Preface for Second Edition

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Preface for Second Edition

After the Encyclopedia of Sociology had been in print only three years, we began to receive inquiries about when there would be a revised edition. This was surprising given that the Encyclopedia was so well received, that its distribution had been much broader than even optimistic supporters of the project had anticipated, and that the articles were largely broad reviews and summaries of areas of knowledge in sociology. However, some areas in sociology changed quickly during the last decade as we approached the Millennium so that interest in a recapitulation and updating did not seem inappropriate. In addition, the social sciences appear to have softened their borders, and thus we realized that a substantial and thoughtful addition of titles would add breadth and depth to the Encyclopedia.

August Comte's description of sociology as the "queen" of the social sciences seems to have been awakened in a new generation, and the relevance of sociology to the social and behavioral sciences has been renewed. We took seriously our obligation to improve the representation of the areas of sociology in this edition of the Encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia was greatly improved through the input of Advisory Editors and authors who identified new content areas and titles that should be included and indicated which titles could be eliminated or consolidated. Some provided comprehensive reviews of the Encyclopedia's scope and coverage, as well as reviews of the content of many individual articles. Suggestions for additional titles for the revised Encyclopedia accumulated to a list of over 80 concepts and themes, resulting in the addition of 66 new titles, but in addition some of the revised articles also included substantially new and expanded topics.

With the help of the Advisory Editors and quite a few authors, we reviewed articles and sectors of coverage to determine what changes would be important in a new edition. We distilled the major points of emphasis provided by reviews and user comments, and incorporated them into the guidelines for revision provide to authors.

Reflecting the kind of question that comes up so often in sociology doctoral exams, reviewers repeatedly asked us why a particular article was included in an encyclopedia of sociology. Authors who are expert in a particular subject area assume too frequently that readers will know their topic's relevance for sociology. To guard against this we asked authors to note the sociological relevance of the topic and to show how it fit into not only the scheme of sociological knowledge but also social and behavioral knowledge in general. As a consequence, most articles have been expanded.

Authors, experts in their fields, often concentrate on the knowledge and the issues within their field but do not give sufficient attention to the practical value of that knowledge, particularly how it is important for policy formation and in applications to everyday life. Of course, this is a comment often made about academic scholars in general, namely, that they sometimes forget that an important reason for research and the accumulation of knowledge is to provide bases for useful and informed applications.

Reviewers raised another theme. Articles often did a wonderful job of summarizing knowledge but did not indicate what to expect from future endeavors in the field. In other words, what areas need more attention in scholarship and research to expand the knowledge in a given field? While this kind of presentation is speculative, we reminded authors of the need to give direction for future work.

An additional theme for the revised edition is one that is temporally controlled. There is no way that references can provide more information than what already has been published. Updating content is important, but equally important is providing information about easily accessible general resources for those who want to go beyond the relatively brief discussions in the Encyclopedia. We reminded authors that the purpose of the reference section is to provide users with an opportunity to explore the area further. Academic scholars can too easily become exhaustive bibliographers. Thus, we asked authors to give special attention to providing direction rather than overwhelming the reader, and we are impressed that most authors have been extremely successful in this task. In addition to the work of the authors, the professional sociological staff of the Encyclopedia prepared for some article a short list of additional references to broaden the scope of coverage and provide additional transitions to related concepts. We updated and provided new references for 20 articles from the earlier edition of the Encyclopedia.

Finally, reviewers commented that some of the presentations in the first edition were too brief, and some topics were too narrowly drawn. Thus, some topics have been combined, some topics have been eliminated and the content incorporated into related broader articles, and many articles have been expanded to cover neglected aspects of a topic and to provide greater detail for a more well-rounded presentation. Thirty-nine titles were eliminated and incorporated into more substantial articles, but some additional titles were changed when the original topic was expanded. In summary, there were 370 articles in the original edition, 39 were eliminated and 66 new articles were added, resulting in 397 in this revised edition.

In short, we have greatly improved the breadth and depth of coverage in the Encyclopedia, and we have paid particular attention to those articles that relate to other social and behavioral sciences. We have substantially increased the content of the Encyclopedia in this edition, and we have made every effort to ensure that the content is current, accurate, and representative of the field.

Edgar F. Borgatta, Editor-in-Chief