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Societies and Social Life
An Introduction to Sociology, Second Edition
James W. Russell
Eastern Connecticut State University
320 pages, available in paperback
Instock November, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59738-020-1

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This new edition of Jim Russell's introduction to sociology is a perfect alternative to a large expensive textbook. Societies and Social Life
employs an historical and comparative approach to introduce students to the concerns of classical and contemporary sociology, including:

  • The history and nature of sociology;
  • Components of social interaction and social life;
  • Technological stages of development in world history: hunting and gathering, agrarian, industrial, post-industrial;
  • Types of past historical societies:  communal, state, slave, feudal;
  • Types of recent and contemporary societies: capitalism and socialism;
  • Discussions of major issues in contemporary societies and sociology:  social theory, power and politics; class, race and gender; organizations; the family; population; and research.

Features of the Second Edition include:

  • A complete updating of all statistical information
  • A new chapter on Global Trends
  • A new discussion of "twenty-first century socialism" in Venezuela
  • An updated discussion of comparative social policy in Europe and the United States
  • An updated discussion of debt and developing societies
  • An updated discussion of former communist and communist countries

Russell's approach is founded on the work of the classic nineteenth- and early twentieth-century founders of sociology, who began their quest for objective social knowledge by addressing the large questions: where did their societies come from, what were their characters, where were they going?  In their search for answers, they explored the origins of Western capitalism, analyzed its major economic, political, and social institutions, and tried to predict future developments.

Russell maintains those classic concerns in his text by providing conceptual tools from sociology that help students to make sense of the changes currently sweeping American, European, and Third World societies.  Those conceptual tools enable students to analyze significant social issues - from the personal (for example, why fewer of them grew up in traditional two-biological parent families than in the past) to global issues such as poverty, Third World debt, sweatshops, and the causes and nature of terrorism