Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Canadian Scholars’ Press
584 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
September 2016
Print ISBN: 9781551309361
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Rethinking Society in the 21st Century is a critical collection of readings that provides students with a foundational knowledge base in sociology. The fourth edition has been thoroughly updated to include significant Canadian content, with a greater focus on Indigeneity, gender, and sexuality and a new section dedicated to social movements, social change, and emerging fields.

This anthology introduces students to the fundamental elements of sociology with a balance of classical theory—Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Mills—and more contemporary approaches found in the works of Michel Foucault and Dorothy Smith. Building on this theoretical grounding, the text outlines core concepts in sociology as well as major social institutions such as families, the economy and labour, education, health care, and media. Covering a wide breadth of topics, including chapters on animals, the environment, crime, trans issues, class, ethnicity, and race, this new edition explores critical debates in Canadian society with an emphasis on intersectional approaches to social inequalities.

This volume is rich with pedagogical features that promote critical understanding, including detailed introductions that speak to the contextual history of the source material and discussion questions for each section. Uniquely designed for introductory courses, this reader is ideal for students in sociology programs across Canada.


Table of Contents



Section 1A: Introduction: The Sociological Perspective
1: The Promise, C. Wright Mills
2: In Defence of Sociology, Anthony Giddens

Section 1B: Classical Theory
3: What Is a Social Fact? Emile Durkheim
4: Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Chapter 5: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber

Section 1C: Contemporary Theory
6: Women’s Perspective as a Radical Critique of Sociology, Dorothy E. Smith
7: Power/Knowledge, Michel Foucault
8: Revisiting Gramsci, Diana Coben
9: Racial Formation in the United States, Michael Omi and Howard Winant

Section 1D: Research Methods
10: General Research Orientations, Alan Bryman, James Teevan, and Edward Bell
11: Becoming an Anti-oppressive Researcher, Karen L. Potts and Leslie Brown

Rethinking Section 1: Discussion Questions


12: Learning to Strip: The Socialization Experiences of Exotic Dancers, Jacqueline Lewis
13: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Erving Goffman
14: Private Eyes and Public Order: Policing and Surveillance in the Suppression of Animal Rights Activists in Canada, Kevin Walby and Jeffrey Monaghan
15: Woman Abuse in Canada: Sociological Reflections on the Past, Suggestions for the Future, Walter S. DeKeseredy and Molly Dragiewicz

Rethinking Section 2: Discussion Questions


Section 3A: Families
16: The Way We Weren’t: The Myth and Reality of the “Traditional” Family, Stephanie Coontz
17: Neo-liberalism, Families, and Work-Life Balance, Kate Bezanson
18: Beyond Normalization: An Analysis of Heteronormativity in Children’s Picture Books, Anika Stafford

Section 3B: The Economy and Labour
19: Just another Neoliberal Worker: Tracing the State’s Treatment of Low-Income Mothers, Margaret Hillyard Little
20: Does Citizenship Status Matter in Canadian Agriculture? Workplace Health and Safety for Migrant and Immigrant Laborers, Kerry Preibisch and Gerardo Otero

Section 3C: Education
21: Playing it Down/Playing it Up: Girls’ Strategic Negotiations of Academic Success, Rebecca Raby and Shauna Pomerantz
22: Keeping the Ivory Tower White: Discourses of Racial Domination, Carol Schick

Section 3D: Age, Health, and Health Care
23: “Old People Are Useless”: Representations of Aging on The Simpsons, Darren Blakeborough
24: Gender, Race, and Health Inequalities, Ann Pederson, Dennis Raphael, and Ellisa Johnson
25: Invisible Populations: LGBTQ People and Federal Health Policy in Canada, Nick J. Mulé and Miriam Smith

Section 3E: Media
26: “You Bring Great Masculinity and Truth”: Sexuality, Whiteness, and the Regulation of the Male Body in Motion, Jade Boyd
27: “It’s Just Drama”: Teen Perspectives on Conflict and Aggression in a Networked Era, Alice Marwick and danah boyd

Rethinking Section 3: Discussion Questions


Section 4A: Social Class
28: Building Their Readiness for Economic “Freedom”: The New Poor Law and Emancipation, Anne O’Connell
29: “Too Much of That Stuff Can’t Be Good”: Canadian Teens, Morality and Fast Food Consumption, Deborah McPail, Gwen E. Chapman, and Brenda L. Beagan
30: Class and Power: The Major Themes, John Porter

Section 4B: Gender and Sexualities
31: Our Bodies are Not Ourselves: Tranny Guys and the Racialized Class Politics of Incoherence, Jean Bobby Noble
32: Sexual Ethics and Young Women’s Accounts of Heterosexual Casual Sex, Melanie A. Beres and Panteá Farvid
33: “Real Fast and Tough”: The Construction of Canadian Hockey Masculinity, Kristi A. Allain

Section 4C: Ethnicity and Race
34: “Canadian-First”: Mixed Race Self-Identification and Canadian Belonging, Jillian Paragg
35: African-Centred Education: Situating the Tradition, George Dei and Arlo Kempf
36: “Born” Freaks, “Made” Freaks, and Media Circuses: Systemic Management of Race and Gender in the Reena Virk Case, Nicole Pietsch

Rethinking Section 4: Discussion Questions


37: Humans and Other Animals: Sociology’s Moral and Intellectual Challenge, David Nibert
38: Growing a Just Garden: Environmental Justice and the Development of a Community Garden Policy for Hamilton, Ontario, Erika S. Jermé and Sarah Wakefield
39: “A Direct Act of Resurgence, a Direct Act of Sovereignty”: Reflections on Idle No More, Indigineous Activism, and Canadian Settler Colonialism, Adam J. Barker

Rethinking Section 5: Discussion Questions

Copyright Acknowledgements


“Webber and Bezanson’s collection has become standard amongst sociology instructors seeking a critical introduction to the field. The book strikes a nice balance between seminal theoretical pieces and cutting edge research that engages and challenges students to think about new things in new ways. Power inequalities figure prominently in the readings as they explore the complex intersections of class, gender, race, and sexuality.… Canadian sociology is well represented, with a number of current research pieces by scholars preeminent in the discipline. I cannot think of another collection that accomplishes what this one does.”
—  Kenneth Fish, Department of Sociology, University of Winnipeg

Rethinking Society in the 21st Century offers a diverse range of readings focusing on the theory, methods, and substance of sociology and does so from a critical perspective. Furthermore, it exposes students to both classical and contemporary works, and the readings are engaging yet challenging. The number of Canadian authors is another key strength of this text.”
—  Alison Dunwoody, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta

Instructor Resources

Rethinking Society in the 21st Century includes instructors test bank questions.

Student Resources

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