Glossary for Sociology 100

Dr. C. Michael Botterweck

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Achieved status. The status or position in society that one achieves through his/her own efforts.

Acculturation. The voluntary adoption of the norms, values and lifestyle of the dominant culture.

Affirmative action. Governmental policy and programs that grant preference to minorities in order to make-up for past and
present discrimination. The purpose of affirmative action is to achieve economic equality.

Agnosticism. A belief that does not deny or affirm the existence of a god.

Alienation. A Marxian concept describing the process whereby workers are robbed of their creativity and imagination through

Altruistic suicide. Emile DurkheimÔs term for a person who sacrifices his/her life for the good of the group.

Androgyny. A gender role that combines male and female characteristics.

Animism. A belief that supernatural being or beings, spirits, or deceased ancestors actively exist in the bodies of present-day
people or in creatures or physical objects in the natural environment.

Anomic suicide. Emile DurkheimÔs term for suicides that are the result of an absence of norms in society.

Anomie. A state of normlessness characterized by the loss of a sense of meaning and detachment from others in the society.

Atheism. The belief that God does not exist.

Ascribed status. The status that comes to an individual through birth or through a condition over which he/she has no control

Assimilation. The process of absorption into the dominant culture.

Authoritative leadership. An individual who exercises leadership in a strong and individual fashion.

Authority. The right to exercise power.

Baby Boomers. An extraordinarily large cohort born in the United States during the period of time following World War II and lasting 15 years.

Barter. An economic exchange of one item for another. No money is involved in the transaction.

Battered wife syndrome. A post traumatic stress disorder cause by repeated physical abuse. It has been used as a legal
defense by women accused of murdering their abusers.

Behaviorism. A theory that argues that pattern behavior is not biologically determined, but learned.

Bias theory. A theory that blames prejudice for the secondary status of minority groups.

Birth cohort. The number of people born in a specific year.

Birthrates. The average number of children born to women.

Born again. A Christian concept held by some religions that one must accepting Jesus Christ as savior in order to enter heaven.  Generally applied, this marks a life-transforming period for the individual and is accompanied by ritual rights of passage.

Bourgeoisie. A term meaning capitalist employed by Karl Marx.

Bureaucracy. A formal organization with clear objectives and a hierarchy of administrators who possess the power to achieve
organizational goals. Within the organization there is an established division of labor, rules of conduct, and means to keep

Capitalism. An economic system founded by Adam Smith whose central features are private property, profit, and competition.  Private property means that all (or almost all) property, from land to the means of production (industry), is owned privately by individuals. The motivating force behind capitalism is the desire to create profit through competition.

Charismatic authority. Authority that derives its source of power from the magnetic personality of the leader.

Checks and balances. A structural feature of government in the United States where all three branches of
government÷legislative, executive, and judicial÷are dependent upon one another to carry out their individual responsibilities.

Church. A formal organization devoted to religious belief and worship.

Civil rights. Rights that ensure that citizens are protected from harm by other citizens of the state and from the government itself.

Class. A stratification system in which members of a society are hierarchically ranked according to money, education, race, etc.

Class consciousness. A collective awareness by workers that they have been manipulated by the ideology of the elite to serve
their personal interests.

Coalition. A government where two or more political parties join forces to form a voting majority in the legislative branch.
Having formed this majority the coalition is then termed "the government."

Cohabitation. A household in which those living together are not married or related.

Cohort. A demographic term for group.

Collective conscience. The shared common values, outlooks, interpretations of events, languages and dialects of a society or
social group.

Commune. A small group of individual who voluntarily live together and collectively share resources and work.

Communism. An economic system that calls for complete equality, a communal sharing of all goods, and in its ultimate form, an absence of government.

Concept. A term use to describe or refer to an object in terms of specific qualities, traits, and attributes.

Constitutionalism. A feature of the American system of government whereby power is exercised via a written constitution and
any attempt to exercise power outside of the bounds of the constitution is unlawful.

