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Paperback 528 pp.
179 photos; 22 figures; 34 tables (all in 4-colour), 8.5" x 11"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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Elements of Sociology

A Critical Canadian Introduction, Fourth Edition

John Steckley

Acclaimed by instructors and students alike for its fresh, innovative approach to the discipline, Elements of Sociology is back and better than ever. Filled with entertaining anecdotes, relatable real-life examples, compelling narratives, and thought-provoking discussion questions, the fourth edition challenges students to think differently about both sociology and the world around them.

Readership : Elements of Sociology, fourth edition, is a core text intended for introductory sociology courses offered at the first-year level out of sociology departments at universities and colleges.


  • "What sets this book apart is that it is exciting and fun to read. Students find it very approachable. . . . The relevant narratives and up-to-date examples relate theoretical material to the real world and to students' personal experiences."
    --Annette Tézli, University of Calgary

  • "If you are looking for an introductory text that has an edge and emphasizes critical perspectives, this is it."
    --Xiaoping Li, Okanagan College

Note: Each chapter includes:
- Wrap It Up
- Think Back
- Read On
Part One: Foundations of Sociology
1. Introduction to Sociology
For Starters: Doughnut Shops, Drive-Throughs, and the Value of Sociology
Introduction: Why This Textbook Is a Little Different
Introduction to Sociology
- Sociology and Issues
- Sociology as a Discipline
- What Is Sociology?
- Why Study Sociology?
The Heart of Sociology: The Sociological Imagination
The Origins of Sociology
- The Development of Sociology in the West
- Max Weber: A Founder of Modern Sociology
- The Spread of Sociology to North America
The Development of Canadian Sociology
- McGill University: Dawson, Hughes, and Miner
- The University of Toronto: Harold Innis and S.D. Clark
- Social Class and Ethnicity: John Porter
- Three Early Women Sociologists and the Writing of Gender in Canada
- The Growth of Sociology in Canada
Different Kinds of Sociology
1. Sociology by Approach
2. Sociology by Audience
2. Social Research Methods
For Starters: Fact, Theory, Hypothesis, and Wondering Why People Speed Up When I Pass Them
Introduction: Research Methodology Is No Joking Matter
Insider versus Outsider Perspective: Challenging Sociology's Positivist Tradition
Qualitative versus Quantitative Research
Qualitative Research
- Ethnography
- Institutional Ethnography
- The Case Study Approach
- Narratives
Alternative Qualitative Research Methods
- Content Analysis
- Discourse Analysis
- Genealogy
Quantitative Research
- Understanding Statistics
- Using Operational Definitions
- Research Surveys and a Lesson in Interpreting Poll Results
- Variables and Correlations
- Spurious Reasoning: Correlation Is Not Causation
- Critical Thinking and Statistics
- Ethics and Research
Social Research Methods: A Final Word
Part Two: Social Structures
3. Culture
For Starters: Culture and Claiming Space
Introduction: What We Mean by Culture and Why It's Contested
What Kinds of Cultures Are There?
- Dominant Culture versus Subculture and Counterculture
- High Culture versus Popular Culture
- Sanctions
- Folkways, Mores, and Taboos
Culture Symbols
- The Veil as a Symbol for Canadian Muslim Women
- Canadian and American Values
- The Potlach Act of 1884
- Eurocentrism
- Cultural Globalization
Cultural Relativism
- Cultural Relativism, Ethnocentrism, and Smell: Two Stories
- Dialect as a Sociological Term
- Linguistic Determinism and Relativity
4. Socialization
For Starters: Playing for Fun vs Playing to Win: A New Policy and Its Effect on Youth Sports as an Agent of Socialization
Introduction: Socialization Is a Learning Process
Determinism: Nature versus Nurture
- Biological Determinism
- Social or Cultural Determinism: Behaviourism
- Sigmund Freud: Balancing the Biological and the Sociocultural
- The Oversocialized View of Human Behaviour
Agents of Socialization
- Significant Other, Generalized Other, and Sense of Self
- Family
- Peer Group
- Community and Neighbourhood
- Mass Media
- Education
Issues of Socialization
- Male Readers
- "Hurried" Children
Secondary Socialization and Resocialization
- Hazing as Resocialization
5. Social Roles, Interaction, and Organization
For Starters: Learning to Be a Stepfather
Introduction: Why Sociologists Obsess over Status
Social Status
- Sexual Orientation and Status: A Problem Area
- Master Status
- Status Hierarchy
- Status Inconsistency
Social Roles
- Role Strain
- Role Conflict
- Role Exit
Studying Social Interaction in Small Groups
Studying Social Interaction in Large Groups: An Introduction to Social Organization
- Organizational Structure
- The Study of Organizations
- Feminist Organizations
- The Origins of Bureaucracy
- Bureaucracy and Formal Rationalization
- The Evolution of Formal Rationality
- The McDonaldization of the World
- Social Order through Social Organization
6. Deviance
For Starters: Gordon Dias, 1985-2001
Introduction: What Is Deviance?
Conflict Deviance
- Deviance Is Contested across Cultures
- Deviance Is Contested within Cultures
- Deviance Can Change
- Social Constructionism versus Essentialism
- The Other
- Deviance and the Moral Panic
"Race" and Deviance: To Be Non-white Is Deviant
- Crossing the Border While Black: A Case of Racial Profiling
- The Yellow Envelope Story: A Case of Racializing Deviance
Gender and Deviance: To Be Female Is Deviant
- "Fallen Women" Sexual Deviance as Gendered
- Being Incorrigible: Gendered Deviance in Ontario
Class and Deviance: To Be Poor Is Deviant
Sexual Orientation and Deviance: To Be Gay Is Deviant
Disability and Deviance: To Be Disabled Is Deviant
Criminal Deviance
- Three Theories of Criminal Deviance
- White Collar Crime
Part Three: Social Difference
7. Social Inequality
For Starters: A Picture of Poverty in Canada's Backyard
Introduction: Is Social Inequality Inevitable?
Marx and Weber: Historical Approaches to the Study of Social Class
- Marx's Historical Context
