AICE Sociology Vocab

Control Group

The group in an experiment that is not exposed to the independent variable.


The process of an idea or some other thing spreading around the world.

Nuclear Family

The family that you live with. Mostly comprised of an individual's father, mother, and potential siblings. (Note: This definition is not set and is different for each person).

Fertility Rate

The average number of children a women will have during her child-bearing years.


A collective community in Israel, the main features of which include collective ownership of al property, equality between sexes and communal child-rearing.


The pattern in which the oldest women living in the household has the authority over all other family members.


Family arrangement where descent and inheritance is passed through the female line.


The pattern in which married couples live with or near the wives/ parents.


A legal union based on mutual rights and obligations.


The pattern in which the oldest man living in the household has the authority over all other family members.


Family arrangement where descent and inheritance is passed through the male line.


The pattern in which married couples live with or near the husbands' parents.


Social process by which people learn norms and values and a distinct sense of self; mainly takes place during childhood, but continues throughout life via various agencies of society (e.g. educational system, mass media.)

Social Change

New societal behaviors with important long-term consequences.


The ability to control the behavior of others.


Expected behavior associated with a particular status.


Conceptual framework against which other theories are compared.


Expected patterns of rules and social behavior which specify appropriate conduct in different social contexts, either prescribing or forbidding this conduct; enforced by sanctions, either positive (rewards) or negative (punishment).


Idea or guess about an event or phenomenon, which then has to be tested by conducting empirical research and collecting evidence to prove or disapprove the original idea.


Sociological perspective based on the writings of Karl Marx, in particular his division of society into economic base and superstructure, and the analysis of class conflict as the main source of social change.

Social Construction of Reality

Term derived from the action theory describing the process by which social roles are produced through interaction and negotiation between actors.

Social Control

Ways to encourage conformity to society's norms.

Social Engineering

The act of influencing a person to accomplish goals that may or may not be in the "target's" best interest.

Social Identity

A person's sense of who they are based on their group membership(s).

Social Order

The distinctive, stable arrangement of institutions whereby human beings in a society interact and live together. Social structure is often treated together with the concept of social change, which deals with the forces that change the social structure an

Social Policy

The actions taken by the government to maintain and improve the welfare of its citizens.

Social Problems

Something that is harmful to society and needing something doing about it.

Social Sanctions

Rewards or punishments that encourage conformity to social norms.

Social Self

A person's sense of who they are based on their own perception of themselves.


Theoretical approach, originating in the study of language (Ferdinand de Saussure), which concentrates on attempting to identify and analyze structures in social and cultural systems.


Culture within a culture, with some norms and values exclusive to it and distinct from those of the majority society. Though a subgroups's culture will be different in many ways from the main culture, there will also be some aspects of culture that they s


Concept in sociology that offers perspectives on human behaviour based on a synthesis of structure and agency effects known as the "duality of structure." Instead of describing the capacity of human action as being constrained by powerful stable societal


Investigation of behavior which involves the researcher allowing their own experiences and opinions to affect their research.

Symbolic Interactionism

Theoretical approach and sociological perspective, developed by G.H. Mead, that emphasizes the motives and meaning for individuals. It focuses on the importance of symbols to people, particularly language, as the core elements of all human interaction.


Interaction in which individuals or groups are forced to behave in a particular way.


Process by which one culture or society borrows from one another culture or society.


A religious organization whose characteristics are not drawn from existing religious traditions within a society.


The practice of marrying outside one's group.


Marriage within one's own group as required by social norms

Gender Socialization

The social process of learning how to act as a boy or girl.


Beliefs and goals held to be important in society.


This means he degree to which a research strategy measures what the researcher intends it to measure.


Development of towns and cities to become major centers of population as people move from rural to urban areas. De-urbanization is the movement of populations from urban to rural areas.


First used by Destutt de Tracey in the eighteenth century, the term meant the science of ideas. It has also come to be used in a pejorative sense to mean false or mistaken ideas imposed by one group on another to maintain their patriarchal ideologies.


