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Paperback 480 pp.
42 photos, 7 tables, 4 figures, 7" x 9"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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Introducing Sociology

A Critical Approach, Fifth Edition

Murray Knuttila and Andre Magnan

Grounded in a critical perspective, this fifth edition of Introducing Sociology provides an accessible overview of the basic concepts, assumptions, and approaches that sociologists use to investigate human social behaviour. With a particular focus on key developments in sociological theory, the authors explore how theory relates to real-world issues. Emphasizing the promise of the sociological imagination throughout, this analytical introduction gives students the foundation they need to begin thinking about themselves and the world from a sociological point of view.

Readership : Core text for introductory sociology at the university level.


  • "I regard this text as the best of its kind."

    --Kenneth Fish, Simon Fraser University

  • "A key advantage of this text is that it helps represent the diversity of approaches within the discipline."

    --Alexandre Enkerli, Concordia University

Part I: The Sociological Perspective and the Basic Language of Sociology
1. Understanding Human Behaviour
Getting Started
Science as a Way of Knowing
Sociology and the Social Sciences
Sociology as the Study of Structure and Agency
Sociology as Critical Thought and Thinking
Science, Theory, and the Origins of Sociology
The Sociological Imagination and Its 'Promise'
Developing the Sociological Perspective
Getting on with Sociological Analysis
2. Homo sapiens: Biology and Culture
Physiological Needs and Drives
Human Physiology
Culture: The Work of Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead
The Characteristics of Culture
3. Social Structure and the Language of Sociology
Culture and Society
The Elements of Social Structure
The Tools of Sociology
4. Socialization
The Biological Processes
The Human Personality
Types of Socialization
Agents or Agencies of Socialization
The Cultural Determinist Position
The Cases of Feral Children
What Do Twin Studies Tell Us?
Socialization as Unique and Shared
5. Theories of Socialization
Conditioning Theory
Jean Piaget
The Symbolic Interactionist Approach
Sigmund Freud
Moving on
6. The Sex and Gender Puzzle: Biology Is Not Destiny
Sex and Gender as a Fundamental Dimension of the Human Condition
Sex and Gender: Conceptual Clarification
The Basic Biology of Sex
Awash in a Sea of Hormones?
Sex, Gender, and Brain Hemispheres
Sexual and Gender Reassignment
Biology Yes - Destiny No
Sex, Gender, and Social Learning
Moving on - Neither Nature nor Nurture
Towards a Sociological Synthesis
Part II: Theorizing Society
7. Science, Theory, and the Origins of Sociology
The Historical Background
Auguste Comte and the Emergence of a Discipline
Marx and the Study of Human Society
Emile Durkheim
Max Weber's New Blueprint for Analysis
8. Contemporary Sociological Theory
Early Contemporary Theory: The Structural Functionalist Perspective
Early Contemporary Theory: Neo-Marxist Social Theory
Early Contemporary Theory: The Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Beyond Early Contemporary Theory
Structure and Agency: New Visions
9. Feminist Theory: Addressing Sociology's Lacuna
Women's Rights, Patriarchy, and the First Wave
Sex and Gender in Structural Functionalist Thought
Liberal Feminism
Marxian Feminism
The Domestic Labour Dispute
Radical Feminism
Socialist Feminism: Hartmann and Barrett
Third Wave Feminism
Part III: Applying Sociological Theories and Concepts
10. Ways of Knowing and Research Methods
Ways of Knowing
Conceptual Digression
Conventional Western Science
Critical Realism and Science
Feminist Research and Critical Realism
From Philosophy to Research
Social Science Techniques: A Preliminary Sketch
Use of Sampling
Participant Observation
Content Analysis
Experimental Design
11. Explaining Social Inequality
Social Inequality in Canada
The 'Discovery' of Class in North America
The Structural Functionalists: Parsons, Davis, and Moore
The Dimensions of Social Stratification
Marxist Theories of Class
Neo-Marxism and Class Analysis
The Study of Social Inequality in Canada: New Directions in Class Analysis
12. The Polity, Political Power, and Social Movements
Power and the Ruling Class: The Marxian Perspective
Revising Marx: Neo-Marxism on the State
Classical Elite Theory
Beyond Class Politics: Feminism and the State
Power in Numbers: Modern Social Movements
13. Towards a Critical Sociology of Men and Masculinities
Should We Study Men and Masculinity?
Gender as Sex Roles: A Critique
Gender as Social Practice
Hegemonic Masculinity
Patriarchy and Capitalism
Patriarchy, Capitalism, and Hegemonic Masculinity
14. Sociological Approaches to the Study of Familial Relations
Basic Definitions
The Structural Functionalist Approach
The Neo-Marxist Approach
The Feminist Challenge to Sociological Thought
15. 'Why Are Some People Healthy and Others Not?' (NEW!)
Understanding Health Inequalities
Classical Sociology and Health
The Sociology of Health Emerges
Symbolic Interactionism
Power Conflict Theory and Health
Feminist Theory
Post Structuralism
Towards a Holistic Approach
Healthcare Systems: A Comment
16. Deviance and Social Control
Biological Explanations
Emile Durkheim
Parsons and Merton
Conflict Theory and the Study of Deviance
Neo-Marxist or Power-Conflict Theory
Symbolic Interactionism and Deviance: Labelling Theory
Feminist Theory
17. Race and Ethnicity and Difference
Defining Race, Ethnicity, and 'Other'
Race in Western Thought: Early Views of Difference, Inequality, and Race
Race and Modernity
Genome Science and Race
Sociological Theory, Race, and Ethnicity
Some Theoretical and Empirical Considerations
18. Globalization
A Brief History of World Capitalism
How Do We Make Sense of the World Economy?
Postscript The Sociological Imagination and New Directions in Social Theory
Sociology as a Mode of Thought
Some Preliminary Premises
The Limits of Abstract Theory
The Sociological Imagination Revisited
Co-written by Lee Knuttila: Online Chapter: Sociology of Mass Communications
Historical Overview of Mass Communications
The Omnipresence of Mass Communications
- Does It Matter?
Social Theory and the Media
- Structural Functionalism
- Power Conflict
- Frankfurt School
Textbox: What the mass media do - functionalist perspective
Textbox: Why does advertising exist?
Antonio Gramsci
The Political Economy of Mass Communications
- Audience as Commodity: An Alternate Political Economy
Feminist Theory and Mass Communications
New Media and Networked Communications
- Networks
- Social Media
Towards a Conclusion

