Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach, 2nd Edition

James M. Henslin all

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Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach, 2nd Edition

By James M. Henslin, Adam M. Possamai, Alphia L. Possamai-Inesedy, Tim Marjoribanks, Catriona Elder
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James Henslin has always been able to share the excitement of sociology, with his acclaimed "down-to-earth" approach and personal writing style that highlight the sociology of everyday life and its relevance to students' lives.

Adapted for students studying within Australia, this text, has been made even more relevant and engaging to students. With wit, personal reflection, and illuminating examples, the local author team share their passion for sociology, promote sociology to students and entice them to delve deeper into this exciting science. Six central themes run throughout this text: down-to-earth sociology, globalisation, cultural diversity, critical thinking, the new technology, and the growing influence of the mass media on our lives. These themes are especially useful for introducing the controversial topics that make studying sociology such a lively, exciting activity.


JAMES M. HENSLIN, was born in Minnesota, graduated from high school and junior college in California and from college in Indiana. Awarded scholarships, he earned his Master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After this, he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health, and spent a year studying how people adjust to the suicide of a family member. His primary interests in sociology are the sociology of everyday life, deviance, and international relations. Among his numerous books is Down-to-Earth Sociology: Introductory Readings (Free Press), now in its twelfth edition. This book of readings reflects some of these sociological interests. He has also published widely in sociology journals, including Social Problems and American Journal of Sociology, While a graduate student, Jim Henslin taught at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

ADAM M. POSSAMAI grew up in Belgium where he studied to become a sociologist and a high school teacher. After some exposure to North Africa, he came to La Trobe University to do his PhD where he started to teach in an introduction to sociology subject. Since the completion of his PhD which won a national award, he has worked at the University of Western Sydney (where he met his wife, Alphia, in case you were wondering) and taught many sociology subjects, including introduction to sociology. He specialises in the sociology of religion and the study of popular culture, and has published widely on these research themes. He is currently the Acting Director of the Research Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies and an Associate Professor in Sociology.

ALPHIA L POSSAMAI-INESEDY, who was born in Pennsylvania, graduated from high school there but also spent a year of her high school years in Canada. She began her undergraduate studies in her home state, however, she completed her double major in sociology and psychology in Sydney, Australia. Both her honours degree and PhD were within the discipline of sociology; and more specifically the sub-discipline of sociology of religion, and sociology of medicine and health care. Her PhD enabled her to study women’s experiences during pregnancy and childbirth over a three year period. Alphia’s primary interests in sociology are the sociology of medicine and health care, religion, and social research methods. She has published widely in sociology journals including Journal of Sociology, Health Sociology Review and the Australian Religion Studies Review.

CATRIONA ELDER was educated in Melbourne and undertook her first university degrees there. After a short time in the workforce she decided academic life was for her and she returned to university to complete an MA and a PhD. Her work for these degrees focused on issues of gender, race and nation. She was interested in exploring the role of popular culture (films, books, television) in forming attitudes to difference – especially racial difference. Some of these ideas have been explored in her books Being Australian: Narrative of National Identity (Allen and Unwin) and Dreams and Nightmares of a White Australia (Peter Lang). Catriona has always had university placements that have involved a mix of research and teaching.

TIM MARJORIBANKS was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He completed his undergraduate studies at The University of Adelaide, with Honours degrees in Arts (majoring in Politics) and Law. During these studies, he developed a strong interest in political, legal and sociological approaches to studying how society is organized and governed. He was awarded a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship to undertake study at Harvard University in the United States, where he completed an MA and PhD in Sociology. On completing his studies, he returned to Australia, where he worked as a T.R. Ashworth Senior Lecturer in Sociology at The University of Melbourne. In 2011 Tim joined the La Trobe University Graduate School of Management as Head (Department of Management).

  • The authors’ trademark "down-to-earth" approach is reflected in the many vignettes, boxes, and examples that are based on personal experience and field research. These first-person accounts provide a rich and compelling "insider’s" perspective on social life.
  • Theoretically balanced, this text covers all major topics in an introductory course.
  • An important theme in the text is the impact of social change - what society used to be like, how it has changed, and what the implications are for the present and future. A large number of graphs and tables are designed to illustrate social change over time.
  • Five themes run through the text:
    - "Down-to-Earth Sociology" boxes highlight sociology’s relevance to students' everyday lives.
    - "Mass Media in Social Life" boxes look at how the media affect our behaviour and permeate our thinking. 
    - "Cultural Diversity" boxes give an insight into other cultures here in Australia and around the world. This feature aims to make students more aware of contrasts and connections between different cultures and customs, and to show how arbitrary their own customs are. 
    - "Thinking Critically" boxes focus on controversial social issues and engage students in examining them. 
    - "Sociology and the New Technology" boxes investigate how technology is changing our society and influencing our lives.
  • Chapter-Opening Vignettes feature down-to-earth illustrations of a major aspect of each chapter’s content. Some of these are based on the authors’ own experiences; others are taken from popular culture and the media.
  • Critical thinking and discussion questions close each chapter. Critical thinking questions ask students to reflect on a major issue from the chapter, often asking them to apply sociological findings and principles to their own lives. Discussion questions are designed to get students talking in tutorials. 
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Table of contents
  • PART 1 The Sociological Perspective
  • 1 The Sociological Perspective
  • 2 Culture and Socialisation
  • 3 Social Structure and Social Interaction
  • 4 How Sociologists do Research
  • PART 2 Social Groups and Social Control
  • 5 Societies to Social Networks, On- and Offline
  • 6 Bureaucracy and Formal Organisations
  • 7 Control, Power and Deviance
  • PART 3 Social Inequality
  • 8 Class and Social Stratification
  • 9 Race and Ethnicity
  • 10 Sex, Gender and Ageing
  • PART 4 Social Institutions
  • 11 Politics and the Economy
  • 12 Education
  • 13 Religion
  • 14 Marriage and Family
  • 15 Health Care and Bio-Medicine
  • PART 5 Social Change
  • 16 Population and Urbanisation
  • 17 Collective Behaviour and Social Movements
  • 18 Technological Change, Risk and the Environment

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