Beyond Race: Cultural Influences on Human Social Life
Copyright Year: 2018
Publisher: Vera Kennedy
Conditions of Use
As stated in the preface, this book is designed for introductory courses. It does serve as an introduction to sociology concepts and terminology. The entire book is less than 75 pages though, so it would likely need to be supplemented with other... read more
As stated in the preface, this book is designed for introductory courses. It does serve as an introduction to sociology concepts and terminology. The entire book is less than 75 pages though, so it would likely need to be supplemented with other course materials. There are several activities and prompts within each chapter that could be utilized for assignments or class discussions. Further, all of the chapters end with references and a listing of all of the key terms and concepts from that section. Two common textbook features that are missed are a glossary and an index. However, this is an ebook and one can use the “find” tool to search within the text if needed.
The content is accurate and well-researched. Most terms, definitions, and concepts are cited in-text and have corresponding references at the end of each chapter. Some of the sources used are other sociology textbooks, but there are a significant number of primary sources from key sociology scholars as well.
Much of the material is consistent with current introduction to sociology textbooks. A contemporary topic included is a discussion of technological effects, like social media, on identity. However this area is changing rapidly, so this section will need current supplemental content. Further, the section on gender and identity is rather short and likely needs to be supplemented with outside material.
The text is accessible and appears to be at a reading and content level appropriate for a 200 or 300 level college class.
Each chapter follows the same format beginning with learning objectives and an introduction of the general topic, is interspersed with prompts and activities, and concludes with the references and key terms.
The book is organized into modules with specific themes. If this book will be used as supplemental material in a course, individual modules should be able to be smoothly implemented into a curriculum. For example, I have only used 3 of the 5 modules as supplemental material in my class. The students collectively have comprehended the addressed concepts even though we have skipped other sections entirely.
The modules do progress from broader introductory sociological concepts to more specific content areas. However, as noted previously, I have skipped entire modules and the class is able to follow along fine.
This is essentially a traditional textbook, in pdf format. There are a few activities in each chapter with links to online content like Youtube videos and TED talks. None of the content is linked to a site associated with the textbook itself, so this linked content could potentially be removed from the hosting sites and would therefore be inaccessible. There are no supplemental materials like Powerpoint slides or worksheets, but some of the included activities could be adapted, fairly easily, into a handout or worksheet.
There are no grammatical errors.
As this is a sociology book about culture the text addresses different concepts like race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender in an open and respectful manner. Based on the contextual examples, activities, and hyperlinked content, this book would be received most easily in a US college or university.
This book offers a good introduction to cultural sociology. The content is relatively easy to grasp and, therefore, gives students a base understanding of key terms, concepts, and theories in the field. As stated in the preface, however, it is... read more
This book offers a good introduction to cultural sociology. The content is relatively easy to grasp and, therefore, gives students a base understanding of key terms, concepts, and theories in the field. As stated in the preface, however, it is best to teach this book alongside other texts.
I think this book is up to date with cultural sociology as it currently stands.
I really hope that as time moves on, the field of Sociology evolves and improves so that introductory books like this one reflect those improvements.
I like how straightforward this book is and the briefness of each section. However, the author does mention that this book might require additional resources and/or methods. I absolutely agree. I think instructors need to provide additional guidance and/or readings to further elaborate on the concepts in the book, particularly the theoretical paradigms it lays out.
The learning objectives of the book are made clear from the beginning and are maintained throughout.
I really like how the book is divided into different modules that can easily stand alone and be taught separately. The use of subheadings throughout each chapter makes it feel like an easy read. The suggested questions and activities at the end of each chapter are also appreciated.
The organization was very helpful. It made it easy for the reader to navigate the text.
The organization was very helpful. It made it easy for the reader to navigate the text.
There were no noticeable errors.
As a whole, the field of Sociology is still very Eurocentric. It continuously centers the theories of white sociologists. As an introductory text to cultural sociology, this book therefore reflects those larger patterns within the field. Some of the images in the text are plain uncomfortable to look at but also, unfortunately, pretty accurate (ex. the image used to describe ethnographers is a photograph of a white man next to a group of dark-skinned people). You just cannot separate race and culture, at all. I appreciated the section about “cultural hierarchies” but it was not sufficient.
