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Cultures and Societies in a Changing World

Cultures and Societies in a Changing World

Fourth Edition

March 2012 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In today's world, both cultures and societies are changing more quickly than ever before. The Fourth Edition of Cultures and Societies in a Changing World sheds light on the role culture plays in shaping our social world.

A vital and personal aspect of individual identity, culture shapes a person's norms, values, beliefs and practices. This Fourth Edition introduces the sociology of culture and explores cultural phenomena including stories, beliefs, media, ideas, art, religious practices, fashions and rituals from a global-sociological perspective. The author takes a global approach by considering cultural examples from various countries and time periods, by delving into the ways globalization processes are affecting cultures and by offering an explanation of the post-Cold War era culture-related conflicts.

Readers will develop a deeper appreciation of culture and society from this text, gleaning useful insights that will help them overcome cultural misunderstandings, conflicts, and ignorance and will help equip them to live their professional and personal lives as effective, wise citizens of the world.

1: Culture and the Cultural Diamond
Two Ways of Looking at Culture

Connections: The Links Between Culture and Society


Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Futher Reading

2: Cultural Meaning
Why Do We Need Meaning?

Culture and Meaning in Refelction Theory

Culture and Meaning in Marxian Sociology

Culture and Meaning in Functionalist Sociology

Culture and Meaning in Weberian Sociology

Meaning Systems or a Tool Kit?

Meaning, Modernity, and the Clash of Cultures


Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading

3: Culture as a Social Creation
Durkheim and the Social Production of Culture

The Collective Production of Culture

Cultural Innovation and Social Change


Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading

4: The Production, Distribution, and Reception of Culture
The Production of Culture

The Production of Ideas


Freedom of Interpretation: Two Views


Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading

5: Identities, Problems, and Movements
Constructing a Collective Identity

Constructing a Social Problem

Constructing a Social Movement


Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading

6: Organizations in a Multicultural World
Organizational Cultures

Organizations in Cultural Contexts

Working Across Cultures


Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading

7: Culture and Connection
Media Revolutions and Cultural Communities

The Cultural Impact of the Internet

Communities of Meaning in a Global Culture

Mediated Transnationals

Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading

8: Culture and Power
Power: What Is It, Who Has It, and Why Do People Submit to It?

Power in Face-to-Face Interactions

Identiy Politics

The Aesthetics of Power

Political Acts as Cultural Objects

Cultures Without Centers

Questions for Study and Discussion

Recommended for Further Reading


Earlier editions of this book have been in my recommended list for students of cross-cultural ministry for some time, and this fourth edition has enhanced its value considerably. Of particular value are the current case studies, keeping abreast with recent cultural developments, including the so-called media revolutions and their consequent sub-cultural societies, and the breadth of the author’s coverage in both historical and geographical terms. This book will help students to think sociologically, and, paradoxically, to think both critically and generously.

Dr Walter Riggans
Cliff College, Cliff College
November 13, 2015

This book has given me and the students some preliminary thoughts to understand various cultures and societies across the globe. Even though the samples / illustrations produced in this book are far-fetched from the realms of students' experience (in this case: Jakarta, Indonesian experience), nevertheless, they convey some powerful cross-cultural comparison with what my students experience and comprehend in their day-to-day lives.

Mr Hendar Putranto
Communications , Multimedia University
May 4, 2014

Fascinating read. Takes the approach of culture as an axis - using a sociological point of view.

I was hoping for a slightly more global approach, but if you don't need that, this is a very interesting work.

Mr Indranath Neogy
Communication Studies, Hult International Business School
February 13, 2014

More likely to prove useful as a research text in the second year, though first years will benefit from guided reading of selected passages or even chapters.

Dr Alex MacDonald
English, New College Nottingham
July 15, 2013

This is a very useful book for students to focus on the rapidly changing world of new media. As I am a lecturer from Chinese Culture University in Taiwan, this book will be easy for the students who use English as second language for culture-oriented research. I positively recommend this book for guiding the students through the questions for study and discussion from this book.

Mr Tai-Jui Wang
Department of Mass Communication, Chinese Culture University
June 27, 2013

A good introduction to culture before embarking upon the application of culture to health studies.

Dr Vincent La Placa
Public Health, Department of Health Development, Greenwich University
March 26, 2013
Key features


  • Recommended readings have been updated to reflect recent changes in culture and society, including new readings on portable communities, texting, and the Internet.
  • New coverage has been included on nationalism as a cultural object, the construction of gender and sexualities, cross-cultural trust, and more.
  • References and examples have been updated, keeping the book relevant with current references and examples.


  • Offers a comprehensive overview and provides extensive references to research in each area for further exploration
  • Focuses on the rapidly changing world of new media, especially the cultural implications of participatory media such as Facebook, blogs, videologs, and podcasting
  • Incorporates up-to-date cases and examples from the most important cultural research of the first decade of the 21st century

In revision the book for its fourth edition, I have kept the same structure as in the third edition. That edition, published in 2008, included a new chapter on power; this current revision contains no new chapters. Instead I have updated a number of cases and examples, including especially ones drawn from the Middle East. I have added a great many current references (51 in total). This attention to up-to-date references in the sociological literature is primarily to help instructors, although the motivated student will have the ability to dig further into the issues raised in the book. I have made modest, clarifying changes in the text. These changes should not have much impact on the length of the book.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 3


For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412990547

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