Coercive organization. An organization to which membership is not voluntary. An example of a coercive organization is a

Correlation. The relationship between two variables where change in one is associated with change in the other.

Counterculture. A culture created in opposition to the dominant culture.

Creeping credentialism. Requiring degrees and certification for jobs in which education is unrelated to the work.

Crude divorce rate. Measures the number of divorces per 1,000 of the total population. This measure includes many
individuals who are not eligible for divorce due to their age or non-married status.

Cultural diversity. The differences found among cultures.

Cultural universals. A concept referring to social structures and events that seem to be shared across cultures.

Culture. A term referring to all of the shared knowledge, values, rules of behavior, and the objects that make-up the way of life
of a people.

Cultural lag. A condition created when changes in the material culture occur at a faster pace than the non-material culture.

Cultural relativity. An attempt to understand the beliefs and practices of a people in the context of their culture.

Culture of poverty. A theory associated with victim-blame that holds that individuals and groups in poverty are responsible for
their own plight and maintains that the central problem is that years of dependency and lower-class values lead to failure.

Death rate. The number of deaths per 1000 people per year.

Decertification. The process of forcing union representation out of corporations.

De facto segregation. The separation of races by residential patterns.

De jure segregation. The separation of races by law.

Deferred gratification. The willingness to put off the satisfaction of present desires in order for a greater gain in the future.

Democratic leadership. A leader that seeks the advice and input from members of the group.

Demography. The study of human populations.

Deviance. Behavior or characteristics that violate important social norms.

Dharma. A belief in a moral force with which all Hindus must act in concert.

Dictatorship of the proletariat. A Marxian theory describing the political events following a worker revolution. According to
Marx, this inevitable revolution would ultimately lead to the creation of a classless, communist society characterized by
harmony and equality.

Direct Democracy. The purest form of a democratic government in which all citizens participate in all governmental functions
and decisions.

Discrimination. When an individual acts upon his/her prejudice by denying rights and benefits to others.

Domestic partnership. The legal recognition of an unwed couple whose purpose is to grant the same rights to unwed couples
that is enjoyed by those legally married.

Dual-career marriage. A marriage where both partners are employed outside of the home.

Dyad. A two-person group.

Dysfunction consequence. An unintended and opposite consequence of an action.

Educational attainment. The amount of formal education a person has achieved.

Egalitarianism. A belief in the equality of all people.

Ego. The part of the subconscious that Freud believed regulates and balances the needs of the id and superego.

Egoistic suicide. Emile DurkheimÔs description of people who take their own life due to the lack of ties to a group or the

Elitist position. A position suggesting that governmental power is exercised by a few elite individuals who are interchangeably
members of the military, big business, and the government for the sole purpose of perpetuating their own interests.

Ethnicity. A group of people whom share a common cultural heritage such as language, geographic origins, religion, values,
food and dress.

Ethnocentrism. A belief that oneÔs own culture is superior to that of others.

Eurocentrism. A belief that European culture is superior to all other world cultures.

Experimental group. The group in a study that is subjected to the independent variable. (The variable being investigated.)

Extended family. Family arrangement with three or more generations (grandparents, parents and children). The extended family was the dominant form in pre-industrial societies.

False consciousness. A Marxian theory describing the process whereby the worker is led to believe that his/her share in life is the outcome of a just and fair competitive system÷capitalism.

Feminist. One who advocates social and economic equality for women in opposition to the male dominated system of

Feminization of poverty. The fact that more women end up below the poverty line due to discriminatory behavior in societyÔs

Fertility rates. A computation of how many births per lifetime the average woman will have.

Folkways. Norms that constitute the customary patterns of our lives.

Fordism. A management of labor developed by Henry Ford linking mass production to mass markets.

Formal labor market. Work that produces pay.

Formal organization. A secondary group charged with the responsibility of achieving explicit objectives.

Gay. A term used to identify a male homosexual.

Gender. The socially constructed attitudes, meanings, beliefs, and behaviors associated with the sex differences of being born
male or female that are learned through the process of socialization.