The study of kinship examines the relationship of biological connections, such as blood ties, marriage or adoption, to other forms of rights and obligations in society.


Mainly used in sociology to describe the shared norms and values, as well as the shared language, knowledge and material goods, of a society.


The properties of people who share a similar culture, particularly language, customs, religion and history, that is distinct from that of other groups in society.


A judicial declaration dissolving a marriage in whole or in part, especially one that releases the marriage partners from all matrimonial obligations.

Youth Culture

Young adults (a generational unit) considered as a cultural class or subculture.


Selection, in a scientific and systematic way, of a representative group of individuals or cases from a larger survey population; in sociology, the sample is often given a questionnaire, or is interviewed.


Religious group or movement which has broken away from a more orthodox mainstream religious denomination, or represents and entirely new religious formation.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Situation in which people act in accordance with predictions made by people in authority about their likely behavior or performance; associated with labeling theory in the study of education and deviance.


Activity by which humans produce from the natural world in order to survive. In traditional societies, money payments for such activities are rare, but in modern societies, such production of goods or services usually receives a wage or salary. However, h

Social Construct

A social mechanism, phenomenon, or category created and developed by society; a perception of an individual, group, or idea that is 'constructed' through cultural or social practice.

Researcher Bias

A researcher's personal beliefs and values are reflected not only in the choice of methodology and interpretation of findings, but also in the choice of a research topic.

Researcher Effect

The difference that is made to an activity or a person by it being observed. People may well not behave in their usual manner whilst aware of being watched, or when being interviewed while carrying out an activity.


Giving or given as an answer; responsive.
Law- A defendant, especially in a divorce or equity case.


Positivism is a way of thinking developed by Auguste Comte and is based on the assumption that it is possible to observe social life and establish reliable, valid knowledge about how it works.
The belief that knowledge should be derived from scientific ob

Postmodern Family

A term that describes the variation in modern day families two parents and single parents married and unmarried couples and multigenerational households.


Theory that modern social development is more than just the end of the era of industrialism, but rather a complete break with the concept of "modernity" (institutions and modes of life based on the ideas of a shape to history, the concept of continuing pr

Pilot Studies

Surveys using a limited number of respondents and often employing less rigorous sampling techniques than are employed in large, quantitative studies.


The sociological study of large-scale social systems and long-term patterns and processes.


The sociological study of small groups and social units within a larger social system.


A written or printed paper furnishing information or evidence, as a passport, deed, bill of sale, or bill of lading; a legal or official paper.


Reliability is the degree to which a measurement instrument gives the same results each time that it is used, assuming that the underlying thing being measured does not change.

Significant Others

A person, as a parent or peer, who has great influence on one's behavior and self-esteem.

Nature v. Nurture

Arguments between sociologists that say that either people are born with their attributes and social reality, or their social reality is a product of their environment.


Verstehen roughly translates to "meaningful understanding" or putting yourself in the shoes of others to see things from their perspective.

Weberian Theory

Argues that owning the means of production is not the only form of wealth. Weber says that people can accumulate wealth by earning income and owning commodities. Social statuses matter more than economic class, in the eyes of Weber, because it introduces

Confluent Love

Active and contingent love, as opposed to the 'forever' qualities of romantic love. Confluent love seems to be the type of love people are involved in these days. People are often taking up separation or divorce, and there is less sexual exclusiveness in


The doctrine that all actions are determined by the current state and immutable laws of the universe, with no possibility of choice.

Economic Determinism

A doctrine that states that all cultural, social, political, and intellectual activities are a product of the economic organization of society.


A form of deception that involves presenting false, fabricated information as though it were true

Free Will

The doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.


The theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial.


Sociological perspective that investigates the rules concerning how people create ad sustain meanings in everyday life.


Theory that, as capitalism expands, the working class adopt the norms and values of the middle class as their wages and living standards improve.


Minority group at the apex of society or a social group who have power and influence over others.


Theory, dating from the late eighteenth century, based on the observation that women are systematically disadvantaged in society, and that women have the right to equality with men in all spheres of life.


