Sociology is made up of numerous key concepts, perspectives, and theories. It can be difficult to understand so use this article seeks to aid your understanding. If there are any words you think should be added, do not hesitate to contact The Team.
Accommodation – A room, group of rooms, or building in which someone may stay or live.
Achieved Status – When an individual acquires a social position due to their own merit.
Ageism – Prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of an individuals age.
Alienation – The state of feeling, being, or experiencing isolation.
Androcentrism – Placing the masculine point of view at the center of culture, history, and understanding.
Anomie – A state arising in society when there are conflicting sets of norms and values which cannot coincide.
Ascribed Status – When an individual acquires a social position due to birth or it simply being assigned.
Bourgeoisie – The owners of the means of production and private property in Capitalist society.
Brexit – The exit of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).
Capital – Wealth, in the form of assets owned or property.
Capitalism – An economic and political system where trade and industry are controlled by private owners. According to Karl Marx, this is also an Epoch (time period) which societies go through.
Class – A group of individuals with similar status, who also have similar levels of wealth and power.
Communism – Where the state owns all of the property and decides what is produced. According to Karl Marx, this is the final Epoch (time period) which all societies are moving towards.
Conflict Theory – Theories which suggest society is in a constant state of conflict over resources. Social order tends thus to be based on power and domination.
Culture – the ideas, customs, and social behaviours of a particular group within a society.
Demography – The study of populations.
Determinism – The belief that all things, including human behaviour have causes. Human bevaiour cannot be attributed to free will then as most times the causes are outside of our knowing and will.
Discrimination – The unjust treatment of people on the grounds of characteristics such as age, ethnicity, nationality etc.
Epistemology – The branch of Philosophy concerned with the theory of Knowledge.
Ethnicity – belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition. (see culture)
Ethnocentrism – Evaluating other cultures by the preconceived standards and customs set by one’s own society.
Exploitation – Treating someone unfairly to benefit from their work.
False Consciousness – A Marxist belief that the Proletariat are not conscious of the true inequality and exploitation taking place at the hands of the Bourgeoisie. The Proletariat have taken on the mentality (norms and values) of the Bourgeoisie; this is False Consciousness.
Family – An intimate domestic group made up of individuals bonded by social ties, blood, sexual relations, and/or the law.
Feminism – A theory and perspective which observes gender in relation to power at the structural and personal level. It also includes actions which seek to bring about greater equality between the sexes.
Free Will – Acting without constraint, no cohersion from necessity, or constraint. Acting on one’s own wishes.
Functionalism – A sociological theory which argues each part of society places a role like the organs within a body.
Gender – The cultural aspects and social expectations of being a male or a female.
Gender Inequality – The unequal treatment of individuals and/or perceptions about individuals based primarily on their gender.
Gender Socialisation – The process of learning the social expectations and attitudes associated with one’s sex.
Hate Crime – A crime motivated by race, sex, religion, or any other particular characteristic. Usually involving violence.
Heterosexism – Discrimination or prejudice against homosexuals on the premise that Heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation.
Homophobia – Discrimination or prejudice against homosexual people.
I – The active aspect of one’s personality.
Interactionism – A sociological approach which argues the way we interact with society and each other is based on the meanings attributed to our actions.
Islamaphobia – Dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims.
Marxism – A Sociological, Political, and Economic theory formed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, largely adopted to create neo and current understandings since.
Me – one’s social identity.
Nationalism – Extreme patriotism characterised by a belief that one’s nation is superior to others.
Norms – The prevalent, expected patterns of behaviour which take place within a particular society, culture, subculture, structure and/or ‘typical’ roles. It should be noted that norms can change from one culture to another.
Patriarchy – A society where women are systematically disadvantaged and oppressed.
Patriotism – Vigorous support for one’s country.
Power – The ability of an individual or group to achieve their own goals or aims when others are prevented from doing so themselves.
Presentation of Self – A theory put forward by Erving Goffman that individuals act out their personality in everyday life, incorporating, clothes, makeup, props, and certain environments to present their ideal self. There is a backstage where individuals can relax and perfect their script.
Primary Socialisation – An early process of learning particular societies norms and values largely provided by caregivers. (see socialisation).
Prejudice – A belief which is not based on experience or reason.
Proletariat – The class who have to work for a living under the Bourgeoisie in a Capitalist society.
Racism – The belief that individuals of a particular race are inferior to one’s own race. This belief will manifest itself through discrimination, prejudice, antagonisms, to at worse attacks and murder.
Revolution – The overthrow of the current order to reinstate another.
Role – The function an individual plays in a particular situation or context.
Role Conflict – When an individual feels conflicted in juggling their different roles and statuses which inevitably lead them in different directions.
Secondary Socialisation – A process of learning a particular societies norms and values largely provided by socialising agents outside of the home. (see socialisation and socialising agent)
Sexism – The discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping of women due to their sex.
Social Change – Alteration in the social order of society.
Socialisation – A process of learning where an individual learns a particular societies norms and values. Sociologists generally agree this process allows for social order but there isn’t agreement as to whether it allows for the maintenance of the current social order or to whether it allows society to function smoothly.
Society – A group of people living within a community which is ordered to a degree.
Sociology – (see the article What Is Sociology?)
Status – The position an individual occupies in a particular setting. It is possible for people to hold multiple statuses’ throughout multiple social settings.
Stereotype – A widely held, fixed and oversimplified image of a particular type of person or thing.
Subculture – A cultural group within a larger culture, often with norms, values, and beliefs which differ from those of the larger culture.
Taboo – Custom restricting or forbidding a certain practice or association with a particular person, place, thing, and/or idea.
Values – Ideas and Beliefs which guide the behaviour of individuals whilst providing the framework for norms. (see norms)
Value Consensus – Agreement throughout society on certain values. (see values)
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We will keep this list updated over time. Please let us know if there are any terms which we should add.
Last Updated: 24th October 2018