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Sociological Theory

Sociological Theory

Tenth Edition

Other Titles in:
Sociology (General)

April 2017 | 832 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The authors are proud sponsors of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Now with SAGE Publishing, and co-authored by one of the foremost authorities on sociological theory, the Tenth Edition of Sociological Theory by George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky gives readers a comprehensive overview of the major theorists and schools of sociological thought, from sociology's origins through the early 21st century. Key theories are integrated with biographical sketches of theorists, and are placed in their historical and intellectual context. This text helps students better understand the original works of classical and contemporary theorists, and enables them to compare and contrast the latest substantive concepts.


Biographical and Autobiographical Sketches
PART I Classical Sociological Theory
CHAPTER 1 A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Early Years

Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory

Intellectual Forces and the Rise of Sociological Theory

The Development of French Sociology

The Development of German Sociology

The Origins of British Sociology

The Key Figure in Early Italian Sociology

Turn-of-the-Century Developments in European Marxism

CHAPTER 2 Karl Marx

The Dialectic

Dialectical Method

Human Potential


The Structures of Capitalist Society

Materialist Conception of History

Cultural Aspects of Capitalist Society

Marx’s Economics: A Case Study



Contemporary Applications

CHAPTER 3 Emile Durkheim

Social Facts

The Division of Labor in Society


The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

Moral Education and Social Reform


Contemporary Applications

CHAPTER 4 Max Weber

Substantive Sociology


Contemporary Applications

CHAPTER 5 Georg Simmel
Primary Concerns

Individual Consciousness and Individuality

Social Interaction (“Association”)

Social Structures and Worlds

Objective Culture

Secrecy: A Case Study in Simmel’s Sociology


Contemporary Applications

PART II Modern Sociological Theory: The Major Schools
CHAPTER 6 A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Later Years
Early American Sociological Theory

Sociological Theory to Midcentury

Sociological Theory from Midcentury

Late-Twentieth-Century Developments in Sociological Theory

Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity

Social Theory in the Twenty-First Century

CHAPTER 7 Structural Functionalism, Systems Theory, and Conflict Theory
Structural Functionalism

Systems Theory

Conflict Theory

CHAPTER 8 Varieties of Neo-Marxian Theory
Economic Determinism

Hegelian Marxism

Critical Theory

Neo-Marxian Economic Sociology

Historically Oriented Marxism

Neo-Marxian Spatial Analysis

Post-Marxist Theory

CHAPTER 9 Symbolic Interactionism
The Major Historical Roots

The Ideas of George Herbert Mead

Symbolic Interactionism: The Basic Principles

The Self and the Work of Erving Goffman

The Sociology of Emotions


The Future of Symbolic Interactionism

CHAPTER 10 Ethnomethodology
Defining Ethnomethodology

The Diversification of Ethnomethodology

Some Early Examples

Conversation Analysis

Studies of Institutions

Criticisms of Traditional Sociology

Stresses and Strains in Ethnomethodology

Synthesis and Integration

CHAPTER 11 Exchange, Network, and Rational Choice Theories
Exchange Theory

Network Theory

Network Exchange Theory

Rational Choice Theory

CHAPTER 12 Contemporary Feminist Theory
Feminism’s Basic Questions

Historical Framing: Feminism, Sociology, and Gender

Varieties of Contemporary Feminist Theory

Feminist Sociological Theorizing

CHAPTER 13 Micro-Macro and Agency-Structure Integration
Micro-Macro Integration

Agency-Structure Integration

Agency-Structure and Micro-Macro Linkages: Fundamental Differences

PART III From Modern to Postmodern Social Theory (and Beyond)
CHAPTER 14 Contemporary Theories of Modernity
Classical Theorists on Modernity

The Juggernaut of Modernity

The Risk Society

The Holocaust and Liquid Modernity

Modernity’s Unfinished Project

Self, Society, and Religion

Informationalism and the Network Society

CHAPTER 15 Theories of Race and Colonialism
Fanon and the Colonial Subject

Postcolonial Theory

Critical Theories of Race and Racism

Racial Formation

A Systematic Theory of Race

Southern Theory and Indigenous Resurgence

CHAPTER 16 Globalization Theory
Major Contemporary Theorists on Globalization

Cultural Theory

Cultural Differentialism

Cultural Convergence

Cultural Hybridization

Economic Theory

Political Theory


Other Theories

CHAPTER 17 Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Postmodern Social Theory


Postmodern Social Theory

Criticisms and Post-Postmodern Social Theory

CHAPTER 18 Social Theory in the Twenty-First Century
Queer Theory

Actor-Network Theory, Posthumanism, and Postsociality

Affect Theory

Prosumption Theory



Instructor Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

    • A Microsoft® Word test bank, is available containing multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
    • Lecture notes summarize key concepts on a chapter-by-chapter basis to help with preparation for lectures and class discussions.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2

Chapter 9

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781506337715