Sociological perspective which emphasizes the functional importance of institutions in society, and their role in maintaining a value consensus which leads to continuity in that society.


Culturally learnt aspect of a person's sexual identity. People are biologically female or male, but their behavior is either feminine or masculine as defined by the social expectations of society. In this way, behavioral differences between men and women

False consciousness

Marxist term meaning that the wooers fail to see the true nature of their exploitation, or their real interests, owing to the power of bourgeois ideology.


An idea that people assume to be true about the world. A set of learned interpretations that form the basis for cultural members to decide what is and what is not logical and correct.


Organization of society in such a way that the wealth and means of production are privately owned by capitalists, commodities are produced for profit through a market mechanism, and workers are free to sell their labor to the highest bidder.


Prejudice or discrimination against an individual on the basis of age, on the assumption that particular age groups are superior or inferior.


Type of organization that is based on agreed and established rules and procedures. It is organized hierarchically and staffed by full-time, salaried officials (bureaucrats).


Owners of the means of production in capitalism (the capitalists).


Subject class in capitalism. This group (the industrial working class) are exploited by the bourgeoisie and are defined by as haven only their labor power to sell to the highest bidder.

Blue-Collar Worker

Manual worker, whether skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled.

White-Collar Worker

Non-manual worker, though this term is increasingly used to describe those whose work is non-professional and non-managerial (e.g. clerical or other office work).

Working Class

Social class comprising those workers who earn their income through manual labor, often referred to as blue-collar workers. In Marxist theory, comprises all people who sell their labor (proletariats), predominately blue-collar workers in Marx's lifetime.


Division of society into a hierarchy of unequal social groups who have differential access to material goods and power (e.g. groups defined by class, gender, age, and ethnicity).

Technological Determinism

Idea that technological developments direct, in a casual way, developments in industry, the economy and the wider society.

Social Action

Interaction of people, or actors, with each other in social situations.


Belief and/or behavior based on the assumption that a social is inferior/superior on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin (defined by reference to certain inherited physical or biological characteristics). Often used to justify political and material in

Case-Study Method

A type of research that teas as its subject a single case or a few selected examples of a social phenomenon, such as work groups, families or communities. A variety of methods may be used in case-study research, but quantitative analysis is less common th


Process of industrial development in which countries evolve economically, from producing basic, primary goods to using modern factories for mass-producing goods. At the highest levels of development, national economies are geared mainly toward the deliver

Universalistic Values

Values which base the judgement of individuals on meritocratic criteria (e.g. you get a job on the basis of qualifications and suitability).

Critical Theory

Approach to the social sciences developed by Frankfurt Institute in the 1930s and 1940s. It is an interdisciplinary theory theory drawing on the early work of Marx and the lat work o Freud. It aims to criticize, as well as understand, society and is there


The case-study method applied to the study of groups or communities, examining the rules by which social reality is constructed.

Ethical Issues

Moral: the "should" and "should nots" of actions and behaviors, form basics for actions, framework for evaluation of behavior.

Experimental Group

A subject or group of subjects in an experiment that is exposed to the factor or condition being tested.

Marital Breakdown

Is the legal grounds for divorce based on circumstances that impair marital functioning, such as spousal desertion or long-term separation.


System of mass production on assembly lines, developed by Henry Ford, undertaken in large factories, with work-tasks increasingly simplified.

Extended Family

A family is vertically extended if it contains at least three generations (e.g. grandparents, parents, children), usually living under the same roof. Cousins uncles, aunts for a horizontally extended family. The nuclear family is at the core of any extend


People who desire slow, evolutionary change in society or, in some instances, no change, in order to conserve traditional institutions, relationships and behavior.

Core Countries

Countries that have a central position in the world economy, mostly the high industrialized countries (e.g. USA, Western Europe, and Japan).

Periphery Countries

Countries which play only a marginal role in the world economy, for example less-developed countries that are dependent on the developed, or core, industrial economies.


Theory that rejects the idea of a unified sociological paradigm, and is critical of all theories because they all contain the subjective element of the observer. Consequently, sociology (and other sciences) must accept a wide variety of perspectives as in


Setting free or releasing of a group from social injustice, subordination, prejudice or abuse.

