This volume explores the principle trends and lines of division within comtemporary sociology, presenting arguments about the relative merits of the positions covered. Beginning with the work of Talcott Parsons, which set the scene for subsequent debates, the book considers symbolic interactionism, rational choice and exchange theories, conflict theories, and structuralism. It also examines the development of neofunctionalism, the rise of post-structuralism, and the recent work of Giddens. The central argument expounded in this book is that further advances in sociological understanding will arise from the synthesis of rival ideas. It concludes with an examination of the new systhesis produced by Jurgen Habermas.