March 23, 2009

Dean of RSU School of Liberal Arts Has Book Published

Dr. Frank ElwellA book on social theory titled "Macrosociology: The Study of Sociocultural Systems" by Dr. Frank Elwell, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Rogers State University, has been published by the Edwin Mellen Press. The book is the fifth on social theory by Dean Elwell to be published.

According to Elwell, the book is intended to introduce readers to the classical macro social theory of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, T. Robert Malthus, Herbert Spencer and Max Weber, as well as modern expressions of these perspectives.

"It does this through two mechanisms. First, it provides an overview and critique of the four major classical macro-theoretical traditions in sociology. Rather than discussing these theories as history, the book focuses upon elements of the perspectives that have proved useful in understanding socio-cultural systems," he said. "Then, the book provides an overview and critique of the perspectives and analyses of three contemporary social scientists writing within each of these traditions. The overarching goal of the book is to provide readers with an in-depth understanding of each of the classical sociological traditions."

Through study of contemporary social scientists such as Lenski, Foster, Nisbet and Elias, students and readers will learn the breadth and depth of macro-social theory as well as its usefulness in understanding contemporary and historical socio-cultural systems, he said.

The book also explores the common ground among the macro sociological perspectives. The macro social theories of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and other classical theorists have common themes and elements that have heretofore been minimized or ignored, according to Elwell. These common elements include an emphasis upon the systemic character of societies, a strong materialistic causal order, an explicit evolutionary view of social change, and a rich tradition of comparative historical methodology used to test its generalizations. This explicit and shared world view offers a beginning framework for organizing the discipline, informing the researcher what to look for, what needs further testing, clarification, or refinement, and what should be rejected and finally abandoned.

Elwell received a doctoral degree in sociology from the University at Albany, master's degrees from the University at Albany (sociology) and the State University of New York at New Paltz (political science/education), and a bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University (history/ education). He is the author of the books "Macrosociology: Four Modern Theorists" (Paradigm, 2006), "A Commentary on Malthus's 1798 Essay on Population as Social Theory" (Edwin Mellen Press, 2001), "Industrializing America: Understanding Contemporary Society through Classical Sociological Analysis" (Praeger Press, 1999), and "The Evolution of the Future" (Praeger Press, 1991). His areas of academic interest are social evolution, human ecology and social theory.