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Sociology Notes and Topics on Sociology

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Old Saturday, November 12, 2005
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TABOO. A socio-cultural prohibition on some act, person, place, animal, or plant.

TECHNOLOGY. The application of logic, reason and knowledge to the problems of exploiting raw materials from the environment. Social technologies employ the same thought processes in addressing problems of human organization. Technology involves the creation of material instruments (such as machines) used in human interaction with nature as well as social instruments (such as bureaucracy) used in human organization .

TERRORISM. The use of violence to achieve political ends. Many would restrict the definition to include only those acts committed by non-government groups, but state terrorism is also a major factor in the social world.

TERTIARY SECTOR. That part of an economy that provides services (nursing homes, psychological counseling, and so forth)--engaged in by both private and government entitities.

THEORY. Summary statements of general principles which explain regularly observed events.

THIRD WORLD. Societies in which industrial production is only developed to a limited degree. Many of these societies were former colonies of industrial states. The majority of the world's population (over 70 percent) live in Third World countries.

TOTAL INSTITUTION. An organization in which individuals are isolated for long periods of time as their lives are controlled and regulated by the administration of the organization--such as a prison, mental hospital, or army boot camps .

TOTAL WAR. Warfare in which all the resources of the modern state are committed including a large proportion of the population (both directly and indirectly), all of the armed forces, and a large proportion of the industrial sector of the society.

TOTALITARIANISM. Authoritarian government that attempts to regulate every aspect of socio-cultural life.

TOTEMISM. A system of religious belief studied by Durkheim which attributes sacred qualities to a particular type of animal or plant.

TOTEMS. Symbol associated with a descent group as an identifying insignia.

TRADING NETWORKS. Patterns of economic exchange between companies or countries.

TRADITIONAL STATES. Societies in which the production base is agriculture or pastoralism.

TRANSFORMATIVE MOVEMENT. A social movement to produce major social change in a society.

TRANSITIONAL CLASSES. Marx's term to refer to social classes based on previous relations of production which linger on in the beginning stages a new one--such as peasants or landowners of a feudal system which has become capitalist.


UNCONSCIOUS. Freudian concept referring to motives and ideas unavailable to the conscious mind of the individual.

UNDERCLASS. A class of individuals in mature industrial societies situated at the bottom of the class system that have been systematically excluded from participation in economic life. The underclass is normally composed of people from ethnic or minority groups.

UNILINEAR EVOLUTION. A largely discredited view of social evolution according to which all societies pass through the same stages of development.

UNION. A social organization set up to represent the worker's interests in both the workplace and in the broader society as well.

UPPER CLASS. A social class roughly composed of the more affluent members of society, especially those who have great wealth, control over businesses or hold large numbers of stocks and shares.

URBAN RENEWAL. Governmental programs of encouraging the renovation of deteriorating city neighborhoods through the renovation or destruction of old buildings and the construction of new ones.

URBAN ECOLOGY. An analysis of urban life that examines the relationship between the city and its physical surroundings--based on an analogy with the adjustment of plants and organisms to the physical environment.

URBANIZATION. The increasing concentration of the human population into cities.
The kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah. He indeed is able to do all things. -Quran, Al-Imran, Surah 3:189

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VALUES. Culturally defined standards held by human individuals or groups about what is desirable, proper, beautiful, and good or bad that serve as broad guidelines for social life.

VARIABLE. A characteristic that varies in value or magnitude along which an object, individual or group may be categorized, such as income or age.

VERTICAL MOBILITY. Movement up or down a social stratification system .

VESTED INTEREST. An expectation of private gain that often underlies the expressed interest in a public issue.

VICTIMLESS CRIME. Violation of law in which there is no other person (aside from the offender) victimized, such as drug-taking or illegal gambling.


WELFARE. Government aid (in the form of services and money) to the poor.

WEALTH. Accumulated money and material possessions controlled by an individual, group or organization.

WEALTHFARE. Government aid to the upper and middle classes. Often times this aid is disguised in the form of tax breaks (a deduction for interest on home mortgages) or subsidized services (higher education).

WELFARE STATE. A government system which provides a range of human services for its citizens.

WHITE-COLLAR CRIME. Criminal activities carried out by white-collar or professional workers in the course of their jobs.

WORKING CLASS. A social class of industrial societies broadly composed of people involved in manual occupation. The bulk of these jobs are unskilled, poorly paid and provide few benefits or job security.

WORLD SYSTEM THEORY. Immanuel Wallerstein's theoretical approach which analyzes societies in terms of their position within global systems.


ZERO POPULATION GROWTH (ZPG). Population stability achieved when each woman has no more than two children.

ZWECK-RATIONAL. Rational action in relation to a goal. From Max Weber used extensively in his theory of social action.
The kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah. He indeed is able to do all things. -Quran, Al-Imran, Surah 3:189

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