Essential Concepts in Sociology Anthony Giddens and Philip Sutton (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2014. 240 pages.)

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Mahmoud Dhaouadi



My review of this book is not the outcome of my simple reading of it, but
of translating it into Arabic. Its 240 pages identify and discuss sixty-seven
essential sociological concepts, most notably those core concepts and ideas
that allow sociologists to make sense of societies, even though our understanding
of these concepts is constantly evolving and changing. The two
sociologists have arranged their book in the following sections – working
definition, origins of the concept, meaning and interpretation, critical points
and, continuing relevance – and its contents into ten themes. Between the
first theme of “Thinking Sociologically” and the last theme of “Political
Sociology,” a variety of other themes are discussed, among them “Structures
of Societies,” “Interaction and Communication,” “Health, Illness, and
the Body,” and “Crime and Social Control.” The authors use this arrangement
to provide a portrait of sociology through its essential concepts, ranging
from capitalism, identity, and deviance to citizenship, the environment,
and intersectionality. The concepts of each theme are arranged alphabetically
so that they may be analyzed, discussed, and debated.
Sociological literature shows the important relationship between concepts
and theories: given that concepts are labels that refer to relations or
descriptive properties, they are not statements and therefore are neither true
nor false. They simply furnish the vocabulary of a theory and identify its
subject matter. When concepts are interrelated in a scheme, a theory begins
to emerge ...

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