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.




Even in the nineteenth century, bureaucracy seems to have been a term of abuse. Balzac described it as ‘a giant mechanism operated by pygmies’ and Thomas Carlyle, in Latter Day Pamphlets published in 1850, denounced ‘That Continental nuisance called “Bureaucracy”’ (in recognition of his sustained efforts to show the cruelty of government bureaucracy, Charles Dickens dedicated his novel Hard Times to Carlyle).

In its original meaning ‘bureaucracy’ – from the French bureaucratie and the Greek word for rule – referred simply to the rule of officials. Though bureaucracy came to be equated with the rule of government officials, sociologists have treated it as an administrative form, characteristic of a broad range of organisations. According to Williams, the term points to the growing scale of commercial ...

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