English Filipino French German Spanish


Why a Free Textbook?

Hi, my name is Ron J. Hammond. I earned a Ph.D. in Sociology-Family Studies in 1991. I wrote this book for you because I have a deep and abiding commitment to make knowledge available to all people of the world no matter their race, color, sex, creed, income, national origin, life style, or other personal traits that might work against them unfairly. I wrote this book because I love sociology as a profession, a science, and a way of approaching life with a sense of personal confidence that isn't there for those who never get to take a sociology course.

I've been teaching Introduction to Sociology for about 20 years now and have to brag a bit. My colleagues who teach in other disciplines complain to me a great deal about keeping their students' attention during class. They say that students just don't care about what it is they want to teach them. I have never faced that particular issue. War, crime, divorce, poverty, religious conflict, terrorism, economic woes, rape and sexual assault, battle of the sexes, dating, graduating, scandals, the list goes on and on of the many interesting things that sociologists deal with and study all the time.

Sociology is the most exciting course I ever took in college. My own students find it to be one of their favorite courses in college, even though most of them major in another discipline. Let me give you an example. I just finished another semester and asked my Introduction to Sociology students to give me some feedback on what they got out of their Introduction to Sociology course. They said:

  • "I learned to see my life (the personal level) in the context of the complicated society I live in (larger social level). I'm not so confused any more about things that used to just scare me."
  • "This class made me a much better critical thinker. I dissect the news now."
  • "Like, all this confusing stuff that happens in the economy used to overwhelm me. Now I see the Conflict Theory in how we get exploited by the smarter and wealthier people."
  • "This class was just interesting. I'd tell my roommates about stuff we learned in class that day."
  • "I really feel like I'm not as closed minded as I used to be. I especially loved learning about all the different religions."
  • "I walked out of class with a bunch of advice about how to live my life better. Don't get too big-headed, the advice came from sociology not you."
  • "I think I understand why my parents' divorce happened now."
  • "And tell all those new students who get to use your book how jealous we are. Ron talked to us about this, but it wasn't finished in time for our class. Ron saved me at least 50 bucks by not using a printed textbook."

These are real observations by my students who echo the teacher evaluation comments I've read about sociology courses over the last 2 decades. Prior to this book being on the Internet I used articles and Web pages in place of textbooks. Why no textbook? It's simple. Textbooks are too expensive and are anchored in the same technology used 5 centuries ago when Gutenberg Press was invented. Textbooks are harmful to the environment, costs too much money to ship back and forth, are as old fashioned as newspapers (which by the way newspapers are collapsing nationwide right now because of free advertising on the Internet), and textbooks will probably not be around in paper form by the year 2020 when most readings will be electronic.

The problem is that textbooks are way too expensive. They have been priced so high that thousands of students can't afford them anymore. Do we really want to go back to the era when only the richest people's children get a higher education? I'm totally in support of people making a modest profit. But, textbook prices have outpaced inflation so much so that the average student feels violated at the bookstore. It's not the bookstore's profit, it is the corporation that prints the textbooks who are to blame. Just for kicks, Google "Ron Hammond textbook protest" and you'll read some supportive and antagonistic articles about my 1-professor protest efforts these last few years. This textbook is my ultimate statement in my protest.

Now I want you to know a bit about me, because it will help you to understand where I am coming from as an author. First, I was born a REDNECK! In 1963 I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, Fulton County. My parents both graduated high school, got divorced 3 times, and raised children who didn't care about formal education. I was the odd one.

By the time I graduated high school from Lithia Springs High, I had earned 8 Fs, 3 Ds, 15 Cs, 20 Bs, and all my As were in PE. My basketball coach urged me to try college. I did and flunked everything. I was academically dismissed after only 2 quarters. Yes, a 20 year college/university professor was once a college flunk out. After being dismissed, I worked in a factory for a few years and it bored me so much that I came back to a junior college and worked very hard. I got on the Dean's list my second semester. After that I was determined and I earned 4 degrees in 8 years then did a post-doctoral fellowship in Ohio. In all, I attended 5 colleges and universities. I can honestly say that I know how it feels to be the dumb kid in the class and I also know how it feels to succeed. I wrote this book to help you find your path to success. Keep this in mind while you read it.

Cost of Textbooks on the Rise

Over the last fifteen years the cost of textbooks has outpaced inflation at a phenomenal rate. USA Today reports that over the past 25 years the average cost of tuition and fees has risen (35%) faster than personal income, consumer prices and even health insurance (Block, 2007).This increases the financial burden on college students at UVU and elsewhere who are trying to afford a bachelors degree.

If you are using this textbook for any purpose we would like to hear from you. Please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Design & Delivery

This on-line textbook is specially formatted for three delivery methods.

Laptop or computer display

When displayed on a computer screen, the side navigation allows instant access to all chapters. The fixed width display insures that text and images stay in the same place just as they do in a textbook. The sans-serif font used was designed specifically for low resolution screens.


When printed on paper, the non essential navigation elements have been removed and the text is rendered  using a font appropriate for paper. Research indicates that fonts with serifs are easier to read on paper.


With the increase in the number of students using mobile learning devices, we have designed this on-line book  to display on an iPod.  To maximize the use of the small screen, the side navigation has been removed and the page width adjusted to fit a smaller screen. This prevents the reader from having to scroll horizontally. We have also included a custom icon if you want to add a bookmark to your iPod home screen.

Other electronic formats

This ebook is also available on Smashwords in many other formats including but not limited to Kindle as a .mobi file, Stanza as a Epub, Sony Reader as a LRF, Palm as a PDB.

Project Team

  • Ron Hammond
  • Paul Cheney
  • Sandi Ness

Student Assistants

Natalie Cheney

Mandy Valora

Alisa Hammond

Rachel Jake

Kiara Demming

Sam Jones

Roberta Johnson

Tyler Purdy

Jenny Saunders

Jason Mower


Kitani King

Noel Kristina Wally

Sandi Ness

Kathy Winters