From the team that brought you the bestselling Understanding Classical Sociology (SAGE Publications, 1995), we now have a companion volume dealing with the modern period of social theory. An introductory chapter situates the reader in the main changes in society and sociology following the classic period. This is then followed by separate chapters giving a detailed account of four perspectives that are regarded to be of seminal importance - Functionalism, Critical Theory, Structuralism and Symbolic Interactionism. All of the popular features of Understanding Classical Sociology are reproduced in this book: · Clarity of exposition and criticism· A passion for the importance and relevance of sociological reasoning and explanation· A commitment to treat social theory as a living tradition of thought In addition, the volume comes with a variety of pedagogic aids including summary points and key definitions to facilitate learning and study.This is a book that enhances the sociological imagination. It draws on the authors deep understanding and experience of teaching the subject over many decades. It will be welcomed by lecturers as a vital new teaching and research aid, and students will be stimulated and enriched by the unfussy and reliable advice on doing sociology that it imparts.



Beginning Chapter Four

Structuralism sought to implement linguistics as the model for the social sciences, a linguistics based on the structural linguistics of Saussure. Claude Lévi-Strauss' work in anthropology and the analysis of myth was massively influential. The chapter includes discussion of:

  • the contribution of Claude Lévi-Strauss;
  • Roland Barthes and the ‘oppression of culture’
  • Jacques Lacan and the return to Freud;
  • Louis Althusser and the resurrection of Marx;
  • the move to post-structuralism.

The rise of the school of structuralism in French, especially Parisian, intellectual life was a key transition in modern social theory even though its prominence was relatively brief. For a moment it seemed as though the dream of a sociological science was to be realised and, though its ideas were seen as a radical departure from those which had ...

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