Discovering Sociology

by Mark McCormack, Eric Anderson, Kimberly Jamie and Matthew David



Use the alphabetical list below to find words beginning with each letter.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

TERMS DEFINITIONS
Age of Enlightenment a period where rationality and logic became the way in which societies were organized
Agency the ability of individuals in society to act of their own free will. This is oftencontrasted with structure, which constrains individuals to act in prescribed ways
Agrarian society a society whose economy is based on producing and maintaining crops and farmland
Anomie a condition felt by people in societies where there is an absence of norms or values
Anonymity the guarantee given to research participants that they will not be identifiable in any publications about the research
Automation the introduction of automatic equipment (robots, machines and computers) in a manufacturing or other work environment
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Black feminist thought a body of writing that argues for recognition of issues of class, gender and sexuality alongside race
Body work also known as body labour, it refers to the work individuals exert on their own bodies as well as paid work that is performed on other people's bodies
Bourgeoisie a term used by Marx for the class in a capitalist society who own the means of production and most of that society's wealth
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Capitalism a society whose trade and industry is owned by private citizens or corporations who seek to maximize profit through competition
Case study methods in-depth investigation into individual cases rather than comparing variables from multiple cases
Charmed circle a concept developed by Rubin to visualize which sexual acts are esteemed and which are stigmatized
Class a way society is divided based on social and economic status
Coach effect where people exaggerate a claim because of the presence of the researcher
Colonialism the process by which explorers and settlers take political control of another country and exploit it economically
Commodification the process of treating something as a commodity
Communism a theory of society in which all property is owned by the community
Comparative methods research focused on at least two locations to identify similarities and differences between them. Comparison can be made between large cross‑sectional data sets or between in-depth cases
Concepts abstract ways of defining particular issues
Confidentiality refers to information about a participant that cannot be shared without their express consent
Conflict theories theories that are critical of society and seek to contest oppressive social norms
Consumer self the notion that people's identities are constructed and consolidated through consumerism (the purchasing of goods)
Covert research research where participants are not told they are part of a study
Critical race theory (CRT) a set of critical theories that analyse society primarily through a race lens
Critical theory an influential set of theories that critique the social world from a philosophical perspective
Cross-sectional research research design that collects data at one point in time, and so is best suited to correlations, but from which causes can sometimes be tentatively suggested
Crowds groups of people congregated together, normally in response to a particular event
Cultural capital non-financial assets that can promote social mobility
Culture people's common goals and their ways of thinking and acting
Culture industry the notion that culture is the commodification of activities that reproduces power inequality by rendering the masses passive
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Data 'information' that can be analysed
Deceptive research research where participants are told the study is about something other than its real aims
Deductive theory a theory that is developed from a set of hypotheses that are then tested
Discourse an institutionalized or societally condoned way of speaking that controls the ways in which a topic can be discussed
Disembedded how social practices that were once grounded in the local context are no longer restricted by place and time
Double consciousness the notion of having two conflicting identities, in this case because of racism in society
Double hermeneutic the idea that people's knowledge of sociology alters how they understand the world, thus changing the world
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Embodiment the process by which meaning and values are placed onto people's bodies
Emotional labour work that involves emotions rather than just doing activities
Empiricism the idea that knowledge is derived from our senses
Employability how attractive individuals are to employers and, by extension, how easy it will be to get a job
Ethics moral principles and a code of conduct that govern researcher's behaviours when doing their jobs
Ethnicity a socially created system of classifying people on the basis of cultural or nationality differences
Evidence the data required to answer a particular research question
Evidence-based policy a paradigm in which policy is based on research, supposedly free from dogma or ideology
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Fake news false stories that are intentionally spread to misinform
False consciousness used by Marx to describe the state of mind where the proletariat are unaware of the inequality of their situation and the oppression that they suffer because class and wealth stratification is thought to be the natural order of social life
Formal institutions rules, such as the law, that are enforced by official agencies
Free market a system where goods and services are exchanged for money, ostensibly with no governmental control
Free press the idea that people are allowed to circulate ideas in writing without being censored by government
