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Palgrave Macmillan

Sociological Theory

From Comte to Postcolonialism

  • Textbook
  • © 2024


  • Considers a wide range of theorists and real world applications
  • Combines academic rigor with clear and accessible language
  • Applicable to a host of social science disciplines
  • 1223 Accesses

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About this book

This textbook analyses the work of classical and contemporary sociological theorists. The first part is dedicated to Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Pareto, and Simmel. The second part covers the major contemporary sociological perspectives: Functionalism, Marxism, Conflict Theory, Symbolic Interactionism, Phenomenological Sociology, and Rational Choice Theory. The third part is devoted to Postmodern Theory, Feminist Theory, Postcolonial Theory, and Race Theory.

The author combines academic rigour with clear and accessible language, offering students an in-depth and extensive overview of the main, recurring problems that have troubled sociological theory from its origins to the present day. The textbook uses contemporary examples, analysing how sociological theory can explain the most tragic phenomena of our time, including the war in Ukraine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US-China competition over Taiwan, nuclear proliferation, radicalization, neofascism, white suprematism, jihadism, and terrorism.

With pedagogic features aiding learning, this book helps navigate the various approaches, methods, and research that divide sociologists into distinct schools. This textbook is therefore an invaluable tool to any sociology student looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of the foundational thinkers that have shaped the discipline.


Table of contents (16 chapters)


“This book offers a clearly structured and well-balanced overview of sociological approaches. It is firmly grounded in the history of the social science tradition and shows with detail and insight the variety of perspectives of leading thinkers and schools up until today. The chapters effectively carve out the niches of the different approaches and show their relevance and applicability to contemporary issues in an easy-to-understand way.” (Patrik Aspers, Professor of Sociology, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland)

“By revealing the basic elements of key thinkers and major trends – their similarities as well as disagreements between them – this book shows how to think sociologically. At the same time, it demonstrates that sociological theorising is not confined to the library but may guide interventions in the world of politics, and contestations of power. This is a book for teachers and not only students. Sociological theory as Alessandro Orsini tells it is lively, relevant, and positively edgy.” (Jack Barbalet, Professor of Sociology, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Australia)

“Alessandro Orsini has delivered a distinctive textbook that should appeal to those searching for a compelling introduction to sociological theory that also delivers a unique slant on the discipline.  Alongside chapters on schools of thought, Orsini has provided generous space to thinkers such as Pareto and Spencer whose influence is often overlooked elsewhere - readers will appreciate Orsini’s passion for the historical development of the subject.” (Dr Mark Murphy, Reader in Education and Public Policy, University of Glasgow, UK)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Political Science, Luiss University of Rome, Rome, Italy

    Alessandro Orsini

About the author

Alessandro Orsini is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Political Science at Luiss University, where he was the funding director of the Observatory on International Security (2016-2022). He is an Editorial Board member of “Studies in Conflict and Terrorism,” a former member of the Committee for the Study of Jihadism set up by the Italian Government, and a Member Participant of the Radicalization Awareness Network set up by the European Commission to counter violent radicalization.   


Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Sociological Theory

  • Book Subtitle: From Comte to Postcolonialism

  • Authors: Alessandro Orsini

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2024

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-52538-4Published: 15 May 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-52539-1Published: 14 May 2024

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXI, 668

  • Number of Illustrations: 21 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Sociological Theory, Ethnography, Social Theory, Social Philosophy

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