Gender identity. Thinking of oneself as either male or female in accordance with the cultural norms associated with those roles.

Gender roles. Sex roles that are learned and reinforced through associated behaviors and attitudes with the help of socializing
agents such as family, schools, peers, media, politics, and religion.

Global wage. A condition of the global economy in which wages are forced to the lowest possible denominator through
worldwide competition for jobs.

Government crime. Crimes committed by the government.

Grim Rule of Three. A phrase used to describe the life chances of children in poverty. Specifically it details how the children of the poor are three time more likely to suffer diseases and death than those of the non-poor.

Group. Collection of people whom consciously and regularly interact with each other.

Group cohesion. The strength of the bond uniting group members.

Group conformity. The tendency of the members of the group to follow rules and expected behaviors.

Group dynamics. A term describing how a group works.

Group polarization. The process through which a group arrives at a more extreme decision than any one member would
support individually.

Groupthink. The process whereby a group arrives at a decision that they privately know is wrong, but feel that they cannot

Hermaphrodite. A person with a combination of male and female internal and external genitalia.

Heterosexuality. Refers to being emotionally and/or sexually attracted to the opposite sex.

Historical materialism. A Marxian theory that all values and social institutions flow from the economy.

Homophobia. The irrational fear of homosexuals.

Homosexuality. Refers to being emotionally and/or sexually attracted to the same sex.

Hypothesis. A statement of prediction that sets forth the basis for testing the relationship between variables in an attempt to link theory to reality.

Id. FreudÔs term for the pleasure-seeking part of our subconscious that represents our innate drives.

Ideal culture. The beliefs, values, and attitudes that the members of a culture hold but do not necessarily follow.

Independent variable. In a research study, the variable manipulated to study its affect on other (dependent) variables.

Individual blame theories. Theories that essentially blame individuals for their own shortcomings or failures.

Individual racism. Overt and direct forms of racism in which individuals hold extreme prejudices and act in discriminatory ways.

Informal labor market. Work that does not produce pay such as volunteerism, housework and childcare.

Ingroup. Groups with which we identify and to which we are strongly attached and loyal to.

Innovations. A concept created by Robert Merton to describe the way norms assist in achieving goals.

Instincts. The inborn skills of creatures.

Institutional racism. A form of racism deeply embedded in the customs and operational practices of social institutions that
serves as an obstacle to minorities and keeps them from moving out of their subordinate positions and into the economic and
social mainstream.

Intelligence. Our capacity for intellectual and mental achievement.

Interest group. A collection of people who have organized to influence government action and legislation.

Judicial review. The right of the judicial branch to strike down an act of Congress if, in the opinion of the court, it conflicts with the Constitution.

Karma. A belief that all beings of life÷gods included÷are subject to the same hopeless cycle of pain, suffering, and rebirth.

Labeling. The identification or stereotyping individuals or groups in a negative light that keeps them from achieving their

Labor power. A term used by Karl Marx to describe the aggregate of mental and physical capabilities which workers use to
create products.

Laissez-faire leadership. A leader who exercises minimal control.

Language. A shared system of symbols used in verbal and written communication.

Law. A binding custom or practice of society that is codified (written down) and enforced by legitimate governmental authority.

Leader. Someone who exercises formal or informal influence over those within the group.

Learning. The process of acquiring knowledge about the world and society.

Legal-rational authority. Where the right to exercise power is derived from the members of a society who create positions of
authority. In such authority, rules are created which limit the scope of power of those occupying the powerful positions.

Lesbian. A term used to identify a female homosexual.

Life expectancy. The average number of years of life remaining for persons of a given age.

Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. A proposition that language acts as a mental filter, shaping the way we see the world.

Looking glass-self. A theory advanced by Charles Horton Cooley stating that personality formation is a matter of interpreting
other peopleÔs perceptions of how we look and act.

Macro level research. Investigation of large-scale social interactions including social institutions, making cross-cultural
comparisons, and studying the effects of global issues.

Malthusian theory. A theory advanced by Thomas Malthus that held that food production increased arithmetically (from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 and so forth) while population grew geometrically (from 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 and so forth).

