The Promise of Sociology: Outstanding Academic Title of 2011

Textbooks in general, and introductory sociology textbooks in particular, are rarely received with critical excitement. That’s why the Higher Education Division is pleased to announce that The Promise of Sociology: The Classical Tradition and Contemporary Sociological Thinking by Rob Beamish has been named one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of 2011 by Choice, a popular publication of the American Library Association.

Based on over two decades of teaching introductory sociology, The Promise of Sociology is informed by three key principles: 1) never underestimate the abilities of students; 2) always keep socio-historical context as a key element; and 3) enjoy the freedom sociology brings to human life. These principles helped to produce an extremely unique text that is smart, challenging, and well written. It differs significantly from most introductory texts available in this very crowded field, but we are happy to discover that reviewers and instructors agree on its importance.

The original Choice review of The Promise of Sociology, from July 2011, is reprinted here.

Beamish, Rob. The promise of sociology: the classical tradition and contemporary sociological thinking. Toronto, 2010. 330p bibl index ISBN 9781442601871, $39.95

It might seem a rash and unnecessary venture to offer another introductory text in sociological theory. The field is already so crowded. But Beamish (Queen’s Univ., Canada) attempts something genuinely different. For one thing, his range is unusually wide, stretching from the classics of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim to contemporary theories of modernity and postmodernity. More innovatively, Beamish discusses some key approaches in the sociology of culture, such as the theory of mass society and mass culture, and the literary theories of such writers as Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart, which have had a strong impact on contemporary social theory. What this in turn allows the author to do is to introduce a discussion of films (such as Psycho) and music (such as the songs of Bob Dylan): a rare and refreshing thing in an introductory text for sociology students. Overall, this book rates highly as an introduction to classic and contemporary social theory. It is engaging, accessible, and written in a lively and often humorous style. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduate students in sociology. — K. Kumar, University of Virginia

If you are scheduled to teach a course in introductory sociology or sociological theory and would like to request an exam copy, please email We would be more than happy to give you the opportunity to review this excellent text for yourself!


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