AICE Sociology Vocab

action theory

The theory that self-serving actions by forceful leaders play a role in civilization's emergence.


Conceptions that people accept as true, concerning how the world operates and where the individual fits in relationship to others.


An economic system based on private ownership of capital

case studies

An in-depth investigation of behaviour or events. Studying an individual, a small group or a situation.


A cause and effect relationship in which one variable controls the changes in another variable.


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

collective conscience

the common faith or set of social norms by which a society and its members abide; a set of common assumptions about how the world works.

comparative analysis

compares 2 or more groups and looks for differences between them


Adjusting one's behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.


An organized movement of citizens and government agencies to improve the rights and power of buyers in relation to sellers.

content analysis

A research method for systematically analyzing and making inferences from text

control group

In an experiment, the group that is not exposed to the treatment; contrasts with the experimental group and serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment.


A measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other.

covert observation

observation in which the observer's presence or purpose is kept secret from those being observed

critical theory

A contemporary form of conflict theory that criticizes many different systems and ideologies of domination and oppression.

cross-sectional surveys

surveying single sample of some population at one time


Beliefs, customs, and traditions of a specific group of people.


Common practices followed by people of a particular group or region


Every event, including human actions, is caused by previous events in accordance with the natural laws that govern the universe.

domain assumptions

derived from real life experiences; they are how we make sense of the world around us

economic determinism

A branch of Marxism which says that societies are determined by their economies (or economic systems).

ethical issues

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


A method of sociological analysis that examines how individuals use everyday conversation and gestures to construct a common-sense view of the world

experimental group

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


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

social change

Significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and culture, including norms and values.

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 engineering

Any technique that uses social skills to generate human interaction that entices individuals to reveal sensitive information

social identity

the "we" aspect of our self-concept; the part of our answer to "who am I?" that comes from our group memberships

social order

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

social policy

A national government's course of action designed to promote the welfare of its citizens

social problems

a condition that undermines the well-being of some or all members of society and is usually a matter of public controversy

social sanctions

rewards or punishment that encourage conformity to social norms

social self

Your concept of self as developed through your personal, social interactions with others.


The process by which people acquire the values, beliefs, attitudes and behavioral norms of their culture.


the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract culture


The two-way process by which we shape our social world through our individual actions and by which we are reshaped by society.


A group of people with shared value systems based on common life experiences and situations


the quality of possessing perspectives, experiences, feelings, beliefs, desires, and/or power

symbolic interactionism

Approach that focuses on the interactions among people based on mutually understood symbols

field experiments

Experiments conducted in natural settings rather than in the laboratory

free will

The ability to shape one's own life.

functionalist theory

a sociological theory that attempts to determine the functions, or uses, of the main ways in which a society is organized


Sex of an individual


The breaking down of traditional barriers between nation states allowing movement of goods, capital, people and information.

Hawthorne effect

A change in a subject's behavior caused simply by the awareness of being studied


A testable prediction, often implied by a theory

hypothetico-deductive method

When faced with a problem, they start with a hypothesis, or prediction about variables that might affect an outcome, form which they deduce logical, testable inferences. Then they systematically isolate and combine variables to see which of these inferenc


A consistent set of beliefs by groups/individuals

looking-glass self

Charles Horton Cooley's term for a self-image based on how we think others see us


13-18 years


A term coined by Robert N. Butler to refer to prejudice and discrimination against the elderly.

age set

A formally established group of people born during a certain time span who move through the series of age-grade categories together

age stratification

social inequality among various age categories within a society

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

A legal ceremony giving a homosexual couple the same legal rights as a husband and wife


Age 2 to puberty. When permanent teeth grow, nerve pathways mature, and child can learn new skills, and muscle coordination increases.


Collective farms where people work and live together : failed : no incentive to work hard, government profitted everything, agriculture failed. : 38 million people died Mao said death has benifits because they can fertilize the ground


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

confluent love

The idea that post-modern society is characterised by constant search for a better relationship.

dependency ratio

The number of people under the age of 15 and over age 64, compares to the number of people active in the labor force.


Divorce is the legal determination by the state which puts an end to the marital relationship.

domestic labor

work performed in the home, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children

domestic violence

Abuse, physical or mental, that occurs within the home

dysfunctional family

family system in which one or more family members do not fulfill their responsibilities throwing the system out of balance

extended family

Closely related people of several generations such as brother sisters parents uncles aunts grandperent and great grandparents

family diversity

the variety of ways that families are structured and function to meet the needs of those defined as family members

family functions

sense of belonging, emotional security, physical needs, economic needs, socialization

conjugal roles

The role of the husband and wife (or partners) within the family.

functional fit

the ability to function in daily life in many different contexts

functional prerequisites

The needs of the society that need to be met if the society is going to survive

gay & lesbian families

families that the parents are of same sex

gender inequality

The inequality between men and women in terms of wealth, income, and status.


Groups of individuals living together and making joint decisions.

instrumental roles

Functional roles that help the group select, plan, and complete a task.

expressive roles

Functional roles that provide support and maintain the overall group members' needs.