Manifest consequences. The intended consequence of an action.

Marriage. A socially and legally approve mating arrangement.

Mass education. The widespread expansion of formal education in the larger society.

Master status. The most important of all of our statuses as it defines who we are to other members of society.

Material culture. A term referring to all the things that people make and use in society.

Matriarchy. A stratification system favoring women.

Means of production. The ability to produce goods. Generally applied to industrial societies.

Mechanical solidarity. Strong social ties and shared values that are based in common beliefs.

Meritocracy. A belief that rewards should be allocated commensurate with talent, effort and output.

Micro level research. Investigations of small-scale social interactions including relationships between individuals, friends,
co-workers, students, family and others.

Military juntas. A government run by the military. Typically, military juntas come to power by means of a coup.

Minority group. A status reserved for those groups singled out by the dominant or more powerful members of society for
differential treatment.

Modeling. The attempt to imitate behavior of others.

Monarchy. A government in which power is passed down from generation to generation on the basis of family lineage. The
leader is all-powerful and any rights granted to citizens are the sole discretion of the leader.

Monogamy. The marriage of one man to one woman.

Monopoly. A condition where, for a particular product, one firm dominates the world or regional market.

Monotheism. The belief in the existence of only one god.

Moral panics. Responses to exaggerated fears and concerns of a particular group in society.

Mores. Strongly held beliefs about acceptable behavior.

Morality rate. A measure of the number of deaths per 1000 people within a specific age group.

Multiculturalism. A concept referring to the diversity of values in society.

Multinational corporation. A firm that owns and manages economic units in two or more countries.

Nationalism. A shared sense of identification that stems from a commitment to a common ideology and shared values.

Nature. In the "nature versus nurture" expression it refers to what we bring into the world at birth.

Norms. The rules of society that prescribe how its members are to behave in given situations.

Normative organizations. An organization established to pursue an altruistic (worthy) objective. One example of a normative
organization would be MADD.

Nuclear family. Family structure containing only two generations÷parents and children.

Nurture. In the "nature versus nurture" expression it refers to what we learn or gain through social interaction.

Objective knowledge. An area of knowledge that refers to that type of information that is considered factual.

Oligarchies. A form of government in which the exercise of power is divided among a small group.

Oligopoly. A situation that exists when a few firms dominate the world market for a particular product.

Organic solidarity. Social ties based on a functional interdependence of the members of society.

Outgroup. As opposed to ingroup, one toward which we express resentment and competition, and sometimes outright hatred.

Patriarchy. A stratification system favoring men.

Pattern. Refers to a regular and systematic repetition of the same behavior(s) not occurring by chance.

Peer groups. A social group containing individuals who are similar in age or social position.

Peter principle. A bureaucratic principle that suggests that workers are promoted within an organization until they reach a level
of incompetence.

Pluralist perspective. A view that holds that government power is spread among a plurality of competing groups from all
corners of the society: business, labor, farmers, doctors, educators, women, racial minorities, etc.

Polyandry. Marital arrangement where a woman has more than one husband.

Polygamy. A form of marriage allowing for more than one marriage partner.

Polygyny. Marital arrangement where one man is married to two or more women at the same time.

Political rights. Rights that guarantee citizens the opportunity to participate in the political process.

Political socialization. The means by which individuals acquire political beliefs and values.

Polytheism. The belief in many gods and/or goddesses.

Poverty. According to the government, any individual or household that spends more than one-third of their after-tax income
on food.

Power. The ability to obtain through a variety of means what one wants from others.

Predestination. A belief that people were pre-selected by God for salvation or damnation.

Primary deviance. An act of deviance by an individual that either is not discovered or is excused.

Primary group. The most important of our group memberships. An example would be our family.

Primary labor market. Jobs that have been traditionally associated with white-collar work, are secure, offer good benefits and
pay, and the opportunity for advancement and training.

Primary socialization. The socialization we received in small primary groups such as the family.

