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A text that’s well-worth adding to your collection, even if it’s something you’re only likely to use infrequently when you want to give your students a bit of extended reading around a writer or topic.

Baudrillard…

From time-to-time I’ve posted links to a variety of Sociology and Psychology textbooks that, for one reason or another (because they’ve gone out-of-print, been superceded by newer versions and so forth) are no-longer current.

The latest edition to the list is The Sociology Book, now in its 2nd edition if you’re interested in buying it,  that’s part of an extensive and diverse series themed around a basic, but attractive conceit:

Take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject,  in this case Sociology, (but also Psychology, Religion and Feminism among many others) and explain them clearly and concisely – or as the Publisher’s blurb puts it:

“The Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.”

As luck and an extensive search of the Internet would have it, you are now in a position to evaluate this bold claim using this free version of the 1st edition, published in 2015.

The general format of the book involves:

  • dividing it into discrete categories – social inequalities, culture and identity, families, globalisation (plus a few more that are unlikely to interest a-level sociology students or teachers).
  • select a range of well-known writers (such as Parsons, Foucault, Stacey and Beck on Families, Mead, Baudrillard, Goffman and Anderson on Culture) and write some nicely-illustrated pages about their work in a way that’s generally accessible to a-level students.
  • Durkheim…

    The way each writer and their ideas is covered seems a little arbitrary – some, such as Weber, get 6 pages while others, such as Urry, get a single (not, it has to be said, very enlightening for such a deep and complex theorist) page – but overall the standard of writing and presentation is pleasingly good.

    While I’m not sure about the “creative design” (think Sociology Review) and “innovative graphics” (unless short, boxed, “Timelines” and a few colour pictures count as cutting-edge) I’m generally on-board with the “straightforward and engaging writing”.

    And while it’s not a text you’re likely to use everyday, I’d still argue it’s a useful one to add to your collection.

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