Introduction to Sociology

This textbook presents in a highly accessible and engaging way key knowledge in sociology, introducing students to core concepts, theories, perspectives, methods and findings. Furthermore, it helps students learning to think like a sociologist. It offers students a ‘sociological toolkit’, a set of useful insights, tools and principles, which will enable them to do research like a sociologist themselves. Being able to think like a sociologist helps students to analyze any sociological topic and any contemporary social problem - even those with which one is yet unfamiliar.

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Comprehensive and engaging, this textbook introduces students not only to foundational sociological work, but also to insights from contemporary sociological theory and research. This combined approach ensures that students become familiar with the core of sociology: key concepts, theories, perspectives, methods and findings. Students will acquire the ability to think like a sociologist, to investigate and understand complex social phenomena.

This text presents a complete sociological toolkit, guiding students in the art of asking good sociological questions, devising a sophisticated theory and developing methodologies to observe social phenomena. The chapters of this book build cumulatively to equip students with the tools to quickly understand any new sociological topic or contemporary social problem.

The textbook also applies the sociological toolkit to selected key sociological issues, showing how specific sociological topics can be easily investigated and understood using this approach. Taking a global and comparative perspective, the book covers a rich diversity of sociological topics and social problems, such as crime, immigration, race and ethnicity, media, education, family, organizations, gender, poverty,  modernization  and religion.

The book presents a range of helpful pedagogical features throughout, such as:

  • Chapter overview and learning goals summaries at the start of every chapter;
  • Thinking like a sociologist boxes, encouraging students to reflect critically on learning  points;
  • Principle boxes, summarizing key sociological principles;
  • Theory schema boxes, presenting sociological theories in a clear, understandable manner;
  • Stylized facts highlighting key empirical findings and patterns;
  • Key concepts and summary sections at the end of every chapter; and
  • A companion website providing additional material for every chapter for both instructors and students, including PowerPoint lecture notes, discussion questions and answers, multiple-choice questions, further reading and a full glossary of terms.

This clear and accessible text is essential reading for students taking introductory courses in sociology.



“I’ve been waiting for an introduction like this for years. It introduces students to sociology’s overarching themes and shows how the principles of asking sociological questions, formulating and testing sociological ideas, and thus building knowledge applies across the seemingly different topics in our broad discipline. If you’re looking for an introduction that helps your students understand and engage with state-of-the-art (academic) sociology, look no further. This is an excellent introduction for students wishing to understand the key principles of building sound sociological knowledge and applying the sociological perspective across a wide range of topics. I will be recommending this to all our graduate students – whether they already took an intro to sociology or not.” Christiaan Monden, University of Oxford, UK

“Frank van Tubergen’s excellent introduction delivers a fresh and unique approach to the key challenge of teaching Sociology: how can we combine the fascination for all the many social phenomena with the virtue of clear and systematic thinking, step by step? It was more than time to have such a textbook available.” Frank Kalter, University of Mannheim, Germany

“Finally a free-of-dust introduction to state-of-the-art sociology. Van Tubergen presents an excellent and most engaging overview of the discipline and shows beginners how to think as sociologists. An indispensable book to teach and learn the sociology that really matters.” Javier G. Polavieja, University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain

“Frank van Tubergen’s Introduction to Sociology is an invitation to think like a sociologist, written with a passion for the discipline and a mastery of the sociological toolkit. The book is a beacon for the aspiring sociology student and an inspiring and positive call for sociology as a science.” Christofer Edling, Lund University, Sweden