Profane. That which relates to everyday life.

Protestant Work Ethic. Max WeberÔs term describing the ideal of a hard working, self-denying, and high moral life that was
essential to the development of capitalism.

Race. A cultural perception that an individual belongs to a group of people who others believe to be physically and genetically unique.

Racism. A term describing a particular type of prejudice and discrimination in which individuals believe that people are divided
into distinct groups based upon heredity.

Rationalization. A term developed by Max Weber to describe the process whereby traditional thinking (craftsmanship) was
replaced by thinking dominated by efficiency, control, and effectiveness in goal accomplishment.

Real culture. The actual beliefs, values, and practices of society members.

Rebel. According to Merton, a person who not only disagrees with the values and norms of society, but also deliberately
attempts to destroy the system and replace it with a new one.

Recidivism. The probability that those incarcerated and then released are likely to return to prison for the commission of new

Reference group. A group used to help us define our identity. Examples of reference groups are family, friends, and work

Refined divorce rate. Measures the number of divorces in a year for every 1,000 married women over age 15.

Reform schools. Institutions for the incarceration and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.

Religion. A unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred ideology.

Religiosity. A sociological concept referring to the importance of religion in individuals lives.

Representative Democracy. A government in which citizens elect or appoint others to make decisions for them.

Resocialization. The process of stripping away old values and patterns of behavior so that new ones may be introduced.
Occurs most frequently in what is termed the "total institution."

Retreatists. Those who refuse to follow the socially accepted means to achieve their goals.

Ritualism. A practice by people who conscientiously follow the norms of society even when there is no hope that they will
achieve their goals via those norms.

Risky behavior. Used in a sexual sense, it implies behavior or actions that may be sincere and seemingly innocent but by design send signals that may be misinterpreted by others.

Role. A set of expected behaviors attached to a status.

Role conflict. A situation in which two or more roles, possibly work and family, occupied by an individual are in conflict.

Role strain. A condition that results when it is not possible to successfully fulfill all the expectations of a role.

Role taking process. Advanced by George Herbert Mead, this theory states that personality formation is the product of social
interaction occurring at different life ages by taking on the roles of others.

Sample. Individuals chosen to represent the population in a research study.

Schools. Specific institutions expressly designed to teach individuals through professional instruction.

Scientific method. A systematic method of investigation used in research.

Secondary deviance. If an individual is caught and punished while in the process of deviant behavior, he/she may be labeled as
deviant and often, as a result, will continue the deviance.

Secondary groups. These groups are large, impersonal, and formal. An example would be a political interest group or a
professional occupational group.

Secondary labor market. The market in which contingent or part-time workers are employed.

Secularization. The process whereby the power and influence of religious thought and organizations is lessened in favor of
worldly thought.

Self-fulfilling prophecy. A concept identified by Robert Merton that suggests that behavior can result simply because it was
predicted by others.

Separation of Powers. An American structural concept of government in which power is horizontally and vertically divided so
that no one unit of government becomes too powerful.

Serial monogamy. A process whereby individuals marry more than one person in the course of their lifetime. Each new
marriage, however, follows the end of the previous one.

Sex. Biological characteristics that distinguish males from females.

Sex ratio. A ratio arrived at by dividing the number of males by the number of females.

Sexual harassment. Unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexuality. Refers to how society views sex and how we feel about ourselves as sexual beings.

Shamans. The individual in a preliterate tribe who attempts to heal group members by calling upon spirits to help control or heal

Situational constraints. Obstacles encountered by the poor that prevent their upward social mobility.

Social aggregate. A collection of people who find themselves gathered together at a particular time and location but who do not interact or share a common sense of identity. An example would be a group of people waiting for a train.

Social category. A collection of people who share something in common but do not interact with each other. An example
would be all the students in the United States.

Social channeling. A social conflict theory describing how upper class parents prepare their children for positions of wealth and power.

Social Darwinism. A theory stating that individuals are born with different abilities÷some leading to success, others leading to

Social dynamics. The forces in society that provide for change and/or conflict.