- Class as a Social Identity
- Weber's Critique of Marx
Using Class to Study Social Inequality Today
How Class Divisions Are Reflected in Popular Sport
- Class Divisions and Popular Sport
- Class Reductionism
Social Stratification: An Alternative to Social Inequality
Ideology: Explaining Social Inequality
- Dominant Ideology and Counter-Ideology
- Liberal Ideology
- Hegemony
Poverty and Excess: The Real Effects of Social Inequality
- Canada's Haves and Have-Nots: The Extremes of the Social Inequality Spectrum
- Social Inequality and Education
- Dentistry as an Indicator of Social Inequality
8. "Race" and Ethnicity
For Starters: Refugees
Introduction to "Race": Why the Scare Quotes?
Racialization in Canada
- Indigenous People in Canada
- Blacks in Canada
- Mind Traps in the Study of Blacks in Canada
- Four Elements of Racism
- Master Narratives and Buried Knowledge
- Primordialism
- Postcolonialism
- Ethnicity as Epiphenomenal
- Instrumentalism
- Social Constructivism
- Summary
Ethnicity in Canada: Classic Studies
- Ethnic Class: English and French in Quebec
- John Porter and the Vertical Mosaic
Landmarks in the Sociological Study of "Race"
- W.E.B. Du Bois: First Black Sociologist
- Daniel G. Hill: First Black Canadian Sociologist
- Crenshaw, Collins, and Intersectionality Theory: Tracking "Race" and Gender
9. Gender and Sexuality
For Starters: What It Means to Be a Man
Introduction: Sex and Gender - What's the Difference?
Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: A Primer
- Case Studies in the Relationship between Sex and Gender
Feminism and Gender Theory: Four Categories
- Liberal Feminism
- Essentialist Feminism
- Socialist Feminism
- Postmodernist Feminism
Gendered Occupation and Education
- Gendered Jobs
- What Keeps Women from Taking Science- and Math-Related Courses?
- Feminization of Occupations
- Being a Gender Minority in a Gendered Occupation
"Race" and Gender: Intersecting Oppression
- Opposing Gender/"Race" Stereotypes
- Gender and Immigration
Part Four: Social Institutions
10. Family
For Starters: Can I Blame It All on My Parents?
Introduction: Family Is Diverse
Nine Changes in the Canadian Family
1. The marriage rate is decreasing while the cohabitation rate is rising.
2. The age of first marriage is rising.
3. There are more divorces overall, but the rate is falling.
4. More women are having children in their thirties.
5. The number of children per family has dropped below the "replacement rate."
6. There are more couples without children than with.
7. Children are leaving home at a later age.
8. There are more lone-parent families.
9. There are more people living alone.
Family in Quebec
Conjugal Roles
- Earning and Caring: Changes in Conjugal Roles
The Ethnic Factor in Conjugal Roles
Marrying "In" and Marrying "Out"
Family and Ethnicity
- Attacks on the Indigenous Family
11. Religion
For Starters: The Christmas Rant
Introduction: The Sociocultural Elements of Religion
Religion and Class Intersect
Durkheim and the Elementary Forms of Religious Life
- What Is Religion?
- Three Key Elements of Religion
- Collective Consciousness and the Sacred and Profane
- Durkheim's Study of Religion
Canadian Society and Religion
- Trends
- Age Group versus Cohort
Religion and the Family
- Religion and the Marginalized Family
- Imports from Britain
- Hutterites: Religion and Family
Religion and Gender
- Gender Construction among the Hutterites
- Women Priests in the Anglican Church
- Banning Burkini, Headscarves, and Other Conspicuous Religious Symbols
Religion and Social Change
- Christian Religious Colonialism and Its Impact among Indigenous People in Canada
- The Missionary Position
- Liberation Theology
12. Education
For Starters: The Academic Underclass: Take a Good Look at Your Professor
Introduction: Education as a Social Institution
Religion and Class Intersect
The Rise of Public Education in Canada
- Post-war Expansion and the Human Capital Thesis
- Models of Public Education in Canada
Topics in the Sociology of Education
- The Hidden Curriculum
- Cultural Reproduction Theory
- Homework and its Sociological Effects
- Issues in Indigenous Education
Issues in Postsecondary Education
- Long-Term Adjunct Instructors: An Educational Underclass
- Online Teaching: A Critical Sociological Approach
- Do You Want Fries with that Degree?
- The Sociology of Plagiarism
- Cultures of Education
13. Health and Medicine
For Starters: Men's Pain and Women's Pain
Introduction: The Social Side of Medicine
The Sick Role
The Social Course of Disease
- Ivan Illich: Pioneering Critic of Medicalization
- Big Pharma: The Role of Drug Companies in Medicalization
Medical Sociology, Race, and Ethnicity
- Unemployed Immigrant Doctors: A Problem with Many Standpoints
- The Racialization of Disease: The 2003 SARS Ourbreak
Medical Sociology and Gender
- Physicians and Gender
- Male Nurses
- Medical Marginality: The Intersectionality of Gender and "Race"
Medical Sociology and Class
- The Inverse Care Law
- Rising Tuition Fees and Medical Students
Final Thoughts: Twelve Tips for Better Health
Part Five: Global Perspectives
14. The Environment
For Starters: Not In My Country: Rich Countries Dumping Waste in Poor Countries
Environmental Sociology: Science or Social Science?
Assessing Environmental Arguments: Two Keys for Social Scientists
- Operational Definitions
- Vested Interests
Social Ecology
- Industrial Pollution and Social Ecology
- Industrial Communities and the Disposable People of Pollution
The Environment and "Race"
- Ken Saro-Wiwa: Resisting Pollution
- The Case of Grassy Narrows
The Environment and Class
- Walkerton and the Social Politics of Water
- The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage
15. Social Change And The Future
For Starters: Raging Against the Machine
Introduction: Why Predicting the Future is a Fool's Game
Five Interpretations of Social Change
1. Modernism
2. Conservatism
3. Postmodernism
4. Evolution
5. Fashion
Social Change in Canada: Two Case Studies
- Social Change and the Decline of the Cod Fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Religious Change: Islam as a Canadian Religion
Social Change and Sociology in Canada
Concluding Narrative: Where Does Sociology Go From Here?

