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group of people who shape their lives in ways that distinguish them from other people


systematic or scientific study of human society and social behavior

social sciences

disciplines that use the scientific method to examine the social world, in contrast to the natural sciences


level of analysis that studies face-to-face and SMALL-group interactions; focuses on small-scale pieces of society


level of analysis that studies LARGE-scale social structures; focuses on large-scale pieces of society


the process by which one gathers & analyzes data

quantitative research

translates the social world into NUMBERS that can be treated mathematically; often tries to find cause & effect relationships

qualitative research

NON-NUMERICAL data such as texts, field notes, interview transcripts, photographs, and tape recordings

sociological imagination

a quality of the MIND that allows us to understand the relationship between our particular situation in life and what is happening at a social level

culture shock

a sense of disorientation that occurs when one enters a radically new social or cultural environment

beginner's mind

approaching the world without preconceptions in order to see things in a new way

everyday actor

has the practical knowledge needed to get through daily life, but not necessarily the scientific or technical knowledge of how things work

social analyst

studies the social world in a systematic, comprehensive, coherent, clear, and consistent manner in the pursuit of scientific knowledge

global village

describe how radio and television create new kinds of social bonds by bringing people together as if they all belonged to the same tribe


an abstract proposition that explains the social world and makes predictions about future events


argues that sense perceptions are the only valid source of knowledge

scientific method

procedure for acquiring knowledge that emphasized collecting concrete data through observation and experiment normally used in the study of the physical world, and applied it to the study of social affairs

mechanical solidarity

type of social bond where shared traditions and beliefs created a sense of social cohesion

organic solidarity

a social bond based on a division of labor that created interdependence and individual rights


the economic system that is based on the private for-profit operation of industry


the application of economic logic to all human activity


the inevitable result of the dehumanizing features of bureaucracies that dominated modern societies

structural functionalism

views society as an ordered, unified system


the large-scale social institutions that make up society (family, education, politics, the economy)

manifest functions

the obvious intended functions of a social structure for the social system

latent functions

the LESS obvious unintended functions of a social structure

conflict theory

sees social conflict as the basis of society and social change and emphasizes a materialist view of society, a critical view of the status quo, and a dynamic model of historical change

symbolic interactionism

sees interaction and meaning as central to society and assumes that meanings are not inherent but are created through interaction

applied society

uses sociological theories to impact public policy

feminist theory

looks at gender inequalities in society and the way that gender structures the social world

queer theory

proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs and that no sexual category is fundamentally either deviant or normal

postmodern theory

suggests that no universal, knowable truth about social reality exists


a method based on studying people in their own environment in order to understand the meanings they attribute to their activities

participant observation

the researcher observes and becomes a member in a social setting


involve direct, face-to-face contact with respondents

closed-ended question

limits possible responses: for example, "Are you for or against couples living together before they are married?"

open-ended question

allows the answer to take whatever form the respondent chooses: "What do you think about couples living together before they are married?"


QUESTIONNAIRES that are administered to a sample of respondents selected from a target population

Content analysis

a specific use of existing sources that examines visual or written material, such as magazines or TV commercials

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