Transitions and Changes in Social Theory

Teaching social theory to undergraduate students offers a set of unique challenges to instructors: how do you express your own understanding of theory comprehensively, in ways that others can make sense of? How do you offer students the “pieces of a puzzle” in an effective format so that they can construct their own visions?

Social Theory 3eIn just a couple of weeks, we will be publishing a new social theory reader in which two editors from two different generations attempt to overcome the pedagogical pitfalls posed by existing social theory textbooks and anthologies. The editors provide an “evolutionary” model of social theory—emphasizing that social theory is a dialogue, and that theoretical traditions are not rigidly separated from one another, but are always in conversation, addressing and challenging each other. The editors rebel against the kind of “grid” model that imposes one framework on students. Instead, they aim for the best juxtaposition of original text, biography, history, and practice-based exercises that will allow students to become apprentice-theorists, able to join in the theoretical discussion.

Their approach in editing this new collection has been reflective of how sociology and social theory are now being taught, and the ultimate goal has been to provide true freedom and flexibility for students and instructors.

To find out more about this new reader, click here.

For some insight into the “evolutionary” style of the reader, you can download and read the excerpted introduction to Part IV: Transitions and Changes. In this part of the book—which advance reviewers have called “brilliant”—the editors examine the thought of four theorists (Goffman, Foucault, Bourdieu, and Hall) who built bridges between the theories of the mid-twentieth century and the theories of the present. They call these theorists “transitional giants” because they showed a path from the theories of the postwar era to postmodern formulations.


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