Information about Social Theory
  Release 10: September, 2010
1. An Introduction to Social Theory - a description of the contents of the database and its purpose.
2. The Project Bibliography - information about the development and selection criteria for the bibliography.
3. Editorial Advisors - individuals who have helped in the construction of the database.
4. Notes on this Release - notes on this version.
5. Software Requirements - notes on which browsers are supported.
6. Technical Support - whom to contact for technical support.
7. Subscription and Free Trial Information - how to get a subscription or a trial.
8. License Agreement - licensing terms and conditions.
9. Acknowledgements - charter customers and individuals who contributed.
10. Errata - known typographical and software errors to be fixed next release.
11. Copyright Statement - copyright terms and conditions.
12. Archiving - how this material is preserved for the future.
13. Cataloging Records - what kind of MARC records will be available for this collection.

1.   An Introduction to Social Theory

Social Theory is an innovative and highly practical resource for students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Originally conceived in 2005, the database brings together an extensive range of influential writings representing the most important trends of sociological thought from the eighteenth century to the present day. Included in the more than 150,000 pages of searchable content are seminal works by such theorists as Harriet Martineau, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Jürgen Habermas, Talcott Parsons, Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard.

Each document is carefully indexed to promote nuanced and highly targeted full-text searching. Combined with the powerful functionalities of the PhiloLogic search and presentation software, our detailed indexing gives users the ability to frame creative queries and to return quick, accurate results that can stimulate fresh insights into even the most familiar texts. For example, one can efficiently locate all the chapters in the works of Michel Foucault where he discusses the practice of psychiatry and organize the results chronologically to trace the evolution of his thought on the subject. Or one can quickly retrieve all passages pertaining to clothing and dress within the writings of feminist theorists.

The heuristic power of such targeted search capabilities makes Social Theory a valuable resource for advanced researchers and undergraduate students alike. Indeed,  professors can use the database as a means of encouraging students to interact with primary-source content in a direct and creative way. Students who have a historical interest in the Holocaust, for example, can use the database to explore theoretical treatments that deepen their understanding of the social forces that erupt in such mass atrocities. In similar fashion, students can select keywords and themes that help them pinpoint passages that will give them fresh perspectives on everyday phenomena, such as sports, television and magazine advertisements. Meanwhile, advanced researchers can take advantage of interface features that permit them to perform highly sophisticated textual analysis with unprecedented efficiency—finding, for instance, the frequency with which the words "function," "family" and "personality" occur in close proximity in the works of Talcott Parsons.

In addition to its value as a research and teaching tool for students and professors in the field of sociology, Social Theory is designed to facilitate inquiry in the disciplines of economics, political science, race and gender studies, intellectual history, media studies, psychology and philosophy. With new content added on a regular basis, the database offers an increasingly multi-disciplinary perspective of humans as distinctly social animals.

Our goal is to give users a resource that opens new avenues of exploration. We welcome your comments and suggestions as we strive to accomplish that goal.

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2.   The Project Bibliography

In seeking to bring together the most influential and compelling theoretical interpretations of human social behavior, we have followed a scholarly consensus. As a first step, we systematically reviewed syllabi, bibliographies and standard sociology textbooks to identify authors and works that are integral to contemporary academic coursework and research. Conducted internally by editors at Alexander Street Press, this research resulted in a working bibliography, which, in turn, was submitted to our scholarly editorial advisors. The advisors then identified gaps and imbalances and provided expert assistance in refining and improving the bibliography. Throughout the process, we have been guided by the following selection criteria:  

  • Limit selection to a period beginning after the French Revolution and ending around the year 2000.
  • Offer an extensive (even, as appropriate, a comprehensive) selection of works by the most commonly cited theorists—e.g., Marx, Spencer, Durkheim, Weber and Habermas.
  • Include key works by a broad range of less familiar figures, so that users can research the full spectrum of theoretical perspectives.
  • Strive for truly international representation.
  • Initially, give priority to English translations of non-English originals, but maintain an open dialogue with scholars about the possibility of sourcing original-language material in the long-run.
  • Maintain a balance between competing ideological perspectives.
  • Offer a substantial selection of in-copyright works that address contemporary issues.
  • Include classic and contemporary treatments of race and gender issues.
  • Supplement the core selection of book publications with a sampling of seminal essays and journal articles.

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3.   Editorial Advisors

 The following scholars have been instrumental in guiding text selection and assisting us in the design of the Social Theory interface.


