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Karl Marx

One of the first theorists to argue that the adoption of capitalism is responsible for the decline of traditional orientations to social life.

Max Weber

The early theorist who proposed that religious beliefs are the key to whether or not a society embraces capitalism.

Characteristics of a Bureaucracy

Division of labor, emphasis on impersonality, hierarchy of authority, written rules, etc.


The violation of norms written into law.

the Cultural Relativity of Deviance

"It is not the act itself, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant."


The term used by Erving Goffman that refers to the characteristics which discredit people.

Social Order

A group's usual and customary social arrangements, on which its members depend and on which they base their lives.

Social Control

A group's formal and informal means of enforcing its norms.


The concept of combining both sociological point of views as well as biological (genetic predispositions) when examining a topic.


The most common basis for social stratification.

Social Stratification

The division of large numbers of people into layers according to their power, property and prestige.

Agricultural Society

The society in which slavery would most likely exist.

Debt, Crime, War

The major causes of slavery prior to life in the American colonies.

Indentured Servants

Workers on a voluntary contractual system in which they would sell their bodies (services) for a specific period of time in an arrangement very close to slavery; a.k.a. bonded labor.


The total value of everything someone owns minus his/her debt.


The average per capita annual income in the United States, which includes all Americans and even children.


The typical family income in the United States.

Democratic Facade

The belief by Hellinger and Judd which notes that Americans think they actually contribute to major governmental decisions through the power of the vote.

the Power Elite

The group that makes the big decisions in our American society today, according to C. Wright Mills.

Gender Stratification

Males' and females' unequal access to power, property, and prestige.


The biological (natural) definition of someone by primary characteristics (i.e. penis/vagina/other reproductive organs).


The cultural (nurture-based) definition of someone by traditions or items (i.e. Tonka truck vs. Barbie doll).


A group whose inherited physical characteristics distinguish it from other groups.


The systematic annihilation or attempted annihilation of a people because of their presumed race or ethnicity (i.e. the Holocaust, Rwanda, and the Native Americans).

the Myths of Race

1. A race is superior to others.
2. A "pure" race exists.

Ethnicity (Ethnic)

Having distinct cultural characteristics.

Minority Group

The term used by Lous Werth to define groups of people who are singled out for unequal treatment and who regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.

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