Illuminating Social Life: Classical and Contemporary Theory Revisited

Front Cover
Peter Kivisto
SAGE Publications, 2005 - Social Science - 352 pages
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"Illuminating Social Life is an excellent text, which offers something unique and valuable for teaching social theory. The chapters that are most valuable are those that present an important theoretical argument, which is then developed through the use of a contemporary example."

-Stephen Adair, Central Connecticut State University

"The book is well written and very accessible for students. This is the only text in the market with an accessible set of full-length articles on major strands of social thought."

-David K. Brown, Illinois State University

"Kivisto's book is a very good supplement because it makes theory more accessible and students can easily relate the theory to everyday life. . . . It is very relevant and speaks to the students in an interesting way."

-Chien Ju Huang, North Carolina Central University

In Illuminating Social Life: Classical and Contemporary Theory Revisited, Third Edition editor Peter Kivisto once again shows today's students how classical and contemporary social theories can be used to make sense of the world they inhabit. Through thirteen essays, the book applies various social theories from the past and the present to select facets of modern life, such as the Internet, the world of work, fast food restaurants, shopping malls, alcohol use, body building, sales and service, and new religious movements. All of the contributors to this collection of essays share a common purpose-to illustrate how different social theories are capable of providing significant understanding that, without theory, would not be grasped.

Illuminating Social Life is designed to reveal to students that, as philosopher of science N.R. Hanson put it, "All observation is theory-laden activity"-meaning everyone, not just social theorists, should look at the world through a variety of implicit theoretical lenses that allow them to see their surroundings in novel ways. Part I addresses the theories of four influential figures from the formative period of sociology-Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Georg Simmel. Part II then goes on to examine nine contemporary theoretical perspectives that have had a profound impact on sociology in recent years.

Key Features

  • Each essay uses engaging case studies that bring social theory to everyday life.
  • Discussion questions at the end of each essay help students grasp the key ideas presented.
  • Each chapter illustrates the connection between research, theory, and issue, making the content more accessible than other theory texts.

New to the Third Edition

  • Two new chapters discuss employing a symbolic interactionist perspective (Chapter 9) and combining the insights of symbolic interactionism with a postmodern orientation (Chapter 12).
  • Each part begins with an updated introduction by the editor which links the applied essays to a complete review of relevant classical and modern social theories.
  • Abstracts have been updated to provide a complete context for each revised essay.

Illuminating Social Life is an excellent supplemental text for undergraduate social theory and social problems courses. It can also be used in introductory sociology courses to link sociological concepts and theory to everyday life in an accessible format.

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About the author (2005)

Peter Kivisto is Richard A. Swanson Professor of Social Thought and Chair of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Welfare at Augustana College and Finland Distinguished Professor at the University of Turku. His current research involves a collaborative project on multiculturalism with colleagues in Finland. His interests include immigration, social integration, citizenship, and religion. Among his recent books are Key Ideas in Sociology (2011), Illuminating Social Life (2011); Beyond a Border: The Causes and Consequences of Contemporary Immigration (2010, with Thomas Faist); Citizenship: Discourse, Theory and Transnational Prospects (2007, with Thomas Faist); and Intersecting Inequalities (2007, with Elizabeth Hartung). He serves on the editorial boards of Contexts, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Intercultural Studies, and on the Publication Committee for Sociology of Religion.

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