Elwellsův sociologický glosář
Elwell's Glossary of Sociology
(adresa dnes není funkční)
* ABSOLUTE POVERTY. Poverty as defined in terms of the minimal requirements
necessary to afford minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and
ACHIEVED STATUS. A position attained through personal ability and effort.
ACID RAIN. The increased acidity of rainfall which is caused by emissions of
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants and automobiles.
ACUTE DISEASE. A short-term disease (such as influenza or pneumonia) from
which a person either dies or recovers.
ADAPTATION. Refers to the ability of a sociocultural system to change with
the demands of a changing physical or social environment. The process by
which cultural elements undergo change in form and/or function in response
to change in other parts of the system.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Government programs intended to assure minorities and
women of equal hiring or admission opportunities.
AGE GRADES. System found in some traditional cultures which group the
population by sex and age. Age grades go through rites of passage, hold
similar rights and have similar obligations.
AGE STRUCTURE. The relative proportions of different age categories in a
AGEISM. Prejudice against a person on the grounds of age in the belief that
the age category is inferior to other age categories and that unequal
treatment is therefore justified.
AGENCIES OF SOCIALIZATION. Groups or institutions within which processes of
socialization take place (see also SOCIAL REPRODUCTION).
AGRARIAN SOCIETIES. Societies whose mode of production is based on
agriculture (crop-growing) primarily through the use of human and animal
energy. Also referred to as agricultural societies (see also TRADITIONAL
AGRIBUSINESS. The mass production of agricultural goods through
mechanization, and rationalization.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency). A disease that attacks the immune system
of the body that is often passed on through sexual contact.
AIR POLLUTION. Refers to the contamination of the atmosphere by noxious
substances (see also DEPLETION, ENVIRONMENT, and INTENSIFICATION).
ALIENATION. The sense that we have lost control over social institutions
that we have created. Often characterized as estrangement from the self and
from the society as a whole. Marx believed that general alienation was
rooted in the loss of control on the part of workers over the nature of the
labor task, and over the products of their labor.
ANDROGYNY. The blending of traditional feminine and masculine traits.
ANOMIA. A condition of anxiety and confusion that exists in individuals who
are not given clear social guidance through social norms.
ANOMIE. A structural condition in which social norms are weak or
ANOMIE THEORY. Robert K. Merton's theory of deviance which holds that many
forms of deviance are caused by a disjunction between society's goals and
the approved means to achieve these goals.
ANIMISM. A type of religion that believes that events in the world are often
caused by the activities of spirits.
ANTHROPOLOGY. A social science, closely linked to sociology, which
concentrates (though not exclusively) on the study of traditional
cultures--particularly hunting and gathering and horticultural
societies--and the evolution of the human species.
APARTHEID. Until recently, the system of strict racial segregation
established in South Africa.
APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY. Technology that is designed with the needs, values,
and capabilities of the user in mind.
ARMS RACE. A competition between nations in which each side attempt to
achieve or maintain military superiority.
ARMS TRADE. The international selling of armaments for profit, carried on by
governments and by private contractors around the world.
ARRANGED MARRIAGE. Marriage based on the family ties rather than the
couple's personal preferences.
ASCRIBED STATUS. A social position that is given at birth (such as race or
ASSIMILATION. A minority group's internalization of the values and norms of
the dominant culture.
AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY. A set of distinctive personality traits,
including conformity, intolerance, and an inability to accept ambiguity.
AUTHORITY. Power that is attached to a position that others perceive as
AUTOCRATIC RULE. Rule by a specific leader, who concentrates power in his
AUTOMATION. The replacement of many workers by machines, as well as the
monitoring and coordination of workers by machines with only minimal
supervision from human beings.
* BALANCE OF POWER. The theory that military conflict can be avoided if
both sides have roughly equivalent military power.
BIOETHICS. Ethical questions relating to life and the biological well-being
of the planet.
BUREAUCRACY. A formal organization marked by a clear hierarchy of authority,
the existence of written rules of procedure, staffed by full-time salaried
officials, and striving for the efficient attainment of organizational
BUREAUCRATIZATION. Refers to the tendency of bureaucracies to refine their
procedures to ever more efficiently attain their goals. More generally,
refers to the process of secondary organizations taking over functions
performed by primary groups (see also INTENSIFICATION, and RATIONALIZATION).
* CAPITALISM. An economic system based on the private ownership of the means
of production and distribution in which the goal is to produce profit.
CAPITALISTS. Those who own companies, or stocks and shares, using these to
generate economic returns or profits.
CARRYING CAPACITY. The number of a species that a particular ecosystem can
support without suffering irreversible deterioration (see also ECOLOGY).
CASH-CROP PRODUCTION. Production of crops for world markets rather than for
consumption by the local population.
CASTE. A closed form of stratification in which an individual's status is
determined by birth and cannot be changed.
CAUSATION. A 'cause and effect' relationship exists wherever a change in one
variable (the independent variable) induces change in another (the dependent
variable). Causal factors in sociology include individual motivation as well
as many external influences on human behavior that often go unrecognized.
CHRONIC DISEASE. Disease of long duration, often not detected in its early
stages, and from which the patient will not recover (such as high blood
pressure or diabetes).
CHURCH. A body of people belonging to an established religious organization.
CITIZEN. A member of a state, having both rights and duties associated with
CIVIL DISORDERS. Social conflict (such as riots) that the government
becomes involved in to restore public order.
CIVIL RELIGION. Secular forms of ritual and belief similar to those involved
in religion--such as political parades or ceremonies.
CIVIL RIGHTS. Legal rights held by all citizens in a given state.
CLAN. A broad extended kin group found in many preindustrial societies.
CLASS. Most sociologists use the term to refer to socioeconomic differences
between groups of individuals which create differences in their life chances
CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS. An objective awareness of the class system, including
the common interests of people within your class.
COGNITION. Human thought processes including perception, reasoning, and
COHABITATION. Living together in a sexual relationship of some permanence,
without being legally married.
COLLECTIVE ACTION. Social action undertaken in a relatively spontaneous way
by a large number of people.
COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE. Large numbers of people engaging in violent social
COLONIALISM. The process whereby nations establish their political and
economic rule over less powerful nations.
COMMODITY RIOTS. Riots in which the focus of violence is the destruction of
COMMUNAL RIOTS. Riots in which the focus of violence is other groups
(usually other race or ethnic groups).
COMMUNICATION. The transmission of information from one individual or group
COMMUNISM. A set of egalitarian political and economic ideas associated with
Karl Marx in which the means of production and distribution system would be
owned by the community. "Communism" as developed by Lenin and
institutionalized throughout Eastern Europe (until 1990) and China bears
little resemblance to Marx's vision.
COMMUNITY. A group of people who share a common sense of identity and
interact with one another on a sustained basis.
COMPARABLE WORTH. The evaluation of jobs dominated by women and those
traditionally dominated by men on the basis of training, skills, and
experience in attempts to equalize wages.
CONFLICT. A clash of interest (sometimes escalating to active struggle)
between individuals, groups or society.
