Social Science, Sociology
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Rice University
Provider Set:
OpenStax College
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • OpenStax College
  • Openstax
  • SOC
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial



    About OpenStax

    OpenStax is a non-profit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials. Our free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of modern college courses. Unlike traditional textbooks, OpenStax resources live online and are owned by the community of educators using them. Through our partnerships with companies and foundations committed to reducing costs for students, OpenStax is working to improve access to higher education for all. OpenStax is an initiative of Rice University and is made possible through the generous support of several philanthropic foundations.

    About This Book

    Welcome to Introduction to Sociology 2e, an OpenStax resource created with several goals in mind: accessibility, affordability, customization, and student engagement—all while encouraging learners toward high levels of learning. Instructors and students alike will find that this textbook offers a strong foundation in sociology. It is available for free online and in low-cost print and e-book editions.

    To broaden access and encourage community curation, Introduction to Sociology 2e is “open source” licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. Everyone is invited to submit examples, emerging research, and other feedback to enhance and strengthen the material and keep it current and relevant for today’s students. You can make suggestions by contacting us at

    To the Student

    This book is written for you and is based on the teaching and research experience of numerous sociologists. In today’s global socially networked world, the topic of sociology is more relevant than ever before. We hope that through this book, you will learn how simple, everyday human actions and interactions can change the world. In this book, you will find applications of sociology concepts that are relevant, current, and balanced.

    To the Instructor

    This text is intended for a one-semester introductory course. Since current events influence our social perspectives and the field of sociology in general, OpenStax encourages instructors to keep this book fresh by sending in your up-to-date examples to so that students and instructors around the country can relate and engage in fruitful discussions.

    General Approach

    Introduction to Sociology 2e adheres to the scope and sequence of a typical introductory sociology course. In addition to comprehensive coverage of core concepts, foundational scholars, and emerging theories we have incorporated section reviews with engaging questions, discussions that help students apply the sociological imagination, and features that draw learners into the discipline in meaningful ways. Although this text can be modified and reorganized to suit your needs, the standard version is organized so that topics are introduced conceptually, with relevant, everyday experiences.

    Changes to the Second Edition

    Part of the mission of the second edition update was to ensure the research, examples and concepts used in this textbook are current and relevant to today’s student. To this end, we have rewritten the introduction of each chapter to reflect the latest developments in sociology, history and global culture. In addition to new graphs and images, the reader of the second edition will find new feature boxes on a diverse array of topics, which has been one of the goals of the update—bringing the world into greater focus through case studies on global culture.

    For instance, since the first edition there have been major cultural shifts within the Middle East and Arab world—a movement still underway called the Arab Spring—changes that are now incorporated into our coverage on social movements and social unrest (Chapter 21, “Social Movements and Social Change”). New issues in immigration, in the United States and across the world, have been brought to the forefront of the second edition, as rising income gaps and modern transportation are responsible for trends in Europe (fears of Islamic conservatism and economic recession) and political debates in the U.S. (such as border security, universal education and health care).

    Since the first edition in 2012, technology and social media has ushered in new forms of communication, and, of course, these changes are altering the fabric of social life around the world. The benefits and downfalls of new technologies are reflected in new material in Chapter 4, “Society and Social Interaction,” where we discuss how social media is changing classical models of social stratification and prestige.

    In addition to updating critical facts, data, and policies from the first edition, we have expanded on essential topics, including:

    Feminism and feminist theoryHealth care legislation
    US social stratificationMinimum wage policies
    Transgender issues and changes to the DSM-VGlobal statistics on education
    Marriage and pay equalityCompeting theories of tolerance
    The use of charter schoolsCyberbullying
    Impact of economy on population segmentsClimate change debates
    Use of technology and social media byGlobal population and demographic shifts
    individuals and groupsNet neutrality, online privacy and security

    Other topics received a light update for relevance and student engagement. The racial tensions that have come about through the cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, as well as the legalization of marijuana are two examples of such additions.

    Features of OpenStax Introduction to Sociology 2e

    We have retained and updated the special features of the original text for this updated version.


    This textbook is organized on Connexions ( as a collection of modules that can be rearranged and modified to suit the needs of a particular professor or class. That being said, modules often contain references to content in other modules, as most topics in sociology cannot be discussed in isolation.

    Learning Objectives

    Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning objectives. These objectives are designed to help the instructor decide what content to include or assign, and to guide the student with respect to what he or she can expect to learn. After completing the module and end-of-module exercises, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.