The ideas and thoughts were very well communicated and it seems to follow sociological topics that include culture without including race, which I think may be problematic in our current political and social climate. It should have been clearly... read more
The ideas and thoughts were very well communicated and it seems to follow sociological topics that include culture without including race, which I think may be problematic in our current political and social climate. It should have been clearly indicated within the book why the author chose not to discuss race and should have been revisited thoroughly within the book's discourse. It covered cultural topics well- I would have just liked to have seen why the author decided not to discuss race when it is such an integral part of our society and culture. Other than this, "Beyond Race" is good basic level sociology text that can be easily followed and covers all of basic concepts of contemporary sociology.
The sociological concepts that the book did cover, did so quite well. The more contemporary ones it covered it did well, even though some of the resources that are being used are dated. That being said, they are still relevant and used effectively to communicate the relevancies of the basic sociological topics being discussed..
To go back to my initial response in the comprehensiveness of the book. "Beyond Race" needs to be updated with contemporary themes in race and state clearly why it chooses not to discuss them. This is a topic that is culturally relevant, now, in 2020 and a sociology course is the place to discuss it. Again, though race is not discussed in this book by design and focuses more on culture, it would be enlightening to the reader as to why, and this needs to be reemphasized throughout the book so that it is understood and can be conceptualized by the reader.
This is one area in which the books excels. The use of boldface type to highlight key terms well, the referencing, and the print of URL links to internet resources give the reader the chance to delve into many key topics. It was written well, the grammar is concise, and the language is accessible for a 100 level course.
The books adherence to discussing culture and sociology, without an emphasis on race, was done well. Although, again, it did not elucidate as to why this was done or why the author felt this was necessary, which left me wondering what the motive was for doing this considering how much of a role race plays in contemporary society in 2020. Granted the book was written before 2020 so of course race is not at the fever pitch as it is today in American society. Outside of this, it was a novel, yet unorthodox way to approach a sociology text. My only questions is "why?" If this be a book that focuses on culture then it should probably clearly state this in the title.
The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course. Each chapter ends clearly with key terms and each chapter has formative assessments comprehension questions throughout the chapter. Each chapter follows a logical path but not to a point in which the reader cannot skip to sections and access what is being sought.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion.
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.
There were no clear grammatical issues and the language that was used was very accessible for for a basic 100 level sociology course.
The text is not overtly culturally insensitive or offensive. However, though it does provide a very good lens with which to view sociology "Beyond Race," I do feel that more attention could be paid to this issue in the book. Why this approach? Without acknowledging its importance and the book's strategy in not including race and focusing on culture, the topics it does bring up sans race could be taken by the reader as culturally insensitive in our contemporary social and political climate in 2020.
This was a well thought out approach to a sociology text and was quite informative. It attempts to view various forms of culture that go beyond the topic of race and though it does not go into any particular sociological topic it discusses in-depth, it provides a good wholistic approach to them, which I believe would be idea for any introductory level course. Conversely, it does not clearly indicate the logic or reasoning behind its focus on culture and not race. As an instructor it occurs to me why this is done, but in trying to empathize with students on this matter, I wonder how they will understand these topics sans race, especially in more urban environments and areas of the country where race issue intensity is particularly high. Outside of this concern, "Beyond Race" would be ideal to introductory sociology text.
I find the content areas presented in the textbook to be thoroughly comprehensive; remarkably listing various forms of cultural concepts such as ways in which cultural groups are formed to different types of sub-cultural groups and how they shape... read more
I find the content areas presented in the textbook to be thoroughly comprehensive; remarkably listing various forms of cultural concepts such as ways in which cultural groups are formed to different types of sub-cultural groups and how they shape society and the world.
The text is very informative in regards to introducing cultural studies; it provides definitions for several current theories in sociology and studies of cultures. The textbook does a nice job breaking down the different types of sub-cultural groups while also providing a discussion of each; such as gender inequality, sexual identify and orientation, to race and ethnicity. There is a very interesting section discussing mind and body as a sub-cultural category on how different types of behavior are seen as "normal", expected, and considered standard for certain cultural groups.
Additionally the text emphasizes how cultural groups are organized, citing traits and patterns within each level of organization.