CONFORMITY. Human behavior which follows the established norms of a group or
society. The bulk of human behavior is of a conforming nature as people
accept and internalize the values of their culture or subculture
CONGLOMERATES. Large corporations made up of separate companies producing or
trading in a variety of different products and services. Conglomerates are
usually the result of mergers between companies or take-overs of one firm by
CONSENSUS. Agreement on basic social values by the members of a group or
CONTINGENCY WORK. Temporary, part-time,or "contracted" employment for the
duration of the project. Contingency work is one of the fastest growing
employment sectors in America as it enables employers to expand and contract
their workforce with the vagaries of the market and allows them to avoid
costly fringe benefits and other commitments of long-term employment.
CONTRADICTION. Marx's term to refer to mutually antagonistic tendencies
within institutions or the broader society such as those between profit and
competition within capitalism.
CONTRADICTORY CLASS LOCATIONS. Positions in the class structure which share
characteristics of the class positions both above and below them--the
classic position would be that of a foreman in a factory or a department
chair in academe.
CORE COUNTRIES. The advanced industrial societies of America, Western Europe
and Japan are often referred to as core countries because of their central
position on the world stage (see also PERIPHERY COUNTRIES and SEMI-PERIPHERY
CORPORATIONS. A legally recognized organization set up for profit--the
powers and liabilities of the organization are legally separate from the
owners or the employees.
CORRELATION. The relationship between two variables in which they vary
together--say a correlation between the income of parents and reading
ability among primary school children. Statistical correlation can vary from
-1 to 1 (a 0 indicates no correlation between the variables). A positive
correlation between two variables exists where a high score on one is
associated with a high score on the other. A negative correlation is where a
high score on one variable is associated with a low score on the other.
COUP D'ETAT. An armed takeover of government by a small group of
conspirators--often military officers( See also REBELLION and REVOLUTION) .
CREATED ENVIRONMENT. Human constructions such as buildings, roads,
factories, and private homes.
CRIME. Any action that violates criminal laws established by political
CRISIS MEDICINE. Medical treatment that focuses on curing illness (as
opposed to preventing the occurrence of disease).
CRUDE BIRTH-RATE. A statistical measure representing the number of births
per thousand population within a given year.
CRUDE DEATH-RATE. A statistical measure representing the number of deaths
per thousand population that occur annually in a given population.
CULT. A fragmentary religious group which lacks permanent structure.
CULTURAL LAG. A dysfunction in the sociocultural system caused by change
occurring in one part of the system and the failure of another part of that
system to adjust to the change. An example would be married women engaged in
outside employment and the continuance of the domestic division of labor.
CULTURAL MATERIALISM. A macro-social theory that attempts to account for
the similarities and differences between sociocultural systems by focusing
on the environmental constraints to which human action is subject. Your
instructor uses a variant of this theory constantly (see also SOCIOCULTURAL
CULTURAL PLURALISM. The more or less peaceful coexistence of multiple
subcultures within a given society.
CULTURAL SUPERSTRUCTURE. Sociocultural materialism term used to refer to
the shared symbolic universe within sociocultural systems. It includes such
components as the art, music, dance, rituals, sports, hobbies and the
accumulated knowledge base of the system (see also MENTAL SUPERSTRUCTURE,
and SUPERSTRUCTURE ).
CULTURAL TRANSMISSION. The socialization process whereby the norms and
values of the group are internalized by individuals.
CULTURAL UNIVERSALS. Values or practices shared by all human cultures.
CULTURE. The values, norms and material goods shared by a given group. Your
instructor prefers to restrict the term to refer to symbolic aspects (values
CULTURE OF POVERTY. The view that the poor have a different value system
that contribute to their poverty.
CURATIVE MEDICINE. Another term for Crisis Medicine--the focus on curing
disease rather than its prevention.
CUSTODIAL CARE. Occurs when the focus of health care is on the needs of the
institution (convenience, efficiency) rather than on the needs of the
* DEFENSIVE MEDICINE. The use of widespread medical tests on the part of
physicians in order to avoid possible malpractice suits.
DEFORESTATION. The removal of all trees from an area (see also DEPLETION,
ENVIRONMENT and DESERTIFICATION).
DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION. The movement of mental patients out of hospitals and
into the "community."
DEMOCRACY. A form of government that recognizes the citizen as having the
right to participate in political decision-making, or to elect
representatives to government bodies.
DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION. A stabilization of population level in industrial
society once a certain level of economic prosperity has been reached.
Population is thought to stabilize because of economic incentives on
families to limit the number of children.
DEMOGRAPHY. The scientific study of human population--including size,
growth, movement, density, and composition.
DENSITY. A measure of human crowding usually expressed as the number of
people per square mile.
DEPENDENCY THEORY. The thesis that many Third World countries cannot control
major aspects of their economic life because of the dominance of
DEPLETION. One of the primary constraints of the environment on
sociocultural systems. Refers to the limited supplies of natural resources
(although the limits are unknowable, that there are limits can be
inferred). These limits can often be stretched through the use of
technology (see also POLLUTION, and INTENSIFICATION).
DESERTIFICATION. A fertile region that has been made barren by the
activities of human societies (see also DEPLETION, and POLLUTION).
DETERRENCE THEORY. The prevention of military conflict through the build up
of armaments. The basis of deterrence theory is in ensuring that a potential
aggressor would suffer too many losses to make the initiation of hostilities
worthwhile --M.A.D. or mutually assured destruction was based on this
DEVIANCE. Behaviors which do not conform to significant norms held by most
of the members of a group or society. What is regarded as 'deviant' is
highly variable across societies.
DEVIANT SUBCULTURE. A subculture which has values and norms which differ
substantially from those of the majority in a society.
DIALECTICAL. An interpretation of change emphasizing the clash of opposing
interests and the resulting struggle as the engine of social transformation.
DIFFERENTIAL ASSOCIATION. Theory of crime and delinquency that holds that
deviance is learned as a result of long-term interaction with others.
DIFFERENTIATION. The development of increasing complexity and division of
labor within sociocultural systems.
DIFFUSION. The spread of cultural traits from one sociocultural system to
DISCRIMINATION. The denial of equal access to social resources to people on
the basis of their group membership.
DIVISION OF LABOR. The specialization of work tasks or occupations. All
societies have some division of labor based on age and sex. But with the
development of industrialism the division of labor becomes far more complex
which affects many parts of the sociocultural system.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Violent behavior directed by one member of a household
DOUBLE STANDARD. A code of behavior that is more restrictive on women than
DOUBLING TIME. The time it takes for a particular level of population to
double in size. A fairly accurate doubling time estimate can be computed by
taking the annual growth rate and dividing it by 70. At 2% annual growth
world population (5.5 billion in 1996) will double in size (to 11 billion)
in about 35 years (2031) assuming the annual growth stays constant (see also
DUAL CAREER FAMILY. Families in which both spouses are in the outside labor
DUAL WELFARE SYSTEM. Refers to disguised forms of welfare that go to the
middle class and the rich (also called Wealthfare).
