Human Rights: An Introduction
By Darren J. O'Byrne
Longman / Pearson Education
304 Pages, Illustrated
$87.50 paper original
This is an important and particularly timely text that provides a comprehensive
overview of human rights and related issues from a social science perspective.
First, and crucially so, this book does more than discuss theory, it uses case
studies and personal testimonies in the debate. Human rights as an area of academic
interest cannot be easily divorced from human rights struggles and the reality
of contemporary conditions.
Second, the book is aimed at what is an emerging and growing cross-disciplinary
field of study. Human rights issues are increasingly coming to the fore in a
number of academic debates. Whereas the study of human rights has traditionally
been included in departments of law, international relations and philosophy,
a number of courses are now being set up in departments of sociology and anthropology.
Consequently, there is an increasing need to bring these disparate approaches
The book is engagingly written and combines case studies and personal testimonies
with analyses of theoretical perspectives. The text bridges the gap between
the library of philosophical works on rights, and the various publications produced
by campaigning organizations and activist groups. It discusses existing research
on human rights and suggests how the ideas of contemporary thinkers may be relevant
for furthering our understanding. The book provides the reader with thorough
knowledge of philosophical, legal, historical, and sociological material on
These include theories and perspectives, acts and covenants, and statistical
data. The book effectively covers such important topics as censorship, political
prisoners, torture, the death penalty, apartheid, slavery, genocide, and the
plight of refugees. The book concludes with an overview of emerging areas in
the discourse on human rights, including environmental concerns, the role of
business and non-state actors, women's rights, children's rights, and the impact
of globalization upon human rights debates and realities.
The book includes a foreword by Dan Jones MBE, human rights educationalist at
Dr Darren J. O'Byrne is Lecturer in Sociology and Cultural Studies at the University
of Surrey Roehampton, UK, where he is responsible for the new undergraduate
program in Human Rights. His specialist areas of interest are human rights,
globalization, political sociology and critical theory.
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