Sociology, like human society, is varied, contested and constantly changing. It is hard to capture from a single perspective, and hard to describe with finality. This does not mean there are no regular patterns, no enduring features, or no basis for science. But it does mean that as a science sociology faces a distinctive challenge. Its object of study – society or social relations – is more subject to historical change and human choice than the objects of the physical and biological sciences. It is also broader and more complex than the specific dimensions of social life singled out by the narrower, more specialized social sciences like politics, economics, and geography. And precisely because human society is open to choice and historical change, and ...