Society: The Basics

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abortion

the deliberate termination of a pregnancy

absolute poverty

a lack of resources that is life-threatening

achieved status

a social position a person takes on voluntarily that reflects personal ability and effort

Afrocentrism

emphasizing and promoting African cultural patterns

ageism

prejudice and discrimination against older people

age-sex pyramid

a graphic representation of the age and sex of a population

agriculture

large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources

alienation

the experience of isolation and misery resulting from powerlessness

animism

the belief that elements of the natural world are conscious life forms that affect humanity

anomie

Durkheim's term for a condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals

anticipatory socialization

learning that helps a person achieve a desired position

ascribed status

a social position a person receives at birth or takes on involuntarily later in life

asexuality

a lack of sexual attraction to people of either sex

assimilation

the process by which minorities gradually adopt patterns of the dominant culture

authoritarianism

a political system that denies the people participation in government

authority

power that people perceive as legitimate rather than coercive

beliefs

specific ideas that people hold to be true

bisexuality

sexual attraction to people of both sexes

blue-collar occupations

lower-prestige jobs that involve mostly manual labor

bureaucracy

an organizational model rationally designed to perform tasks efficiently

bureaucratic inertia

the tendency of bureaucratic organizations to perpetuate themselves

bureaucratic ritualism

a focus on rules and regulations to the point of undermining and organization's goals

capitalism

an economic system in which natural resources and the means of producing foods and services are privately owned

capitalists

people who own and operate factories and other businesses in pursuit of profits

caste system

social stratification based on ascription, or birth

cause and effect

a relationship in which change in one variable (the independent variable) causes change in another (the dependent variable)

charisma

extraordinary personal qualities that can infuse people with emotion and turn them into followers

church

a religious organization that is well integrated into the larger society

civil religion

a quasi-religious loyalty binding individuals in a basically secular society

claims making

the process of trying to convince the public and public officials of the importance of joining a social movement to address a particular issue

class society

a capitalist society with pronounced social stratification

class system

social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement

cohabitation

the sharing of a household by an unmarried couple

cohort

a category of people with something in common, usually their age

colonialism

the process by which some nations enrich themselves through political and economic control of other nations

community-based corrections

correctional programs operating within society at large rather than behind prison walls

concept

a mental construct that represents some aspect of the world in a simplified form

concrete operational stage

Piaget's term for the level of human development at which individuals first see causal connections in their surroundings

conspicuous consumption

buying and using products because of the "statement: they make about social position

corporate crime

the illegal actions of a corporation or people acting on its behalf

corporation

an organization with a legal existence, including rights and liabilities, separate from that of its members

correlation

a relationship in which two (or more) variables change together

counterculture

cultural patterns that strongly oppose those widely accepted within a society

crime

the violation of a society's formally enacted criminal law

crimes against the person

crimes that direct violence or the threat of violence against others; also known as violent crimes

crimes against property

crimes that involve theft of money or property belonging to others; also known as property crimes

criminal justice system

the organizations - police, courts, and prison officials - that respond to alleged violations of the law

criminal recidivism

later offenses by people previously convicted of crimes

critical sociology

the study of society that focuses on the need for social change

crude birth rate

the number of live births in a given year for every 1,000 people in a population

cult

a religious organization that is largely outside a society's cultural traditions

cultural integration

the close relationships among various elements of a cultural system

cultural lag

the fact that some cultural elements change more quickly than others, disrupting a cultural system

cultural relativism

the practice of judging a culture by its own standards

cultural transmission

the process by which one generation passes culture to the next

cultural universals

traits that are part of every known culture

culture

the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together form a people's way of life

culture shock

personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life

Davis-Moore thesis

the assertion that social stratification exists in every society because it has beneficial consequences for the operation of society

democracy

a political system that gives power to the people as a whole

demographic transition theory

a thesis that links population patterns to a society's level of technological development

demography

the study of human population

denomination

a church, independent of the state, that recognizes religious pluralism

dependency theory

a model of economic and social development that explains global inequality in terms of the historical exploitation of poor nations by rich ones

descent

the system by which members of a society trace kinship over generations

deterrence

the attempt to discourage criminality through the use of punishment

deviance

the recognized violation of cultural norms

direct-fee system

a medical care system in which patients pay directly for the services of physicians and hospitals

disaster

an event, generally unexpected, that causes extensive harm to people and damage to property

discrimination

unequal treatment of various categories of people

division of labor

specialized economic activity

dramaturgical analysis

Erving Goffman's term for the study of social interaction in terms of theatrical performance

dyad

a social group with two members

eating disorder

an intense form of dieting or other unhealthy method of weight control driven by the desire to be very thin

ecologically sustainable culture

a way of life that meets the needs of the present generation without threatening the environmental legacy of future generations

