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Major Sociological Works

Discover some of the major sociological works that helped define and shape the field of sociology. Here you will find major historical research studies and projects that have contributed to the way we think about social behavior.

The Study Of Suicide
Emile Durkheim's study of suicide was a groundbreaking sociological study because in it, he discovered a number of important sociological findings. First, he argued that suicide was caused by social factors instead of individual. Second, he emphasized the role of social structure in producing deviance. Third, he pointed out the importance of...

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a book that was published in 1959, written by sociologist Erving Goffman. In it, he uses the imagery of theater in order to portray the importance of human and social action and interaction. He refers to this as the dramaturgical model of social life.

Milgram Obedience Studies
What happens if an authority figure demands obedience, even if the task is something that the person finds morally wrong? The Milgram Obedience Studies found some chilling answers questioning the limits of social pressure.

Asch Conformity Experiments
The Asch Conformity Experiments demonstrated the power of conformity in groups and showed that even simple objective facts cannot withstand the distorting pressure of group influence.

The Division of Labor in Society
The Division of Labor in Society is a book written, originally in French, by Emile Durkheim in 1893. It was Durkheim’s first major published work and the one in which he introduced the concept of anomie, or the breakdown of the influence of social norms on individuals within a society.

The Communist Manifesto
'The Communist Manifesto' is a book written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 and has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts.

The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by sociologist and economist Max Weber in 1904-1905. It is a discussion of Weber’s various religious ideas and economics in which he argues that Puritan ethics and ideas influenced the development of capitalism. It is often considered a founding text in economic sociology and...

Democracy in America
'Democracy in America,' written by Alexis de Tocqueville is considered one of the most comprehensive and insightful books ever written about the U.S. The book deals with issues such as religion, the press, money, class structure, racism, the role of government, and the judicial system – issues that are just as relevant today as they were then.

The Sociological Imagination
In 'The Sociological Imagination,' C. Wright Mills aimed to reconcile two different and abstract concepts of social reality – the “individual” and “society.” In doing so, Mills challenged the dominant sociological discourse and critiqued some of the most basic terms and definitions.

The McDonaldization of Society
In The McDonaldization of Society, author George Ritzer takes the central elements of Max Weber’s work and expands and updates them, producing an analysis of the impact of structural change on human interaction and identity.

The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality is a three-volume series of books written between 1976 and 1984 by French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. His main goal in the books is to disprove the idea that Western society had repressed sexuality since the 17th century and that sexuality had been something that society did not talk about.

Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America
Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America is a book by Barbara Ehrenreich based on her ethnographic research on low-wage jobs in America. Inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform at the time, she decided to immerse herself into the world of low-wage earning Americans.

Fast Food Nation
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is a book about how the fast food industry has shaped the American way of life. Since it’s inception, fast food has widened the gap between the rich and the poor, fueled an obesity epidemic, and forced American cultural ideas abroad.

The Tipping Point
"The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell is a book about how small actions at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people can create a "tipping point" for anything from a product to an idea to a trend, etc.

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools
"Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools" is a book written by Jonathan Kozol that examines the American educational system and the inequalities that exist between poor inner-city schools and more affluent suburban schools.

Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity
Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity is a book written by Erving Goffman in 1963 about the idea of stigma and what it is like to be a stigmatized person. It is a look into the world of persons who society does not consider “normal.”

The Culture of Fear
The Culture of Fear was written in 1999 by Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California. The book is all about why America is a country that is engrossed with fear. Glassner examines and exposes the people and organizations that manipulate Americans’ perceptions and profit from the resulting anxiety.

The Social Transformation of American Medicine
The Social Transformation of American Medicine is a book written in 1982 by Paul Starr about medicine and health care in the United States. Starr looks at the evolution and the culture of medicine from the colonial period (late 1700s) into the last quarter of the twentieth century.

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