Functional specialisation where trust in experts is granted through institutional frameworks rather than direct experience
Functionalism the theoretical perspective that all aspects of society serve a function necessary for the survival of that society
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Generalizability the extent to which the findings from a sample can be said to be true of the population that the sample is assumed to represent. Generalizability is sometimes called external validity
Globalization the process by which countries have become increasingly interconnected, with individual experiences and social phenomena traversing traditional economic, geographic and social boundaries
Great transformation the social and political changes that saw Western societies shift to capitalist modes of production
Going native when a researcher adopts the views of their participants without realizing, and loses an objective perspective
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Habitus the physical embodiment of cultural capital
Historical materialism the belief that the social world can be explained through material conditions
Human agency the capacity of individuals to act independently and make their own choices
Hypothesis a specific statement or prediction that can be tested empirically
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Identity the sense of self or how one gives meaning to self in a group
Individualization thesis the notion that the act of making choices about one's life is where self-worth is found
Inductive theory a theory that emerges from analysis of data
Industrial Revolution the societal transition where technological change saw the economy transformed from an agricultural one to one based on manufacturing goods
Industrialization the process by which the economy changes from a reliance on agriculture to manufacturing and the production of goods
Informal institutions cultural customs and taboos, where rules are not written and enforced but are important to 'fitting in' in a culture
Informed consent refers to participants agreeing to participate in a study having been informed of its aims
Interactionism theories that focus on the ways people interact in groups
Intersectionality the interconnected nature of social categories, particularly how they relate to oppression
Interview a form of data collection where the participant is asked a set of questions by the researcher
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Late modern a term that recognizes contemporary societies are markedly different from those in the modernity era of the mid-20th century
Longitudinal research research where change over time is the primary focus of attention, and which is usually interested in causal relationships between prior states and outcomes
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Materialism the belief that the social world can be explained through material conditions
Meritocracy a social system in which people succeed and are rewarded based on talent and ability alone
Methodology the principles that guide methods in the attempt to generate valid results. The reason why one method might be more appropriate than another is the realm of methodology
Methods the techniques of data collection and analysis
Millenarianism early social movements that promised transformational social change through divine intervention
Miscegenation having children with someone from a different racial group
Mixed methods a research design using more than one form of data collection. How far the methods are integrated together is a source of much discussion. Sometimes called Multi-Method
Mode of production the way in which people's needs for shelter, food and protection are met in any given society
Modernity a term to understand societies that emerged after the Industrial Revolution and when capitalism was embedded as the mode of production
Modernization the changes that occur as a society transforms into an urban, industrial society
Moral panic how particular concerns in society are defined as a threat, exaggerated and used by people in power to control others or effect particular social change
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Naturalistic a form of observation that observes people in their 'natural' settings rather than in a lab or interview conditions
Network society a society where social institutions are structured around digital networks of information, primarily the internet
New social movements refers to the growth in social movements since the 1960s
Norm a social expectation that guides behaviour
Nuclear family a heterosexual couple and their genetically related offspring
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Organizations physical places that consolidate the norms and values and do the work of a particular institution
Orientalism a set of social processes by which the global north frame Arab peoples according to a range of damaging stereotypes
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Paradigm an established theory or way of thinking that acts as a framework in sociology
Participant observation where the researcher participates in the activity along with participants and observes them simultaneously
Patriarchy a concept to understand systematic gender inequality in a society run by and for men and male interests
Plastic sexuality a concept advanced by Giddens that argues sexual desires and acts are shaped by individual erotic needs rather than reproductive or economic ones
Population all members of the category under investigation
Positionality the notion that the researcher has a position in the research process and that this may affect the data collected
Positivism the scientific search for fixed laws that govern social and natural worlds