Free to instructors: textbook-relevant streaming videos
- Over 20 videos, including clips and feature length films on topics such as residential schools, poverty, punk music in Islamic societies, unemployment among university graduates, and many more!
Note: Instructor's Manual, Test Generator, PowerPoint Slides, Student Study Guide, and Image Bank have been fully revised for this edition
Instructor's Manual:
Each chapter includes:
- Lecture online
10-20 classroom activities
- 5-7 ideas for discussion or debate
- 3-5 ideas for assignments
- 7-10 suggested readings
- 5-10 suggested websites NEW
- 3-5 additional activities
PowerPoint slides:
Each chapter includes:
- 25-30 lecture slides
- Includes figures, tables, and photos from the text
Test Generator:
Each chapter includes:
- 30-35 multiple choice questions
- 20-25 true-or-false questions
- 15-20 short answer questions
- Answer key with page references
Streaming Video Viewing Guide:
For each film:
- Short summary
- List of relevant topics
- Short description
- 3-5 learning objectives
- 3-5 suggested clips with timestamps and a brief summary
- 5-7 suggested discussion questions (both generic and clip-specific)
- 2-3 suggested assignment questions (both generic and clip-specific)
Student Study Guide:
Each chapter includes:
- Chapter summary
- 5-10 learning objectives NEW
- 5-10 key terms and concepts NEW
- 2-3 exploration and discussion exercises
- 5-10 annotated further readings and websites NEW
- Self-assessment quiz with:
-- 10 multiple choice questions
-- 10 true-or-false questions
-- 3-5 short answer questions
-- Answer key with page references
Image Bank:
- Includes all photos, figures, tables, and maps from the text
E-Book (ISBN 9780199019649)

