V.I. Lenin (1870-1924)  
Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
SECTION IV. SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF COMPLEXITY AND FORM
 
7. Social Action and Social Complexity
Max Weber (1864-1920) and Marianne Weber (1870-1954)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
8. The Sociology of Form and Content
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
SECTION V. SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
 
9. Political Sociological Theories
Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923)  
Robert Michels (1876-1936)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
10. Economic Sociological Theories
Thorstein Veblen, (1857-1929)  
Joseph Schumpeter, (1883-1950)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
SECTION VI. OTHER VOICES IN SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIZING
 
11. Society and Gender
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)  
Beatrice Potter Webb (1858-1943)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
12. Sociological Theory and Race
W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
13. Society, Self, and Mind
Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929)  
George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)  
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)  
Final Thoughts  
References  
 
14. Final Thoughts on Classical Sociological Theory
Nineteenth-Century Sociological Theory  
Early Twentieth-Century Sociological Theory  
Other Theoretical Issues  
Sociological Theory by the 1930s  
References  
 
Credits
 
Index

"This is an eminently lucid, readable, and comprehensive survey of classical sociological theory. Adams and Sydie provide thoughtful summaries and assessments of the works of dozens of social thinkers….By significantly broadening the cannon and devoting special attention to call, gender, and race, they bring theory up to date even as they take seriously the rich legacy of the past. I have never read a more exciting introduction to the theories of our discipline." 

Mustafa Emirbayer
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Provides a unique approach to classical social theory missing from majority of texts on the market.

Dr James Dzisah
Sociology , Nipissing Univ
July 12, 2011
Key features
  1. More consistency + more coherence = a more "teachable" book: one of the flaws of existing texts is that with each new theorist they begin talking about, the nature of the ideas / flow of the chapter changes abruptly. There are no internally consistent sub-heads from one chapter to the next, no consistent standards for comparison – so that students are given a learning framework to compare/contrast, say, Marx with Simmel, or Weber with Adorno. This makes learning very difficult in this area. In contrast, Adams/Sydie structure each chapter around a consistent structure of presentation and then evaluation of each theorist.
  2. A Consistent Set of Themes as Well: our book also focuses readers' attention in a consistent way on what the social theorist had to say about a constant set of ideas (i.e. how modernity changed social life, the nature of social beings, observations on race, class, and gender). This accomplishes two things: it makes reading about "old fuds" like Weber and Durkheim meaningful to today's students – because they see that these social ideas remain central to our concerns today. Second, it helps students again evaluate social theorists, one to the other, which is one of the central learning goals of the course.

  3. A Flavor of Scholarship that Exists in Very Few Texts: there is a fine line in this market between being applauded for being "authoritative" and being criticized for being overly academic. Overall, Adams/Sydie do a superb job of having produced original work and a great deal of original research, but presenting it clearly and meaningfully to undergraduates.
  4. Different Voices for a Diverse Society: it is not new to throw in "a bit more" about social theorists who previously have either been ignored or marginalized by 'tradition.' That's what authors of revisions do, and the standard texts have been revised many times. But it's altogether different to actually incorporate these "new" social theorists fully into a new text. And that's what Adams/Sydie have done with Harriet Martineau, Mary Wollestonecraft, W.B. Dubois, Rosa Luxemburg, and others.
  5. Applying Theory to Everyday Life: this feature is not as abundant in every chapter as would have liked, but Adams/Sydie still do more of this than most texts. That is, they supply an example from everyday events students are familiar with to show the ongoing power and insight to be derived from seeing the world through the lens of social theory. This helps with the ongoing "selling" of the course.
  6. Differences from Comprehensive Volume: There are new first and final chapters in both the split volumes introducing and summarizing each of the books.

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