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Complex but clear;Secondary;Subject of the week;Social sciences;Reviews;Books

AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY Second edition. By Ken Browne Polity pound;12.95. SOCIOLOGY FOR GCSE. By Pauline Wilson and Allan Kidd Collins. pound;14.99.

We hear so much about dumbing down nowadays that it's a pleasure to find textbooks that are in the business of "braining up". (And in sociology too!) Ken Browne's book really does present sociology for the uninitiated in its true glory - and in all its complexities. But it does so in a way that will engage the interest, and often the commitment, of even our most reluctant "beginner sociologists". It is targeted at GCSE groups, but the text has a much broader value (GNVQ health and social care classes could use it to good effect and it would be useful as a starter for A-level).

But within the GCSE context it offers tremendous clarity, appropriate conceptual detail and an excellent range of illustrative material. The depth and breadth of knowledge is outstanding. Each chapter contains excellent activities and ends with a chapter summary, key term list and project suggestions.

Sociology for GCSE by Pauline Wilson and Allan Kidd will give Ken Browne a run for his money. Visually, its impact is striking. It employs recent, relevant images in colour to reinforce points made in the text. On top of this, the language used is just right for the "notional 16-year-old", but also for older students. Wilson and Kidd provide excellent guidance on study skills and exam technique. The overall effect is stimulating and is also faithful to the complexity of the subject.

Mike Moores is a lecturer in sociology at Weald College, Harrow, north London

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