John Steckley was a professor of sociology and anthropology at Humber College for more than 20 years. He is the author of over a dozen books and 200 articles in scholarly journals. A specialist in Aboriginal languages, culture, and history, he has previously worked as a consultant on CBC's Canada: A People's History and is currently serving as tribal linguist of the Wyandot [or Huron] of Kansas. Aside from authoring three highly successful editions of Elements of Sociology, he is the author of Oxford University Press's Foundations of Sociology (2014), and Introduction to Physical Anthropology (2011).

Thinking about Sociology - Karen L. Anderson
Imagining Sociology - Catherine Corrigall-Brown
Sociology - Edited by Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese
Starting Points - Lorne Tepperman
Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese
Foundations of Sociology - John Steckley
Principles of Sociology - Edited by Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese
Introducing Sociology - Murray Knuttila and Andre Magnan
Elements of Sociology - John Steckley
Questioning Sociology - Edited by Myra J. Hird and George Pavlich

Special Features

  • An engaging narrative approach captures student interest and provides diverse, impactful examples that bring this exciting field of study to life.
  • A Canadian focus offers students a solid overview of the issues, events, and figures at the heart of sociological inquiry in Canada.
  • An emphasis on critical thinking encourages students to question the status quo and actively take part in ongoing sociological conversations and debates.
  • A balanced approach to theory in which theory is introduced in a way that appeals to students and is applied to real-world situations to which all students can relate.
  • Unmatched treatment of diversity and Indigenous concerns helps students recognize and comprehend issues facing people of various social, ethnic, racial, religious, educational, and other backgrounds.
  • Engaging streaming videos, including video clips and feature-length films linked to the text, are perfect for use in lectures and to stimulate classroom discussion. An accompanying viewing guide provides background information and discussion topics for each clip.
  • An engaging box program invites students to think about sociological ideas from many angles.
  • For Starters chapter-opening vignettes offer students a way to connect with the concepts that will be presented.
  • What do YOU Think? boxes present critical-thinking questions to encourage reflection on key concepts as they are presented.
  • The Point Is... boxes present case studies and highlight important contributions to and insight on sociological research, past and present.
  • Our Stories boxes examine the events and research that are especially relevant to the practice and study of sociology in Canada.
  • Telling It Like It Is boxes feature first-person narratives that give voice to a variety of perspectives informed by a variety of social factors - age, sex, gender, class, ethnicity, and more.
  • Going Global boxes shed light on international issues of interest to sociologists and students in Canada and around the world.
  • Quick Hits sidebars supplement the authors' narrative with relevant examples and data.
New to this Edition
  • Fully updated with coverage of contemporary topics, including Justin Trudeau's cabinet, STEM enrolments, refugees, disability, the intersections of poverty and race, global inequalities, and Indigenous representation in the media.
  • An abundance of new boxes throughout provide students with practical examples of fascinating issues such as aging countercultures (Ch. 3), racial profiling (Ch. 8), the marriage gap (Ch. 10), gender and representation in history (Ch. 12), the politics of terrorism (Ch. 15), and much more.
  • Enhanced coverage of research methods, ethics, and analyses provides students with the foundation they need to assess research findings and statistics with a critical eye. (Ch. 2)
  • A dynamic new design with a colourful, concept-oriented art program features 90 new photos-170 in all-and 49 tables.
  • Extensively revised research and statistics throughout ensures students have the most up-to-date data available.