Learning ObjectivesAfter reading this chapter, students should be able to:
trace the broad contours of the development of sociological theory from Herbert Spencer to theories of consumption;
identify the key thinkers in each tradition;
discuss reasons (e.g., social, political, and intellectual) for the rise and decline of each theoretical tradition;
identify the directions that sociological theory might take in the early twenty-first century; and
discuss the ways in which social, economic, and political developments have been reflected in the work of sociological theorists.