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Society: The Basics

STUDY
PLAY
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
life expectancy
the average life span of a country's population
looking-glass self
Charles Horton Cooley's term for a self-image based on how we think others see us
low-income countries
nations with a low standard of living in which most people are poor
macro-level orientation
a broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole
manifest functions
the recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern
marriage
a legal relationship, usually involving economic cooperation, sexual activity, and childbearing
Marxist political-economy model
an analysis that explains politics in terms of the operation of a society's economic system
mass media
the means for delivering impersonal communications to a vast audience
mass society
a society in which prosperity and bureaucracy have weakened traditional social ties
master status
a status that has special importance for social identity, often shaping a person's entire life
matriarchy
a form of social organization in which females dominate males
measurement
a procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific case
medicalization of deviance
the transformation of moral and legal deviance into a medical condition
medicine
the social institution that focuses on fighting disease and improving health
megalopolis
a vast urban region containing a number of cities and their surrounding suburbs
meritocracy
social stratification based on personal merit
metropolis
a large city that dominates an urban area socially and economically
micro-level orientation
a close-up focus on social interaction in specific situations
middle-income countries
nations with a standard of living about average for the world as a whole
migration
the movement of people into and out of a specified territory
military-industrial complex
the close association of the fedeal government, the military, and defense industries
minority
any category of people distinguished by physical or cultural difference that a society sets apart and subordinates
miscegenation
biological reproduction by partners of different racial categories
modernity
social patterns resulting from industrialization
modernization
the process of social change begun by industrialization
modernization theory
a model of economic and social development that explains global inequality in terms of technological and cultural differences between nations
monarchy
a political system in which a single family rules from generation to generation
monogamy
marriage that unites two partners
monopoly
the domination of a market by a single producer
mores
norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance
mortality
the incidence of death in a country's population
multiculturalism
a perspective recognizing the cultural diversity of the United States and promoting equal standing for all cultural traditions
multinational corporation
a large business that operates in many countries
natural environment
Earth's surface and atmosphere, including living organisms, air, water, soil, and other resources necessary to sustain life
neocolonialism
a new form of global power relationships that involves not direct political control but economic exploitation by multinational corporations
network
a web of social ties
nonverbal communication
communication using body movements, gestures, and facial expressions rather than speech
norms
rules and expectations by which a society guides that behavior of its members
nuclear family
a family composed of one or two parents and their children; also known as a conjugal family
oligarchy
the rule of the many by the few
oligopoly
the domination of a market by a few producers
organizational environment
factors outside an organization that affect its operation
organized crime
a business supplying illegal goods or services
other-directedness
openness to the latest trends and fashions, often expressed by imitating others
out-group
a social group toward which a person feels a sense of competition or opposition
participant observation
a research method in which investigators systematically observe people while joining them in their routine activities
pastoralism
the domestication of animals
patriarchy
a form of social organization in which males dominate females
peer group
a social group whose members have interests, social position, and age in common
personality
a person's fairly consistent patterns of acting, thinking, and feeling
personal space
the surrounding area over which a person makes some claim to privacy
plea bargaining
a legal negotiation in which a prosecutor reduces a charge in exchange for a defendant's guilty plea
pluralism
a state in which people of all races and ethnicities are distinct but have equal social standing
pluralist model
an analysis of politics that sees power as spread among many competing interest groups
political revolution
the overthrow of one political system in order to establish another
politics
the social institution that distributes power, sets a society's goals, and makes decisions
polygamy
marriage that unites a person with two or more spouses
popular culture
cultural patterns that are widespread among a society's population
pornography
sexually explicit material intended to cause sexual arousal
positivism
a scientific approach to knowledge based on "positive" facts as opposed to mere speculation
positivist sociology
the study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior
postindustrial economy
a productive system based on service work and computer technology
postindustrialism
the production of information using computer technology
postmodernity
social patterns characteristic of postindustrial socities
power
the ability to achieve desired ends despite resistance from others
power-elite model
an analysis of politics that sees power as concentrated among the rich
prejudice
a rigid and unfair generalization about an entire category of people
preoperational stage
Piaget's term for the level of human development at whgich individuals first use language and other symbols
presentation of self
Erving Goffma's term for a person's efforts to create specific impressions in the minds of others
primary group
a small social group whose members share personal and lasting relationships
primary sector
the part of the economy that draws raw materials from the natural environment
primary sex characteristics
the genitals, organs used for reproduction
profane
occurring as an ordinary part of everyday life
profession
a prestigious white-collar occupation that requires extensive formal education
proletarians
people who sell their labor for wages
prostitution
the selling of sexual services
queer theory
a body of research findings that challenges the heterosexual bias in U.S. society
race
a socially constructed category of people who share biologically transmitted traits that members of a society consider important
race-conflict approach
a point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between people of different racial and ethnic categories
racism
the belief that one racial category is innately superior or inferior to another
rain forests
regions of dense forestation located mostly close to the equator
rationality
a way of thinking that emphasizes deliberate, matter-of-fact calculation of the most efficient way to accomplish a particular task
rationalization of society
Weber's term for the historical change from tradition to rationality as the main type of human thought
reference group
a social group that serves as a point of reference in making evaluations and decisions
rehabilitation
a program for reforming the offender to prevent later offenses
relative deprivation
a perceived disadvantage arising from some specific comparison
relative poverty
the lack of resources of some people in relation to those who have more
reliability
consistency in measurement
religion
a social institution involving beliefs and practices based on recognizing the sacred
religiosity
the importance of religion in a person's life
research method
a systematic plan for doing research
resocialization
radically changing an inmate's personality by carefully controlling the environment