Poststructuralism a set of theories that critique structuralist notions and also contest the core tenets of Enlightenment beliefs about science and empirical research
Power a contested term, fundamentally about the ability to produce intended effects
Preacher effect where people underestimate a claim because of the presence of the researcher
Proletariat a term used by Marx for the group of workers in a capitalist society who were exploited by the bourgeoisie
Public sociology a style of sociology that seeks to inform and engage with the public
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Questionnaire a written set of questions
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Racializing the name given to the attribution of particular values or stereotypes to racial groups
Rationalization the replacement of traditions, emotions and superstition as motivations for action by rational, calculated decision-making
Reflexive process also known as reflexivity, it is the cyclical process whereby individuals think about their actions and thus influence their behaviours, which in turn influences their thoughts
Reflexivity thinking critically about one's positionality and effect on data or society
Relational the notion that two or more things occur in relation to each other, rather than independently
Riot where a group of people exhibit unruly behaviour that damages people or property
Risk society a framework to understand contemporary societies that have to deal with global risks that are focused around technology
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Sample a subset of a population
Sampling the process of selecting units within a population
Sampling frame the list of every person or thing in a population that can be sampled
Service sector a sector of the economy focused on providing a service rather than goods
Single hermeneutic where knowledge is in one direction. The object of study does not change as a result
Social beings a way of understanding human beings that recognizes their actions and beliefs are dependent on their social conditions
Social capital the cultural resources a person has based on their networks and group membership
Social Darwinism the theory that individuals and groups are subject to the same Darwinian laws of natural selection as plants and animals (i.e. survival of the fittest)
Social facts norms and values that do not have objective reality but exist beyond a single individual and exert influence in society
Social media websites and apps that allow users to create and share content or connect with other people
Social mobility the change in social status that a person achieves in a set period, between childhood and significantly later in their lives
Social movement organized collective social action with political aims to challenge a problem or improve a situation
Social policy the way in which societies address issues of individual wellbeing, social welfare and social justice
Social stratification the way groups of people are divided unevenly in society
Social structures the ways society is organized that constrain how an individual can act
Social theory intellectual critiques of society that are connected with sociological theory but more located within philosophy
Socialization the process by which a person learns the accepted ways of thinking and behaving in a particular society
Society a collection of people who share common culture and land or territory
Sociological canon classical works of sociology that are seen as foundational to the discipline
Sociological imagination the awareness of the relationship between personal experiences and broader society
Sociological theory abstract propositions about society that can be tested and have empirical support
Status the social aspects of class, such as lifestyle and leisure activities
Stigma a social attribute, behaviour or reputation that is discrediting in some way
Stratification Weber's way of understanding social class, consisting of three elements: economic class, status and power
Structuralism a set of theories that contend that society runs according to a set of laws and social structures
Structuration structure and action are necessarily related to each other and cannot be disentangled
Structures the ways society is organized that constrain how an individual can act
Subculture a group of people who share common interests that vary from the dominant culture
Sui generis a term Durkheim used to say that society is unique and cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts
Survey the systematic collection of the same data from a specified sample
Symbolic capital one's prestige in a social group, such as reputation and celebrity
Symbolic interactionism a theoretical framework that studies how people communicate with each other to understand the meaning of actions, focusing on the symbols and signs of their communication
Symbolic token things that can be used for exchange (such as money)
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Theory a proposition or a number of propositions that explain why or how something is happening
Tradition a belief or ritual passed down within a group, with meaning imbued to the act
Tripartite system the organization of state-funded British education from 1945 to the 1970s
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Validity internal validity refers to how far data collected captures the true nature of the things being measured. This is how validity is often understood, but the term 'external validity' is used differently and refers to generalizability (see above)
Verstehen an approach in sociology that tries to comprehend the meanings and motivations of human action
Visual methods methods that enable the study of images and non-textual data
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Warm bath theory used by Parsons and Bales (1955) to compare the nuclear family to a warm bath which men could relax into after a long day working outside the home