The textbook closes with a comprehensive section dedicated to culture today, touching upon several cultural issues we see the world facing today from globalization to technological advancements and how it shapes the future of cultural groups. It wraps up by introducing the idea of resocialization providing a discussion on conscious efforts being made to remove cultural biases to manage influence of power in cross-cultural conflicts.
I would consider this a very complete textbook for the audience it was intended for, including specific definitions and meaning of culture and cultural social construct to cultural identity and beyond.
I find the material to be very accurate, honoring similar work that is available, providing the same level of content presented in an unbiased fashion.
The content is absolutely relevant to the field. I found that the textbook covers all the basic foundation I would want a student being introduced to cultural studies to know, it is relevant by introducing the topic and covering all major areas within it; it appropriately defines all major concepts of cultural groups such as sub cultural groups, cultural identify, cultural power and several theories within those areas.
As a reader, I really appreciate the fact that every time a new concept within culture and sociology is introduced; it then provides a section on how those same could be applied in the real world helping the reader see the application of the content.
Yes, there is consistency in providing terminology; it always provides definitions when introducing new concepts.
The text visually is easy to read, sections are broken down into smaller categories and sub divisions of major sections.
There is a lot of consistency and organization throughout the textbook. Every chapter is visually presented in the same format and well organized providing the reader with learning outcomes for the chapter, then discussion on topics presented, application of topics and key terms covered within that unit of the textbook. Paragraphs and sections are easy to read, broken down at appropriate areas with not a lot of huge chunks of texts.
There are only a few links sourcing out to youtube, and they are all working well. Very few images but all loaded properly.
No major noticeable grammatical errors. Work was well written.
As a cultural textbook presenting sensitive content on gender, race, sexual oriental and alike, it is presented from a very neutral perspective, not offensive to any particular groups, giving the same amount of attention to all groups.
I plan on using this textbook for my class and I really appreciate the work that was put into it.
This book introduces the main ideas surrounding culture: theory, race, geographic location, religion, gender, age, etc. This is a good introductory text, however it lacks an index or glossary. The author included a reference list and a list of key... read more
This book introduces the main ideas surrounding culture: theory, race, geographic location, religion, gender, age, etc. This is a good introductory text, however it lacks an index or glossary. The author included a reference list and a list of key terms and concepts for each module.
The content seems to be accurate and unbiased.
The book’s content is relevant but could benefit from more current research. The text is written in a way that allows the author to easily update references and supplemental resources (i.e. videos, activities, etc.).
The text is clear and accessible for student use. The terminology is in bold print and the author provides definitions.
The text is consistent as the author begins each module with learning objectives and ends with references and key terms and concepts. The author also provides a sociological application assignment in each module.
As I reviewed the text, I made mental notes of how the information could be used in smaller reading sections and supplemental to a more in-depth text. Modules 3 and 4 can be assigned as supplemental reading in an education course surrounding cultural diversity.
The topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion. The author presents an overall theme in each module then provides an application. The book begins with the broader idea of culture and discusses theories (Module 1). It moves to a narrow focus as the author discusses cultural power and cultural identity (Module 3 and 4).
The text seems to be free from significant interface issues. However, one link doesn’t work: Module 3, Visual Ethnography, Part 2, #1 See How the Rest of the World Lives.
The text seems to be free from significant grammatical errors.
The text seems to be inclusive of ethnicities and backgrounds.
This is a good introductory text to culture from a sociological standpoint. However, some of the modules can be assigned as supplemental reading for educational courses.
The links provide a wide range of supplemental material that serves to augment the body well. The text covers the usual points of understanding culture and society from a sociological perspective. However, there are points at which race does... read more
The links provide a wide range of supplemental material that serves to augment the body well. The text covers the usual points of understanding culture and society from a sociological perspective. However, there are points at which race does become a part of the conversation, even though the title implies that we will be looking beyond racial attributes. Additionally, the idea of race as a social construct is addressed only once near the beginning and then later nearly 2/3 of the way through the text. This is a large part of why we have sociological discourse today and should be discussed in its own module given the weight it carries, and early. Additionally, there should be a section regarding social justice issues that also help to explain how people view one another beyond their ethnographic inclusions; for example, ageism.
