Sociology in Stories: A Creative Introduction to a Fascinating Perspective.
I set out, quite simply, to write a book that my students would read. For more than ten years, I assigned Introduction to Sociology textbooks in my courses. Through the years I'd notice students flipping through their books during class to catch up with something I'd referenced. So many times I'd see no markings at all: no highlights, no underlining, nothing in the margins. Their books had barely been touched. What a shame that the books weren't being read. Truth be told, I didn't love the textbooks either. So often I'd venture away from the textbook and do my own thing. I'd cover parts of each chapter, but more and more I'd steer in my own direction, rely on my own thoughts and observations, and discuss sociology in ways that weren't happening in the text. Finally, I broke away from the feeling that I had to require students to buy a traditional textbook. I felt free and ready to do something different.
The first phase of writing my book involved me typing many of the things I'd been saying in class. So I began putting my sociology lessons to paper. The book began to take shape, and I worked into creative methods of introducing students to thinking sociologically. My book does not consist of 1,000 definitions. It is not a complete history of the discipline. What, then, is my book? It is about the sociological perspective, brought to readers through a collection of stories and discussions. There are a lot of fictional stories with post-story discussions about the sociological components in the stories. There are also nonfiction stories about everyday life. The stories and discussions are informed by sociological ideas, theories, and research. The writing style is (I hope) fun, accessible, interesting, informative--and I hope it leaves readers wanting for more sociology.
Here are some of the contents in my book, along with a brief description of the contents. Please note this is not the entire table of contents.
"Society Gets on My Nerves Sometimes" (A story about McDonaldized society.)
"My Favorite Tattoo Ever and the Problem with Positive Thinking (Includes a discussion of Barbara Ehrenreich's book Bright-Sided.)
"That's Ghetto" (References the work of Nikki Jones' book Between Good and Ghetto.)
"Circumstances" (A sociological analysis of Jay-Z's song "December 4th.")
"Life Is an Information Game" (Goffman, Goffman, Goffman!)
"My Old Schools" (About educational inequality. Do we live in a meritocracy?)
"Homework" (A discussion of work life and home life, based on Arlie Hochschild's research.)
"(Not a Rich) White Guy" (A reflection on white privilege and middle-class life.)
"Let's Talk about Sex" (A story about hooking up. The story draws on research by Lisa Wade and Caroline Heldman.)
"Drinking Beer and Stealing Money" (A story inspired by differential association theory.)
"A Race I Can Win" (A story inspired by strain theory.)
"Iron Cage Tattoo" -- click here for story (Weber, what else?!)
"Permanent Punishment" (a story based on Peter Moskos' book In Defense of Flogging.)
"Punishment in Society" (a discussion of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.)
"Dying Wishes" (Intro-level books usually avoid the subject of death. Here I dive right in.)
"America the Beautiful" (A fictional story about the future of society--immigration, social class, physical appearance, media, inequality.) Click here to read story.
"Families" (a nonfiction story about a married couple based on my interview with two men who adopted two sons).
There's much more. The book is not a loose assortment of stories. The stories are tied together by theme and narrative. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can purchase or request a copy at the publisher's website: