Course Notes – Introduction to Sociology on

These notes are raw and unedited.  Probably very unhelpful for anyone but me.

Unit 1

previous notes were written in a physical notebook

Challenge 2: Sociological Theories

Social conflict theory – inequalities and conflicts lead to societal change.

“Philosophers have only interpreted the world. The point is to chage it.” – Karl Marx

This is macro-level orientation – zoomed out look at the structures that shape society

Karl Marx

Writings approx 1840-1870
Class conflict was the motor of history
Not giving laborers their fair share is by its nature exploitative

Max Weber

German sociologist
Writings late 1800s
Power and “social honor”
Old boys clubs, political parties
People aren’t looking for capital, they are looking for social power

C. Wright Mills

American socialogist
“Power elite” – small gorup of people at the top of society
Runs counter to the interests of the rest of societ, therefore dangerous

Race Conflict Theory

Race conflict theory – Emphazises inequality and conflict between races

Ida Wells-Barnett

Born of slave parents, freed by the emancipation proclamation
Activist, journalist & lecturer who spoke out against lynching

W.E.B. Du Bois

First POC to receive doctorate from harvard
Founded Atlanta Sociological Labratory
Double consciousness – black people see themselves as themselves, but also as white people see them

Gender Conflict Theory

The chief conflict at a whole is between men and women.

Harriet Martineau

19th century – first femail sociologist
Advocated for womens education

Jane Addams

Founded the Hull House in Chicago in 1889 – services for the poor

Symbolic Interation Theory

Society results from everyday interactions. Basically society is the collection of social norms that just happen.
This is micro-level

Interpretive sociology

Way to study society that focues on meanins that people attach to the things they do

Social Darwinism

Charles Darwin

“Social Darwinism” is actually discredited

Herbert Spencer

English philosopher, mathemetician
Creator of social darwinism
Coined “survival of the fittest”
Only the most fit societies advance
Simple social organizations get replaced by more complex ones

Challenge 3 – Sociological Research

The scientific method

  1. Define the problem
  2. Review the work of others
  3. Hypothesize
  4. Design a research plan
  5. Collect data
  6. Interpret data
  7. Explain the findings
  8. Pose new questions

Research methodology

Four methods: experiments, survey, secondary sources, participant observation

Experiments: highlly controlled. Super rare because you can’t control society. “natural experiments” – just pay attention to society

Survey research: interview or questionnaire, focus groups

Secondary sources: look at other work. Census, eg.

Participant observation – Zoom in on one person and watch what they do

Research Methods: Examples

Lois Benjamin & In-Depth Interviewing

Benjamin studies successful black people. Wrote a book called The Black Elite.
Interviewed 100 people in depth. Open ended questions with follow ups.

William Foote Whyte & Participant Observation

Lived for three years in an Italian community of Bostin 1930.
Wrote a book called Street Corner Society.
Refuted a lot of stereotypes.

Conducting Sociologic Research

Value Relevant Research vs Value Free Research

Coined by Max Weber
Value-relevant: recognition that your values guide your research topics.
Value-free: research should be objective

Variables and Hypotheses

hypotheses: educated guess
independent variable: thing that drives the change. Eg, dads income
dependent variable: thing that changes. Eg, my income


sample – small representative group
snowball sampling – start with people you know and then people they know, and so on.

Standford Prison Experiment

Philip Zimbardo – this course says he found out prison makes people into sadists, but apparently hasn’t caught up to the modern day interpretation that this experiment was a crock of shit.

Informed consent – experimental subjects have a right to know about responsiblities, risks, dangers

Descriptive Statistics

Mean, median, and mode. Describe a typical subject. Typical, not average.

Inferential Statistics

Using data to make inferences about the population as a hole.

Correlation and Causation

Spurious correlation – fucking up correlation
Hawthorne effect – Subjects change their behavior because of being studied.


Concept – a simplified
Indepent variable, dependent variable

Reliability and Validity

Reliability – consistency in measurement of variables
Validity – actual measure the thing

Quality Research


Max Weber coined it – German for To Understand. Look for subjective meanings that people attach to their lives.

Gender and Research

Androcentricity – Biased focus on the male perspective
Gynocentricity – Biased focus on the female perspective

Can lead to overgeneralizing.
DO pay attention to gender to avoid gender blindness.

Double standard


When your gender can interfer with your research. Eg, a female research keeps getting houndeed for dates by male subject.