There are some points at which I would challenge the author’s statements. For example, on p. 21, she states that “Subcultures…blend into the larger society or cultural system.” This is not always true, yet the way it is stated, she makes it seem as if people from varied subcultures always blend in. In other areas, he makes a great deal of generalizations and assumptions that include individuals to whom they would not always and realistically apply. There are also need to be more research sources when “research shows” is indicted.
There are parts of the text that would be relevant to undergraduate student courses, but not the text in its entirety. Additionally, it would not be relevant to understanding the gender identity differences beyond the bipolar structure we have known in the past.
The tenets are clear, but the vocabulary is less than undergraduate level. Additionally, there is a need for examples to provide clarity and solidify ideas for the reader.
Throughout the text, there is complete consistency.
As the text progresses, latter modules utilize terms introduced in earlier sections. Some refer specifically to earlier modules.
The text is organized appropriately by module. However, at the end of module there are questions that address content not covered prior to it. Additionally, vocabulary should be at the onset of the section or chapter as opposed to the end to make space for greater learning reinforcement throughout reading time. In terms of content, there are aspects, such as “race” that should be introduced earlier.
I found it odd that the image links took the reader to the CC image contact sheet page instead of directly to photographer.
There are some grammatical and fragment errors that should be addressed to ensure trust of the author’s content and capabilities.
While she may not have meant it, there are indicators of cultural bias throughout the text. Through use of phrases such as “make you feel,” the author is implying power of one over another. Ironically, there are cultural aspects that in are inaccurate or do not provide alternative ways people perceive them. Given that the text presents ideas that surround cultural lifeways as being socially influential, I envision that many diversified perspectives would be necessary inclusions. For example, “Values of a dominant regional culture marginalize those who do not possess or have the cultural characteristics…” (p. 43-44). This limits who is excluded. However, exclusion, as mentioned before, is applied to all those who do not meet to socially accepted norm, not just those not from the dominant regional culture. Likewise, later she does not take into consideration that there are people today who still associate mental illness with supernatural forces as part of their cultural values, yet refers to those who do part of primitive societies.
While there some rough gems throughout this text, I do not believe it should be a text offered for a class given it limited perspectives and cultural biases throughout.
Beyond Race provides the basics in conceptualizing the subject of culture. The text briefly touches on subjects, but does not provide advanced depth. The purpose of the book seems to be an introduction to the concepts related to culture. The... read more
Beyond Race provides the basics in conceptualizing the subject of culture. The text briefly touches on subjects, but does not provide advanced depth. The purpose of the book seems to be an introduction to the concepts related to culture. The definitions related to the subject are found within the book, but there is no index or glossary.
The information was presented in a neutral fashion. There was no apparent bias and the concepts were represented accurately.
The concepts are unlikely to change, so the book will remain relevant. There is plenty of room for updates as necessary.
The prose did not flow well, as the writing consists of a lot of definitions with hard stops. There were quite a few confusing sentences that could be adjusted with commas in appropriate places. The readings would often jump from subject to subject without a clear understanding of the context.
The framework of the text was fairly consistent. Key words and concepts seem to be the primary thrust of the work.
Beyond Race works well regarding modularity. The segments of the text can easily be separated and used as supplemental units in a course. The text seems to work best as an introduction to the subject of culture, or as a supplemental segments.
The organization was clear and consistent.
The interface was excellent, providing appropriate, interactive content and up-to-date web links to related material.
There were more than a few grammatical errors, mostly involving missing participles and plural forms of words.
The aim of the text is culturally sensitivity and it accomplishes that task.
Beyond Race: Cultural Influences of Human Social Life works as an introduction to the topic of culture or as supplemental text for various lesson plans for a variety of courses that need to touch on the subject of culture.
Beyond Race goes far beyond race to discuss social class, gender identity and religion and their impact on our lives. The author provides information from the macro level down to the individual micro level. There are examples of "traditional"... read more
Beyond Race goes far beyond race to discuss social class, gender identity and religion and their impact on our lives. The author provides information from the macro level down to the individual micro level. There are examples of "traditional" cultures but also more expansive collective cultures like the ones formed by a social media platform such as Twitter. I had hoped that there would some discussion of social justice and advocacy but understand that it was out of scope for this book.