DYSFUNCTION. Refers to an institution's negative impact (or harmful effect)
on the sociocultural system.
* ECOLOGY. The study of the system of relationships between organisms and
ECONOMY. The organization of production and distribution of goods and
services within a sociocultural system.
ECONOMIC INTERDEPENDENCE. Comte and Durkheim both refer to the fact that in
societies with a high division of labor individuals depend more on others to
produce most of the goods they need to sustain their lives.
ECOSYSTEM. A self-sustaining community of plants and animals within a
EDUCATION. The transmission of knowledge to members of society. The
knowledge passed on is in the form of technical and cultural knowledge,
technical and social skills, as well as the norms and values of the society.
EDUCATION SYSTEM. The system of formalized transmission of knowledge and
values operating within a given society.
EGALITARIAN FAMILY. Family arrangement in which power is shared
more-or-less equally by both the wife and the husband.
ELDERLY ABUSE. Acts of violence (or neglect) directed at the elderly (often
by family members).
EMIGRATION. The movement of people out of their native land to other
ENDOGAMY. A system in which an individual may only marry within the same
social category or group.
ENTREPRENEUR. A person who organizes and manages a business firm.
ENTROPY. The entropy law or the second law of thermodynamics--energy can
only be transformed in one direction, from ordered to disordered. Entropy
is also another name for pollution.
ENVIRONMENT. The physical, biological and chemical restraints to which
action is subject.
ENVIRONMENTALISM. Refers to a concern with preserving the physical
environment in the face of the impact of industrialism.
ESTATE. A form of stratification established by law.
ETHNICITY. An ethnic group is one of a common cultural identity, separating
them from other groups around them.
ETHNOCENTRISM. The tendency to judge other cultures by the standards one's
EUTROPHICATION. Oxygen depletion of water due to overfertilization.
EVOLUTION. The change of biological organisms by means of the adaptation to
the demands of the physical environment. Organisms that successfully adapt
pass on their genes to future generations thereby changing the species
EXOGAMY. A system in which an individual may only marry outside their social
category or group.
EXPERIMENT. A research method in which variables can be analyzed under
carefully controlled conditions--usually within an artificial situation
constructed by the researcher.
EXPONENTIAL GROWTH. A geometric rate of progression which has the potential
of producing a very fast rise (or an "explosion") in the numbers of a
population experiencing such growth (see also DOUBLING TIME).
EXTENDED FAMILY. A family group consisting of more than two generations of
the same kinship line living either within the same household or, more
usually in the west, very close to one another.
* FAMILY. A group of individuals related to one another by blood ties,
marriage or adoption. Members of families form an economic unit, the adult
members of which are responsible for the upbringing of children. All
societies involve some form of family, although the form the family takes is
widely variable. In modern industrial societies the main family form is the
nuclear family, although a variety of extended family relationships are also
FAMILY OF ORIENTATION. The family into which an individual is born.
FAMILY OF PROCREATION. The family we create through marriage.
FECUNDITY. The number of children which is biologically possible for a woman
FEEDBACK LOOP. Sociocultural materialism term referring to the dynamic
relationships between the different components of sociocultural systems.
While the theory begins with an examination of infrastructural determinism,
it recognizes that structure and superstructure can play an independent role
in determining the character of the system (see also INFRASTRUCTURAL
FEE-FOR-SERVICE MEDICINE. The provision of medical services in return for a
FEMININITY. The characteristic behaviors expected of women in a given
FEMINISM. Advocacy of the social equality of the sexes.
FERTILITY. The average number of liveborn children produced by women of
childbearing age in a particular society.
FETISHISM. Obsessive attachment or sexual desire directed toward an object.
FIRST WORLD. A term now rarely used that refers to the group of
nation-states that possess advanced industrial economies (see also SECOND
WORLD and THIRD WORLD)
FLEXTIME. An arrangement that allows employees to set their own schedules
(starting and quitting time) whenever possible.
FORCES OF PRODUCTION. Marx's term to refer to the technology used to produce
economic goods in a society.
FORDISM. The assembly line system of production pioneered by Henry Ford. It
should be pointed out that not all industrial processes are based on the
FUNCTIONS. The ways in which a sociocultural trait contributes toward the
maintenance or adaptation of the entire sociocultural system.
FUNCTIONALISM. A theoretical perspective that focuses on the way various
parts of the social system contribute to the continuity of society as well
as the affect the various parts have on one another.
FUNDAMENTALISM. A commitment to, and a belief in, the literal meanings of
FUTURISTS. Those who attempt to forecast the broad parameters of social
life usually from the study of present day trends.
* GANG. An informal group of individuals that engage in common activities,
many of these activities may be outside the law.
GEMEINSCHAFT According to Toennies, social organization based on close and
personal ties and traditional norms and values.
GENDER. Socially defined behavior regarded as appropriate for the members of
GENETIC ENGINEERING. The genetic manipulation of organisms in an effort to
produce desirable characteristics.
GENOCIDE. The systematic, planned annihilation of an ethnic, racial or
GENTRIFICATION. The renovation of poor and working class urban neighborhoods
and the displacement of the original residents.
GESELLSCHAFT. According to Toennies, social organization based on loose
personal ties, self interest, rationalization, and impersonality.
GHETTO A section of a city occupied predominantly by members of a single
racial or ethnic group, usually because of social or economic pressure.
GLOBALIZATION. The development of extensive worldwide patterns of economic
relationships between nations.
GREENHOUSE EFFECT. The accumulation of gasses in the atmosphere that act
like the glass roof of a greenhouse, letting sunlight in but trapping the
GREEN REVOLUTION. The tremendous increase in farming productivity that
occurred beginning in the 1950s with the application of pesticides,
herbicides, chemical fertilizers and the development of plant varieties
especially bred to respond to these chemical inputs.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP). The total value of all goods and services
produced within the boundaries of a particular country in any given year. In
America, for example, this measure includes the value of the production of
Japanese firms within the U.S. but not goods produced by U.S. firms on
Japanese soil. GDP is now the preferred measure of the wealth of nations.
GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT (GNP). The total value of all goods and services
produced by nationals of a particular country in any given year. In America,
for example, this measure did not include the value of the production of
Japanese firms within the U.S. but did include the value of goods and
services produced by U.S. firms on Japanese soil. GDP is now the preferred
measure of the wealth of nations, though GNP is often used in historical
GUERRILLA MOVEMENT. A non-government military organization that engages in
fighting or harassment.
* HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS (HMOs). An organization that provides
health care to patients in return for a fixed annual fee. HMOs therefore
have an interest in limiting the cost of treatment per patient (see also
HETEROSEXUALITY. An orientation in sexual activity towards people of the
HIDDEN CURRICULUM. Behavior or attitudes that are learned at school but
which are not a part of the formal curriculum. For example, aspects of
classism can often be "unintentionally" conveyed in learning materials.
HIGHER EDUCATION. Usually refers to education beyond high school level,
often in colleges or universities.
