Foundations of Social Understanding: A Theory and Institutions Based Introduction to Sociology

The goal of Foundations of Social Understanding: A Theory and Institutions Based Introduction to Sociology, is to convey the essential aspects of Sociology, keeping the focus on the theoretical ideas that form the backbone of the discipline. This book fills a niche for instructors and students who wish to have a rigorously presented, yet low-cost text that covers essential aspects of the field. 

The Burns, Kick and Paz text is distinctive in the density of material it covers. The authors move beyond the tiresome debates about which theoretical position is “really” correct and which is wrong. The guiding philosophy is that the discipline of sociology has a strong and integrated core. While no theory explains everything, each of those presented does well at shedding light on something. Part of what needs to be considered in conjunction with the study of theory is the question of what domain of social reality it is most useful at explaining. 

The very core of a discipline is the theories it has developed. For better or worse, the discipline of Sociology has spawned a sometimes dizzying array of studies, empirical and otherwise. These are necessary, but not sufficient, to have a rich and worthwhile discipline, and one that offers insight into the human condition. Theories—the worthwhile ones--come about more slowly. Theory is not about what happened in the latest studies. It is born of hard-won insight, sometimes over the course of years or decades, or even lifetimes.  

Rather than treating theory as if it were a sub-discipline of Sociology, the authors see the theories of Sociology as the backbone of the discipline itself. Thus, they focus on theoretical development throughout the text, so that students, from the very first day they begin to study Sociology, have access to this powerful set of tools in their foundational understanding of society. 

The authors have produced a book that appeals to the intelligence and sociological imagination of serious students and their teachers. Our approach is to offer students a “cognitive map” of the field in a scholarly, yet straightforward, way. The guiding philosophy is that Sociology, particularly when considering it through the framework of the theory that underpins it, is not only a worthwhile avenue of inquiry; it is endlessly fascinating in its own right.


Chapter 1: Sociology: An Introduction

Chapter 2: Methods in Sociology

Chapter 3: Individual Development in a Social World: Socialization and Social Interaction

Chapter 4: Social Interaction at the Micro Level: The Sociology of Subjective Experience

Chapter 5: Social Definition and the Social Construction of Reality

Chapter 6: Human Behavior and Social Exchange

Chapter 7: Classical Sociology and Basic Concepts in the Study of Social Organization

Chapter 8: Building on the Classics: Studying Stratification in Modern Society

Chapter 9: Race and Ethnicity

Chapter 10: Gender and Society

Chapter 11: Historical and Comparative Development and Global Inequality

Chapter 12: Family and Kinship Institutions

Chapter 13: Education and Society

Chapter 14: Religion and Society

Chapter 15: Politics and Society

Chapter 16: Population and Modernity

Chapter 17: Environmental Sociology

Chapter 18: Crime and Deviance

Chapter 19: The Sociological Imagination in Late Modern Society: Postmodernity, Chaos and Complexity



Sociology: Exploring Human Society


Sociology: Exploring Human Society is a college level introductory textbook for Sociology. Materials cover the beginnings of sociology as an academic research discipline, culture and media, sociological research, socialization across the life course, social structure and social interaction, groups and organizations, deviance and crime, and social class and social stratification, race and ethnicity, gender roles, sexuality, family, religion, the effects of education and health care policies, politics and religion, and finally, population, environment, and social change.. Each chapter begins with an introduction that serves to guide the student in the reading and ends with a summary of the most important points. Keywords, are also included.


Chapter 1: The Sociological Perspective

Chapter 2: Culture and Media

Chapter 3: Sociological Research

Chapter 4: Socialization Across the Life Course

Chapter 5: Social Structure and Social Interaction

Chapter 6: Groups and Organizations

Chapter 7: Deviance and Crime

Chapter 8: Social Class and Social Stratification

Chapter 9: Global Stratification

Chapter 10: Race and Ethnicity

Chapter 11: Gender

Chapter 12: Sexuality

Chapter 13: Family

Chapter 14: Religion

Chapter 15: Education and Health Care

Chapter 16: Politics and the Economy

Chapter 17: Population, the Environment, and Social Change