This innovative textbook presents a comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of contemporary social thought, and enables students with a basic grasp of sociology to develop an understanding of the vast and complex body of sociological theory. "Modern Sociological Theory" is organized around concepts, rather than schools of thought or individual theorists. It establishes that there is a central theoretical tradition in sociology, and that the core debates of sociological theory focus on common questions. Lucid coverage is provided of: agency, rationality, structure and "system" - core concepts which sociological theory must attempt to reconcile; and culture, power, gender, differentiation and stratification - central phenomena which sociological theory seeks to explain. The major contributions which have been made to the analysis of each concept and substantive issue are outlined, and the present state of the debate is indicated.
`Waters manages to be worthy, thorough and intelligible... Waters organizes his books around four formal concepts: agency, rationality, structure and system, and four substantive areas: culture and ideology, power and the state, gender and feminism, and differentiation and stratification.... His treatment of each is systematic and his coverage extremely thorough.... He writes in a straightforward way that would be within the range of all but the weakest student. Although he acknowledges that we cannot find a systematic body of theory in sociology, he comes close to presenting the complexity of contemporary theory as if it were systematic, and I suspect he really wishes it were.... I would recommend Water's book to beginners or to any student who was not particularly interested in social theory but had an exam to pass; I am not sure whether that is taking the easy way out or being a good teacher' - Ian Craib, British Journal of Sociology
`The publication of Malcolm Waters' Modern Sociological Theory marks a new stage in the teaching of contemporary social theory .In contrast to texts based on individual thinkers or ritualized accounts of schools, Waters provides an ingenious analytical framework for presenting virtually all of the major issues of contemporary social theory: from the varieties of interactionims to rational choice and exchange theory; structuralism and poststructuralism; functionalism and neofunctionalism; feminist theory to the latest variations in neo-Marxist, critical and postmodernist theory. Its what we have been waiting for and more. A focus on agency, rationality, structure and system effectively sets out the unifying terms of debate. Moreover, substantively oriented chapters on culture and idelology, power, gender and stratification link social theory and empirical research in an unparalleld manner. The major individual contributors are concisely presented, and helpful charts quickly convey the relations among abstract concepts. In short, there is no current text that can begin to compare with respect to scope, range, clarity, balance and sophistication. But this book is not only for moving students rapidly to the frontier of theory, it is also a must for anyone interested in catching up with the transformations of social theory over the past two decades. Those not using it for their courses will probably be relying on it for rewriting their lecture notes' - Professor Raymond A Morrow, University of Alberta, Edmonton