Book and Editorial Reviews

Empirical Approaches To Sociology: Classic and Contemporary Readings
Gregg Lee Carter, ed.

Empirical Approaches To Sociology
is a first-rate introductory reader that introduces students to classic and contemporary empirical articles in the field. The articles all contain elementary data analysis techniques that are comprehensible to students with little math background. Thus students can observe the interaction between theory and empirical observations. The sequence of articles in each subsection allows students to move from abstract theoretical ideas to the application of these ideas in the "real" world. The collection of readings combines historical and cross-cultural references and comparisons. The book follows the format of most introductory-level sociology textbooks, beginning with sociological theory and methods, culture, society, socialization, groups, and interaction, and concluding with crime/deviance/social control, inequality, race, ethnicity, and gender.

Carter begins each section with incisive, clear remarks. He highlights the major issues in each subfield and carefully goes over key concepts. The classic pieces alternate with more contemporary follow-up research articles. The introduction contains an excellent step-by-step approach for evaluating empirical arguments, probably one of the best explanations I have seen on this topic. I applaud the fact that the readings include issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity.

Carter’s empirical approach is a major strength of this reader. It allows students the opportunity to think analytically, and to see how arguments are made using empirical data. This is not done in most readers. An added bonus is the instructor’s manual that accompanies the reader. It contains a range of creative computer exercises for each subfield using data from the General Social Survey (GSS). The exercises raise provocative questions such as: Who is at greatest risk of being homeless? Who is most likely to succeed economically in American society? These exercises allow a "hands-on" approach to learning through the analysis of empirical data. By including easy to learn menu-driven software programs using the student version of Chipendale and the demonstration version of MicroCase, students can easily explore the relationships in the articles, using a series of tabular analyses. The exercises (basic and advanced) allow for active learning in the classroom. I currently use Chipendale software in my introductory classes and I find that students become active participants in the learning process. The instructor’s manual provides suggested solutions for each exercise. It is important to point out that you don’t have to use these computer exercises to use the reader.

This reader provides an excellent grounding for students who are taking introductory sociology courses. It is extremely useful as a supplement to the following introductory level courses: social problems, sociological theory, research methods, social psychology, and sociological perspectives.

                              Teaching Sociology

Editorial Reviews

"The text provides an excellent overview of the empirical, research-oriented aspects of sociology. Students should find it appealing and reward."  (Dennis Willigan, University of Utah)

"Empirical Approaches to Sociology actually does what many texts claim to do-- provide an alternative that truly differs from others. Overall, I would rate this reader as a ten."  (Debra Miller, Kent State University)

"Gregg Carter's introduction provides an excellent step-by-step approach to evaluating empirical arguments, probably one of the best explanations I have seen on this topic . . . This approach allows students the opportunity to think analytically and to make their arguments using empirical data. This is not done in most readers.  (Sharlene Hesse-Biber, Boston College)

"Let me say that this is one of the most thoughtful, inspired, and well-organized anthologies in introductory sociology on the market. Carter does an excellent job illuminating sociological themes (social order, inequality, gender) with classic theoretical statements, and he demonstrates that they continue to have contemporary relevance, either by grounding them empirically with supportive data or challenging them with contemporary findings."  (Blind Reviewer #1)

"This book provides a great set of individual readings, covers key topics, and offers insightful and well-written introductions to each topical unit. [Indeed,] the author's introductions, along with the 'primer' on critical reading, are simply superb. Carter is obviously a gifted teacher and writer."  (Blind Reviewer #2)

"I like the organization entirely . . . The book focuses nicely on the basics that are part of everyone's introductory course."  (Cornelius Riordan, Providence College)

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