Book Review: “SOC+: Introduction to Sociology” by Robert Brym and John Lie

"SOC+: Introduction to Sociology" by Robert Brym and John Lie


“SOC+: Introduction to Sociology” by Robert Brym and John Lie is an engaging and comprehensive textbook designed for students beginning their journey into the field of sociology. The third Canadian edition incorporates contemporary trends and topics relevant to students, utilizing a unique Student-Tested, Faculty-Approved process to ensure its effectiveness. The book aims to meet the diverse needs of both students and instructors, offering a blend of print and digital resources to enhance the learning experience.

Overview of Content

The book is divided into thirteen chapters, each addressing a fundamental aspect of sociology. The chapters cover a wide range of topics, including culture, socialization, social interaction, deviance and crime, social stratification, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, family, religion and education, health and medicine, mass media, and social movements. Each chapter is meticulously structured, providing clear learning objectives, key terms, and review sections to facilitate understanding and retention.

Chapter 1: Introducing Sociology

The opening chapter lays the groundwork for understanding sociology by defining the discipline and its significance. It introduces the concept of the sociological imagination, a term coined by C. Wright Mills, which encourages students to see the connections between personal troubles and broader social structures. The chapter emphasizes the importance of social structures and their impact on individual behavior, providing a solid foundation for the topics discussed in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 2: Culture

In this chapter, Brym and Lie explore the concept of culture as a problem-solving mechanism. They discuss the origins and components of culture, including symbols, norms, values, and material culture. The chapter also addresses cultural diversity, multiculturalism, and the tension between cultural freedom and constraint. Through examples and critical analysis, the authors illustrate how culture shapes human behavior and social organization.

Chapter 3: Socialization

Socialization is a crucial process in human development, and this chapter delves into its intricacies. It examines the role of various agents of socialization, such as family, schools, peer groups, and the mass media. The chapter also discusses the impact of socialization on self-identity and the development of gender roles. By integrating theoretical perspectives and empirical research, Brym and Lie provide a comprehensive overview of how individuals are shaped by their social environments.

Chapter 4: From Social Interaction to Social Organizations

This chapter bridges the gap between individual interactions and larger social organizations. It introduces key concepts in social interaction, such as roles, statuses, and norms, and explores how these interactions contribute to the formation of social organizations. The authors discuss various types of social organizations, including bureaucracies and formal organizations, and analyze their impact on individual behavior and societal functioning.

Chapter 5: Deviance and Crime

Brym and Lie approach the topic of deviance and crime from multiple sociological perspectives. They define deviance and crime, discuss their social construction, and examine the role of social control in regulating behavior. The chapter explores various theories of deviance, including functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist perspectives, and highlights the complexities of understanding and addressing criminal behavior in society.

Chapter 6: Social Stratification: Canadian and Global Perspectives

Social stratification is a key theme in sociology, and this chapter provides an in-depth analysis of inequality both in Canada and globally. The authors discuss different forms of stratification, such as class, race, and gender, and examine their impact on life chances and opportunities. The chapter also explores theories of stratification, including Marxist and Weberian perspectives, and considers the implications of inequality for social stability and change.

Chapter 7: Race and Ethnicity

Race and ethnicity are critical components of social identity, and this chapter addresses their significance in contemporary society. Brym and Lie discuss the social construction of race, the historical and contemporary experiences of various racial and ethnic groups in Canada, and the dynamics of racism and discrimination. The chapter also explores theories of race and ethnic relations, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing racial and ethnic inequality.

Chapter 8: Sexualities and Genders

Gender and sexuality are central to individual identity and social organization. This chapter examines the social construction of gender, the diversity of sexual orientations, and the impact of gender and sexual norms on individual behavior and social interactions. The authors discuss feminist and queer theories, the role of the mass media in shaping gender and sexual identities, and the ongoing struggles for gender and sexual equality.

Chapter 9: Families

The concept of family is explored in this chapter, with a focus on its evolving forms and functions. Brym and Lie discuss different family structures, the impact of social and economic changes on family life, and the role of family in socialization and support. The chapter also addresses issues such as domestic violence, divorce, and reproductive choice, providing a comprehensive analysis of the complexities of family life in contemporary society.

Chapter 10: Religion and Education

Religion and education are two key social institutions that shape individual beliefs and societal values. This chapter examines the role of religion in society, the secularization thesis, and the resurgence of religious fundamentalism. It also explores the functions of education, the impact of educational inequality, and the interplay between education and social mobility. By integrating theoretical perspectives and empirical research, the authors provide a nuanced understanding of these institutions.

Chapter 11: Health and Medicine

Health and medicine are crucial aspects of human well-being, and this chapter addresses the social determinants of health, health inequalities, and the professionalization of medicine. Brym and Lie discuss the social construction of illness, the impact of social factors on health outcomes, and the challenges facing modern medical practice. The chapter also explores alternative approaches to health and healing, highlighting the importance of a sociological perspective on health and medicine.

Chapter 12: The Mass Media

The mass media play a significant role in shaping public perceptions and social interactions. This chapter examines the history and development of the mass media, the impact of media on individual behavior and societal values, and the role of media in reinforcing or challenging social norms. The authors discuss various theories of media effects, including functionalist, conflict, and interpretive approaches, and consider the implications of media convergence and the rise of social media.

Chapter 13: Technology, the Environment, and Social Movements

The final chapter explores the relationship between technology, the environment, and social change. Brym and Lie discuss the impact of technological advancements on social life, the social construction of environmental problems, and the distribution of environmental risks. The chapter also examines the role of social movements in promoting environmental sustainability and social justice, highlighting the potential for collective action to bring about meaningful change.

Critical Analysis

“SOC+: Introduction to Sociology” is a well-structured and accessible textbook that effectively introduces students to the key concepts and theories of sociology. The authors’ use of contemporary examples and relatable scenarios helps to engage students and illustrate the relevance of sociology to everyday life. The integration of theoretical perspectives and empirical research provides a solid foundation for understanding the complexities of social behavior and social organization.

One of the strengths of the book is its emphasis on the sociological imagination, which encourages students to see the connections between individual experiences and broader social structures. This approach not only helps students to understand the impact of social forces on their own lives but also fosters critical thinking and a deeper appreciation of the potential for social change.

The book’s coverage of diverse topics, including culture, socialization, deviance, stratification, race, gender, family, religion, education, health, media, and social movements, provides a comprehensive overview of the field of sociology. Each chapter is well-researched and thoughtfully organized, with clear learning objectives, key terms, and review sections that facilitate learning and retention.


“SOC+: Introduction to Sociology” by Robert Brym and John Lie is an excellent introductory textbook that provides a comprehensive and engaging overview of the field of sociology. Its emphasis on the sociological imagination, contemporary examples, and critical analysis makes it a valuable resource for students and instructors alike. By addressing a wide range of topics and incorporating diverse theoretical perspectives, the book equips students with the knowledge and tools they need to understand and navigate the complexities of social life. Whether used in a classroom setting or for independent study, “SOC+” is an indispensable guide to the fascinating world of sociology.

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