Evaluating Sources

Authority – a person or org with recognized official expertise



Intro to Sociology – Unit 2

Challenge 1: Culture in Society

Society & Culture

Society – a group of people who live in a delineated space (like a nation), with shared common symboles, languages and beliefs
Culture – learned sets of behaviors and ideas in a society

Non-Material and Material Culture

Non-material culture – Ideas, beleifs, thoughts, spoken language
Material culture – Buildings, tools, artifacts

Culture Shock

Adjusting to a new culture

Symbols and Language


Symbols help define culture
Cultural transmission – The way children adopt culture-appropriate behavior


Benedict Anderson – the US is an imageined community. Never see all of your society, but you share language and symbols.
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis – Culture and thought patterns of a people are strongly influenced by their language



Informal norms Eg, classroom ettiquette.
Formal norms Legally binding things
Prescriptive norms Tell you what you should do
Proscriptive norms Tell you what not to do


William Graham Sumner – American socialogist. Died 1910. Coined “mores and folkways”

Mores Elevated norms with moral dimensions. Eg, murder, incest, child abuse.
Taboo mores that have proscriptive bans


Folkways Norms that govern casual interaction. Minimal consequences, but widely followed.

Values & Beliefs

Values & Beliefs

Values Cultural guidelines for what is good & bad
Beliefs Things people think are true
Values come first and structure beliefs

Ten Core American Values

Robin Williams Jr – wrote a book in the 70s

  1. Equal opportunity
  2. Acheivement and success
  3. Material comfort
  4. Activity and work
  5. Practicality and efficiency
  6. Progress
  7. Science and rational thinking
  8. Democracy
  9. Freedom
  10. Group superiority

Lenski’s Five Types of Society

Gerhard Lenski

Looked at the relationship between technology, environment, and society. Technology is the most basic driving force for sociocultural evolution.

Five Stages of Social Organization

  1. Hunting & Gathering – very simple tools
  2. Horticulturalism & pastoralism
  3. Agriculture – plows driven by animals – causes explosion in inequality
  4. Industry – really pouring gas on productivity and inequality
  5. Post-industry – modern day, knowledge working

Cultural Integration

Cultural Integration

Cultural integration – Culture is cohesive and systematic. One thing changing causes other changes

Cultural Lag

Cultural lag Some parts of culture change faster than others


Charles Darwin

Sociobiology – An approach to sociology which explains how culture is affected by biology.

Not actually Darwin’s term, from what I can tell, just based on his ideas.


Often focuses on behaviors in sex and family. Some think everything boils down to sex & reproduction. The author of this section clearly disagrees; eg, why do women now choose careers over family?

Challenge 2: Diversity in Culture

Real and Ideal Culture

Ideal culture what society wants to be
Real culture self explanatory

Eg, american exceptionalism

Subculture and counterculture


Subculture specific cultural patters of a subset of society

eg, dog owners, gun owners, trekkies


Subcultures that run counter to dominant cultures

Feminists were a counterculture, but are largely considered dominant culture at this point.

High Culture and Popular Culture

High vs Pop Culture

High Culture of society’s elite
Pop aka low culture – the rest of us

Pierre Bourdieu

Sociologist, anthropoligist, social scientist
Studed how class position relates to people’s tastes & consumption
Book Distinction, A social Critique of the Judgment of Taste – People internalize their class position at a young age. Called it habitus

Ethnocentrism & Cultural Relativism

Cultural Universals

Cultural Universals Things found in all societies


Ethnocentris My culture is better than others

Understandable, sometimes necessary part of human social evolution

Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism Cultures should try and be understood on their own terms



Multiculturalism Recognizing and encouraging diverse cultures
Monoculturalism Going for just one monoculture

Challenge 3: Theories of Deviance

Justice System & Punishment

Criminal Justice System

Police, courts, law

Due Process

Everybody follows the Bill of RIghts

Four Functions of Punishment

  1. Retribution – pure punishment
  2. Deterrent – set an example for others
  3. Rehabilitation – “fix” the offender
  4. Societal Protection – lock them away from everyone

Types of Crime

Three Types of Crime

  1. Crimes against the person
  2. Crimes against property
  3. Victimless crimes

White Collar and Organized Crime

White collar crime

White and blue collar terms came out in early 1900s

Ponzi schemes, embezzlement, insider trading

Corporate Crimes

Knowingly selling contaminated produces, eg

Organized Crime

Business-like complex criminal groups

Societal Protection

Locking up or executing people to protect society

Community-Based Corrections

Shock probation a small shock of jail or prison, then probation
Parole Early release from prison

Prisons and Recidivism

US has a high rate, no real reform in prison

Death Penalty

Data suggests it doesn’t work as a deterrent

Functions of Deviance

Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Deviance

He is a structural functionalist

Four functions of deviance

  1. Clarifies cultural values
  2. Helps to define morality
  3. Helps to unify society
  4. Promotes social change

Kai Erikson and the Study of the Puritans

No society without deviance
Witch trials are the most famous example, and helped serve the four functions

Strain theory

Robert K Merton American sociologist.