ecology

the study of the interaction of living organisms and the natural environment

education

the social institution through which society provides its members with important knowledge, including basic facts, job skills, and cultural norms and values

ego

Freud's term for a person's conscious efforts to balance innate pleasure-seeking drives with the demands of society

empirical evidence

information we can verify with our senses

endogamy

marriage between people of the same social category

environmental deficit

profound long-term harm to the natural environment caused by humanity's focus on short-term material affluence

environmental racism

patterns of development that expose poor people, especially minorities, to environmental hazards

ethnicity

a shared cultural heritage

ethnocentrism

the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one's own culture

ethnomethodology

Harold Garfinkel's term for the study of the way people make sense of their everyday surroundings

Eurocentrism

the dominance of European (especially English) cultural patterns

euthanasia

assisting in the death of a person suffering from an incurable disease; also known as mercy killing

exogamy

marriage between people of different social categories

experiment

a research method for investigating cause and effect under highly controlled conditions

expressive leadership

group leadership that focuses on the group's well-being

extended family

a family composed of parents and children as well as other kin; also known as a consanguine family

faith

belief based on conviction rather than on scientific evidence

family

a social institution found in all societies that unites people in cooperative groups to care for one another, including any children

family violence

emotional, physical, or sexual abuse of one family member by another

feminism

support of social equality for women and men, in opposition to patriarchy and sexism

feminization of poverty

the trend of women making up an increasing proportion of the poor

fertility

the incidence of childbearing in a country's population

folkways

norms for routine or casual interaction

formal operational stage

Piaget's term for the level of human development at which individuals think abstractly and critically

formal organization

a large secondary group organized to achieve its goals efficiently

functional illiteracy

a lack of the reading and writing skills needed for everyday living

fundamentalism

a conservative religious doctrine that opposes intellectualism and worldly accommodation in favor of restoring traditional, otherworldly religion

Gemeinshaft

a type of social organization in which people are closely tied by kinship and tradition

gender

the personality traits and social positions that members of a society attach to being female or male

gender-conflict approach

a point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men

gender roles (sex roles)

attitudes and activities that a society links to each sex

gender stratification

the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege between men and women

generalized other

George Herbert Mead's term for widespread cultural norms and values we use as a reference in evaluating ourselves

genocide

the systematic killing of one category of people by another

gerontology

the study of aging and the elderly

Gesellshaft

a type of social organization in which people come together only on the basis of individual self-interest

global economy

economic activity that crosses national borders

global perspective

the study of the larger world and our society's place in it

global stratification

patterns of social inequality in the world as a whole

global warming

a rise in Earth's average temperature due to an increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

government

a formal organization that directs the political life of a society

groupthink

the tendency of group members to conform, resulting in a narrow view of some issue

hate crime

a criminal act against a person or a person's property by an offender motivated by racial or other bias

health

a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being

health maintenance organization (HMO)

an organization that provides comprehensive medical care to subscribers for a fixed fee

heterosexism

a view that labels anyone who is not heterosexual as "queer"

heterosexuality

sexual attraction to someone of the other sex

high culture

cultural patterns that distinguish society's elite

high-income countries

the nations with the highest overall standards of living

holistic medicine

an approach to health care that emphasizes the prevention of illness and takes into account a person's entire physical and social environment

homogamy

marriage between people with the same social characteristics

homophobia

discomfort over close personal interaction with people though to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual

homosexuality

sexual attraction to someone of the same sex

horticulture

the use of hand tools to raise crops

hunting and gathering

the use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation for food

id

Freud's term for the human being's basic drives

ideology

cultural beliefs that justify particular social arrangements, including patterns of inequality

incest taboo

a norm forbidding sexual relations or marriage between certain relatives

income

earnings from work or investments

industry

the production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery

infant mortality rate

the number of deaths among infants under one year of age for each 1,000 live births in a given year

in-group

a social group toward which a member feels respect and loyalty

institutional prejudice and discrimination

bias built into the operation of society's institutions

instrumental leadership

group leadership that focuses on the completion of tasks

intergenerational social mobility

upward or downward social mobility of children in relation to their parents

interpretive sociology

the study of society that focuses on discovering the meanings people attach to their social world

intersection theory

analysis of the interplay of race, class, and gender, which often results in multiple dimensions of disadvantage

intersexual people

people whose bodies (including genitals) have both female and male characteristics

intragenerational social mobility

a change in social position occurring during a person's lifetime

kinship

a social bond based on common ancestry, marriage, or adoption

labeling theory

the idea that deviance and conformity result not so much from what people do as from how others respond to those actions

language

a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another

latent functions

the unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern

liberation theology

the combining of Christian principles with political activism, often Marxist in character

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