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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $50.00
  • January 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93517-2
  • 702 pages
  • Territory Rights: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

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You May Ask Yourself

An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist

Second Edition


Dalton Conley (Author, Princeton University)


The “untextbook” that teaches students to think like a sociologist.

You May Ask Yourself emphasizes the “big ideas” of the discipline, and encourages students to question what they've taken for granted most of their lives. Author Dalton Conley captures students with his conversational style, explaining complex concepts through personal examples and storytelling, and integrating coverage of social inequality throughout the textbook. His irreverent approach to textbook writing has won praise from students and instructors alike.


Endorsements & Reviews

“I admit I assigned You May Ask Yourself mostly because of the cost to my students. However, after teaching from it, I find it is better than any text I have ever used. The chapters are interesting and thorough. In fact, I believe the chapters on gender and race are the best I have ever used. Dalton Conley also does a great job of integrating race and gender into every chapter. He covers a great deal of material, reflects important and recent research, and presents it in ways that students can understand.” — Joan E. Manley, Florida Gulf Coast University

“Your students will be captured by Conley’s conversational style and drawn into reading the text before they know what hit them. Conley provides a thorough discussion of theory with relevant past and contemporary examples. Further, he challenges the students to question what they’ve taken for granted most of their lives.” — Cheryl Maes, University of Nevada, Reno

“Rather than bombarding students with lots of statistics, Dalton Conley seems more concerned with getting the ‘big ideas’ of the discipline across, and to encourage them to ask meaningful questions.” — Michael Nofz, University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac

“Conley's text has filled an important niche for the community college needs. It is affordable, readable, colorful, and yet has fewer pages to read, which is an important consideration for my beginning-level community college students, and has examples that my young students can relate to.” — Sharon Warner Methvin, Mt. Hood Community College

“Hip, splashy, youthful, concise, emotive, provocative, unpretentious, sharp, with a fresh take on the issues.” — Jennifer Schultz, The University of Arizona

You May Ask Yourself represents a departure from the typical cookie-cutter approach that characterizes most introductory texts. The best sociology textbooks read like storybooks, and students are actually interested in doing the readings. This book has the potential for approaching that standard.” — Ralph Pyle, Michigan State University

“Dalton Conley's You May Ask Yourself is a refreshingly different non-textbook book that I'd strongly encourage others to explore.” — Brian Powell, Indiana University

New interviews with social scientists show how they use their sociological imaginations to “make the familiar strange”

You May Ask Yourself teaches sociological concepts through personal anecdotes and storytelling. In the Second Edition, Conley expands the range of stories to include interviews with 15 social scientists. The interviews use personal experiences and stories from the field to instill in the reader a way of thinking—the sociological imagination. A few of the social scientists interviewed in the book include:

Duncan Watts on social networks and his experiments with Music Lab
Jen’nan Read on Muslims and Arab Americans
Andrew Cherlin on changing attitudes about marriage
Paula England on college hook-up culture

The interviews were also videotaped, and are available on DVD, as well as online.

The best and most integrated coverage of inequality, including a unique chapter on poverty and social policy

Most of Dalton Conley’s research has focused on inequalities based on accidents of birth such as skin color, body size, and gender, and how those inequalities affect not just one person but a whole family tree. In addition, Conley weaves examples and research related to stratification throughout the book. The new edition features research on inequality:

Victor Rios discusses how social institutions such as schools, community centers, and the justice system disproportionately criminalize inner-city boys.
Jeff Sachs describes his work in Africa and the effects of poverty in developing countries.
Devah Pager explains her experiment in racial discrimination and employment.
Mike Hout discusses the trend of rising inequality and its effects on social mobility in the United States.
Jennifer Lee outlines her research on changing racial color lines in the United States.

The 4Ps: Paradox, Person, Policy, and Practice help students connect sociology to their own experiences

Each chapter opens with a Paradox designed to motivate the student to read about (or rather, figure out, since this book is not about spoon-feeding facts) the nugget, the debate, the fundamentally new way of looking at the world that illuminates that paradox, then continues with the story of a relevant Person who illustrates the chapter’s theme. Chapters culminate with a contemporary Policy discussion that gives students an opportunity to apply sociological concepts to a recent policy debate, and an end-of-chapter Practice section, which prompts students to use the sociological concepts and methods that they’ve learned. 

An unbeatable value

You May Ask Yourself is the most affordable color textbook on the market, significantly less expensive than other full-color texts, and less expensive than most brief texts, too. And, You May Ask Yourself can be packaged with a reader for only $10, or with select Norton paperbacks for free. 

    Using Your Sociological Imagination

    Chapter 1: Sociological Imagination: An Introduction?
    Chapter 2: Methods
    Chapter 3: Culture and Media
    Chapter 4: Socialization and the Construction of Reality
    Chapter 5: Networks and Groups
    Chapter 6: Social Control and Deviance

    Fault Lines . . . Social Division and Inequality

    Chapter 7: Stratification
    Chapter 8: Gender
    Chapter 9: Race
    Chapter 10: Poverty
    Chapter 11: Health and Society

    Building Blocks: Institutions of Society

    Chapter 12: Family
    Chapter 13: Education
    Chapter 14: Capitalism and the Economy
    Chapter 15: Authority and the State
    Chapter 16: Religion
    Chapter 17: Science, the Environment, and Society
    Chapter 18: Collective Action, Social Movements, and Social Change