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2. Introducing Sociology – Peter Worsley et al

Cover of 'Introducing Sociology' by Worsley et al

Cover of ‘Introducing Sociology’ by Worsley et al

Introducing Sociology is one of the first international best-sellers in British sociology.  It was first published by Penguin in 1970, and co-written by Peter Worsley (the first Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester) and colleagues at The University of Manchester (Roy Fitzheny, Clyde Mitchell, David Morgan, Valdo Pons, Bryan Roberts, Wes Sharrock and Robin Ward)  in order to provide a course text for their own Sociology students, as they felt there wasn’t a decent one on the market.  But the book was a runaway success, and was adopted as a course book by dozens of other universities and colleges before becoming an Open University set text, with new editions in 1973, 1977, 1979 and 1984.

The success of the book derived both from its aim to break down the traditional boundary between theory and description in sociology texts, but also from the increasing market for the new subject of sociology in the expanding university sector of the 1970s. The list of contributors and co-editors reads like a roll call of the history of British sociology, with later editions including Frank Bechhofer, Richard Brown, Margot Jeffreys, Mary McIntosh, Howard Newby, John Rex, Jock Young,  and Michael Young .

For many sociologists the book was their first introduction to the subject and some of our current staff first came across this book during their Sociology ‘O-level’ course (for our more youthful readers, please read GCSE for O-level…). Introducing Sociology was a social science smash hit, and in selling over half a million copies it also brought sociology to a mass audience.


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