7 Best Sociology Introductory Books for Beginners of All Time (2024)

Being a sociology student, I have come to realise that Sociology is not just a subject that you have to study in school, to pass your test, but a versatile subject that helps us to gain a better understanding of the social forces that shape our own lives. It will not only give us an insight into the societal issues and elements that form the society, but also give us the ability to deal with such issues more efficiently.

Standing in 2021, with so much going on around us, we all feel the urge to actively take part in influencing societal choices and policy making. As a sociology major student, I am recommending these 7 books as must-reads to get a good grasp on the subject matter of sociology as a beginner.

1. The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

The Sociology Book is an elemental book in Sociology. If you are absolutely clueless about what the subject matter and scope of sociology is, this book is the way to go. It is filled with graphics and illustrations and its glossy colourful pages will get you hooked to it in no time. It covers almost all the basic concepts, theories and paradigms under this vast discipline that is sociology. It is unlike any exhaustive authoritative documentation and provides the primary outline that one requires to go ahead with Sociology.

Without diving much deep into any topic, The Sociology Book concentrates more on covering the vastness of this discipline and explaining them in simpler words. This book is also recommended for people not keen to pursue Sociology for further studies, as it covers relevant social issues, ranging from gender identity, government, globalisation to consumerism, inequalities and a wide spectrum of societal problems and phenomena.

2. Sociology by Anthony Giddens

This book is an ideal way to dive into the subject of sociology. It is an essential guide for anyone interested in this field. The lucid and lively comprehension of the world and its functioning acts as the perfect guidance for someone who is a total stranger in this area. This book will help you to get an enriching insight into the world’s recent developments and new ideas in sociology. It will aid one to think sociologically which is what is required for the newcomers.

3. Contemporary Sociology: An Introduction to Concepts and Theories

Contemporary Sociology, as the name suggests talks about the major pressing issues and concerns of today’s society. The pivotal topics of modern day sociology in the Indian context, for example, class-based, caste-based divisions, gender, lack of education, economy, stratification, various kinds of social institutions, minorities etc. have been discussed in the book. It is unlike a regular textbook of sociology and is a must-read for beginners. This book is also used as textbooks for undergraduate courses in colleges and universities across the country.

4. Fundamentals of Sociology by Rajendra K Sharma

An essential and widely renowned textbook among many Indian colleges and universities, Fundamentals of Sociology covers all relevant principals, theories, phenomena of sociology. It is very detailed and structured and solely includes what is relevant for primary sociological education. The author has derived the subject-matter from books belonging to the Western setting but has written it in the context of the Indian setting. This book is the ideal book for you to get if you want to score well in your college level examinations as its details and filtered topics are exactly what you need to pass with flying colours.

5. Discover Sociology by Daina Stukuls and William Chambliss

Meant for undergrad students, it is one of the best introductory books in the field of sociology. It talks about the social setting of the world and the different social forces that construct and alter our lives and how all of that shapes the world and our society. It covers the most important or the core concepts that are like pillars for the sociological discipline.

The book is based on the four main themes –
i) Power and Inequality,
ii) Globalisation,
iii) Sociological Imagination,
iv) Technological Transformations of the Society as stated by the author.

This book should definitely be your option if you want to step out of the Indian setting and get a broader view of the social phenomena that drive us and help the subject of sociology to grow. 

6. Essentials of Sociology by James M. Henslin

If society were a puzzle, this book would be the solution to it. With a down-to-earth approach, Henslin has enabled his readers to perceive the importance of Sociology in their everyday lives. Armed with humour and personal reflection, this book helps the readers to receive a deeper understanding of how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. This book is the perfect introductory textbook for students wanting to pursue the discipline of sociology for their higher studies and even their undergrad studies.

7. Sociology Matters by Richard T. Schaefer

The world is full of happenings all over and these happenings make changes around us and it is a loop. Every change affects us and our surroundings even in the slightest way no matter how far it has happened. People react to changes. The author of this book was immensely intrigued by all of this and made his way towards sociology.

This book is precise in nature and covers all major theoretical aspects of Sociology in a thorough manner. Sociology is present in our everyday lives and this book will help you get a deeper and detailed understanding of its relevance.

Scope of Sociology – its extent and why it is so important to study sociology?

The scope of sociology is exceedingly wide. From the analysis of day-to-day encounters of passersby on the street to the study of our society and all kinds of global phenomena like terrorism, wars, climate change and their causes – sociology pretty much includes everything.

Most of us see the planet from the viewpoint of the familiar structures of our lives like family, friendships, workplace acquaintances etc. However, sociology necessitates the study and deeper analysis of our own lives from the point of view of an onlooker so as to come up with explanations of questions like why we act the way in which we do.

Sociology teaches us that what we think of as “natural” or “true” might not be so. The things which we take for granted are mightily influenced by historical events and various kinds of social processes that have carried on for hundreds of years. The ways in which our individual lives mirror on our social lives and experiences is what forms the basis of the sociological outlook.

So, as we stand here in the 21st century, in the context of today’s social problems including the pandemic at large, we realise how important it is for us to get a good grip of the subject of sociology.

Last words:

Sociology is everywhere around us. In this world where we are faced with more evil than good, a better understanding of the society, its history and what drives it will help us be better citizens. Sociology asks the most fundamental questions. It is only fair that we do our bit to study about those and arm ourselves with knowledge and wisdom.

Happy reading!

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