5 Great Books for Sociologists

Being the study of society or social behavior, sociology is by nature a dynamic discipline. However, just like any other discipline, there are must-read books for any sociology student or enthusiast—these are books that have proven to be timeless and continue to motivate and influence students, writers, professionals, and researchers involved in various sociological aspects. Without much ado, here is a brief overview of the top 5 great books for sociologists.

1. On Individuality and Social Reforms by Georg Simmel

On Individuality and Social Reforms provides unique observations on contemporary social aspects including social distance, urbanism, marginality, social behavior exchange, role playing, conflict as an integration process, circular interaction, dyadic encounter, and sociological ambivalence among others. In a nutshell, in this book, Simmel offers an early look at virtually every major aspect of sociology.

2. The Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills

Most modern sociological perspectives connect personal, social, and historical dimensions of everyday lives in our societies. It’s hard to imagine that this palpable process was not taken seriously until Mills published the Sociological Imagination. The book provided an in-depth critique of the ascendant sociology schools in the United States. While most of the issues that Mills called for became the standard, the book remains a revolutionary vision of a society where private problems of the individual correlates to critical social issues. Simply put, the book is good reminder of the role sociologists in the modern world.

3. Rules of Sociological Method by Emile Durkheim

Rules of Sociological Method provide an in-depth outline of the nature and scope of sociology when the discipline was still new. Basically, the book is a collection of arguments, commentaries, and letters penned by the author to back his opinions and positions on the scientific methods he employed in his studies of humans. The book is, therefore, a good platform for understanding various sociological aspects from the Durkheim’s time to date. Many of the ideas expressed in the Rules of Sociological Method are still be discussed by today’s scholars, making the book a timeless piece for any budding sociologist.

4. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Clark Klosterman

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs is an intriguing collection of short vignettes aimed at portraying the world from many people’s viewpoints—all from different subcultures. The author begins each vignette with a small snippet of the meaning of the piece and its link to the next vignette. By and large, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs provide a unique analysis of the many internal conflicts that today’s media-driven societies face and how people interpret them—albeit under different circumstances. Klosterman’s collection is simply an over-stimulating and remarkable piece that no serious sociologist can dare to put down before going through all the chapters.

5. Our Racist Heart by Geoffrey Beattie

Very few people will ever admit that they are racists or they often make assumptions about people based on their gender, skin color or social class. In Our Racist Heart, Beattie questions whether prejudice is still part of our domain. He suggests that race-based biases are not just prevalent in today’s societies but that they are part and parcel of even the most educated, fair-minded and liberal individuals. The book is therefore a great account of the significance of sociological investigations on the impact of racism on life chances of stigmatized individuals or social groups in our societies.

If you make it through these top 5 sociological books or just a few chapters of 1 or 2, you will have gained valuable understanding of important sociological aspects. Most importantly, you will have a grasp of where sociology has come from and where it’s likely to be in a few years to come as more great sociologists contribute to this fascinating discipline.

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