Instructor's Manual:
For each chapter (including online chapter):
Chapter overviews
Key concepts
Discussion and debate ideas
Teaching aids
PowerPoint Slides:
For each chapter (including online chapter):
10-15 slides
Test Bank:
For each chapter (including online chapter):
20 multiple-choice questions
20 true-or-false questions
20 short-answer questions
20 discussion questions
Online Chapter (NEW!):
'Sociology of Mass Communications' Co-written by Lee Knuttila (York University)
Student Study Guide:
For each chapter (including online chapter):
Chapter overviews
Learning objectives
Key concepts
E-Book (ISBN 9780199000036):
Available through CourseSmart.com

Murray Knuttila is provost and vice-president academic at Brock University. Before joining Brock, Dr. Knuttila spent more than 30 years with the University of Regina. In addition to Oxford Canada, Dr. Knuttila has published books with McClelland and Stewart, Garamond Press, Fernwood Publishing, Zed Books, and the Canadian Plains Research Center, as well as contributing chapters and articles to numerous journals and edited collections.

André Magnan is an assistant professor in the department of sociology and social studies at the University of Regina. His research and teaching interests include the sociology of agrifood relations, globalization and development, environmental sociology, and sociological theory.

Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese
Starting Points - Lorne Tepperman
Questioning Sociology - Edited by Myra J. Hird and George Pavlich
Elements of Sociology - John Steckley and Guy Kirby Letts
Sociology - Edited by Lorne Tepperman, Patrizia Albanese and The late Jim Curtis
Principles of Sociology - Lorne Tepperman and The late James Curtis
Reading Sociology - Edited by Lorne Tepperman and Angela Kalyta
Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese
Writing in the Social Sciences - Jake Muller
Thinking About Sociology / Making Sense in the Social Sciences Pack - Karen L. Anderson

Special Features

  • 100% Canadian. Written by Canadian authors, this indigenous text is relevant and relatable to students in this country.
  • Innovative approach. Offers a concise, accessible introduction to the field with a unique critical treatment of sociological theory.
  • Coverage of the basics. Begins with an overview of the basic language, concepts, assumptions, and premises of sociology, offering students a solid foundation to the discipline.
  • Theoretical coverage. Provides a critical overview of the key developments in sociological theory with a particular focus on recent feminist critiques, exposing students to the many ways sociologists attempt to understand and explain social issues.
  • Promotes critical analysis. Encourages students to apply sociological concepts and theories to real issues and events, thereby helping them better understand themselves, others, and the social world.
  • Topical social issues. Prompts students to make their own judgments on various topics such as inequality, mass communication, political power, race and ethnicity, deviance and social control, family relations, and globalization using different theoretical perspectives.
  • Sex and gender coverage. A chapter on sex and gender (Ch 6) and another on men and masculinities (Ch 13) speak to the increasing importance of these issues both in society at large and for sociology as a discipline
  • Student-friendly pedagogy. Each chapter includes text boxes, critical thinking questions, definitions of key terms and concepts, related websites, and suggestions for further reading, encouraging active learning.
  • Extensive online resources. Both instructors and students will benefit from the exceptional supplemental package accompanying the text, which includes an Instructor's Manual, a Test Bank, PowerPoint Slides, a Student Study Guide, and more.
New to this Edition
  • New co-author. With his contributions to the book, Dr André Magnan brings a fresh take on the tools, concepts, and theories needed to understand society and its ever-changing nature.
  • New chapter on the sociology of health and illness (Ch 15). Encourages students to identify the social determinants of health, wellness, and illness in today's world of unequal health outcomes.
  • Updated online chapter: 'Sociology of Mass Communications'. Co-written by Lee Knuttila (York University), this chapter offers insight into the ongoing evolution of social media and the phenomenon of cyber bullying.
  • Fully updated and expanded. Includes coverage of the current economic crisis and the rise of neo-Keynesian economics, as well as emerging forms of criminal behaviour, highlighting the latest social trends shaping contemporary societies and social relations.
  • More Canadian examples and statistics. Integrates even more Canadian examples throughout, as well as the latest data from Statistics Canada.
  • Learning objectives. Each chapter now begins with point form learning objectives to prepare students for the material that follows and guide their reading.