Glossary
Chapter 1
alienation A feeling of powerlessness and estrangement from other people and from oneself.
anomie A condition in which social control becomes ineffective as a result of the loss of shared values and of a sense of purpose in society.
bourgeoisie Karl Marx’s term for the class comprising those who own and control the means of production.
class The relative location of a person or group within a larger society, based on wealth, power, prestige, or other valued resources.
conflict perspectives The sociological approach that views groups in society as engaged in a continuous power struggle for control of scarce resources.
content analysis The systematic examination of cultural artifacts or various forms of communication to extract thematic data and draw conclusions about social life.
control group Subjects in an experiment who are not exposed to the independent variable.
correlation Exists when two variables are associated more frequently than could be expected by chance.
developed (high-income) countries Countries with highly industrialized economies; technologically advanced industrial, administrative, and service occupations; and relatively high levels of national and per-person income
developing (low-income) countries Primarily agrarian nations with little industrialization and low levels of national and personal income.
dysfunctions A term referring to the undesirable consequences of any element of a society.
ethnicity The cultural heritage or identity of a group based on factors such as language or country of origin.
ethnography A detailed study of the life and activities of a group of people by researchers who may live with that group over a period of years.
experiment A research method involving a carefully designed situation in which the researcher studies the impact of certain variables on subjects’ attitudes or behaviour.
experimental group Subjects in an experiment who are exposed to an independent variable.
feminist perspectives Sociological perspectives that focus on the significance of gender in understanding and explaining inequalities that exist between men and women in the household, in the paid labour force, and in the realms of politics, law, and culture.
field research The study of social life in its natural setting: observing and interviewing people where they live, work, and play.
functionalist perspectives Sociological perspectives based on the assumption that society is a stable, orderly system.
global interdependence A relationship in which the lives of all people are intertwined closely and any one nation’s problems are part of a larger global problem.
high-income economies Countries with an annual per capita gross national income over US$9386.
industrialization The process by which societies are transformed from dependence on agriculture and handmade products to an emphasis on manufacturing and related industries.
interview A research method using a data-collection encounter in which an interviewer asks the respondent questions and records the answers.
latent functions Unintended functions that are hidden and remain unacknowledged by participants.
low-income economies Countries with an annual per capita gross national income of US$765 or less.
lower-middle-income economies Countries with an annual per capita gross national income between US$766 and US$3035.
macrolevel analysis Sociological theory and research that focuses on whole societies, large-scale social structures, and social systems.
manifest functions Open, stated, and intended goals or consequences of activities within an organization or institution.
means of production Karl Marx’s term for the tools, land, factories, and money for investment that form the economic basis of a society.
microlevel analysis Sociological theory and research that focuses on small groups rather than large-scale social structures.
middle-income countries Nations with industrializing economies, particularly in urban areas, and moderate levels of national and personal income.
participant observation A research method in which researchers collect systematic observations while being part of the activities of the group they are studying.
perspective An overall approach to or viewpoint on some subject.
postmodern perspectives The sociological approach that attempts to explain social life in modern societies that are characterized by postindustrialization, consumerism, and global communications.
power elite C. Wright Mills’s term for a small clique comprising top business, political, and military officials.
proletariat (working class) Karl Marx’s term for those who must sell their labour because they have no other means to earn a livelihood.
qualitative research Research method that uses interpretive description (words) rather than statistics (numbers) to analyze the underlying meanings and patterns of social relationships.
quantitative research Research method focused on scientific objectivity and data that can be measured numerically.
questionnaire A research instrument containing a series of items to which subjects respond.
race A term used by many people to specify groups of people distinguished by physical characteristics such as skin colour; also a category of people who have been singled out as inferior or superior, often on the basis of real or alleged physical characteristics, such as skin colour, hair texture, eye shape, or other subjectively selected attributes.
reliability In sociological research, the extent to which a study or research instrument yields consistent results.
research methods Strategies or techniques for systematically conducting research.
secondary analysis A research method in which researchers use existing material and analyze data originally collected by others.
social facts Émile Durkheim’s term for patterned ways of acting, thinking, and feeling that exist outside any one individual.
societal consensus A situation whereby the majority of members share a common set of values, beliefs, and behavioural expectations.
society A large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory and is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.
sociological imagination C. Wright Mills’s term for the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society.
sociology The systematic study of human society and social interaction.
survey A research method in which the researcher gathers facts or attempts to determine the relationships among facts.
symbol Anything that meaningfully represents something else.
symbolic interactionist perspectives The sociological approach that views society as the sum of the interactions of individuals and groups.
theory A set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain, and (occasionally) predict social events.
urbanization The process by which an increasing proportion of a population lives in cities rather than in rural areas.
validity The extent to which a study or research instrument accurately measures what it is supposed to measure.
variable In sociological research, any concept with measurable traits or characteristics that can change or vary from one person, time, situation, or society to another.