Society goals (wealth, honor, material comfort) creates deviance by people straining to achieve the goals by criminal means.

Deviance is structural, and will always exist

Merton’s four responses to strain

  1. Innovation – people make up culturally deviant ways to get to the goals
  2. Ritualism – People play by the rules, and pursue the goas, but internalize they will never reach them due to strain. Causes lots of pain
  3. Retreatism – People drop out an don’t bother to even chase the goals. drug addicts, homeless
  4. Rebellion – People reject the goals and means totally

Conflict Theory and Deviance

Alexander Liazos and Conflict Theory of Deviance

Deviants aren’t necessarily harful to society, just to the ruling elite. Deviance comes from being powerlesws

Labeling Theory

Symbolic Interaction Theory and Labeling Theory

Social actions happen, people interpret the action and attach labels to the behavior. If someone labels something as deviant, the offender might internalize that

Erving Goffman and Stigma

People get stigmatized, then live up to their labels

Retrospective and Projective Labeling

Retrospective labeling People re-interpret historical actions in light of new deviant behavior
Projective people look to the future and imagine behaviors based on current deviance

Medicalization of Deviance

Idea that illness causes deviance, not criminality. Labels shift, so treatment shifts. Medicine, not prison.

Control Theory

Travis Hirschi and Control Theory

People perceive their own actions through the eyes of others. If you know youra ctions will be perceived negatively, you might control your deviant behavior.

Hirschi’s Four Mechanisms of Control Theory

  1. Attachment – attachment to friends, family, society
  2. Opportunity – If you have a bright future, you’ll behave
  3. Involvement – This sounds exactly like attachment
  4. Belief – Strong morals and subscriptions to the authority of society

Differential Association Theory

Edwin Sutherland and Differential Association

Sutherland – crimonologist early 20th century

Theory is that your peer group will subscribe to deviance

Race Gender and Deviance

Gender and Deviance

Women historically have veen controlled by men. That makes it easy for them to get labeled as a deviant.
Harriet Matineau – advocate for equal education & opportunity

Race & Deviance

Whites historically occupy a position of power

Hate crimes

Challenge 1 – Aspects of Social Life

Social Construction of Reality

Social construction of reality Reality is malleable and changeable. Groups get together and define reality.

Social Construction and Symbolic Interaction Theory

Interactions create the social construction of reality

Thomas Theorem

Things are real as defined by their consequences. It doesn’t matter that there are no ghosts under the bed; the affect on a scared kid is the same as if there were.

Named after WI Thomas and Dorothy Thomas


Harold Garfinkel’s term for the study of the way people come to understand the world and their surroundings.
Common assumptions that underly everyday interactions. Eg, “How’s it going” – no one wants a real answer

Goffman’s Dramaturgical Analysis

Erving Goffman wrote The Presentation of Self in 1959.

Society is like a stage, and people are acting to present themselves

presentation of self

Front and back stage

Nonverbal communication

Personal space
Losing face
Idealization – Creating favorable impressions of themselves so not to appear selfish


status Social position that a person occupies
Status sets The multiple statuses a person occupies

Ascribed & Acheived Status

self explanatory

Master status

The main, overarching status that defines you, good or bad


roles Duties and functions that correspond to your statuses

Role conflict & strain

conflict – stress from juggling roles from multiple statuses
strain – stress from ONE status

Role Exit

Quit your role, do something else.

