Just who are we?

20th February 1998 at 00:00
INVESTIGATING CULTURE AND IDENTITY. By Paul Taylor. Collins Pounds 9.50.

Many A-level sociology teachers will be familiar with the excellent Sociology in Action series, and this latest title maintains its high standard. These books are not just for students - they update and consolidate the teacher's know-ledge as well.

It is particularly good to see a book on culture and identity, as it is a new option of the AEB syllabus. Furthermore, it is an extremely broad area, and consequently a little threatening. Paul Taylor's book will go a long way towards allaying teachers' fears.

The book reflects sociology's concern with recent social changes and the problems surrounding identity in increasingly diverse cultures. Familiar debates about high and low culture, sub-cultures and media effects are considered, but Taylor also tackles more recent problems such as ethnicity and sexuality.

The book ends with a useful chapter on modernity and post-modernity. Throughout, the text links with AEB syllabus requirements and exercises reinforce syllabus-related skills. The layout is interesting and varied, using photographs and stimulus materials that reflect our "pick 'n' mix" culture. But the theoretical underpinning of the substantive area is never underplayed. Students will learn complex ideas from this book.

Faced with the prospect of teaching this area, many teachers would no doubt pull together an effective scheme of work that would enable students to deal with questions about identity and the origins of our sense of it. This text, though, will make teaching the area significantly more straightforward, enjoyable and topical.

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

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