The Study of Sociocultural Systems

The S
By Frank W. Elwell

"Elwell's prose is above all else down to earth. His writing style somehow upholds the complexity of the ideas in question, while making readers feel as if they are talking with a trusted and thoughtful friend. Many writers attempt this but few succeed--Macrosociology is simply a pleasant book to read, a refreshing deviation from the norm.”

--Brian Bentel, Teaching History: A Journal of Methods



This book is intended to introduce students to the classical social theory of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and T. Robert Malthus, as well as the modern expressions of these perspectives. It does this through two mechanisms. First, it provides an overview and critique of the four major classical traditions in sociology. Rather than discussing these theories as history, the book will focus upon elements of the perspectives that have proved useful in understanding sociocultural systems. Then, the book will provide an overview and critique of the perspective and analysis of three contemporary social scientists writing within each of these traditions. For contemporary followers of Marx the theories of Immanuel Wallerstein, Harry Braverman, and John Bellamy Foster will be examined. Representing the Durkheimian worldview will be Stjepan Mestrovic, Robert K. Merton, Robert A. Nisbet, and Neil Postman. Modern day Weberians are represented by C. Wright Mills, Norbert Elias, and George Ritzer. Finally, as modern representatives of Malthusian/Spencerian theory, the book will examine the theories of Ester Boserup, Gerhard Lenski, and Stephen K. Sanderson. F. The overarching goal of the book is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of each of the macro-sociological traditions and their usefulness in understanding contemporary societies. Through study of contemporary social scientists such as Lenski, Braverman, Mestrovic, and Elias students will truly come to appreciate the usefulness of classical social theory in understanding the modern world. The concluding chapter demonstrates how the various perspectives can be integrated into a single comprehensive worldview.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Davis Joyce
Introduction: The Classical View of Sociocultural Systems
Part 1: Domestic and International Capitalism
1. The Sociology of Karl Marx
2. Harry Braverman’s Marxist Analysis
3. John Bellamy Foster’s Ecological-Marxism
Part 2: The Division of Labor and Anomie
4. The Sociology of Emile Durkheim
5. Robert K. Merton’s Functional Analysis
6. Robert Nisbet’s Leviathan
7. Neil Postman’s Technological Determinism
Part 3: Bureaucracy and Rationalization
8. Verstehen: The Sociology of Max Weber
9. The Sociology of Norbert Elias
10. George Ritzer’s Rationalization of Consumption
Part 4: Population, Production, and Evolution
11. T. Robert Malthus’s Social Theory
12. Gerhard Lenski’s Ecological-Evolutionary Theory
13. Stephen K. Sanderson’s Evolutionary Materialism
14. Common Ground

Mellen Press
ISBN10: 0-7734-4900-0
ISBN13: 978-0-7734-4900-8
Pages: 492 Year: 2009

Related sites:
Classical Theorists
In the Classical Tradition

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