Breaking away from the idea that sociology only ever elaborates the negative, Sociology for Optimists shows that sociology can provide hope in dealing with social issues through critical approaches that acknowledge the positive. From politics and inequality to nature and faith, Mary Holmes shows how a critical and optimistic sociology can help us think about and understand human experience not just in terms of social problems, but in terms of a human capacity to respond to those problems and strive for social change. With contemporary case studies throughout grounding the theory in the real world, this is the perfect companion/antidote to studying sociology.



Not everybody agrees about what it means to be good but we often rely on the ‘goodness’ of others. In the past guidance about what goodness entails has often been contradictory even within the same system of beliefs. For example, the Christian bible tells people both to take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and to ‘turn the other cheek’ in response to injury by others. However, people usually appreciate people being ‘nice’ to them. As Julie Brownlie (2014) found in her research, small, everyday acts of kindness are crucial to helping people cope, especially when they experience some kind of difficulty or crisis in their lives. For instance, one man interviewed for her project described how a ...

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