HIGH-TRUST SYSTEMS. Work settings in which individuals have a great deal of
autonomy and control.
HISTORICAL MATERIALISM. Marx's interpretation that processes of social
change are determined primarily (but not exclusively) by economic factors.
HOMOPHOBIA. Fear, hatred or loathing of homosexuals.
HOMOSEXUALITY. Having sexual preference for persons of the same sex.
HOUSEWORK (DOMESTIC LABOR). Unpaid work carried on in and around the home
such as cooking, cleaning and shopping. Studies show that the bulk of this
labor is carried out by women despite the predominance of dual-income
HUNTING AND GATHERING SOCIETIES. Societies whose subsistence is based
primarily on hunting animals and gathering edible plants.
HYPOTHESIS. A tentative statement about a given state of affairs that
predicts a relationship between the variables, usually put forward as a
basis for empirical testing.
* IATROGENIC. Disease caused by the physician in the course of treating the
IDEAL TYPE. Weber's construct of a 'pure type', constructed by emphasizing
logical or consistent traits of a given social item. The traits are
defining ones, not necessarily desirable ones. Ideal types do not exist
anywhere in reality, rather they are "measures" that we can use in comparing
social phenomena. One example is Weber's ideal type of bureaucratic
organization (which are anything but desirable). More widely used (and
understood) examples would include "ideal democracy" and "ideal capitalism."
IDEOLOGY. Shared ideas or beliefs which serve to justify and support the
interests of a particular group or organizations.
IMMIGRATION The settlement of people into a country in which they were not
IMPERIALISM. The establishing of colonial empires in which domination is
both political and economic.
INCOME. Payment of wages usually earned from work or investments.
INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY. Democratic participation in the workplace.
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION. Economic production carried on through the use of
machinery driven by inanimate sources of power.
INDUSTRIALIZATION The continual expanding application of sophisticated
technology designed to efficiently draw energy and raw materials out of the
environment and fashion them for human use.
INDUSTRIALIZATION OF WAR. The application of industrial production and
bureaucratic organization to warfare.
INFANT MORTALITY RATE. The number of infants who die during the first year
of life, per thousand live births. Infant mortality rates have declined
dramatically in industrial societies.
INFORMAL RELATIONS. Relations in organizations developed on the basis of
personal connections. These ties are often used to pursue organizational
goals instead of the formally recognized procedures.
INFRASTRUCTURAL DETERMINISM. The major principle of sociocultural
materialism (borrowed and modified from Harris' cultural materialism). "The
mode of production and reproduction (probabalistically) determines primary
and secondary group structure, which in turn determines the cultural and
mental superstructure" (see also MODE OF PRODUCTION, MODE OF REPRODUCTION,
PRIMARY GROUP, SECONDARY GROUP, SUPERSTRUCTURE, and FEEDBACK LOOP).
INFRASTRUCTURE. The interface between a sociocultural system and its
environment. In sociocultural materialism it contains the principle
mechanism by which society regulates the amount and type of energy from the
environment (see also MODE OF PRODUCTION, and MODE OF REPRODUCTION).
IN-GROUP. A social group an individual belongs to and identifies with.
INNER CITY. The areas composing the central neighborhoods of industrial
cities which are subject to dilapidation and decay, the more affluent
residents having moved to outlying areas.
INSTINCT. A genetically fixed pattern of complex behavior (that is, beyond
reflex) which appears in all normal animals within a given species. The
behavior of humans is not instinctual.
INSTITUTIONAL CAPITALISM. A condition that exists when large institutions
such as pension plans, banks, and insurance companies hold large shares of
INSTITUTIONAL DISCRIMINATION. Accepted social arrangements that place
minority groups at a disadvantage.
INSTITUTIONAL RACISM. Accepted social arrangements that exclude on the basis
INSURRECTION An organized revolt against civil authority in an attempt to
replace that authority with another.
INTENSIFICATION. The application of ever greater amounts of technology and
labor techniques to increase productivity. Refers to the growth in the
complexity of the mode of production (greater energy expenditures as well as
energy produced/consumed), and population over the course of social
evolution (see also BUREAUCRATIZATION, and RATIONALIZATION).
INTELLIGENCE. Level of intellectual ability in an individual. Also refers
to the gathering of information (defensive, offensive, and industrial
capabilities) about one nation by another.
INTERNAL COLONIALISM. The economic exploitation of a group within a society
whereby their labor is sold cheap and they are made to pay dear for products
INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE. The use of force between individuals to kill,
injure, or abuse.
INTEREST GROUPS. Groups organized to pursue specific interests in the
political arena. The interests of these groups is often economic, but many
are organized around moral concerns. The major activity of interest groups
is lobbying the members of legislative bodies (Congress as well as state
legislators), contributing vast sums to political campaigns, and
increasingly running their own propaganda campaigns to affect the
INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOR. The interdependence of countries which
trade on global markets.
INTERGENERATIONAL MOBILITY. Movement up or down the social hierarchy from
one generation to another.
IQ (INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT). A score attained on tests of symbolic or
reasoning abilities. Most social scientists (excluding psychologists) do not
put much stock in the validity of IQ tests.
* KINSHIP. The network of social relationships which link individuals
through common ancestry, marriage, or adoption.
* LABELING THEORY. A social theory that holds that society's reaction to
certain behaviors is a major factor in defining the self as deviant. People
become `deviant' because certain labels (thief, prostitute, homosexual) are
attached to their behavior by criminal justice authorities and others. The
resulting treatment of the individual pushes them into performing the
deviant role. Also called "societal reaction" theory.
LAISSEZ-FAIRE. One of the main doctrines of capitalism that asserts that
government should not interfere with commerce.
LATENT FUNCTIONS. The unintended consequences of one part of a sociocultural
system. For example, the reform of big city political machines had a lot of
unintended consequences on the governability of American cities (see also
LAW. A written rule established by a political authority and backed by
LEGITIMACY. The generally held belief that a particular social institution
is just and valid.
LEGITIMATION CRISIS. The lack of sufficient commitment on the part of
members to a particular social institution for that organization to function
effectively. Governments that lack legitimation often rely on repression to
continue their rule (which is very inefficient). Legitimation crisis in
other institutions produce parallel responses on the part of administration.
LESBIANISM. Sexual activities and emotional attachments between women.
LIBERAL DEMOCRACY. Refers to those societies based on some form of democracy
coupled with capitalism.
LIFE EXPECTANCY. The number of years a newborn in a particular society can
expect to live. Also refers to the number of further years which people at
any given age can, on average, expect to live.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES. Often called for when treating chronic disease. Rather
than curing the disease, the patient makes changes in lifestyle (nutrition,
exercise, smoking sessation, weight reduction, alleviating stress) that help
to control the disease process.
LIFE-SPAN. The maximum length of life that is biologically possible for a
member of a given species.
LIMITED WAR. Warfare fought principally by a relatively small number of
soldiers to reach specific and politically limited objectives (see also
LITERACY. The ability of individuals to read and write.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge of a local community possessed by individuals who
spend long periods of their lives in them.
