Power, Politics, and Society

Prentice Hall
Betty Dobratz / Lisa Waldner / Timothy L. Buzzell / Brandon Hofstedt  
Total pages
April 2011
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For undergraduate courses in political sociology.


Introduces core concepts and research in political sociology.


Political Sociology:  An Introduction to Political Sociology dicusses how sociologists have organized the study of politics into conceptual frameworks, and how each of these frameworks foster a sociological perspective on power and politics in society.  This includes discussing how these frameworks can be applied to understanding current issues and other “real life” aspects of politics. The authors connect with students by engaging them in activities where they complete their own applications of theory, hypothesis testing, and forms of inquiry.


  • Demonstrates the rich and diverse approaches to the study of power, politics and society
  • Highlights the insights that come from applying the sociological imagination to the study of politics and society
  • Unique chapters highlight the nature of politics in everyday life, political culture, and the political sociology of political violence and terrorism
  • Discusses the significance of the Obama presidential victory and notes the passage of health care reform
  • Includes a chapter on globalization and its significance for the nation-state
  • Boxed materials are designed to engage students in thinking about power and politics relevant to their lives 
  • MySearchLab with eText can be packaged with this text.
    • MySearchLab provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.

    • eText - Just like the printed text, you can highlight and add notes to the eText or download it to your iPad.

    • Assessment - Chapter quizzes and flashcards offer immediate feedback and report directly to the gradebook.

    • Writing and Research - A wide range of writing, grammar and research tools and access to a variety of academic journals, census data, Associated Press newsfeeds, and discipline-specific readings help you hone your writing and research skills.

New to this Edition

First edition text.

Table of Contents









Chapter 1  Power

Chapter 2  Role of the State

Chapter 3  Politics, Culture & Social Processes

Chapter 4  Politics of Everyday Life: Political Economy

Chapter 5  Politics of Everyday Life: Social Institutions and Social Relations

Chapter 6  Political Participation

Chapter 7  Elections and Voting

Chapter 8  Social Movements

Chapter 9  Violence and Terrorism

Chapter 10  Globalization






*A Conclusion appears at the end of each chapter




Chapter 1  Power

Power: The Key Concept in Political Sociology

            Metaphors and Paradox: Sociological Tools in the Study of Power

            Metaphors of Power Arrangements

The Conceptualization of Power in Political Sociology



            Social Class & Politics

            The Traditional Frameworks Today

            New Directions After the Traditional Frameworks


Power is concentrated in democratic societies

Power operates in direct but also indirect ways

Politics is not just about the state but imbues all social relations


Chapter 2  Role of the State

What is the Modern Nation-State?

            Defining the State

            Emergence of States

            Differentiating Government from the State

            Differentiating Nation and State

            Emergence of Nations

            Different Forms of the Nation State

Theoretical Views on the State


            Elite Views of the State

            Class-based Views of the State

            Updated Marxist Theories

            State Centric

            Political Institutional or Institutionalist

            Other Emerging Views of the State

The Welfare State

            Types of Welfare States

            Role of Race and Gender

Future of the State


Chapter 3  Politics, Culture & Social Processes

Culture and Politics

Politics, Culture & Theoretical Frameworks



            Class Perspective

            Rational Choice Theory

            Institutionalist Theory

            Postmodern Approaches

Political Socialization

Political Values

            The Shift from Materialist to Post-Materialist Values

            Inkeles and the Postmodern Personality

            Religion and Political Values

Ideology, Beliefs & Public Opinion

            What is Political Ideology?       

            Four Conceptualizations of Ideology

Political Culture and Media

            Media and Political Knowledge

            Media and Political Values

            Media and Political Symbols

Political Culture and Place


Chapter 4  Politics of Everyday Life: Political Economy

Capitalism and Democracy

Theoretical Frameworks




            Postmodern Approaches

            Rational Choice Theory

            Class-Domination Theory of Power

Wall Street versus Main Street

Middle Class


The Welfare State

            Corporate Welfare

            Social Security

            Public Assistance

Debt and Bankruptcy

            Household Debt and Bankruptcy

            Who Goes Bankrupt and Why?           





Chapter 5  Politics of Everyday Life: Social Institutions and Social Relations


            No Child Left Behind

            Marriage and Family

            Family Law

            Same-Sex Marriage

Health Care

            Theoretical Frameworks

            U.S. Healthcare Uniqueness

Civil Liberties

            21st Century War on Terror

Race and Ethnic Relations and the Racialist State

            The Frameworks

            The Racial State

            Color-Blind Policies

            Racial Identity and Equality

            Environmental and Natural Disasters

            Immigration: A Major Racial and Ethnic Issue Facing the U.S.