Egalitarian Society

Society in which everyone is treated as being equal.


A belief that individuals are rewarded for what they do and how well rather than on the basis of their ascribed status.

Longitudinal Research

Research which is replicated over a period of time to fid out how much change is taking place in a society or smaller group.


Processes and methods employed in transformation of tangible inputs (raw materials, semi-finished goods, or subassemblies) and intangible inputs (ideas, information, know how) into goods or services.

Hawthorne Effect

A change in a dependent variable that occurs as a result of the participants' recognition that they are engaged in a study.


A sociological approach that generalizes about everyday forms of social interaction in order to explain society as a whole.

Interpretive Sociology

Another term for phenomenology, which emphasizes the role played by actors in interpreting their social situation.


A systematic method for collecting data from respondents including questionnaires, face- to- face or telephone interviews, or a combination of these.

Looking-Glass Self

Describes the way a sense of self develops. People act as mirrors for one another. We see ourselves reflected in others' real or imagined reactions to our appearance and behaviors (Cooley)/
Charles Horton Cooley's term for a self-image based on how we thi


A technique for collecting information based on social interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee. Interviews vary in style and format. from the structured interviews based on questionnaire, the unstructured interview based on a list of topic


According to Erikson, this stage is regarded as crisis of emotional & financial self-sufficiency verses dependency.

Age Stratification

The unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege among people at different stages of the life course.

Beanpole Family

A family structure that is common today and has a tall thin shape because it includes multiple family generations but has relatively few people in each generation.

Civil Partnership

The legally recognised union of a man and a man, or a woman and a woman (Civil Partnership Act 2004). Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters including: tax; employment benefits; income-related benefits;

Empty-Shell Marriage

The spouses feel no strong attachments to each other, and outside pressures keep the marriage together rather than feelings of warmth and attraction between the partners.

New Man

In the 1890s, fears that natural resources would soon disappear and that alternative sources would have to be found abroad. Protests led to a push for a more aggressive foreign policy while others considered acquiring colonies that might expand our world

Liberal Feminist

Emphasize that gender differences are relatively small; these differences would be even smaller if women had the same opportunities as men.

Radical Feminist

Feminists believe there is a need for a whole new system in which the government, media, and all individuals realize the fundamental women's oppression being supported and perpetuated by the current social system. Their focus is on the private sphere and

Marxist Feminist

The assumption that women are exploited by both capitalism and patriarchy. because most women have relatively low-wage jobs and few economic rescources crimes such as prostitution and institutionalizes women's dependence on men and results in a form of fe

Black Feminist

Assumes that gender is the same for all classes and races. Gender inequality is not the same across class and race divisions. Black women were not present in many feminist movements, because they ignored the issue of race. Class, race, and gender all inte

Gay Family

Two or more people share a same sex orientation and live together with or without children, there are 6-10 million children raised in these households.

Common-Law Family

Common Law Marriage is an alternative to traditional marriage. Instead of obtaining a marriage license, a man and woman who live together and "intend to be married" can become common law spouses without a license or a wedding.


Economic units that provide factors of production to the resource economy and use the income received to purchase goods and services in the product market. (note: goal = to make most efficient use of resources and income they have).

Conjugal Roles

The roles played by husband and wife. Segregated conjugal roles are where the husband is breadwinner and the wife is homemaker with leisure spent separately. In joint conjugal roles, husband and wife each perform both roles and spend their leisure time to

Instrumental Roles

These involve being a protector and provider, such as being the bread winner, doctor, lawyer. we typically expect males to be in these roles.

Expressive Roles

Focuses on relationships within the family and requires her to provide the love and emotional support needed to sustain the family (mother.

Double Burden

A term used to describe a society's expectation that women continue to perform their unpaid household work while also participating in the paid workforce.

Single Parent Family

Type of family group that occurs when one parent leaves the nuclear family because of divorce, separation, desertion, or death.