LONGEVITY. A long duration of life. Or, a long tenure in an organization.
LOW-TRUST SYSTEMS. Work settings in which individuals have little autonomy
LUDDITES. A term used to brand those who are against "all" modern
technology. The term originally referred to British workmen (about 1811)
who rioted and destroyed textile machinery in the belief that these machines
were contributing to unemployment.
* MACROSOCIOLOGY. The study of large-scale organizations, sociocultural
systems, or the world system of societies.
MAGIC. Rituals which attempt to influence supernatural beings to help
achieve human ends.
MALE INEXPRESSIVENESS. The difficulties men have in talking about their
feelings to others.
MALTHUSIANISM. Thomas Malthus' theory of population dynamics, according to
which population increase inevitably comes up against the 'natural limits'
of food supply. Population grows geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8, 16,. . .) while
food supply grows arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . .). The debate rages
on, there are neo-malthusians and anti-malthusians among us today!
MANAGED CARE. The reorganization of the health care delivery along corporate
lines (see also HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS).
MANAGERIAL CAPITALISM. A change in the control of capitalist enterprises
from owners (which predominated in Marx's day) to control by (very well)
MANIFEST FUNCTION. The intended and known consequences of one part of a
sociocultural system. For example, the reform of big city political machines
had the intended consequence of limiting (relatively) corruption by city
officials (see also LATENT FUNCTION).
MARRIAGE. A socially approved sexual and economic relationship between two
or more individuals.
MARXISM. Contemporary social theory deriving its main elements from Marx's
ideas. Marxist theory strongly emphasizes class struggle and material
MASCULINITY. The characteristic forms of behavior expected of men in any
MASS MEDIA. Forms of communication designed to reach a vast audience without
any personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples would
include newspapers, magazines, video recordings, radio and television
MASTER STATUS. A position that is so central to the identity of the
individual that it overshadows all other statuses.
MATERIALISM. The view that 'material conditions' (usually economic and
technological factors) have the central role in determining social change.
MATRIARCHY. Social organization in which females dominate males.
MATRILINEAL DESCENT. The tracing of kinship through only the female line
(see also PATRILINEAL DESCENT).
MATRILOCALITY. A family residential pattern in which the husband is expected
to live near to the wife's parents (see also NEOLOCALITY).
MEAN. A statistical measure of 'central tendency' or average based on
dividing a total by the number of individual cases involved. The mean is
very sensitive to extreme scores. For example, the average life expectancy
for people in a society with high infant mortality would be a misleading
measure (see also MEDIAN).
MEANS OF PRODUCTION. Marx's term referring to the means whereby the
production of material goods is carried on in a society. Marx included in
this concept both technology and the social relations among the producers
(based on the ownership of that technology).
MECHANIZATION. The use of machinery to replace human labor.
MEDIAN. The number that falls halfway in a range of numbers--the score below
which are half the scores and above which are the other half. The median is
a way of calculating 'central tendency' which is sometimes more useful than
calculating a mean (particularly when many extreme scores are in the
MEDICAID. Government program (federal and state) to provide medical care to
MEDICAL MODEL. The application of the medical perspective in explaining and
treating troublesome human behavior.
MEDICARE. Government health insurance for those over sixty-five.
MEGALOPOLIS. A vast unbroken urban region consisting of two or more central
cities connected by their surrounding suburbs.
MENTAL DISORDER. The inability to psychologically cope effectively with the
demands of day-to-day life. Psychiatrists recognize two general types of
mental disorder, neurosis (milder forms of illness, such as anxiety states)
and psychosis (more serious forms of disturbance, in which individuals lose
touch with reality). The organic and sociocultural basis of various mental
disorders are disputed matters.
MENTAL SUPERSTRUCTURE. Sociocultural materialism term used to refer to
conscious and unconscious motives for human behavior. Borrowed from Max
Weber, there are four basic motivations for human behavior: wertrational
(or value oriented rationality), affective action (action motivated by
emotions), traditional action (action motivated by what Weber calls the
"eternal yesterday"), and zweckrational (goal oriented rational action).
(See also SUPERSTRUCTURE, and CULTURAL SUPERSTRUCTURE).
MICROSOCIOLOGY. The study of small scale patterns of human interaction and
behavior within specific settings.
MIDDLE CLASS. A social class broadly defined occupationally as those working
in white-collar and lower managerial occupations; is sometimes defined by
reference to income levels or subjective identification of the participants
in the study.
MIGRATION. The movement of people from one country or region to another in
order to settle permanently.
MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. A reciprocal relationship (such as the
interchange of personnel) between select business firms and the armed forces
of a society, based on common interests in weapons production.
MILITARY RULE. Government by military leaders.
MILLENARIANISM. Beliefs held by the members of some religious movements that
cataclysmic changes will occur in the near future (often centered around the
year 2000 and the second coming of Christ) heralding the arrival of a new
epoch in human affairs.
MINORITY GROUP (OR ETHNIC MINORITY). A group of people who are defined on
the basis of their ethnicity or race. Because of their distinct physical or
cultural characteristics, they are singled out for unequal treatment within
MIXED ECONOMY. Economies which have major elements of both capitalism and
socialism (such as many economies of Europe).
MODE. The value that appears most often in a given set of data. This can
sometimes be a helpful way of portraying central tendency (see also MEDIAN,
MODE OF PRODUCTION. The technology and the practices employed for expanding
or limiting basic subsistence production, especially the production of food
and other forms of energy. Examples would include the technology of
subsistence, technological/environmental relationships, and work patterns
(see also MODE OF REPRODUCTION, and INFRASTRUCTURE).
MODE OF REPRODUCTION. The technology and practices employed for expanding,
limiting, and maintaining population size. Examples of variables included
are demography, mating patterns, fertility, natality, mortality, nurturance
of infants, contraception, abortion and infanticide (see also MODE OF
PRODUCTION, and INFRASTRUCTURE).
MODERNIZATION. The process of general social change brought about by the
transition from an agrarian to an industrial mode of production.
MONOGAMY. A form of marriage that joins one male and one female at any given
MONOPOLY. A situation in which a single producer dominates in a given
industry or market (see also OLIGOPOLY).
MONOTHEISM. Belief in a single devine power.
MORES. Norms that have strong moral significance, violation of which cause
strong social reaction (murder, sexual molestation of children).
MORTALITY RATE. The number of deaths that occur in a particular population
in a specified period of time (usually a year).
MULTILINEAR EVOLUTION. An interpretation of social evolution that not all
societies pass through predetermined stages of evolutionary
development--there are varying paths of evolutionary change followed by
MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES. A business corporation that operates in two or more
countries--also sometimes referred to as a "transnational."
* NATIONALISM. An individual's internalization of the set of beliefs and
values expressing love, pride and identification with a given nation state.