Social mobility. The movement of an individual to another social or status group.

Social networks. The links formed between individuals, families, cliques, and other groups.

Social statics. Forces in society that attempt to maintain the existing status quo (that which currently exists).

Social solidarity. The social bonds that unite a society.

Social Stratification. The ranking of individuals in a hierarchy system according to a distribution of economic resources, social
statuses, and power.

Social structure. How society is organized and constructed.

Socialism. An economic system in which the government (the people as a collective) owns all or most of the property. The
central feature of socialism is that the government plans for the production of goods and use of resources for the benefit of all

Society. A self-contained group of humans who share a common territory, and have organized themselves for the purpose of
survival and perpetuation of a certain way of life.

Sociobiology. A discipline of sociology that assigns a large role to biology (nature) in explaining behavior and the development
of personality.

Sociological imagination. A term developed by C. Wright Mills to describe a way of thinking that provides individuals with an
understanding of how societal forces shape our lives.

Sociology. The scientific and systematic study of society and social interaction.

State. An entity possessing the legitimate monopoly over the use of force within its territory.

Status. The position that one holds in a group or society.

Status offenses. Violation of norms associated with status.

Status quo. A term used to describe that which currently exists. In a sociological sense, it generally applies to maintaining or
changing the existing social structure and values.

Stereotyping. A process whereby a trait, usually negative, is generalized to all members of a particular group.

Subculture. A group that while identifying with a substantial portion of the dominant culture holds values, beliefs, and traits and
customs that is distinct and separate from the rest of society.

Subjective knowledge. Personal knowledge that is dependent upon and interpreted by our personal experience.

Superego. Freudian term for that part of the subconscious that contains all teachings of society and that insists that we follow
the societal rules.

Surplus value. This was MarxÔs term for profit in the capitalistic system.

Symbol. Something having cultural significance and thereby the capacity to elicit a meaningful response.

System blame theories. Theories that blame society and its institutions for social problems such as racism gender inequality, and poverty.

Taboos. A classification of mores that refer to forbidden or unthinkable behavior.

Taylorism. A principle of work management in which work is broken down into the smallest and most efficient components for

Technology. The tools and machines used by society to achieve greater practical application of knowledge to increase power
and conserve human energy.

Theory. A systematic explanation for observations that relate to a particular aspect of life such as poverty, crime, social class,
status, and many others.

Total institutions. Formal institutions designed for the purpose of resocializing individuals.

Totalitarian governments. Authoritative governments that attempt to control every aspect of peopleÔs lives.

Totemism. A religious belief of many preliterate societies where animals were seen as both gods and ancestors.

Tracking. The process of placing students into various categories based on their perceived or assumed academic ability.

Traditional authority. Authority where rule is legitimized by birthright or because the religion of the society has conferred upon
the leader a divine right.

Transsexuals. People who feel they are one sex, though biologically they are the other.

Transvestitism. The practice of wearing clothing appropriate to the opposite sex.

Triad. A three person group.

Underclass. A term used to describe those in poverty.

Underemployment. A condition of having to work part-time when full-time work is desired and sought after.

Utilitarian organizations. Organizations established for the purpose of economic gain.

Validity. In a research study, validity refers to the fact that the researcher is indeed measuring what he/she intends to measure.

Values. A common set of beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.

Variable. Any item that can be measured and represent different values.

Virtual workplace. Workplace that is linked electronically to anywhere in the world rather than physically to a specific site of

Voucher. A grant of tax dollars allocated to parents for sending their children to the private or public school of their choice.

War on Poverty. A term used to describe an overall effort of the government through federal programs to eliminate poverty in the 1960s.

Wealth. Describes all economic assets owned by an individual.

Wealthfare. Governmental aid or benefits given to the wealthy.

White collar crimes. Crimes committed by professionals and other white-collar workers.

White ethnics. Those who identify their ancestry as originating in nations predominately populated by white people.

White flight. The migration of whites from all-white communities to escape forced integration.

Work. An activity that produces something of economic value.

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