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What ten (or indeed any!) sociology books would you recommend to all incoming sociology grad students? They can be classics (think Marx), contemporary or a bit off the beaten track.

I would recommend 'The McDonaldization of Society' by Ritzer (who's at UMD)- its fascinating, relevant and easy-reading! Also Bourdieu's 'Distinction' (less on the easy reading front!!) but an important one!!

Thoughts?!

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A topic like this was started last year as well:

Personally, I don't see myself reading many classical theoretical works before graduate school. I will probably read a few, as I don't think I got the best theoretical training in undergrad (as we read Ritzer's contemporary theory book and Coser's classical one - but no main text and such); however, I think we will get enough of this type of reading once we are in grad school.

My last few months of reading will be books in my field of interest - mainly sexuality, gender, transgender studies, and such. I just finished The Sexuality of Migration by Lionel Cantu, and at the moment, I'm reading Out of the Closets by Laud Humphrey, Imagining Transgender by David Valentine, and Unlimited Intimacy by Tim Dean.

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I've only read books within my interests. There Goes the Neighborhood by William Julius Wilson and Richard Taub, Uncommon Common Ground by Pastor, Blackwell, and Kwoh, Social Organization of the Slums by Whyte, and of course The Declining Significance of Race by WJ Wilson.

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I suggest reading some super fluffy fluff now because it will be the last chance for awhile.

But if you must:

Classical Sociological Theory by Ritzer (aren't we all big Ritzer fans here!)

Read some historical looks at your field of choice. For instance, if you are interested in families: read some of Stephanie Coontz' books on it. If you are interested in race, look at Slavery by a Another Name and Sundown Towns. History helps you understand the broader picture but you might not get a chance to read them in grad school.

Finally, I suggest browsing ASR from the last ten years, finding topics of interest and reading up on them in there. And use your Zotero to start building your library.

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I suggest reading some super fluffy fluff now because it will be the last chance for awhile.

But if you must:

Classical Sociological Theory by Ritzer (aren't we all big Ritzer fans here!)

Read some historical looks at your field of choice. For instance, if you are interested in families: read some of Stephanie Coontz' books on it. If you are interested in race, look at Slavery by a Another Name and Sundown Towns. History helps you understand the broader picture but you might not get a chance to read them in grad school.

Finally, I suggest browsing ASR from the last ten years, finding topics of interest and reading up on them in there. And use your Zotero to start building your library.

I've seen many mentions of this Zotero thing. Is it really useful? And how so? Do a lot of people here use it?

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I've seen many mentions of this Zotero thing. Is it really useful? And how so? Do a lot of people here use it?

I didn't know about Zotero or OneNote before starting school. During orientation day I went to a session on how to use them and it was really helpful. I use Zotero to keep track of articles I want to read, articles I've read, and books i've read. I just makes the process of creating a "works cited" much easier. It's specially useful for articles, because it gets all the information from the database, instead of you having to enter it manually.

I

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maybe someone who is more experienced with Zotero wants to share some tips here?

I'll start by saying that it is free, and requires little installation. I use it as a firefox add-on. I haven't tried the standalone version.

Also, you can create a free account online and synch it with your computer(s), which allows you to back up your stored references and access them from other computers.

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maybe someone who is more experienced with Zotero wants to share some tips here?

I'll start by saying that it is free, and requires little installation. I use it as a firefox add-on. I haven't tried the standalone version.

Also, you can create a free account online and synch it with your computer(s), which allows you to back up your stored references and access them from other computers.

It seems Zotero doesn't work with Safari. I know Safari isn't the best web browser, but I have a hard time switching to something else. Hm...

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It seems Zotero doesn't work with Safari. I know Safari isn't the best web browser, but I have a hard time switching to something else. Hm...

Try OneNote. Unlike Zotero, this is a standalone software (I think free), so it doesn't matter what browser you use. And as far as I know, it works just as well as zotero.

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Zotero is free, but I think it might only run with firefox.:( Although maybe it is expanding.

Basically, every time you are on your library's catalog and find a journal article of interest, you click the zotero and it makes a citation. You can put it in folders so everything is tidy. When you are getting your books on Amazon or at your library, you can save from there too. Your zotero is stand alone so you can use it at any computer and sync your results. And it works with a host of media options.

That all said, I am horribly unsavvy with it and just dump citations into folders, tag them and will figure out what to do with it all later!

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Zotero is free, but I think it might only run with firefox.:( Although maybe it is expanding.

Basically, every time you are on your library's catalog and find a journal article of interest, you click the zotero and it makes a citation. You can put it in folders so everything is tidy. When you are getting your books on Amazon or at your library, you can save from there too. Your zotero is stand alone so you can use it at any computer and sync your results. And it works with a host of media options.

That all said, I am horribly unsavvy with it and just dump citations into folders, tag them and will figure out what to do with it all later!