Ritual and symbols are important tools in fostering nationalism among the
NATION-STATE. The modern state in which a government has sovereign power
within a defined territorial area, and the mass of the population are
NEO-COLONIALISM. The informal dominance of some nations over others by means
of unequal conditions of economic exchange (as between industrial and Third
NEO-LOCALITY. A family residential pattern in which the married couple
lives apart from the place of residence of both the bride's and the
husband's parents (see also MATRILOCALITY).
NON-STATE ACTORS. International agencies, such as the U.N. or the World
Health Organization, which play a part in the world system.
NORMS. Rules and expectations of conduct which either prescribes a given
type of behavior, or forbids it.
NUCLEAR FAMILY. A basic family group consisting of married female and male
parents and dependent children, living away from other relatives.
* OBJECTIVITY. Objectivity means striving as far as possible to reduce or
eliminate bias in the conduct of research.
ORGANIZATION. A large group of individuals that is formally organized for
the purpose of attaining a goal.
OLIGARCHY. Rule by a few within an organization or in the society as a
OLIGOPOLY. A situation in which a small number of firms dominate a given
industry or market. When four or fewer firms supply fifty percent or more of
a given market the effects of oligopoly become apparent. These effects are
reputed to be a rise in price and a lowering of quality because of the
decline of competition (see also MONOPOLY)
OPEN LINEAGE FAMILY. A family system found in preindustrial Europe in which
family relationships are closely intertwined with the local community.
ORGANIZED CRIME. Criminal activities carried out by organizations
established as businesses.
OZONE DEPLETION. Theory that societies production of chloroflourocarbons
and other gasses is depleting the ozone layer that protects plant and animal
life from harmful ultra-violet radiation (see also POLLUTION, and
* PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. A system of democracy in which all members of a
group or community participate collectively in major decisions. Most nation
states today are to large and complex for participatory democracy to be a
feasible form of government.
PASTORAL SOCIETIES. Societies whose subsistence is based on domesticated
animals (see also TRADITIONAL STATES).
PATIENT DUMPING. The practice of only treating patients that can pay
leaving the poor to government or charitable organizations.
PATRIARCHY. Social organization that structures the dominance of men over
PATRILINEAL DESCENT. The practice of tracing kinship only through the male
line (see also MATRILINEAL DESCENT)
PEASANTS. People in agrarian societies who produce food from the land, using
traditional farming methods of plow and animal power. Farm workers in
PEER GROUP. A friendship group with common interests and position composed
of individuals of similar age.
PERIPHERY COUNTRIES. The term refers to countries which have a marginal role
in the world economy and are dependent on 'core' countries in their trading
relationships (see also CORE COUNTRIES and SEMI-PERIPHERY COUNTRIES).
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT. A new occupation that handles many routine medical
problems, thereby allowing the physician to specialize in the more difficult
PLEA BARGAINING. A deal between the prosecution and the accused offender
where the accused will plead guilty in return for a reduced charge.
PLURALIST THEORY. An analysis of politics emphasizing the role of diverse
and competing interest groups in preventing too much power being accumulated
in the hands of political and economic elites.
POLITICS. Attempts to influence governmental activities.
POLITICAL PARTY. An organization of people with similar interests and
attitudes established with the aim of achieving legitimate control of
government and using that power to pursue a specific program.
POLLUTION. One of the principal constraints of the environment. Refers to
the contamination of soil, water, or air by noxious substances (see also
DEPLETION, ENVIRONMENT, and INTENSIFICATION).
POLYANDRY. A form of marriage in which a woman may have more than one
POLYGAMY. A form of marriage in which a person may have more than one
POLYGYNY. A form of marriage in which a man may have more than one wife.
POLYTHEISM. A form of belief in which a person has two or more gods.
POSITIVISM. A philosophical position according to which there are close ties
between the social and natural sciences, which share a common logical
POSTINDUSTRIAL SOCIETY. A society based on the production of services and
information rather than material goods. A notion advocated by those who
believe that the industrial order is passing.
POWER. The ability to achieve aims or further the interests you hold even
when opposed by others.
POWER ELITE. According to C. Wright Mills the power elite are men in the
highest positions of government, corporations and the military who hold
enormous power in modern industrial societies.
PREJUDICE. The holding of unfounded ideas about a group, ideas that are
resistant to change.
PRESTIGE. Social respect accorded to an individual or group because of the
status of their position.
PRIMARY DEVIANCE. The deviant act itself, the violation of a norm.
PRIMARY GROUP. A typically small group of individuals standing in an
enduring personal relationship to one another--examples would include
parents, spouse, or close friends (see also SECONDARY GROUP).
PRIMARY GROUP STRUCTURE. A term used in sociocultural materialism to refer
to structural groups in which members tend to interact on an intimate basis.
They perform many functions such as regulating production, reproduction,
socialization, education, and enforcing social discipline. Examples include
family, community, voluntary organizations, and friendship networks (see
also STRUCTURE, and SECONDARY GROUP STRUCTURE).
PRIMARY LABOR MARKET. The term refers to the economic position of
individuals engaged in occupations that provide secure jobs, and good
benefits and working conditions (see also SECONDARY LABOR MARKET).
PRIMARY SECTOR. That part of a modern economy based on the extraction of
natural resources directly from the natural environment--includes such areas
as mining and agricultural production.
PRIVATE HEALTH CARE. Fee-for-service health care available only to those who
pay the full cost of them.
PROFANE. Elements which belong to the ordinary everyday world rather than
the supernatural (see also SACRED).
PROFESSIONS. Occupations requiring extensive educational qualifications,
with high social prestige, subject to codes of conduct laid down by central
bodies (or professional associations).
PROSTITUTION. Having sex for economic gain.
PSYCHOPATH. A personality type that denotes a lack of moral sense and
concern for others.
PSYCHOSIS. A serious mental disorder that involves a failure to distinguish
between internal and external reality, the affected person cannot function
effectively in social life.
PUBLIC HEALTH CARE. Government funded health-care services available to all
members of the population.
* RACE. A socially defined category of people who share genetically
transmitted physical characteristics.
RACISM. The attributing of characteristics of inferiority to a particular
racial category. Racism is a specific form of prejudice focused on race.
RAPE. The use of force to compel one individual to engage in a sexual act
RATIONALIZATION. Weber's concept to refer to the process by which modes of
precise calculation based on observation and reason increasingly dominate
the social world. Rationalization is a habit of thought that replaces
tradition, emotion, and values as motivators of human conduct. Bureaucracy
is a particular case of rationalization applied to human social organization
(see also BUREAUCRATIZATION).
REBELLION. Rebellions are aimed at removing particular rulers or regimes
rather than bringing about significant structural changes in a society (See
also COUP D'ETAT and REVOLUTION).
RECIDIVISM RATE. The percentage of ex-convicts who are convicted of new
offenses after being released from prison.
RECIPROCITY. A system of the exchange of goods based on social ties.
REFORM MOVEMENT. A social movement concerned to implement a limited program
of social change, say changing the health care system to provide universal
access to care.
RELATIVE DEPRIVATION. A perceived disadvantage in social or economic
standing based on a comparison to others in a society.
