Reviews of Macrosociology: The Study of Sociocultural Systems
“The book is unique in the vast array of sociology theory texts because of two distinctive features: a focus upon social systems with social evolution as its primary theme, and the attempt to link directly the master of the past to today’s contemporary theorists.”
“Elwell examines sociocultural systems within a broad context of comparative change and evolution, stimulating discussions among students and researchers on how social phenomena affect individual human behaviors and thoughts. The author uses the classical social theories of Karl Marx, Max Weber, T. Robert Malthus and Emile Durkheim to compare different types of societies and note both their similarities and differences on a broad scale. This book analyzes domestic and international capitalism, the division of labor, the formation of bureaucracies and the relationship between production and population growth to determine how these systems develop and maintain themselves.”
--Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
“Frank Elwell's Macrosociology is a rare find because it is well written and accessible, yet treats its subject, sociological theory, in the proper manner. Elwell's choice of theoretical traditions covers the "big three" classical thinkers--Marx, Durkheim, Weber--but the readers might find themselves pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Robert Malthus. The book is broken down into sections based on these four essential theorists, with additional chapters in each section covering thinkers whose ideas build upon or complement the classics. For instance, to Weber's treatment of rationalization, Elwell adds George Ritzer's recent and popular notion of "McDonaldization"--an idea that brings familiarity to a concept otherwise intimidating to many students.
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, East Central University, Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, fall, 2009 , pp. 101-102
“Overall, the book is useful for both undergraduate and graduate theory courses. Faculty who use this book will be able to emphasize the classical and contemporary theoretical links of macrosociology. Faculty could then supplement the text with other readings on sociocultural systems. In terms of teaching theory, I appreciate Elwell’s argument that sociology is more theoretically unified than the three paradigms of conflict, structural functionalism, and conflict theory imply. The unified paradigm viewpoint is a more effective teaching strategy when trying to teach higher order thinking skills to upper division undergraduates. By teaching theory as a unified paradigm rooted in select concepts of the discipline (capitalism, democracy, inequality, etc.), faculty allow for more meaningful exploration of theory and its application. For example, looking at the various explanations of alienation, religion, and anomie allow for viewpoint exploration, assumptions, and implications of the arguments on modern sociology when tied to contemporary readings. This develops a better understanding of theory for students and a more engaged classroom for faculty.
--Agnes I. Caldwell, Adrian College, USA, Teaching Sociology 38(1) (January 2010) pp. 62-63