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Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World

textbook cover image
Thé Dansant ( by Jeep Novak! ( used under a CC BY-NC-SA license (

Description: The book includes the most recent data in the following categories, so your students have access to the latest sociological trends: crime and victimization, income and poverty, life expectancy and aging, employment, marriage and divorce, education, medical care and health disparities, and fertility and population change.

Author: Steve Barkan, University of Maine

Original source:, Understanding and Changing the Social World.pdf

Adoption (faculty): Contact us if you are using this textbook in your course

Adaptations: Support for adapting an open textbook

Open Textbooks:

Creative Commons License
Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World by Steve Barkan, University of Maine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

1. Reviewed by: Joshua Labove
  • Institution: Simon Fraser University
  • Title/Position: Sessional Lecturer
  • Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Yes, the text is very comprehensive, though a simple omission that could have helped a great deal is a table of contents. Given the clunky UI of the pdf, having a table of contents would have been useful.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Content is accurate, error-free, and unbiased in the best sense of the term, still there is a clear American bias in the examples and material presented. Given the way sociology is often taught at the most research intensive American schools, these examples are somewhat all for not; the lack of Canadian context will surely make this text less user friendly to BC students.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Content is modern, but not up-to-date. Compared to dusty American textbooks talking about Y2K, the text is much fresher and newer, with references to the McCain-Obama presidential campaign. Of course, that was 7 years ago now, so despite the modernized content, it still runs the risk of quickly becoming dated--and it does--as conversations around race, electoral politics, and income inequality have moved wildly in recent years.

Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Yes, the text is very clear--almost painfully so. Ambitious students may find the piecemeal dissection of key sociological discussions as boring at best, insulting at worst, but for most students the clear and easy readability will only serve to help convey complex topics.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Yes, but again, this could be more easily seen and confirmed with a table of contents.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

This should be much easier. In fact the text has no table of contents and the chapters do meander a bit; finding natural breaks to assign can be a challenge.

Modularity Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Well enough, but the logic is neither discussed in an introduction nor a table of contents so one must simply sense that information flows nicely.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

The UI is clunky, dated, and quite annoying. Given that students must download a massive pdf file, a table of contents would have helped immeasurably negotiate the document. Still, a text heavy pdf file is not the most user friendly interface I've seen.

Interface Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

None that I could find.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

I did not find the text insensitive or offensive in any way.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?