Chapter 6  Political Participation

Political Participation as Power

Theoretical Frameworks



            Class Perspective

            Rational Choice Theory

            Postmodern Approaches

Political Participation and its Many Forms

            Early Typologies of Political Participation

            Emerging Typologies of Political Participation

Institutional Forms of Political Participation

            Political Talk/Political Discourse

            Political Participation and the Internet

            Campaigning and Canvassing

Non-Institutional Forms of Political Participation


            Protest and Demonstrations

            Social, Political and Revolutionary Movements

Political Engagement and Group Context

            Politics and Social Capital

            Themes in Research on Social Capital and Political Participation

The Changing Nature of Political Participation


Chapter 7  Elections and Voting

The Theoretical Frameworks




            Rational Choice Theory


The Functions of Elections

Electoral Systems and Turnout

Voting Behavior Research

Social Cleavages or Characteristics

            Social Class

            Gender Gap

            Racial Cleavages

            Religious Cleavages

Political Views and Issue Based Voting

            Liberalism and Conservatism

            Party Identification

U.S.  Presidential Elections

            Elections During the 21st Century


Chapter 8  Social Movements

Theoretical Frameworks

Pluralism and the Classical Collective Behavior Model of Social Movements

Elite Theory and Resource Mobilization

Class Framework or the Political Process Model

Rational Choice Model

Potmodern Politics

Old and New Social Movements

            Smart Growth Movements as NSM

            Criticisms of NSMs

Other Approaches to Movements

            Collective Identity



Toward a Synthesis of Structuralist, Rationalist, and Culturalist Frameworks

The Life-Cycle of Social Movements

            Social Movement Emergence and Mobilization

            Social Movement Outcomes, Influence, and Decline

SMO Characteristics and Resources

Social and Political Context

            Repression:  The State's Reaction to Movements

Globalization and Transnational Movements

Social Movements as Part of Political Sociology


Chapter 9  Violence and Terrorism

Political Uses of Hate


            Defining Genocide

            Conditions for Genocide

            Sociological Causes of Genocide

War Making

            Theoretical Views on War Making

            Future of War Marking

            New Wars


            Defining Terrorism

            Labeling Terrorism

            Types of Terrorism

Terrorism and Sociological Theories

            Collective Action Theory

            Political Economy

            World Systems Perspective


Causes of Terrorism

            Micro-Dynamic and Psychological Variables


            Macro-Dynamic or Structural

Responding to Terrorism

            Security and Response


            Alleviating Structural Causes

            Eliminating Political Opportunities


The Future of Terrorism

            Optimistic View

            Pessimistic View

Future Directions



Chapet 10  Globalization

What is Globalization?

            Defining the Term

            Critique of the Term

            Components of Globalization

Theoretical Perspectives on Globalization

            World Systems Theory (WST)

            Theories of Global Capitalism (GC)

            Postmodern Views on Globalization

            Network Society

            Cultural Theories of Globalization

            McDonaldization Thesis

Globalization Debates

            Is it Occurring?

            What is the Evidence for Globalization?

Impact on the Nation State

            Withering State Debate

            Strong State - Weak State Thesis

            Competing Globalization Camps

            Theoretical Views on State Power

            Public Policy

            Welfare State


Democracy and Globalization

            Is Democracy Spreading?

            Role of Globalization

            Exporting Democracy

Antiglobalization Movements

Future of Globalization

            Future Trends

            Future Sociological Research on Globalization





Betty A. Dobratz received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and is Professor of Sociology at Iowa State University.  She has authored, co-authored, or co-edited 14 books or issues of journals and more than 50 research articles, chapters, and pieces on teaching. Her co-authored book, White Power, White Pride! The White Separatist Movement in the U.S., with Stephanie Shanks-Meile, received two sociology book awards, one from a section of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the other was from the North Central Sociological Association Scholarly Achievement Award.  The book also was one of sixteen sociology books to be included in Choice's Outstanding Academic Books list for 1998.  Her earlier work focused on contemporary Greek politics, and she spent ten months in Greece on a NATO post-doctoral fellowship.


Timothy Buzzell is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of History, Culture & Society at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.  He teaches courses in Criminology, Deviance, Politics and Society, Religion, Ritual & Belief, as well as Theory in Sociology.  In addition, he currently serves as the Coordinator of the Social Justice program. His research on the nature of computer crime and deviance has appeared in the journals Deviant Behavior, Sexuality & Culture, and Criminal Justice Studies. Prior to his appointment at Baker University, he served as the Director of the Iowa Center for Law & Civic Education at the Drake Law School in Des Moines, Iowa.  He received his PhD in Sociology from Iowa State University in 1991.


Lisa K. Waldner received her Ph.D. from Iowa State University with Betty A. Dobratz as her dissertation advisor and is currently Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of St. Thomas where she teaches courses in research methods, statistics and sexuality. Her research interests include political activism, hate crimes, gay and lesbian issues, and violence in intimate relationships including sexual coercion with her work appearing in several journals including Violence and Victims, Journal of Homosexuality, Aggression and Violent Behavior, and the Journal of Political and Military Sociology. She has received several teaching awards and is heavily involved in promoting student-faculty collaborative research.


All three authors together edited five volumes of the annual  Research in Political Sociology from 2001 through 2004

Reader Review(s)

Thank you to our reviewers!


Daniel Egan, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Brian Gareau, Boston College

Paul McLean, Rutgers University

Bradley Nash, Appalachian State University



“Clear, tight explanations. Well-defined concepts. Excellent illustration of theoretical approaches in everyday events.”

Brian Gareau, Boston College


“The review of state theories, the distinction between state and government, and the delineation of state arenas/components are all very good.”

Bradley Nash, Appalachian State University

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