The author ensures that there is an accurate definition for each of the terms and provides a clear example of each. The portrayal of relationships and interactions between individuals is also accurate without being stereotypical.
The author uses current pop culture references such as the "This is America" video by Childish Gambino to illustrate concepts. The use of current YouTube videos and other recent articles and academic references ensures the relevance of the text. Exercises like Visual Ethnography helps the reader to think concretely about the concepts and how they apply to their daily lives.
Overall, the text is extremely clear. However, there are times when several terms are strung together in a sentence with only a parenthetical explanation that is unclear. There should be a limit to the number of new terms that are introduced in one sentence. Also, the various types of cultures are often compared as if they have equal impact. For example, the author poses a question about whether the dominant culture allows unvaccinated children to attend school or men to treat women as subordinates if their religion allows. I appreciate the fact that the author is exposing the reader to the challenges of our individual biases but I would caution against placing views that have such varying impact on people on the same scale.
The text is consistent throughout in terms of the format and the way that information is presented, The references at the end of each chapter also provides additional information that is consistent with the content of the chapter.
The chapters are organized in such a way that reading assignments would flow well from week to week.
The text is extremely well-organized with learning objects at the beginning of each chapter, key terms in bold type face and a group of key terms at the end of each chapter,
It would be helpful to create links that could bring the reader directly to a particular chapter instead of having to constantly scroll down. There was at least one link that did not work, "See How the Rest of the World Lives, Organized by Income: https://goo.gl/uJc6Vd"
There seemed to be little to no grammatical errors in the text.
As a cultural reference text, the author does an excellent job of maintaining culturally humble language. The Dollar Street depicted low and high income families of various compositions and countries.
This is a great sociological text. I think that the title should be changed to reflect that it is related to the discipline of sociology.
The title of this book is confusing because this is not a book about Race but a basic introduction to sociology textbook. For those seeking to teach a 100-level course on cultural sociology this book would work very well as an OER source. The... read more
The title of this book is confusing because this is not a book about Race but a basic introduction to sociology textbook. For those seeking to teach a 100-level course on cultural sociology this book would work very well as an OER source. The book is conveniently organized into five modules that could be used as 1, 2, or 3 week modules depending on the timing of the course. The module titles match current coverage of research areas in cultural sociology:
Module 1: Culture and Meaning
Module 2: Culture As A Social Construct
Module 3: Cultural Power
Module 4: Cultural Identity
Module 5: The Multicultural World
Each module opens with a clear identification of key learning outcomes and the topics are then subdivided by paragraph section in the text. The table of contents makes it very easy to assign specific subsections of chapters.
The module topics read like an well-orchestrated lecture. Vocabulary terms are defined contextually and highlighted in bold font to aid in comprehension as well as to make it easy for instructors to assess knowledge. The writing is clear and very easy to follow. Examples are kept minimal but they are also easy to follow and not dated in terms of content.
I would have liked more coverage of the topics of race, environmental justice, and other hot button topics; but the writing is academic in the sense that terms like power and difference are more typically used. As someone who teaches a film course on difference, power, and discrimination, I was fishing for more information on race but Module 3: Cultural Power has turned out to be one that I am going to assign in my class to pair with films so that students can understand the topic of cultural more broadly before I help them apply that understanding to race, gender, etc. I also like that each module contains sections of self-checking for students to take stock of their own positionality and agency on these topics.
Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is the accuracy of information and the very effective way that complex sociology terms are explained with clarity and concision. Since the book is largely organized around conveying key vocabulary terms it was a joy to have such a clear and compelling voice explaining these terms to me in the book. As someone with some background in sociology I appreciate the accuracy.
Published in 2018, this text is currently the most relevant and up-to-date text available for studying key terms at the introductory college level for cultural sociology.
Textbook author Vera Kennedy received a lot of feedback and support on this project from colleagues and students their institutions and that feedback shows. What I mean is that it's easy to tell that the book has been revised for clarity and an ability to speak to many different kinds of readers. Seasoned teachers and students new to sociology will enjoy the accessible, inviting prose descriptions.
This book's module format and superb, consistent organizational design make it easy to work with in terms of scheduling readings and assignments. All of the chapters have had the same care and polish put into the writing and design.