RELATIVE POVERTY. Poverty defined by reference to the living standards of
the majority in any given society.
RELIGION. A set of beliefs involving symbols regarded as sacred, together
with ritual practices in which members of the community engage.
REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY. Based on the existence of two or more political
parties, in which voters democratically elect politicians to represent their
RESEARCH METHODS. The diverse strategies used to gather empirical (factual)
material in a systematic way.
RESOCIALIZATION. The relearning of cultural norms and values by mature
individuals usually in the context of a total institution (see also TOTAL
RETIREMENT CENTER. A city or town to which many people move when they
REVOLUTION. A process of change involving the mobilizing of a mass social
movement in order to radically transform the society (see also COUP D'ETAT
RIOTS. An outbreak of collective violence directed against persons, property
RITES OF PASSAGE. Communal rituals that mark the transition from one status
to another (such as a confirmation or a wedding ceremony).
RITUAL. Formalized ceremonial behavior in which the members of a group or
community regularly engage.
* SACRED. Something set apart from the everyday world which inspires
attitudes of awe or reverence among believers (see also PROFANE).
SAMPLING. Taking a small representative part of a population for purposes of
drawing inferences from the analysis of the sample characteristics to the
population as a whole.
SANCTION. A reward for conformity or a punishment for nonconformity that
reinforces socially approved forms of behavior.
SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS. The conjecture that people perceive their world
through the framework of language.
SCAPEGOATING. Blaming, punishing, or stigmatizing a relatively powerless
individual or group for wrongs that were not of their doing.
SCHIZOPHRENIA. A serious mental disturbance in which an individual typically
has delusions or hallucinations and a distorted sense of reality.
SCIENCE. The application of systematic methods of observation and careful
logical analysis; the term also refers to the body of knowledge produced by
the use of the scientific method.
SECOND WORLD. Formerly communist industrial societies of Eastern Europe and
the Soviet Union (see also FIRST WORLD and THIRD WORLD).
SECONDARY GROUP. A group of individuals who do not know each other on a
personal level interacting in pursuit of a goal (see also PRIMARY GROUP).
SECONDARY GROUP STRUCTURE. A term used in sociocultural materialism to
refer to structural groups in which members tend to interact without any
emotional commitment to one another. These organizations are coordinated
through bureaucracies. They perform many functions such as regulating
production, reproduction, socialization, education, and enforcing social
discipline. Examples include governments, parties, military, corporations,
educational institutions, media, service and welfare organizations, and
professional and labor organizations (see also STRUCTURE, and PRIMARY
SECONDARY DEVIANCE. The deviant role behavior that a person adopts as a
result of being labeled as deviant.
SECONDARY LABOR MARKET. Refers to the economic position of individuals
engaged in occupations that provide insecure jobs, poor benefits and
conditions of work (see also PRIMARY LABOR MARKET).
SECULARIZATION. A process of decline in the social influence of religion
(see also RATIONALIZATION).
SELF (or SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS). The individual's awareness of being a distinct
social identity, a person separate from others. Human beings are not born
with self-consciousness, but acquire an awareness of self as a result of
SEMI-PERIPHERY COUNTRIES. Countries that are in the initial stages of
industrialism which provide labor and raw materials to the core countries
(see also CORE COUNTRIES, and PERIPHERY COUNTRIES).
SERIAL MONOGAMY. The process of contracting several marriages in
succession-- marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
SEX. The biological categories of females and males.
SEX ROLE. The gender specific role behavior that a person learns as a
member of a particular society.
SEX STRATIFICATION. The ranking and differential reward system of the sexes.
SEXISM. Beliefs which hold one sex superior to the other thereby justifying
SEXUAL HARASSMENT. The making of persistent unwanted sexual advances by one
individual towards another.
SICK ROLE. Patterns of behavior expected of one who is sick--this role
often exempts the person from their normal role obligations.
SOCIAL CHANGE. Alteration in social structures or culture over time.
SOCIAL DARWINISM. An early and now largely discredited view of social
evolution emphasizing the importance of "survival of the fittest" or
struggle between individuals, groups, or societies as the motor of
development. Social Darwinism became widely popular and was often used to
justify existing inequalities.
SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION. A structural condition of society caused by rapid
change in social institutions, norms, and values.
SOCIAL EVOLUTION. Theories of social change which generally hold that human
societies move from simple to complex forms of organization.
SOCIAL FORCES. The term refers to the fact that society and social
organizations exert an influence on individual human behavior.
SOCIAL GROUPS. Two or more individuals who interact in systematic ways with
one another and share a high degree of common identity. Groups may range in
size from dyads to large-scale societies.
SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS. Major structural entitities in sociocultural systems
that address a basic need of the system. Institutions involve fixed modes of
behavior backed by strong norms and sanctions that tend to be followed by
most members of a society.
SOCIAL MOBILITY. Movement between different social positions within a
SOCIAL MOVEMENT. A large grouping of people who are organized to bring
about, or to block, a a change in the sociocultural system.
SOCIAL REPRODUCTION. The processes which perpetuate characteristics of
social structure over periods of time (see also AGENCIES OF SOCIALIZATION).
SOCIAL ROLE. The expected patterned behavior of an individual occupying a
particular status position.
SOCIALISM. An economic system in which the means of production and
distribution of goods and services are publically owned.
SOCIALIZATION. The lifelong processes through which humans develop an
awareness of social norms and values, and achieve a distinct sense of self.
SOCIETY. A society is a group of people who live in a particular territory,
are subject to a common system of political authority, and share a common
SOCIOBIOLOGY. An approach which attempts to explain the social behavior of
humans in terms of biological principles.
SOCIOCULTURAL MATERIALISM. An ecological-evolutionary world view. A
variant of cultural materialism, it is the world view developed and taught
by your instructor, F. Elwell (see also CULTURAL MATERIALISM).
SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION. A term used by C. Wright Mills that refers to the
application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of
SOCIOLOGY. The study of human behavior and societies, giving particular
emphasis to the industrialized world.
SOLID WASTE. Refers to the accumulation of noxious substances (see also
DEPLETION, ENVIRONMENT, and INTENSIFICATION).
SPLIT LABOR MARKET. A situation in which one group of laborers (usually
defined by race, sex, or ethnicity) is routinely paid less than other
STANDING ARMY. A full-time professional army.
STATE. Government institutions ruling over a given territory, whose
authority is backed by law and the ability to use force.
STATE SOCIETY. A society which possesses a formal apparatus of government.
STATELESS SOCIETY. A society which lacks formal institutions of government.
STATUS. A social position within a society. The term can also refer to the
social honor or prestige which a particular individual or group is accorded
by other members of a society.
STATUS OFFENCES. Acts that are illegal for juveniles but not for adults
(such as running away from home or engaging in sexual activities).
STEP-FAMILIES (BLENDED FAMILIES). Families in which at least one partner has
children from a previous marriage living in the home.
STEREOTYPE. A rigid and inflexible image of the characteristics a group.
Stereotypes attribute these characteristics to all individuals belonging to
that group .