Nature vs Nurture

Biology or upbringing
Socialization Learning ones culture and internalizing norms & behaviors
Personality What the fuck do you think it means

Freud’s Model

id biological impulses
superego collective norms & values of society
ego the in-between; balance of carnal desires and cultural norms

Watson’s Behaviorism

John Watson – everything we do is learned. Nurture only

Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory

Jean Piaget
Sensorimotor Stage birth-2 – everything you know is based on sense
Preoperational stage 2-7 – Learning symbols and language
Concrete Operational Stage 7-11 – recognize cause & effect in relationships
Formal Operational Stage 12+ – think abstractly and use advanced symbols

Erikson’s 8 stages

Erik ERikson

  1. Infancy
  2. Toddlerhood learning skills
  3. Preschool – learning to negotiate the world
  4. Preadalescense 6-13 – industriousness vs failure
  5. Adolescense 13-19 – defioning self, unique identiy
  6. Young adulthood – trying to build intimate relationships
  7. Middle adulthood – meaning in life, world contributions
  8. Old age – integrity vs despair

Mead’s Theory of Self & Cooley’s Looking Glass Self

George Meade

  1. self develops through social interactions
  2. interactions involves exchange of symbols
  3. understanding the symbols involces being able to take the role of another

CH Cooley
The self is a product of our social interactions

  1. imagination of our appearance
  2. imagining others are evaluating us
  3. Feeling & reactions to the imagined

Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg
Moral reasoning – right vs wrong

  1. Preconventional level – grounded in physical feelings & sensations
  2. Conventional – grounded in cultural norms
  3. Post-conventional – abstract – quality, justice

Carol Gilligan
Gender and Moral Development
Boys – justice perspective, rules make right & wrong
Girls – care & responsibility, interpersonal dynamics

Socialization: the Life Course

  1. a – childhood birth-12
  2. b – adolescence – 13-19 – confusing to navigate
  3. c. adulthood – 18-60 – most accomplishments
  4. d. old age

socialization – lifelong process
gerontocracy – old people have the most power
gerontology – studying old people

Socialization – Peer Groups & Media

Anticipatory Socialization
Learning the social behaviors of a group to which you desire to belong; e.g. sororities and frats, coworkers and bosses, and the football team and cheerleaders.

Mass Media
Any outlet of social and cultural information that reaches a mass audience impersonally; e.g. television, internet, magazines, radio, movies, and newspapers.

Peer Group
A group of individuals who share common traits such as interests, age, and class position.

Resocialization & Total Institutions

The attempt to fundamentally change a person’s, typically and inmate’s or an enlistee’s, ingrained personality by carefully controlling the environment.

Total Institution
An institution set apart from the rest of society in which individuals are controlled, monitored, and shaped by an administrative staff.

Challenge 3 – Family Structures & Social Groups

Primary Groups
A smaller social group whose members share intimate, lasting personal connections.

Secondary Groups
A larger and more impersonal social group that joins together for a specific purpose or goal.

Social Groups
Any collection of two or more people who regularly interact with each other for some purpose.

Reference Groups

Reference Groups
A social group with which people identify and to which they refer when evaluating themselves and their behavior.

Group Conformity Studies

Group Conformity
Changing your behaviors or beliefs so that you are more in line with the sentiments and practices of a group.

Janis’ Groupthink
Irving Janis’ advanced the idea that the tendency towards group conformity results in taking a narrow view of an issue, akin to “tunnel vision.”

Solomon Asch Study
Study of social conformity involving visual perception from the 1950’s where accomplices to the study answered incorrectly, putting pressure on the subjects to do so as well. Asch found that one-third of all subjects chose to conform by answering incorrectly.

Stanley Milgram Research
Series of research studies from the 1960’s to determine how people respond to authority. The premise of the study was that subjects were told they were participating in a study of how punishment affects learning. The subjects were assigned the role of a teacher and told to administer shocks for incorrect responses. Almost two-thirds of the subjects administered shocks up to potentially deadly levels at the prompting of the researcher.

Family Basic Concepts

Extended Family
A family composed of your nuclear family plus extended relatives such as grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.

A group of two or more people who cooperate economically and are related by blood, marriage, or affiliation.

A culturally patterned social relationship based on common ancestry, marriage, or adoption.

A legal union usually involving economic cooperation, sexual activity, and (sometimes) childbearing.

Nuclear Family
Limiting the scope of family to two adults and their children.

Theoretical Approaches to Family

Social Conflict Approach to Family
Conflict theories of families emphasize the family as an instrument for the consolidation and transfer of wealth and argue that patriarchy subjugates women within families.

Social Exchange Approach to Family
Social Exchange theorists base their understanding of families on cost benefit analysis, where people seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs. This same cost benefit calculus is brought to bear on partner selection and family and relationship dynamics.

