“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.
Criticism, Marxism, and Change
In the previous section we looked at the more-or-less “official” twentieth-century conservative capitalist theory and ideology of functionalism, followed by Luhmann's and Giddens's expansions on and deviations from this theme. Now we come to three chapters emphasizing criticism and change.
The two great European wars of the twentieth century and the Great Depression of the 1930s increased Marxists’ confidence in the demise of capitalism. However, critics of the Soviet Union's Stalinist socialism also raised questions about whether the Soviet model was the one to follow. In addition, many of Marx's principles, such as the labor theory of value, increasing misery of the poor, and the final revolution, were being criticized by both bourgeois economists and those sympathetic to Marxism.