Symbolic Interactionism The branch of sociology that studies how people assign meaning to people’s behavior.
Social Solidarity The degree to which people are bonded to groups and to the society as a whole.
Macro Level Large-scale social phenomena such as culture, class systems, population shifts, and so on.
Empiricism The view that generalizations are valid only if they rely on evidence that can be observed directly or verified through our senses.
Sociological Imagination The ability to see the link between personal experiences and social forces.
Conflict Theory The paradigm that emphasizes the conflict between different sectors of a society, and how groups use resources to secure their own particular interests.
Manifest Function Intended outcomes of an institution.
Scientific Method A process by which a body of scientific knowledge is built through observation, experimentation, generalization, and verification.
Functionalism The paradigm that emphasizes how elements of a society do (or do not) work toward accomplishing necessary functions.
Latent Function Unintended, unrecognized, but often useful consequence of an institution.
Herbert Spencer Saw society as an organism; applied Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest” to explain and justify social conditions of different individuals and groups.
W.E.B. DuBois African American sociologist, early twentieth-century; militant opponent of racism and keen observer of its effects.
C. Wright Mills American sociologist; developed concept of the sociological imagination.
Auguste Comte Coined the term sociology; emphasized empiricism; thought society was evolving towards perfection.
Harriet Martineau Wrote observations of institutions (prisons, factories, and so on); compared American and European class systems.
Emile Durkheim Emphasized social solidarity; studied rates of behavior in groups rather than individual behavior.
Jane Addams American social reformer; founded Hull House, a settlement house for immigrants in Chicago.
Karl Marx Viewed social change as resulting from the conflicts between social classes trying to secure their interests. Thought that eventually the workers would overthrow the capitalist-run system.
Max Weber Thought power, wealth, and status were separate aspects of social class. Saw bureaucratization as a dominant trend with far-reaching social consequences. Contradicted Marx in arguing that religious ideas influenced economics, specifically that Protestantism brought the rise of capitalism.
Sociological Research Method
Longitudinal Research A study that observes a population over a period of time.
Empirical Base on, or capable of being based on, observed evidence.
Open-ended interview Research where the researcher follows a set of questions but can add follow-up question on his or her own.
Survey A study that asks short-answer questions of a fairly large number of people.
Association The simultaneous changing of two variables without one necessarily causing the change in the other.
Operational Definition The conversion of abstract ideas into specific, observable things or events.
Validity The relation between what a study is supposed to test and what it actually tests.
Researcher Bias The influence, deliberate or not, a researcher exerts to get the preferred result.
Sample The population that a researcher gathers data on to assess the entire population.
Hypothesis A testable statement about the relation between variables.
Reliability The degree to which the results of a study would be repeated in other similar studies.
Random Sample A sample in which each individual in the population has an equal chance of being selected.
Variable Anything that can change or that can be sorted into more than one category or value.
Cross-sectional research A study that looks at a population at a single point in time.
Structured Interview Research where the researcher strictly follows a given set of questions.
Secondary Analysis The use of available data gathered by another researcher or agency such as the Census Bureau.
Dependent Variable A variable that changes in response to the independent variable.
Independent Variable The variable that influences another variable without being influenced by that other variable.
Participant Observation Research in which the researchers hang out with the people they are doing research on.
Representative Sample A sample in which the relevant variables are distributed in the same proportions as in the entire population
Mores Strongly held norms that usually have important moral implications.
Ideal Norms Expectations of what people should do under perfect conditions.
Culture A pattern of living shared by the members of a society.
Material Culture The physical objects human beings make and use.
Norms Rules, often unwritten, for everyday behavior.
Ethnocentrism Judging another culture by standards of one’s own culture.
Nonmaterial Culture The totality of knowledge, beliefs, values, and rules for appropriate behavior—shared by members of society.
Cultural Relativism Withholding judgment and seeking to understand other societies on their own terms.
Folkways Norms or customs that permit a wide degree of individual interpretation.
Culture shock The difficulty people have adjusting to a new culture that differs markedly from their own.
Subculture The distinctive lifestyle or culture of certain segments of the population within a society.
Values A culture’s general orientations toward life.
Real Norms Norms that are expressed with qualifications and allowances for differences in individual behavior.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis The language a person uses shapes his or her perception of reality.
Ideology Strongly held but untestable ideas shared by members of a society that uphold the basis of that society.
Symbol Something that represents something else and whose meaning is understood by the members of a culture.
Socialization and Development
Primary Socialization A child’s assimilation of the basic elements of culture—language, norms, behavior—and adoption of a culturally appropriate identity
Looking-glass self A sense of who you are based on how you think other people would judge you.
Significant others Term used by Meade to include those individuals who are most important in our development, for example, parents, friends.
Generalized other The viewpoints, attitudes, and expectations of society as a whole or of a community of people of whom we are aware and who are important to us.
The “I” and the “Me” The parts of the self, according to Mead; one more expressive, the other more a product of socialization.
Superego According to Freud, this is the part of the self that represents society’s norms and moral values learned primarily from parents.
Adult Socialization The process which adults learn new statuses and roles.
Resocialization Exposure to ideas or values that in one way or another conflict with what was learned in childhood.
Self An individual’s changing yet enduring personal identity.
Personality The patterns of behavior and ways of thinking and feeling that are distinctive for each individual.
Social Groups and Organizations
Reference Group A group a person uses as a guide to values, beliefs, and behavior.
Secondary Group A goal-oriented, impersonal, more formal group.
Primary Group A group of people who know one another well and interact as complete individuals rather than in specialized roles.
Dyad A group of two people.
Triad A group of three people.
Social Group People who share a common identity, goals, and norms.
Instrumental Leadership Focused on accomplishing concrete tasks.
Expressive leadership Concerning feelings and interpersonal relationships.