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The Encyclopedia of Social Theory is an indispensable reference source for anyone interested in the roots of contemporary social theory. It examines the global landscape of all the key theories and the theorists behind them, presenting them in the context needed to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Led by internationally renowned scholar George Ritzer, the Encyclopedia of Social Theory draws together a team of more than 200 international scholars covering the developments, achievements, and prospects of social theory from its inception in the 18th century to the present. Understanding that social theory can both explain and alter the social world, this two-volume set serves as not only a foundation for learning, but also an inspiration for creative and reflexive engagement with the rich range of ideas it contains.
Myriad areas of specialization pertinent to social theory are covered in this set, among them macrosociological and microbehaviorist theories, cultural theory, Marxist theory, feminist theory, and national traditions (e.g., American, British, French, and German social theory). Readers interested in better understanding key concepts, theorists, schools, or texts in these areas will not be disappointed. Qualified scholars from 14 countries provide 300-plus entries ranging from 400 to 6,000 words. Examples of entry headings include Annales school; Consumer culture; Globalization; Imperialism; Marx, Karl; Queer theory; Social Darwinism; and revolution. Entries conclude with a brief listing of further readings and a set of cross-references. A "Chronology of Social Theory," a "Master Bibliography," and an index conclude the set; the chronology and bibliography provide significant added value.
Balanced coverage of historical and contemporary social theory, as well as of the areas of specialization pertinent to social theory, is one of the hallmarks of this set. Also notable is the consistently high quality of the scholarship and general accessibility of the entries. The set is, to date, without direct competition, and there is much to recommend it to advanced social-science students, including undergraduates with a more scholarly inclination or those with theoretical interests, as well as researchers and scholars.
This carefully focused work will be a useful complement to standard sociology reference sources that provide broad coverage of the social sciences or social thought in general. It should prove a welcome addition to academic and large public library collections. Sarah Watstein
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