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Top Reads for Sociology Majors

Sociology, a constantly evolving field, is the study of social behavior and society at large. Classic sociological texts and newly published material are an important resource for students pursuing a BA in sociology. Here are a few of the best sociology books.

The Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills

In this seminal text, C. Wright Mills links the social, personal and historical aspects of human life, essentially connecting the problems of individuals to broader social issues. When it was first published, Mills was praised for his “cogent” publication and a “hard-biting critique” of the dominant American schools of sociology at the time.

The Portable Jung by Carl Jung

The Portable Jung is a concise treatment of Jung’s most famous works, which allows sociologists to digest information from sociology’s sister subject: psychology. This huge text contains Jung’s instruction on psychology; psychoanalysis; and what was, at the time, the newly emerging area of sociology.

On Suicide: A Study in Sociology by Emile Durkheim

In this book, Emile Durkheim, one of the leading sociologists in history, sheds light on the topic of suicide, a topic his 1897 audience barely understood and still considered taboo. This timeless read concludes that suicide results from an individual’s lack of assimilation with society and explores the psychological impact of suicide on the victim, family and society.

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely

In this book, Dan Ariely expounds on the positive and negative effects irrationality has on our lives. Ariely discusses subjects such as an individual’s true motivations, how one unwise action can become habitual, and how to learn to love those close to you.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Both memoir and commentary on humanity, Victor Frankl’s book recounts his experiences in four Nazi camps, including Auschwitz, where his entire family was killed. Based on his experiences, Frankl posits that humans have no choice but to encounter suffering — but that they can choose to find meaning within it.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s text exploring the way an idea, trend or social behavior becomes a worldwide phenomenon was a huge hit. Gladwell uses relatable material such as Sesame Street, current smoking trends, email and New York City around the Millennium to bring his topics to life.

Distinction: A Social Critique on the Judgement of Taste by Pierre Bourdieu

This text explores the way social meaning comes from what appear to be mundane decisions. In particular, Pierre Bourdieu looks at a French person’s clothing, furniture, pastimes, dinner, and various other run-of-the-mill decisions to form larger conclusions.

Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology by Max Weber

Economy and Society has become a foundational text for modern sociology. Published in Germany in the early 1920s, the book was dubbed, “the greatest sociological treatise written in this century.” It evaluated social structures and standards in the context of a variety of world events in history. The book includes his renowned treatises on social action, religion, law, bureaucracy, charisma, the city, status and power, and the community with its class systems.

A student pursuing a BA in sociology, as well as with veteran sociologists, can reach for any one of these essential sociology books to enrich their knowledge or to inspire new ideas to spark an advancement in the field.

Learn more about the Arkansas State online BA in Sociology program.


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