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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2002
Here, finally, is a brief introduction that does justice to its subject. Sociologist Steve Bruce deftly links selected modern empirical studies to classical theorizing not only by major figures such as Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, but also by lesser but significant figures including Robert Michels and Charles Horton Cooley.
Chapters 1--"The Status of Sociology"--and 2--"Social Constructions"--stress complexities introduced into social science by human intentionality and by the extent to which reality is socially constructed. Chapter 3, "Causes and Consequences," interweaves the ideas of Michels and H. Richard Niebuhr into a veritable primer on the sociology of religion. Chapter 4, "The Modern World," critiques Marx and offers a more Weberian five-class schema for analyzing industrial societies. The final chapter, "The Imposters," systematically debunks utopianism, relativism, and postmodernism. I find it the strongest chapter, as when the author insists on the importance of distinguishing between "a social and a sociological problem" and of not confusing "explaining" with "rectifying"(p. 96).
The professional reader may detect some strains rooted in the book's eclecticism, and there are more typographical errors (minor) than one would expect from this distinguished publisher; but these are quibbles. With a style neither oversimplified nor sensationalistic, this book succeeds superbly at introducing sociology quickly, accurately, and engagingly. It should be read by anyone desiring a quick but reliable glimpse into what sociology at its best is really about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2013
Steve Bruce's 'A Very Short Introduction to Sociology' is an excellent introduction to a fascinating discipline of the Social Sciences. His approach is concise, insightful and most of all easily accessible to the average reader. On a personal level, the content of this book set an accurate foundation of Sociology in preparation for my Open University degree and has proved an indispensable resource for reiterating certain methodologies behind some of the great 19th and 20th century thinkers behind the discipline.

With five distinctive chapters Steve Bruce covers fundamental aspects of Sociology, from the ideas behind the social constructed nature of reality to the thinkings and works of various luminaries such a Robert K. Merton's Deviance Typology and Max Weber's System of Class with a mention of several others of noteworthy importance, including a brief mention on several perspectives of the seemingly irrefutable Karl Marx.

His style of writing is personalised and laced with experiential validity when speaking of his sociological studies of the UDA and UVF terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland and his theories on Leadership which adds to the overall flavour of accessibility. This provides us with an 'insider' perspective of the various branches of the discipline which when faced against an 'observer's' writings of the subject provides us with a much more believable and convincing case.

The only weak area of this book would be the final chapter, chapter 5 - 'The Imposters', which touches on both 'Relativism' and 'Partisanship', which although is inextricably linked to the discipline, feels a little detrimental to the overall flow of his work when it is juxtaposed against the other four, very strong and eye-opening chapters.

Overall, a very strong effort from Steve Bruce and I must state that I would recommend this to anyone studying or interested on any of the Social Sciences or anyone simply wishing to understand the various structures that make up past and contemporary societies.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I found this to be a short, yet fascinating insight into sociology. It explored the main themes well in the limited space that this format allows and left me thinking of the issues discussed, as well as slightly more informed and with a hunger to learn more. Like the title suggests, a very short introduction, but perfect to test the waters of sociology to see if you want to pursue it further.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2014
Not really very helpful for writing an academic essay. Rather confusing as an introduction, you might do better just using wikipedia.
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on 15 November 2014
I little worn, but cant complain because of the low price. Good purchase
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on 29 November 2014
bit smal
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on 16 August 2014
good
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2012
Sociology has, as the author observes in the introduction, a bad reputation, though nevertheless great general interest. It is the butt of pub jokes - and television commercials; barely more highly regarded than the solipsistic 'Gender Studies'; and one frequently finds graduates of the subject working as Bank Tellers. In short it is a waste of time - for many if not most students thereof at least from the point of view of a career, and the suspicion is that its tenets are mere psycho-babble.

This is of course unfair, and in the first three chapters of the book the author reveals the fascination that sociology has. I felt that the last two chapters however revealed behind the dispassionate sociologist, its unspoken ideological bias, which is of course, the usual egaliterian cultural-marxism, desparate to reduce everything to an identical level such that all distinctions of race, class, sex (which of course he always calls gender) etc to the same level, and where all such distinctions are regarded as bad, even evil. Perhaps a sociologist should study why sociologists do this! - though I suspect we would just get more of the same.
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20 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2001
This book concludes by describing itself as a short essay. If the book had betrayed any sign of wit, I might have presumed this to be ironic; it is an interminably dull 99 pages and quite the longest essay I have ever read.
The book fails in its purpose of providing an accessible introduction to sociology, limiting itself to a trawl through various philosophies of sociology rather than describing what sociologists do. It is more of a history of sociological thought than anything else, and is not at all engaging.
I came to this book from the much better very short introduction to anthropology, which Mr Bruce would have benefited from perusing before committing pen to paper. An introduction aimed at the keen layman such as this should excite and contain a fair body of examples as well as giving an insight into what a sociologist actually does in today's world.
Anecdotes, examples, and - dare I suggest - some life in the second edition please !
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