STIGMA. A symbol (or a negative social label) of disgrace that affects a
person's social identity.
STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE (STAR WARS). A program that aims to protect
the U.S. from nuclear attack by developing the capabilities to shoot down
STRATIFICATION. The existence of structured inequalities in life chances
between groups in society.
STRIKE. A temporary work stoppage by a group of employees.
STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT. Unemployed workers whose skills and training have
become "obsolete" and who have little chance of ever finding employment at
comparable paying jobs.
STRUCTURE. Sociological term to refer to all human institutions, groups and
SUBCULTURE. A group within the broader society that has values, norms and
lifestyle distinct from those of the majority.
SUBURBANIZATION. The development of areas of housing outside the political
boundaries of cities.
SUPERSTRUCTURE. A general term used in sociocultural materialism to refer
to the symbolic universe--the shared meanings, ideas, beliefs, values, and
ideologies that people give to the physical and social world. The
superstructure, of course, can be divided into cultural and mental
components (see also CULTURAL SUPERSTRUCTURE, and MENTAL SUPERSTRUCTURE).
SURPLUS VALUE. Marx's concept for the value of an individual's labor power
(calculated by the amount of value the labor contributes to the product
minus the amount of money paid to the worker by the capitalist). The
conventional name for this difference is profit--thus the whole capitalist
system is based on "expropriating" surplus value (or stealing labor) from
SURVEILLANCE. Monitoring the activities of others in order to ensure
compliant behavior. Modern techniques of surveillance include not only video
cameras and microphones but also a whole range of computer surveillance as
SURVEY. A questionnaire or interview.
SYMBOL. One item used to meaningfully represent another--as in the case of a
flag which symbolizes a nation.
SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM. A theoretical approach in sociology which focuses
on social reality as constructed through the daily interaction of
individuals and places strong emphasis on the role of symbols (gestures,
signs, and language) as core elements of this interaction.
* TABOO. A sociocultural prohibition on some act, person, place, animal, or
TAYLORISM. Also referred to as 'scientific management,' a set of ideas
developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor involving simplifying and coordinating
the actions of workers to produce maximum efficiency.
TECHNOLOGY. The application of logic, reason and knowledge to the problems
of exploiting raw materials from the environment. Social technologies
employ the same thought processes in addressing problems of human
organization. Technology involves the creation of material instruments (such
as machines) used in human interaction with nature as well as social
instruments (such as bureaucracy) used in human organization (see also
TERRORISM. The use of violence to achieve political ends. Many would
restrict the definition to include only those acts committed by
non-government groups, but state terrorism is also a major factor in the
TERTIARY SECTOR. That part of an economy that provides services (nursing
homes, psychological counseling, and so forth)--engaged in by both private
and government entitities.
THEORY. Summary statements of general principles which explain regularly
THIRD WORLD. Societies in which industrial production is only developed to a
limited degree. Many of these societies were former colonies of industrial
states. The majority of the world's population (over 70 percent) live in
Third World countries (see also FIRST WORLD and SECOND WORLD).
TOTAL INSTITUTION. An organization in which individuals are isolated for
long periods of time as their lives are controlled and regulated by the
administration of the organization--such as a prison, mental hospital, or
army boot camps (see also RESOCIALIZATION)..
TOTAL WAR. Warfare in which all the resources of the modern state are
committed including a large proportion of the population (both directly and
indirectly), all of the armed forces, and a large proportion of the
industrial sector of the society.
TOTALITARIANISM. Authoritarian government that attempts to regulate every
aspect of sociocultural life.
TOTEMISM. A system of religious belief studied by Durkheim which attributes
sacred qualities to a particular type of animal or plant.
TOTEMS. Symbol associated with a descent group as an identifying insignia.
TRADING NETWORKS. Patterns of economic exchange between companies or
TRADITIONAL STATES. Societies in which the production base is agriculture or
pastoralism (see also AGRARIAN SOCIETIES and PASTORAL SOCIETIES)
TRANSFORMATIVE MOVEMENT. A social movement to produce major social change in
TRANSITIONAL CLASSES. Marx's term to refer to social classes based on
previous relations of production which linger on in the beginning stages a
new one--such as peasants or landowners of a feudal system which has become
TRANSNATIONAL COMPANIES. See MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES.
* UNCONSCIOUS. Freudian concept refering to motives and ideas unavailable to
the conscious mind of the individual.
UNDERCLASS. A class of individuals in mature industrial societies situated
at the bottom of the class system who have been systematically excluded from
participation in economic life. The underclass is normally composed of
people from ethnic or minority groups.
UNILINEAR EVOLUTION. A largely discredited view of social evolution
according to which all societies pass through the same stages of
UNION. A social organization set up to represent the worker's interests in
both the workplace and in the broader society as well.
UPPER CLASS. A social class roughly composed of the more affluent members of
society, especially those who have great wealth, control over businesses or
hold large numbers of stocks and shares.
URBAN RENEWAL. Governmental programs of encouraging the renovation of
deteriorating city neighborhoods through the renovation or destruction of
old buildings and the construction of new ones.
URBAN ECOLOGY. An analysis of urban life that examines the relationship
between the city and its physical surroundings--based on an analogy with the
adjustment of plants and organisms to the physical environment.
URBANIZATION. The increasing concentration of the human population into
* VALUES. Culturally defined standards held by human individuals or groups
about what is desirable, proper, beautiful, good or bad that serve as broad
guidelines for social life.
VARIABLE. A characteristic that varies in value or magnitude along which an
object, individual or group may be categorized, such as income or age.
VERTICAL MOBILITY. Movement up or down a social stratification system (see
VESTED INTEREST. An expectation of private gain that often underlies the
expressed interest in a public issue.
VICTIMLESS CRIME. Violation of law in which there is no other person (aside
from the offender) victimized, such as drug-taking or illegal gambling.
* WELFARE. Government aid (in the form of services and money) to the poor.
WEALTH. Accumulated money and material possessions controlled by an
individual, group or organization.
WEALTHFARE. Government aid to the upper and middle classes. Often times
this aid is disguised in the form of tax breaks (a deduction for interest on
home mortgages) or subsidised services (higher education).
WELFARE STATE. A government system which provides a range of human services
for its citizens.
WHITE-COLLAR CRIME. Criminal activities carried out by white-collar or
professional workers in the course of their jobs.
WORKING CLASS. A social class of industrial societies broadly composed of
people involved in manual occupation. The bulk of these jobs are unskilled,
poorly paid and provide few benefits or job security.
WORLD SYSTEM THEORY. Immanuel Wallerstein's theoretical approach which
analyzes societies in terms of their position within global systems.
* ZERO POPULATION GROWTH (ZPG). Population stability achieved when each
woman has no more than two children.
ZWECKRATIONAL. Rational action in relation to a goal. From Max Weber (the
greatest sociologist who ever lived) and used extensively in his theory of
social action (see also RATIONALIZATION, and MENTAL SUPERSTRUCTURE)
Last updated January 1998, ©Frank Elwell
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