Peter Kivisto is Richard Swanson Professor of Social Thought and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Welfare at Augustana College. He also serves as Editor of The Sociological Quarterly. Dr. Kivisto received his Ph.D. in sociology from the New School for Social Research and has since been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Midwest Sociological Society Distinguished Service Award in 2005. His special interests are immigration sociology, and ethnic and racial studies. He has also published articles and books relating to the sociology of religion. Among the many books Dr. Kivisto has authored or edited are Multiculturalism in a Global Society (Blackwell, 2002), Key Ideas in Sociology, 2nd edition (Pine Forge, 2004), and Incorporating Diversity: Rethinking Assimilation in a Multicultural Age (Paradigm, 2005). He is currently working on several projects, including Immigration and Global Capitalism, slated for publication by Pine Forge Press.
Sanford Schram teaches social theory and social policy in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. His scholarship and activism are concentrated on reform of the social welfare system in the United States. He has testified before Congress on welfare reform and his published empirical research on “welfare migration” was used before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Saenz v. Roe, which overturned state and national residency requirements for welfare recipients. He is author of Praxis for the Poor: Piven and Cloward and the Future of Social Science in Social Welfare (New York University Press, 2002), After Welfare: The Culture of Postindustrial Social Policy (New York University Press, 2000), and Words of Welfare: The Poverty of Social Science and the Social Science of Poverty (University of Minnesota Press, 1995), which won the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association. Dr. Schram is currently completing a book-length case study of bureaucratic breakdown under welfare reform, entitled Assuming the Worst: Bureaucratic Tragedies, Disentitlement and the Failure of Welfare Policy in the U.S. (Temple University Press, forthcoming).

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4.    Notes on this Release

This release of Social Theory includes more than 150,000 pages from 406 works by 147 authors

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5. Software Requirements

Social Theory is optimized to operate with Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher, and Firefox 3.0. (We are aware that the "select terms" feature of our Find and Search is not performing well in Firefox 3.5.2. Upgrading to the latest version of Firefox will resolve this issue.)

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6.   Technical Support

You can contact us by:

When reporting a problem please include your customer name, e-mail address, phone number, domain name or IP address and that of your web proxy server if used.

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7.   Subscription and Free Trial Information

Social Theory is available for one-time purchase of perpetual access, or as an annual subscription. Please contact us at if you wish to begin a subscription or to request a free 30-day trial.

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7.   License Agreement

Terms of Use

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9.   Acknowledgements

Social Theory was made possible through the contributions of the following individuals:

Stephen Rhind-Tutt Product Development, Alexander Street Press
Will Whalen Editorial and Licensing, Alexander Street Press
Peter Cooper Editorial and Licensing, Alexander Street Press
Roger Press Editorial and Licensing, Alexander Street Press
Sarah Schlagter Editorial and Licensing, Alexander Street Press
Elizabeth Rossick Indexing, Alexander Street Press
Hilary Ayers Indexing, Alexander Street Press
Michael Kangal Sourcing, Alexander Street Press
Pat Carlson Production, Alexander Street Press
Alyssa Theodore Production, Alexander Street Press
Danielle Hatfield Production, Alexander Street Press
Zoshia Minto Production, Alexander Street Press
Chrystal Sterling Production, Alexander Street Press
Young Park Production, Alexander Street Press
Michelle Eldridge Production, Alexander Street Press
Stephanie Garrett Production, Alexander Street Press
Nazar Sharunenko Operation Planning and Research, Alexander Street
Graham Carter Dimmock Software Development, Alexander Street Press
Ning Zhu Software Development, Alexander Street Press
John Cicero Software Development, Alexander Street Press
Charles Cooney Software Development, University of Chicago
Mark Olsen Software Development, University of Chicago

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10.   Errata

Our intention is to have a database without errors. Please let us know about any inconsistencies, factual omissions or typographical errors by clicking the link below.

  • To report factual errors or to suggest improvements, please email the Please include the author, the document and the page number. Please also include your email address, so that we can let you know the status of your correction.

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11.   Copyright Statement

All materials in Social Theory are protected under U.S. and International Copyright Law. Fair use under the law permits reproduction of single copies for personal research and private use. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items requires the written permission of the copyright owners.

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12.   Archiving

Texts produced for Social Theory are considered research materials and receive the same level of stewardship as books, paper documents and photographs. Once complete, copies of the database will be given to all purchasing institutions, so ensuring that the materials are available to subsequent generations.

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13.   Cataloging Records

MARC records will be available for this collection soon. Records will point to each book, series or manuscript. This will enable patrons to link directly from a public access catalog to all documents pertaining to that publication.

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