Monday, February 7, 2011

Notable E-Book: Handbook of Economic Sociology

In a world where everything seems to be "all about the Benjamins," it is appropriate that social structures and issues are often studied within the context of economic factors. In 1994, Princeton University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation co-published the first edition of The Handbook of Economic Sociology as a synthesis of the burgeoning field of economic sociology. As Credo Reference, which just added the 2nd edition to their online library indicates: "Since then, the field of economic sociology has continued to grow by leaps and bounds and to move into new theoretical and empirical territory."

The original publisher, Princeton University Press, claims that "the thirty chapters of this volume incorporate many substantial thematic changes and new lines of research--for example, more focus on international and global concerns, chapters on institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, organization and networks, and the economic sociology of the ancient world. The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures. It is a must read for all faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field."

Of course, reading a book from cover to cover is not necessarily comfortably done through the Credo Reference interface. Credo, when it was called xreferplus, started out providing providing general and subject-specific dictionaries and basic reference eBooks--materials that specialized in succinct definitions. Since then, they have expanded their content to include encyclopedias and handbooks and other books with longer entries and chapters.

This can be useful, but also frustrating, if you end up getting hundreds of hits when you look up a word concept and you find it difficult to find the most appropriate materials. Credo has tried to get around this by creating "Topic Pages" that gather content together from their own resources and from other databases and web pages. These can be a handy way to get a brief introduction to a specific subject, but I must admit that I am not a big fan of the ready-made hodgepodge that the database presents for most topics, especially since they link to questionable internet news along with higher quality content.

If you know that a specific book is worth exploring, you are better off going to it directly via the "Find a Book" option in the top Credo frame (which lists and sorts books by category). And remember that all Credo books should be in the online catalog (OPAC), so you can identify a promising eReference book the same way you would circulating stack books, through doing keyword and subject searches.

Searching for a specific word concept or phrase in a particular book like the Handbook of Economic Sociology creates a more manageable list of browsable results. In the case of a search for entrepreneurship, it is 15 items,

You can easily link to and read the most relevant entries. And, as you can see, right below the lavender border, you can also jump into a search of our OPAC quite readily from the database.

Credo Reference adds new content every month. (They often highlight titles in their own blog, too.) The Handbook of Economic Sociology is just an example of a recent addition.

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