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New Sociology book for SA students

- Wits University

South African sociology students will soon have an advantage over their international peers when a new text book.

Encompassing all three major perspectives upon which the discipline of sociology was found, the book will be introduced in their learning programme.

Wits Sociology lecturer Paul Stewart describes the text book, titled: Sociology: A South African perspective as “a book incorporating the full range of theoretical perspectives in the discipline and written by teachers of sociology in South African universities for South African students.”

The book, which was launched at Wits and the University of Potchefstroom in August 2014, was edited by Stewart and Johan Zaaiman from the North West University.

Published by Juta, this textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the sociological theories and perspectives commonly taught in first year and undergraduate courses. Divided into five broad sections, each chapter addresses key issues, topics and debates in sociology today and makes use of contemporary South African examples.

“This book gives equal opportunity to all three pillars of sociology, namely positivist, interpretivism and critical social sciences. It does so in the theory chapter, the chapter on methodology and is completed by the chapter on populations, because there can be no book on society without some study on the people,” says Stewart.

Some of the questions answered in the text book are: Is South Africa more equitable now than in 1994?; How can domestic violence be explained?; How are we as individuals shaped by larger structures, forces and institutions?; and Why is the environment important for societyEach chapter in the book addresses key issues, topics and debates in sociology today, and uses contemporary and current South Africa case studies to make the material relevant and meaningful to students. Chapter introductions serve as a narrative linking and providing cross-references to material covered in other chapters.

Stewart is a senior tutor at Wits where he has taught sociology since 1997. He recently completed his PhD thesis titled:Labour time in South African gold mines: 1886-2006, which will be published as a book. His current research is on the right of refusal to do dangerous work underground.