Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Batch of Contenders

Seeing Sociology

Those of you with long(ish) memories may recall the previous posts in a series that delivers a variety of slightly out-of-date sociology textbooks found gathering dust and mould in some unloved corners of the Internet to your desktop (Sociology Textbooks for Free and More Free Sociology Texts).

If you do remember them you’ll no-doubt be pleased to know that I’ve been out rummaging once more and have collected a further batch of out-of-print editions of once-loved textbooks-that-have-been-replaced-by-newer-shinier-versions.

And if you don’t, this should all come as a pleasant surprise.

As ever, I’ve held fast to only two basic criteria when selecting the books (three if you count the fact that there’s not, in truth, a great deal of selecting going on behind the scenes, or four if you include the proviso they must be freely available “somewhere on the web” – i.e. I’m just the messenger bringing them to you).

The first is they need to have been published in the 21st century (arbitrary I know, but you have to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I’ve drawn it).

The second is that they should be out-of-print. i.e. they’re not being sold anywhere or have been supplanted by newer versions.

The Textbooks

Sociology: The Core (2009) is an American textbook that covers most of the areas (crime, religion, family, education, social inequality and the like) familiar to a-level teachers with a few extras (organisations, power and politics, population and the environment) thrown-in for good measure.

Sociology: The Basics (2003) is less textbook (there are, for example, no pictures, test questions, key words or whatever) and more just a book of text (did you see what I did there?). That is, something you might like to pick-up and read rather than study. Not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Obviously.

Seeing Sociology: An Introduction (2011): If you’re looking for a more-contemporary sociological textbook experience this might be exactly what you’re after – a textbook a la mode that contains all the bells-and-whistles you’ve come to demand at a price (nada) you’re willing to pay. Plus a bit of text to lighten-up all that visual imagery. I’m joking of course. There’s plenty of text here for everyone. Just not as much as in some books. As per, there’s coverage of all the usual suspects (family, deviance, education etc.) plus a lot more that you’ll never bother reading “because it’s not on the Specification” – unless you’re an American teacher / student.

In which case, welcome. Feel free to dig-in.

Giddens’ Sociology (2006): This is the 5th edition of the best-selling textbook that, if I was being sniffy, I’d say was more suited to introductory undergraduate level than a-level. Having said that, it has it’s admirers and there’s lots to like about it – not the least being that while there’s some concessions to the Specification at which it’s nominally aimed (there are chapters on education, family, crime, inequality and so forth), much of it reads like Giddens just having a good time. Which, all things considered, is no bad thing.

Sociology (2008) This is the 12th edition of the long-running Macionis text (it’s now in its 17th or 18th – I lose count – edition). If you’ve never chanced across this text before, Macionis is basically the American equivalent of Haralambos and it contains everything you’d expect and more from such a description – lots and lots of lovely text with a few test questions and pictures thrown in to highlight just how much text there actually is in this book. As with all the American texts featured here the focus is resolutely on America (Baby), so if you can handle this big bold dose of ethnocentrism this is the book for you.

CIE Sociology Coursebook

Sociology: The Essentials (2000): In a slight detour away from “the textbook” focus, this is the Cliffs Notes version of Sociology, which basically means it’s a revision text from back in the day when “revision text” meant big long lists of “essential information” and pictures were for wimps. It’s getting a bit dated now, particularly the statistical data, and the focus, as ever, is Strictly American – but having said that it’s a useful little supplementary text.


Cambridge International AS and A Level Sociology Coursebook (2014): Although I said somewhere near the start of this post that I only had two rules for posting the textbooks on this page (21st century and out-of-print editions only in case you’re the kind of odd individual who reads posts from the bottom up), I’ve made an exception for this text because although it’s still in print the publisher, CUP, seems to have made some free chapters available:

1.The sociological perspective.

2. Socialisation and the creation of social identity.

3. Research methods – although for some unknown reason (the photocopier ran out of toner? the minion assigned to the task had to leave work early?) it ends rather abruptly and mysteriously half way through. Once someone realised their mistake they obviously decided to chuck in Chapter 8: The mass media as some sort of perverse bonus.

Anyway, since I wrote it, you’re welcome to it.

Cambridge University Press, on the other hand, can go f…

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