May 19, 2006

RSU Dean Authors Fourth Book on Social Theory

A new book by Dr. Frank Elwell, dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Rogers State University, reviews and critiques the work of four modern social theorists. The book was published in hardcover this spring by Paradigm Publishers and will be released in paperback later this year.

The book, "Macrosociology: Four Modern Theorists," centers on the work of four social scientists who practiced and wrote in the latter half of the 20th century, including C. Wright Mills, Immanuel Wallerstein, Gerhard Lenski and Marvin Harris.

"These are big picture guys," Elwell said. "They are in basic agreement that there are several factors that affect the quality of life within a society. The differences between them are in how much weight to give each factor."

The theorists examine such processes as the rise and impact of capitalism; the centralization and enlargement of authority; inequality within and between societies; and the historical intensification of production and populations.

Borrowing what is useful from classical social theory as well as relying on recent empirical evidence, each theorist adds his own insights and interpretations in constructing a comprehensive perspective of social stability and change, Elwell said. The book is intended as an undergraduate social theory text. Elwell documents each perspective and attempts to relate them to one another as well as apply the resulting theory in explaining current events. A short biography on each theorist is also provided in the book.

Elwell also is the author of three other books, including "The Evolution of the Future," "Industrializing America," and "A Commentary of Malthus's 1798 Essay as Social Theory." He received a doctoral degree in sociology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, master's degrees from SUNY-Albany in sociology and SUNY-New Paltz in political science and education, and a bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University in history and education. His areas of academic specialty include social evolution, industrialization, cultural ecology and social theory.