Sociological theory: A critical primer


"Following the style and clarity of his first book, Dr. Jensen's Sociological theory: A critical primer is a wonderful introduction to critical sociology. Written for university freshmen and sophomores, this primer could easily supplement any high school sociology course. I highly recommend this book to anyone beginning their study of sociology or to those who need a good refresher."
Rudolf J. Siebert, Ph.D.
Professor of Religion and Society
Western Michigan University

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Abstract: This treatise will make available, to both the student and layman alike, a substantial amount of practical information concerning sociological theory. It is my hope that this work will inspire the reader to understand themselves sociologically. As to the content of this book, it will be constrained to four areas of interest: social stratification, its utilization, the agency / structure debate, and the difference between traditional theory and critical theory.

Book snippet: "In essence, Merton asked, ‘if society is organized as Durkheim’s and/or Parsons’ theories demonstrate, how can we account for change on the local level?’ The most efficient way to explain these concepts and answer Merton’s ‘question’ is by explaining how traffic signal lights are used. In order to regulate the flow of traffic through a 4-lane intersection, a municipality (a political institution) will install a traffic signal light. In short, the intended and/or expected (i.e. manifest) function of a signal light is to control — efficiently and expediently — traffic moving through the intersection and decrease motor vehicle accidents. Since the 1950’s, ‘souping up your car’ and drag racing it on Saturday night — spotlighted in the movie American Graffiti (1973), has been one of the uses of signal lights for many adolescent drivers. To them, the signal light represents ‘on your mark, get set, go’ (red, yellow, and green). In short, the latent function of a traffic signal light is to use it as a visual starter pistol. As you can extrapolate from this over simplified example, Merton’s concepts of manifest and latent give sociologists a methodological tool to explain latent outcomes when an institution puts in place a policy, regulation, and/or law for the smooth running of society and/or to foster social cohesion within the institution. Therefore, social change occurs when a small group of individuals use the material representations of the law in ways that better suits their wants and/or needs, which is typically diametrically opposed to by the institution. This new utilization will foster even more change as the institution attempts to reclaim control of the use of the traffic signal lights by inacting laws against drag racing with stiff fines and/or imprisonment, plus substantial legal fees."

 1. What is social stratification? ...........01
 2. Some theoretical utilizations
    of social stratification..................29
 3. The agency / structure debate.............41
 4. The difference between traditional
    and critical theory.......................85

Supplemental material:
* Cognitive Distortion: A rudimentary flowchart

Copyright 2016 Walter A. Jensen
U.S. Copyright Record #: TXu 2-030-657
Not available in any electronic or digital format on the World Wide Web.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9704919-3-0
ISBN-13: 9780970491930
Publisher: Printmill - Kalamazoo, MI
First published: March 15, 2016
BISAC Subject Code: SOC026040, SOC039000, & SOC026000
Length: 8.5"
Width: 5.5"
Depth: 0.3"
Weight: 0.488 pounds
Library Call #: BL60.J46 2016
Publication Flyers for: Social Scientists, Grad Students, and the General Public.

Last Updated 08/26/2020

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