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This blog has featured quite a few free sociology texts over the years and while these should be generally-useful to teachers and students who want to mix-and-match their basic sources, the self-imposed limitation of only featuring out-of-print versions of English and American textbooks means students probably still need a reasonably-current textbook.

These, as you’re probably only-too-painfully aware, are increasingly expensive. Take one of my textbooks for the International market: The 1st edition of the Cambridge International AS and A-level Sociology Coursebook still costs around £30, while the 2nd edition is closer to £36 or $56 in the US.

While it’s probably scant consolation that I’m not the one making any money from these prices, this is where something like the latest version of the free, open-source, Introduction to Sociology textbook from the Openstax organisation comes into play. Arriving 3 or 4 years after the previous version, the latest text is available in two basic flavours: an offline pdf version and an online version.

While this is the “official version” of the text, it’s in the nature of the open-source beast that teachers are free to “distribute, remix, and build upon the content, as long as you provide attribution to OpenStax and its content contributors”.

Although, in practice, this usually just means adding bits and pieces to the basic text as-and-if your students need it, it’s perhaps nice to know that the authors are happy for you to change anything you want. With the online version it’s been made easier for teachers / students to highlight and add notes to the basic text. To do this you’ll need to register as either a student or educator.

This is free and gives access to a range of resources and content tailored to each group. Students, for example, can use the aforementioned highlighting and note-adding functions, as well as getting access to Guides on Getting Started, Reading and Notetaking and Time Management.

You’re also free, under the terms of the Creative Commons license, to copy the book as many times as you like, which is handy as a means of ensuring that all your students have access to the text at no extra charge.

Or indeed any charge at all.

In terms of content it is, given it’s US College origins, skewed towards American curricula and interests but, as I’ve just noted, you’re free to swap stuff in and out of the text – including entire chapters if you so desire – so that’s not, unlike with conventional printed textbooks, an insurmountable problem.

While American High School Sociology teachers and students will be familiar with its broad content, English and Welsh teachers / students will find many of the chapters broadly familiar at A-level. These include:

  • Culture and Socialisation
  • Gender, Age, Ethnicity
  • Family
  • Education
  • Health
  • Inequality (including global)
  • Religion
  • Deviance
  • Media
  • There are also a few areas – Government and Politics, Work and the Economy, Population, Urbanism and the Environment – that were once part of A-level Specs, but which have been progressively stripped away over the years, included in the package for American / International students.

    While the text isn’t perfect for non-American students, it’s a nice example of how the open-source movement is starting to change the textbook publishing landscape.

    And there are now loads of different subjects available, so you can include all your friends and colleagues in the giveaway…

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