We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


Problem-Solving Sociology

A Guide for Students

Monica Prasad

Publication Date - 29 October 2021

ISBN: 9780197558492

240 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches

In Stock


A broad resource that offers tools for how to conduct problem-solving sociology in order to deepen and reformulate our understanding of society.

Most students arrive in graduate sociology programs eager to engage with the pressing social and political issues of the day. Yet that initial enthusiasm does not always survive the professional socialization of graduate school. In Problem-Solving Sociology, Monica Prasad shows graduate students and early career sociologists how to conduct research that uses sociological theory to help solve real-world problems, and how to use problem-solving to improve sociological theory. Prasad discusses how to be objective when examining issues of injustice and oppression, and provides methodological strategies and plenty of exercises for research aimed at creating change. She gives examples throughout of problem-solving research conducted at all levels, from undergraduate theses to the major figures of the discipline. She also considers how to respond to some common objections; where problem-solving fits into the landscape of sociological practice; and how to build a life in problem-solving.


  • Provides tools for how to conduct problem-solving sociology
  • Offers defences against some common objections and strategies around some common difficulties
  • Gives a broader understanding of the field of sociological practice

About the Author(s)

Monica Prasad Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. She has written three award-winning books: Starving the Beast: Ronald Reagan and the Tax Cut Revolution, The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty, and The Politics of Free Markets: The Rise of Neoliberal Economic Policies in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. Her scholarship has received the Fulbright award, the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and several other grants and awards. For more on problem-solving sociology see: problemsolvingsociology.com


"Prasad has combined two books in one. The first is a witty and subversive guidebook for students that maps the pathway they should follow to create excellent and impactful social science. The second is a profound meditation on the sociology of knowledge that deserves a wide audience. She has updated Mills' Sociological Imagination for the 21st century." -Fred Block, Research Professor, University of California-Davis

"Problem-Solving Sociology is a reminder to many of us of why we got into sociology: to make a difference. Prasad has written a highly engaging and accessible book on how to put our methods and theories to good use. She takes on the critics and inspires the enthusiasts. This book offers the keys to both rejuvenating the discipline and generating social change." -Mary Pattillo, Northwestern University

"Problem-Solving Sociology is a thoughtful, reasoned discussion of a wide variety of complex and controversial topics." -Andrew Abbott, Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago

Table of Contents

    1. The Thought Machine
    2. But is it Objective?
    3. Victims and Villains
    4. A Magic Trick: Research Design for Problem-Solving
    5. The View from Mars
    6. Decision Points and Exercises (1): Finding Your Project
    7. Decision Points and Exercises (2): Troubling Your Assumptions
    8. Decision Points and Exercises (3): Clarifying and Defending Your Argument
    9. The Place of Problem Solving in American Sociology
    10. An Orrery of Objections
    11. When to Stop Problem Solving
    12. Building Your Own Boat