The 2nd great thing about Zotero is that it works with MS Word. when you are writing a paper and you cite someone, you go to the zotero tool bar and then on "add citation" or something like that. It shows you a list of the works you've saved in your zotero, and then enters the citation in the correct format (ASA, APA, MLA, etc). then, when you are done with the paper, you click in the "create works cited" and it does it all for you! again, the correct format. it only includes works that were cited using zotero, so if you happen to make a citation on your own, you'll have to add it to the works cited. It really is a great time saving tool.

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Masculine Domination (1998, Stanford University Press) captures Bourdieuʻs notion of symbolic violence (1) succinctly and (2) in a specific context (gender inequality) that can be applied to other forms of power/powerlessness. It would be a good book to warm up to Distinction with, although Invitation to a Reflexive Sociology is the one profs recommend you read to do just that. The latter text has a great appendix on ʻhow to read Bourdieuʻ or something.

After you digest Marx: Selected Writings, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber), and The Division of Labor in Society (Durkheim), which I am sure was terribly uplifting for us to read the first time around, so many non-sociological texts take on a whole new richness.

If I get in somewhere, I will find the syllabus of the soc. theory course I plan to take at where I (theoretically) get in at, and pick one text that sounds cool. Actually, it'd prolly be prudent to pick them up used on amazon and go through them all in a leisurely, non-committal way. It would help one to get their bearings for the Fall, and stay on track with how your department wants to shape your graduate-level introduction to the discipline.

Or you can just read a bunch of Wacquantʻs work. That would be greatly recommended; for one thing his writing style and the rigor of his research is good to learn from.

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Masculine Domination (1998, Stanford University Press) captures Bourdieuʻs notion of symbolic violence (1) succinctly and (2) in a specific context (gender inequality) that can be applied to other forms of power/powerlessness. It would be a good book to warm up to Distinction with, although Invitation to a Reflexive Sociology is the one profs recommend you read to do just that. The latter text has a great appendix on ʻhow to read Bourdieuʻ or something.

After you digest Marx: Selected Writings, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber), and The Division of Labor in Society (Durkheim), which I am sure was terribly uplifting for us to read the first time around, so many non-sociological texts take on a whole new richness.

If I get in somewhere, I will find the syllabus of the soc. theory course I plan to take at where I (theoretically) get in at, and pick one text that sounds cool. Actually, it'd prolly be prudent to pick them up used on amazon and go through them all in a leisurely, non-committal way. It would help one to get their bearings for the Fall, and stay on track with how your department wants to shape your graduate-level introduction to the discipline.

Or you can just read a bunch of Wacquantʻs work. That would be greatly recommended; for one thing his writing style and the rigor of his research is good to learn from.

Great recommendations, especially Wacquant! What, if you don't mind me asking, are you interested in focusing on for your grad work?

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  • 1 month later...

Good suggestions! I'm coming from a poli sci/ international development/ sustainability perspective... I had no pure sociology coursework in undergrad. Are there any good 'summary' resources out there? I'm not going to read entire texts this summer, but if there is a website that I should spend time pouring over, or articles, or journals... anything that will help me 'get it' faster the first semester! help!

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  • 3 weeks later...

You won't need to bone up on classical or contemporary sociology before grad school begins. If you want to be ahead of the game, go for it. You'll be required to take a major theory course anyway. You'll be reading so much during the school year....I'd suggest reading for leisure in your time off. If you studied sociology in your undergrad then you should be fine. If you're new to sociology, you may want to read an undergraduate text book or Wallace and Wolf's "Contemporary Sociological Theory". That covers all the major points. You'll be reading primary texts in graduate courses, so just get secondary synopses for now so you have a foundation.

I'm sure that graduate students must have some philosophical background, especially in the liberal arts. Draw off of what you know and you should be alright. You may have to orient yourself to a macro perspective if you're coming out of psychology.

Edited by Roll Right
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Pick up an American Journal of Sociology or American Sociological Review and read those. That's the kind of work that you need to be doing if you are interested in participating in the disciplinary conversation. To the extent that sociology has a core, it isn't the classical theorists that often get paraded as such--at least, not if you judge by contemporary publications. Unless you are actually specifically interested in classical theory (or history of sociology), there isn't too much reason to know them deeply. You'll almost certainly read enough of them in your graduate career to know them at the surface level at which they are usually used. Rather, the de-facto consensual center of the disciplinary conversation is a set of methodological (mostly statistical) tools for answering empirical questions, and a set of epistemological principles that underlies those. Some 75% of the work in the major journal relies on them, and it would help your career to understand them deeply. However, most people have trouble studying methodology on their own until they've already gotten a fair amount of training in it, so it's ok to wait this stuff out. Everything else is Balkanized among the subfields (though some theoretical ideas are used by many subfields: for example, network analysis is on its way to joining linear regression as a central method). Other than the stats and the first-year courses in social theory, most of the reading you'll be doing in grad school will be specific to your subfield. The better you know it, the faster you can start contributing to it: so it's useful to start reading it early. However, if you're going to read something outside of your subfield, you might as well read material from another discipline. You'll have less chance to do so in grad school, and there's a chance it'll teach you something novel to "import" into soc.

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