    Key Features

    The following features show students the dynamic nature of sociology:

    • Sociological Research: Highlights specific current and relevant research studies. Examples include “Is Music a Cultural Universal?” and “Deceptive Divorce Rates.”
    • Sociology in the Real World: Ties chapter content to student life and discusses sociology in terms of the everyday. Topics include “Secrets of the McJob” and “Grade Inflation: When Is an A Really a C?”
    • Big Picture: Features present sociological concepts at a national or international level, including “Education in Afghanistan” and “American Indian Tribes and Environmental Racism.”
    • Case Study: Describes real-life people whose experiences relate to chapter content, such as “Catherine Middleton: The Commoner Who Would Be Queen.”
    • Social Policy and Debate: Discusses political issues that relate to chapter content, such as “The Legalese of Sex and Gender” and “Is the U.S. Bilingual?”
    • Careers in Sociology: Explores the lives and work of those in careers in sociology, including the real-world issues and debates these professionals encounter on a daily basis.

    Section Summaries

    Section summaries distill the information in each section for both students and instructors down to key, concise points addressed in the section.

    Key Terms

    Key terms are bold and are followed by a definition in context. Definitions of key terms are also listed in the Glossary, which appears at the end of the module online and at the end of the chapter in print.

    Section Quizzes

    Section quizzes provide opportunities to apply and test the information students learn throughout each section. Both multiple-choice and short-response questions feature a variety of question types and range of difficulty.

    Further Research

    This feature helps students further explore the section topic and offers related research topics that could be explored.


    Introduction to Sociology is based on the work of numerous professors, writers, editors, and reviewers who are able to bring topics to students in the most engaging way.

    We would like to thank all those listed below as well as many others who have contributed their time and energy to review and provide feedback on the manuscript. Especially Clint Lalonde and team at BC Campus for sharing the updates they made for use in this edition, and the team at Stark State College for their editorial support in this update. Their input has been critical in maintaining the pedagogical integrity and accuracy of the text.

    Contributing Authors

    Heather Griffiths, Fayetteville State University*
    Nathan Keirns, Zane State College*
    Eric Strayer, Hartnell College*
    Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Georgia Perimeter College
    Gail Scaramuzzo, Lackawanna College
    Tommy Sadler, Union University
    Sally Vyain, Ivy Tech Community College*
    Jeff Bry, Minnesota State Community and Technical College at Moorhead*
    Faye Jones, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

    *individuals who were contributors to the 2nd edition

    Expert Reviewers

    Rick Biesanz, Corning Community College
    Cynthia Heddlesten, Metropolitan Community College
    Janet Hund, Long Beach City College
    Thea Alvarado, College of the Canyons
    Daysha Lawrence, Stark State College
    Sally Vyain, Ivy Tech Community College
    Natashia Willmott, Stark State College
    Angela M. Adkins, Stark State College
    Carol Jenkins, Glendale Community College
    Lillian Marie Wallace, Pima Community College
    J. Brandon Wallace, Middle Tennessee State University
    Gerry R. Cox, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
    David Hunt, Augusta State University
    Jennifer L. Newman-Shoemake, Angelo State University, and Cisco College
    Matthew Morrison, University of Virginia
    Sue Greer-Pitt, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College
    Faye Jones, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
    Athena Smith, Hillsborough Community College
    Kim Winford, Blinn College
    Kevin Keating, Broward College
    Russell Davis, University of West Alabama
    Kimberly Boyd, Piedmont Virginia Community College
    Lynn Newhart, Rockford College
    Russell C. Ward, Maysville Community and Technical College
    Xuemei Hu, Union County College
    Margaret A. Choka, Pellissippi State Community College
    Cindy Minton, Clark State Community College
    Nili Kirschner, Woodland Community College
    Shonda Whetstone, Blinn College
    Elizabeth Arreaga, instructor emerita at Long Beach City College
    Florencio R. Riguera, Catholic University of America
    John B. Gannon, College of Southern Nevada
    Gerald Titchener, Des Moines Area Community College
    Rahime-Malik Howard, El Centro College, and Collin College
    Jeff Bry, Minnesota State Community and Technical College at Moorhead
    Cynthia Tooley, Metropolitan Community College at Blue River
    Carol Sebilia, Diablo Valley College
    Marian Moore, Owens Community College
    John Bartkowski, University of Texas at San Antonio
    Shelly Dutchin, Western Technical College


    Accompanying the main text is an Instructor’s PowerPoint file, which includes all of the images and captions found throughout the text and an Instructor’s test bank.


    All photos and images were licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license at the time they were placed into this book. The CC-BY license does not cover any trademarks or logos in the photos. If you have questions about regarding photos or images, please contact us at