Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Chapter

One of the texts looks like this.

Over the past two or three years I’ve occasionally posted links to free, orphaned, sociology textbooks (by which I mean texts that have either been superseded by later editions or which a publisher has allowed to go out-of-print), mainly in small batches (Free Sociology Textbooks, Sociology Textbooks for Free (quite a clever twist I thought) and the imaginatively-titled More Free Sociology Texts) but also as one-off publications (such as Sociology in Focus for AS  and for A2, or the mega-popular Sociology and You textbook.

It has, however, been a few months since I last posted anything useful on the Textbook Front, mainly because I’ve been doing other things, but where I come across them from time-to-time I save them up until there’s enough for a decent-length post.

And also because by listing a few texts at the same time I don’t have to say as much about each.

But mainly because hunting out orphaned texts isn’t my number-one priority.

What follows, therefore, is a quick trawl through some of the least-lit areas of the Internet (not really) to shine a light on a few sadly-neglected texts in the hope they might, once more, burn brightly in the eyes of budding sociologists.

Back to reality, what follows is a list of general textbooks and dictionaries a-level students and teachers might find useful.


AP Sociology: I may have posted a version of this 2004 text already, but if I have I can’t find where. In broad terms this isn’t so much a textbook, as such, but rather an Activity Book. In other words, all the usual chapters (family, education, deviance, religion…) are illustrated through a series of activities – usually around 10 per chapter. It’s something you might find useful as both a source of inspiration and ready-made activities.

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) publishes a range of a-level type textbooks under the aegis of the Indian government, presumably for use in Indian schools and colleges. While the emphasis is on Indian society there’s enough general sociology here to keep everyone interested and happy.

Class 11 Introducing Sociology [There’s also a Hindi version]

Class 11 Understanding Society [There’s also a Hindi version]

Class 12 Indian Society

Class 12 Social Change and Development in India

Introduction to Sociology 101: Just to even things up culture-wise, this text hails from the Virtual University of Pakistan and is split into 45 “lessons” covering areas like Family life, Stratification, Population, the Environment, Crime and Education. The “101” and American spelling lead me to suspect this might be some sort of Introductory undergraduate text, but I could be wrong. I am sometimes.

Another looks like this.

Introduction to Sociology I’m not sure if this was actually a published textbook. It’s called a Study Guide and my guess is that it’s an American course guide put together by an Instructor (Robert Turner) to support students in their use of their primary textbook Macionis’ “Society: The Basics” (which I think might be a cut-down version of his main textbook “Sociology”). Again, I could be wrong but what have you got to lose? Either way, the study guide covers the Usual Suspects – albeit in a more-limited way than the textbook it sort-of supports. Although as an added bonus there are lots of activities for students to get their teeth into.

Sociology: A Popular US textbook (it says here), this version, the 12th, hails from 2010 but if you want an earlier version (the 10th) for some reason, that’s also available too. It has everything you’ve come to expect from an Introductory textbook in terms of content (Media, Religion, Education etc.) but this version is a little weird in that it seems to be some sort of hyperlinked pdf effort. Whether this is something someone’s put together or, more-likely I think, a proto-online version I don’t know. It’s interesting, however.

Sociology: The Key Concepts by John Scott (2006) is basically a glossary on steroids. Key sociological concepts (from Agency to World Systems) aren’t merely defined, they’re explained and elaborated in some detail by a stellar cast of contributors. Probably a little beyond most a-level students, but useful for teachers.

Sociology, Work and Industry is, how shall I put it? a little more specialised than the general run-of-the-mill textbooks I’ve previously posted. It’s probably only of interest to undergraduates but, what the heck, it’s free.

Sociological Theory: Another text that’s probably more for teachers / undergrads than a-level students. This covers a range of theory and theorists in reasonable depth.

Essentials: The 10th edition (2013) of this widely popular US textbook that’s just fine-and-dandy for a-level in terms of content and presentation.

Penguin Dictionary of Sociology: Although published at the turn of the 21st century, it’s a dictionary. Most sociological words and their meaning haven’t really changed that much in the ensuing 20 years.

Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology: Same author / editor (Bryan Turner). Similar words and definitions. Later date (2006).


A couple of days after posting the above I came across a site offering a number of sociology books for download under a Creative Commons license. This, in short, means anyone is free to download and use the texts because they’ve been released on a “copyright licence” (or sorts) that allows you to do this.

The texts have come from a single publisher and all were published in 2012. I’m not sure about the story surrounding their release in this format but there are some useful, reasonably contemporary textbooks available:

Sociology: Comprehensive Edition: As the name suggests, this is a fully-featured sociology textbook that covers all your favourite topics (crime, family, education etc.), plus a few that aren’t so popular (Health, Stratification…) albeit from an American perspective. The original title of the text seems to have been Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World.

Sociology: Brief Edition: Not sure what the point of this actually is, although it’s around 200 pages shorter than its Comprehensive counterpart, it still weighs-in at 700-odd pages, but there must be some, otherwise it wouldn’t be called “Brief”. Probably.

Social Problems: Although very similar to Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World (they’re by the same author), this takes a slightly different approach by initially focusing on a “Social Problem in The News” and examining it in the light of sociological knowledge. It’s an interesting and slightly-innovative approach but whether or not it actually works as a teaching device I’ll leave up to you to decide.

Methods: Quantitative and Qualitative: While this might seem a little over-the-top for a-level, there’s plenty here to pick’n’chose – from types of sampling to types of research methods – that will be useful. For those who want to dig a little deeper there’s also quite extensive sections of various types of methodology.

Mass Communication, Media and Culture: Although not specifically aimed at sociology teachers / students there’s plenty here – from Media Efforts to the development of new media technologies – that make it interesting and worthwhile.

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