Methodological Pluralism

in science, the use of multiple methods of controlled observation to study different facets of complex phenomena from more than one methodological vantage point.

Official Statistics

Statistics produced by local and national government, government agencies and organisations funded by the government.


Also called interpretive sociology; Emphasizes the role played by actors in interpreting their situation.

Primary Data

Data collected using hands-on tools such as interviews or surveys to answer a question for a specific research project.

Secondary Data

Information that has already been compiled by others and published in journals and books or made available online.


STRUCTURALISM - SAUSSURE studies how one creates meaning through signs or codes in al our social behavioral systems. Language is the main branch of this new science.

Overt Observation

Those being observed are informed of the observer's presence and purpose. Subject(s) may alter their behavior in an artificial manner.

Organic Solidarity

Durkheim's term for the interdependence that results from people needing others to fulfill their jobs; solidarity based on the interdependence brought about by the division of labour.

Mechanical Solidarity

Durkheim's term for the unity (a shared consciousness) that people feel as a result of performing the same or similar tasks.

Sampling Error

The difference between a sample result and the true result if the entire population had been interviewed.

Privatized Family

A home centred family that has little contact with extended kin or neighbors.

Rite of Passage

A ceremony or ritual marking an individual's transition from one social status to another, especially marking the young person's transition to adulthood.

Serial Monogamy

A form of marriage in which a person may have several spouses in his or her lifetime, but only one spouse at a time.

Social Construction

The process by which people creatively shape reality through social interaction.

Symmetrical Family

Authority and household tasks shared between male and female partners.

Triple Shift

As well as working full time in paid employment and doing the bulk of household work, women are also responsible for the "emotional work" in the family.


Relating to or involving all stages from production to sale.


A psychologist who studied the basic elements that make up conscious mental experiences.

Traditional Society

A society in which the past is thought to be the best guide for the present; characterizes tribal, peasant, and feudal societies.

Modern Society

A society with far more tasks to be done, often played out in an urban setting (organic solidarity - �mile Durkheim). Different tasks done by different people, gender becomes important in the division of labour.

Value Consensus

The idea that most of society has a collective agreement on values. For example, some people consider "individualism" to be an American value.

Value Judgement

A judgement that is subjective, based on a personal view or a matter of opinion.

Value Freedom

The idea that the beliefs and prejudices of the sociologist should not be allowed to influence the way research is carried out and evidence is interpreted.


Any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviors that are controlled or observed in a study.

Cross-Sectional Surveys

Obtaining data about a population at one moment in time. Most commonly used because it's easy to collect data.

Action Theory

Relationship of society to the environment in shaping social and cultural behavior. Forceful leaders strive to advance their positions through self-serving actions and as a result, may create change.


A particularly controversial term in sociology. Hans Eysenck defined intelligence as abstract reasoning ability, measurable through different tests. It is often though to be innate.

Field Experiments

Studies that take place in a natural environment but the independent variable is still manipulated by the experimenter.

Forces of Production

Marx's term to refer to the technology used to produce economic goods in a society.

Relations of Production

In Marxist theory, the social roles and relationships that are generated by the mode of production, including such things as class, ownership, "management," and in some lines of thinking "family.

Manifest Action

Intended Action of social institution (e.g. a religious ceremony as an act of collective worship), a term used by functionalists.

Latent Function

Unintended action of a social institution (e.g. the way a religious ceremony can unite a group), a term used by functionalists.

Moral Panic

Wave of public concern about a social activity or group, which becomes seen as a threat to the common values or interests of society as a result of exaggerated, stereotypical and sensationalized coverage by the mass media or politicians.

Monopoly Capitalism

Marxist term to describe the situation that occurs in mature capitalism where firms become larger due to take-over and can control the market, for example through cartels.

Domestic Labor

Work done to maintain the home and family, usually unpaid.
The home is often viewed as a place of liesure; women's work is often not seen as real work because it took place in domestic/private sphere.


Collective farms grouped together to organize farming and plan public services.

Domain Assumptions

Views on what you think matters most cant be proven or disproven in science or social science how you see the world (Hobbes/Rousseau).