“The strengths of this text are the breadth of theories covered; the integration of gender-related topics— family, work, religion; the use of substantial quotes from primary texts; the consistent inclusion of methodological issues…. I have no doubt that it will find a solid position in the field of theory texts.”

--Kathleen Slobin, North Dakota State University

A concise, yet surprisingly comprehensive theory text, given the range of ideas, historical context, and theorists discussed. Unlike other books of the type, Contemporary 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.

Twentieth-Century Functionalism and Beyond

Twentieth-Century Functionalism and Beyond
Twentieth-century functionalism and beyond

An important approach to sociological theory has been to examine the issues of order and integration in society, and to seek answers to questions such as What does it do? What needs does it meet? How does it work? In the nineteenth century this was found in the theories of Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim.

Chapter 2 picks up the themes of societal integration and functional analysis as they were expanded upon by Talcott Parsons and Robert K. Merton in the middle third of the twentieth century. Parsons developed various schemes—the pattern variables, AGIL—to organize his thinking on social action and on the social system. Later he turned his attention to modernization (also see Chapter 6), agreeing with those ...

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