retribution
an act of moral vengeance by which society makes the offender suffer as much as the suffering caused by the crime
role
behavior expected of someone who holds a particular status
role conflict
conflict among the roles connected to two or more statuses
role set
a number of roles attached to a single status
role strain
tension among the roles connected to a single status
routinization of charisma
the transformation of charismatic authority into some combination of traditional and bureaucratic authority
sacred
set apart as extraordinary, inspiring awe and reverence
Sapir-Whorf thesis
the idea that people see and understand the world through the cultural lens of language
scapegoat
a person or category of people, typically with little power, whom other people unfairly blame for their own troubles
schooling
formal instruction under the direction of specially trained teachers
science
a logical system that develops knowledge from direct, systematic observation
scientific management
Frederick Taylor's term for the application of scientific principles to the operation of a business or other large organization
secondary group
a large and impersonal social group whose members pursue a specific goal or activity
secondary sector
the part of the economy that transforms raw materials into manufactured goods
secondary sex characteristics
bodily development, aprat from the genitals, that distinguishes biologically mature females and males
sect
a religious organization that stands apart from the larger society
secularization
the historical decline in the importance of the supernatural and the sacred
segregation
the physical and social separation of categories of people
self
George Herbert Mead's term for the part of an individual's personality composed of self-awareness and self-image
sensorimotor stage
Piaget's term for the level of human development at which individuals experience the world only through their senses
sex
the biological distinction between females and males
sexism
the belief that one sex is innately superior to the other
sex ratio
the number of males for everyone 100 females in a nation's population
sexual harassment
comments, gestures, or physical contacts of a sexual nature that are deliberate, repeated, and unwelcome
sexual orientation
a person's romantic and emotional attraction to another person
sick role
patterns of behavior defined as appropriate for people who are ill
significant others
people, such as parents, who have special importance for socialization
social change
the transformation of culture and social institutions over time
social character
personality patterns common to members of a particular society
social-conflict approach
a framwork for building theory that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change
social construction of reality
the process by which people creatively shape reality through social interaction
social control
attempts by society to regulate people's thoughts and behavior
social dysfunction
any social pattern that may disrupt the operation of society
social epidemiology
the study of how health and disease are distributed throughout a society's population
social functions
the consequences of a social pattern for the operation of society as a whole
social group
two or more people who identify with and interact with one another
social institution
a major sphere of social life, or societal subsystem, organized to meet human needs
social interaction
the process by which people act and react in relation to others
socialism
an economic system in which natural resources and the means of producing goods and services are collectively owned
socialization
the lifelong social experience by which people develop their human potential and learn culture
socialized medicine
a medical care system in which the government owns and operates most medical facilities and employs most physicians
social mobility
a change in position within the social hierarchy
social movement
an organized activity that encourages or discourages social change
social stratification
a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy
social structure
any relatively stable pattern of social behavior
societal protection
rendering an offender incapable of further offenses temporarily through imprisonment or permanently by execution
society
people who interact in a defined territory and share a culture
sociobiology
a theoretical approach that explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture
socioeconomic status (SES)
a composite ranking based on various dimensions of social inequality
sociological perspective
the special point of view of sociology that sees general patterns of society in the lives of particular people
sociology
the systematic study of human society
state capitalism
an economic and political system in which companies are privately owned but cooperate closely with the government
state church
a church formally linked to the state
status
a social position that a person holds
status consistency
the degree of uniformity in a person's social standing across various dimensions of social inequality
status set
all the statuses a person holds at a given time
stereotype
a simplified description applied to every person in some category
stigma
a powerfully negative label that greatly changes a person's self-concept and social identity
structural-functional approach
a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability
subculture
cultural patterns that set apart some segment of a society's population
suburbs
urban areas beyond the political boundaries of a city
superego
Freud's term for the cultural values and norms internalized by an individual
survey
a research method in which subjects respond to a series of statements or questions on a questionnaire or in an interview
symbol
anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture
symbolic-interaction approach
a framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals
technology
knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings
terrorism
acts of violence or the threat of violence used as a political strategy by an individual or group
tertiary sector
the part of the economy that involves services rather than goods
theoretical approach
a basic image of society that guides thinking and research
theory
a statement of how and why specific facts are related
Thomas theorem
W.I. Thomas' claim that situations defined as real are real in their consequences
total institution
a setting in which people are isolated from the rest of society and controlled by an administrative staff
totalitarianism
a highly centralized political system that extensively regulates people's lives
totem
an object in the natural world collectively defined as sacred
tracking
assigning students to different types of educational programs
tradition
values and beliefs passed from generation to generation
tradition-directedness
rigid conformity to time-honored ways of living
transsexuals
people who feel they are one sex even though biologically they are the other
triad
a social group with three members
urban ecology
the study of the link between the physical and social dimensions of cities
urbanization
the concentration of population into cities
validity
actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure
values
culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, and beautiful and that serve as broad guidelines for social living
variable
a concept whose value changes from case to case
victimless crimes
violations of law in which there are no obvious victims
war
organized, armed conflict among the people of two or more nations, directed by their governments
wealth
the total value of money and other assets, minus outstanding debts
welfare capitalism
an economic and political system that combines a mostly market-based economy with extensive social welfare programs
welfare state
a system of government agencies and programs that provides benefits to the population
white-collar crime
crime committed by people of high social position in the course of their occupations
zero population growth
the rate of reproduction that maintains population at a steady level
white-collar occupations
higher-prestige jobs that involve mostly mental activity