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Sociological perspective

Understanding human behavior by placing it within its broader social context.

Society

People who share a culture and a territory

Social Location

The group of memberships that people have because of their location in history and society.

Scientific method

The use of objective systematic observations to test theories

Positivism

The application of the scientific approach to the social world

Sociology

The scientific study of society and human behavior

Class Conflict

Marx's term for the struggle between the capitalists and workers

Bourgeoisie

Marx's term for capitalists, those who own the means of production

Proletariat

Marx's term for the exploited class, the mass of workers who do not own the means of production.

Social integration

The degree to which members of a group or a society feel united by shared values and other social bonds also known as social cohesion.

Applied sociology

The use of sociology to solve problems-- from the micro level of family relationships to the macro level of global pollution

Theory

A statement about how some parts of the world fit together and how they work; an explanation of how two or more facts are related to one another.

Symbolic interactionism

A theoretical perspective in which society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another.

Functional Analysis

A theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to society's equilibrium; also known as functionalism and structural functionalism

Conflict theory

A theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources.

Macro Level

An examination of large scale patterns of society

Micro Level

An examination of small scale patterns of society

Social interaction

What people do when they are in one another's presence.

Nonverbal interaction

Communication without words through gestures, use of space, silence, and so on.

Hypothesis

A statement of how variables are expected to be related to one another, often according to predictions from a theory

Variables

A factor thought to be significant for human behavior, which can vary from one case to another

Operational Definitions

The way in which a researcher measures a variable

Research method

One of seven procedures that sociologists use to collect data; surveys, participant observations, case studies, secondary analysis, documents, experiments, and unobtrusive measures.

Validity

The extent to which an operational definition measures what it is intended to measure.

Reliability

The extent to which research produces consistent or dependable results.

Survey

The collection of data by having people answer a series of questions

Population

A target group to be studied

Sample

The individuals intended to represent the population to be studied.

Random Sample

A sample in which everyone in the target population has the same chance of being included in the study.

Stratified Random Sample

A sample from selected subgroups of the target population in which everyone in those subgroups has an equal chance of being included in the research.

Respondents

People who respond to a survey, either in interviews or by self administered questionnaires.

Closed-Ended Questions

Questions that are followed by a list of possible answers to be selected by the respondent.

Open-Ended Questions

Questions that respondents answer in their own words.

Rapport

A feeling of trust between researchers and the people they are studying.

Participant observation

Research in which the researcher participates in a research setting while observing what is happening in that setting.

Case study

An analysis of a single event, situation, or individual.

Secondary analysis

The analysis of data that have been collected by other researchers.

Documents

In its narrow sense, written sources that provide data; in its extended sense, archival material of any sort, including photographs, movies, CDs, DVDs, and so on.

Experiments

The use of control and experimental groups and dependent and independent variables to test causation

Experimental group

The subjects in an experiment who are exposed to the independent variable.

Control Group

The subjects in an experiment who are not exposed to the independent variable.

Independent variable

A factor that causes a change in another variable, called the dependent variable.

Dependent variable

A factor in an experiment that is changed by an independent variable.

Unobtrusive Measures

Ways of observing people so they do not know they are being studied.

Value free

The view that a sociologist's personal values or biases should not influence social research.

Values

The standards by which people define what is desirable or undesirable, good or bad, beautiful or ugly.

Objectivity

Value neutrality in research

Replication

The repetition of a study in order to test its findings.

Public sociology

Sociology being used for the public good; especially the sociological perspective (of how things are related to one another) guiding politicians and policy makers.

Globalization

The extensive interconnections among nations due to the expansion of capitalism.

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