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achieved status

a social position that we voluntarily attain, to a considerable degree, as the result of our own efforts

ascribed status

a social position that is assigned to us from birth or that we assume later in life, regardless of our wishes or abilities


a hierarchical administrative system with formal rules and procedures used to manage organizations.


an approach to the study of social interaction that uses the metaphor of social life as a theater


a form of uncritical thinking in which people reinforce a consensus rather than ask serious questions or thoroughly analyze the issue at hand


the idea that social contact occurs at a higher rate between people who are similar than it does between people who are different


a social group with which a person identifies and toward which he or she feels positively; members have a collective sense of "us"


a common understanding between people about knowledge, reality, or an experience

iron law of oligarchy

the eventual and inevitable consolidation of power at the top of bureaucratic organizations

master status

a social position that is overwhelmingly significant, powerfully influences a person's social experience, and typically overshadows all the other social positions that person may occup.

organizational environment

factors that exist outside the organization but that ptentially affect its operation


secondary groups that have a degree of formal structure and are formed to accomplish particular tasks


a social group toward which a person feels negatively, considering its members to be inferiors, or "them"

primary groups

people who have regular contact, enduring relationships, and a significant emotional attachment to each other

reference groups

the groups against which we choose to measure ourselves

role conflict

the problem that occurs when the expectations associated with different roles clash

role strain

the problem that occurs when the expectations associated with a single role compete with each other


the sets of expected behaviors that are associated with particular statuses

scientific management

the process of deskilling ordinary workers and increasing workplace efficiency through calculated study

secondary groups

people who interact in a relatively impersonal way, usually to carry out some specific task

social groups

collections of people who interact regularly with one another and who are aware of their status as a group

social networks

the collection of social ties that connect people to each other


a position in a social system that can be occupied by an individual

status category

a status that people can hold in common

status hierarchy

a ranking of social positions according to their perceived prestige or honor

status set

the collection of statuses that an individual holds


exaggerated, distorted, or untrue generalizations about categories of people that do not acknowledge individual variation

thomas theorem

the idea that if people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences

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