Sociology consists of a myriad of frequently confusing concepts. Key Concepts in Sociology provides a comprehensive, lively and clearly-written guide to the most important concepts in the subject. It includes both what might be regarded as ‘classic’ sociological concepts, such as ‘class’, ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘community’, as well as subjects that have become increasingly prominent in recent times, such as ‘celebrity’, ‘risk’ and ‘the body’.

Each of the thirty-eight substantive entries: Defines the concept; provides a clear and compelling narrative; clarifies the main debates, perspectives and disagreements; gives advice on further reading

Key Concepts in Sociology should be the first choice for sociology students at all levels of learning.




Discourse refers to how knowledge, subjects, behaviour, and events are depicted and defined in statements, assumptions, concepts, themes, and shared ideas. The simplest way to think of the concept of discourse is that it provides a framework through which we see the world. According to Apter, discourse theory concerns how people convince themselves to act, how they define choices, interpret events and experiences using, amongst other things, signs, symbols, language, myths and meaning (2005: 113–114). For example, national culture can be seen as a discourse carrying meanings that can help shape our actions and self-conceptions of who ‘we’ are:

National cultures construct identities by producing meanings about ‘the nation’ with which we can identify; these are contained in the stories which are told about it, memories ...

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