Collective agricultural settlements set up by Jewish settlers in what is now Israel in the late nineteenth century and continuing to the present

kinship patterns

who you are related to

fertility rate

the average number of children a woman of childbearing years would have in her lifetime, if she had children at the current rate for her country


A lifelong union between a husband and a wife, who develop an intimate relationship

marital breakdown

ending a marriage


A society ruled or controlled by women

matrifocal family

family group consisting of a mother and her children, with a male only loosely attached or not present at all


relating to a social system in which family descent and inheritance rights are traced through the mother

nuclear family

A married couple and their unmarried children living together


two people living together, 2 or more individuals agree to own and operate a business together


A form of social organization in which a male is the family head and title is traced through the male line

macro sociology

concerned with the big picture- large social structures such as social institutions (family, education, religion, economics)

lone/single parent family

one parent family

Marxist theory

The ideology espoused by Karl Marx which holds that government is a reflection of economic forces, primarily ownership of the means of production

mass culture

common culture experienced by a large number of people

methodological pluralism

use of multiple methods and more than one theoretical explenation to delve into research questions

micro sociology

has a more narrow focus and is concerned with behavior, interactions and experiences of individuals and small groups in a specific situation

modern industrial society

developed economy, developed country

youth culture

The belief that young people have values, interests, and activities distinct from those of other age groups


Increase in the proportion of the countries population living in towns and cities

symmetrical family

A theory that the roles of husband and wife are becoming more equal within the family

social construction

The process by which people creatively shape reality through social interaction

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.

reconstituted family

also called blended, combined, or remarried family; includes stepparents and stepchildren

privatized family

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

primary socialisation

the initial period of learning the ways of society, usually learned from the family.

postmodern family

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


having more than one wife at a time


Having more than one spouse


A system of marriage that allows women to have multiple husbands


based on or tracing descent through the male line

patrifocal family

Father has the authority, Family group consisting of a father and his children

significant others

People, such as parents, who have special importance for socialization


study of signs and signals

secondary data

Data already collected for some purpose other than the current study.

scientific method

A systematic approach used in scientific study that typically includes observation, a hypothesis, experiments, data analysis, and a conclusion

sampling error

An error that occurs when a sample somehow does not represent the target population.


Assigned behavior


Behavior that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus

researcher effect

a form of reactivity in which a researcher's cognitive bias causes them to unconsciously influence the participants of an experiment.

researcher bias

a tendency for researchers to engage in behaviors and selectively notice evidence that supports their hypotheses or expectations


Ability of a test to yield very similar scores for the same individual over repeated testings


A method of gathering data when the data sources are spread over a wide geographic area.

qualitative data

Information describing color, odor, shape, or some other physical characteristic.

primary data

Data obtained for the first time and used specifically for the particular problem or issue under study.


20th cent. movement in architecture which succeeded the International Style, and which was defined largely by the writings of Robert Venturi, i


A philosophy developed by the French count of Saint-Simon. Positivists believed that social and economic problems could be solved by the application of the scientific method, leading to continuous progress. Popular in France and Latin America.

pilot studies

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


A philosophical approach to studying human experiences based on the idea that human experience itself is inherently subjective and determined by the context in which people live


a model that provides a framework for interpreting observations

overt observation

observation in which those being observed and informed are informed of the observers presence and purpose

official statistics

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


A writer's attempt to remove himself or herself from any subjective, personal involvement in a story


process whereby an individual learns to become an accepted and fully functioning member of a society


based on an analytical understanding of the structure of the conscious mind and analyze the structure of the body and the brain. Ignore individual differences, but excluded women in old research, A psychologist who studied the basic elements that make up


the production and reproduction of social systems through group members' use of rules and resources in interaction.


a social group within a national culture that has distinctive patterns of behavior and beliefs

traditional society

customs are handed down from generation to generation


A method of indirectly measuring distance by creating an imaginary triangle between an observer and an object whose distance away is to be estimated.


Accurate. The degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concepts that the researcher is attempting to measure. Does it measure what its suppose to.

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


theory put forward by Max Weber which states that sociology should be completely objective rather than influenced by moral judgement, according to Wever, the orientation of the kind of sociological interpretation that analyzes human value commitments with


Beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something).


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


An approach to the study of social life developed by Max Weber in which sociologists mentally attempt to place themselves in the shoes of other people and identify what they think and how they feel; translates roughly as "understanding.

Weberian theory

Max Weber - Power to impose ones will on others through wealth, power, and prestige. (social honor is granted to people).

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 functions

The recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern

latent functions

The unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern


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


a study of consumer behavior that observes the act of consuming rather than the act of buying; based on qualitative research

laboratory experiments

Experiment in which conditions are highly controlled.

longitudinal experiments

subjects are followed & periodically reassessed over a period of time

feminist theory

A sociological perspective that emphasizes the centrality of gender in analyzing the social world and particularly the uniqueness of the experience of women. There are many strands of feminist theory, but they all share the desire to explain gender inequa

liberal feminist theory

a view of crime that suggests that the social and economic role of women in society controls their crime rates

radical feminist

believe women have been oppressed by men and that this oppression has served as a model for racial and class oppression

Marxist feminist

Causes of gender inequality: Hierarchy relations of control w/the rise of private property.Class relations are primary;Gender relations are secondary.Process of gender information: A master slave relationship applied to husband and wife.Strategies for Soc

black feminist theory

A strand of feminist thought which highlights the multiple disadvantages of gender, class and race that shape the experiences of nonwhite women. Black feminists reject the idea of a single unified gender oppression that is experienced evenly by all women

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


A form of marriage in which one woman and one man are married only to each other.

sampling techniques

census, random, simple random, stratified, cluster, systematic, convenience


A term encompassing the forms of social organization that characterize industrialized societies, including the decline of tradition, an increase in individualism, and a belief in progress, technology, and science.

post- modernity

living in the moment philosophy that emphasizes individual achievement, social inquiry, empowerment and expression

rite of passage

A ritual marking the symbolic transition from one social position to another

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