See above comments on Comprehension.
One of the pleasures or reading a well-organized textbook is when you can assign all or part of it without impacting student's understanding. For example, the module I plan to use Module 3: Cultural Power is organized just like the other modules. It begins with a statement of learning objectives (which instructors can use on assignments and syllabi), proceeds with a general introduction to the module topic, and delves into paragraphs explaining concepts. Rather than using too many chapter subheadings, key vocabulary words are placed in Bold font to help students navigate the chapters and transition from idea to idea. Text boxes are used every few pages to call out key ideas, share related links to video and other content for readers, or to offer readers activities for taking stock of their own cultural agency. There are 4-5 of these activity boxes scattered throughout the 20 or so pages of the module. Each chapter ends with a conclusion and list of references.
Unfortunately you do have to do a lot of scrolling in the book as it is in PDF format only. It would be nice if Table of Contents headings linked to those pages in the PDF but that is not an option. One very good thing is that all the links I tested to outside videos and other sites were all working.
Looks perfect or near perfect.
I mean, come on, look at the title of the book. The one thing I'll say again here, however, is do keep in mind that the title of the book promises to be more about Race than is the general focus of the book.
This textbook starts by defining basic terms, then building on these basic concepts to more complicated concepts. It is very straightforward in explanations, yet engaging and readable for students. It is a very comprehensive introductory text... read more
This textbook starts by defining basic terms, then building on these basic concepts to more complicated concepts. It is very straightforward in explanations, yet engaging and readable for students. It is a very comprehensive introductory text to the subject of Cultural Sociology.
The definitions are very clear, using appropriate examples. Did not notice any inaccuracies.
The text uses timely and contemporary examples, such as social media, YouTube, and Web links, which make the topics much more interesting to students.
Terms are clearly defined, then illustrated with examples, before these terms used in more complicated concepts.
The book is very consistent in how it moves from basic concepts to more complex ones. It also makes it easy to look things up, after reading. The References and list of defined terms at the end of each chapter are also helpful.
The questions at the end of each section are quite good for knitting concepts together, making the material seem more relevant and "alive".
Compared to other texts on this topic, this one has natural break points that allows one to mentally "breathe" and absorb what has just been read. The way the text is divided up, it could be taught in either a linear, or non-linear, manner. All of the topics are also easy to find within the chapters.
The book is well-organized and flows easily from one concept to the next. It covers a lot of territory in an effortless way. Because of its easy layout, students can absorb the material easily.
Definitions are bolded, easy to identify, and clearly defined. Then these new terms are repeated at the end of the chapter for review. (Including the definitions at the end might be a nice addition.)
Headers and Subheadings make it easy to identify sections and the material related to the topic.
The questions at the end of each section help students to integrated and understand the material.
It would be nice if the table of contents could be hyper-linked to the individual chapters.
Also, more text attached to the images would be helpful to connect the images to the topic being discussed. The images could be used to "illustrate" rather than just as "decoration".
Did not notice any grammatical errors.
Did not notice any culturally insensitive material. However, in today's climate of political divisions, almost any sociological topic can be viewed as controversial, depending on presentation and perception. Instructors seem to have to be constantly vigilant on how to mediate information to engage (not alienate) students. One of the benefits of this textbook is that it is learner-centered, and gives the instructor a lot of autonomy in presenting the material.
This book is well-organized, clearly presented, and an engaging read. This is a book that I would be happy to use in a Cultural Sociology course.
Table of Contents
- Module 1: Culture and Meaning
- Module 2: Culture As A Social Construct
- Module 3: Cultural Power
- Module 4: Cultural Identity
- Module 5: The Multicultural World
About the Book
The book is supported by discussion of relevant theory and research in cultural sociology. Beyond Race: Cultural Influences on Human Social Life has stressed learner-centered teaching with the instructor taking on the role of a facilitator of learning. As such, it is expected the instructor will serve as the mediator between the content of this book and learners’ understanding of material on multiple and higher levels. This book does not offer a set of rules in teaching cultural sociology, but rather suggests content and applications to consider and modify as needed by the ever-changing dynamics of instructors and learners.
About the Contributors
Vera Kennedy, West Hills College Lemoore