Structural-Functional Approach to Family
Structural-Functional theories of families emphasize how families operate as institutions and relate to other institutions in society. In particular, they emphasize what the important functions of the family are for the maintenance of society.

Symbolic-Interactionist Approach to Family
Symbolic-interactionists assume that families create meaning for their members, and that family identities emerge from the combination of personality and social roles within families.

Marriage Patterns

A marriage norm requiring someone to marry a person from inside his or her group.

A marriage norm requiring a person to marry someone from outside his or her group.

A marriage between two people who are socially and culturally similar.

A marriage between two people exclusively.

A marriage to multiple people at the same time.

Divorce, Blended Families, and Cohabitation

Blended Families
Families composed of children and some combination of biological and step-parents.

Causes of Divorce
Though not exhaustive, social scientists identify six general reasons particular people divorce: 1) Individualism; 2) Romantic Love Fades; 3) Women are Less Dependent on Men; 4) Stress; 5) Divorce is More Culturally Accepted; 6) Divorces are Easier to Obtain Legally.

When two adults occupy the same dwelling as part of a romantic relationship (i.e. living together).


Bilateral Descent
Tracing descent through both the males and the females in society.

The system people use to trace their kinship relationships through generations.

Matrilineal Descent
Tracing descent through the females in society.

Patrilineal Descent
Tracing descent through the males in society.

Family Violence

Common, under-reported, confusing for kids

In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization
A process where sperm and egg are united outside of the human body and then implanted into the female uterus.

Challenge 4 Organizations & Behavior

Characteristis of Bureaucracy

A model for organization that is designed to accomplish tasks with the maximum efficiency possible.

Calculated, practical, cost-benefit reasoning designed to accomplish tasks efficiently.

Rationalization of Society (Process of, Max Weber)
The movement from traditional ways of thinking, behaving, and feeling, to modern, rational ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Beliefs, values, practices, and customs that are handed down from generation to generation in society.

Weber’s Six Characteristics of Bureaucracy
Max Weber argued that the bureaucratic organizational form is characterized by six features: 1) Specialization and Division of Labor; 2) Hierarchical Authority Structures; 3) Rules and Regulations; 4) Technical Competence Guidelines; 5) Impersonality and Personal Indifference; 6) A Standard of Formal, Written Communications.

Problems of Bureaucracy

Bureaucratic Alienation
A sense of powerlessness caused by the impersonal and dehumanizing features of bureaucracy.

Bureaucratic Inertia
The tendency of bureaucratic organizations to perpetuate and recreate themselves.

Bureaucratic Ritualism
A steadfast insistence on following the rules and regulations of a bureaucracy to the point of potentially undermining the bureau’s goals.

When a few people rule many people.

Formal Organizations

Coercive Organizations
Organizations that are involuntary for their members (i.e. prisons and mental institutions).

Formal Organizations
Large social groups intentionally organized to achieve specific goals (i.e. government agencies, the United States Post Office, corporations, and higher education).

Normative Organizations
Organizations that exist to pursue some goal in common that participants believe has moral value or is good for society (also sometimes called voluntary associations).

Organizational Environment
Social influences outside an organization that affect its operation, and even its existence.

Utilitarian Organizations
Organizations that pay people for their efforts and thereby provide jobs.

Group Leadership

Authoritarian Leadership
Leadership that is take-charge and demands conformity; typically effective at accomplishing group goals.

Democratic Leadership
Leadership that includes all group members in the decision making process.

Expressive Leadership
A form of group leadership that is focused on solving group conflicts and maintaining group cohesion and harmony.

Instrumental Leadership
A form of group leadership that is focused on completing tasks and accomplishing the goals of the group.

Laissez-Faire Leadership
Leadership that lets the group run itself; typically least effective in accomplishing group goals.

Scientific Management

McDonaldization of Society
The idea that many aspects of life are modeled after the approach taken by the restaurant chain. There are four main principles: 1) Efficiency, 2) Predictability, 3) Uniformity, 4) Control.

Scientific Management (Taylorism)
The application of scientific principles to analyze workflow and efficiency in business and production.

George Ritzer
American sociologist who studies American patterns of consumption, as well as globalization and social theory. Ritzer developed the “McDonaldization of Society” in a book of the same name.

Challenge 1 – Elements of Diversity

Race and Ethnicity: Prejudice and Racism

Shared cultural characteristics, or shared ancestral origins.

A group that is different from the dominant majority, usually judged according to race, ethnicity, or gender.

An attitude or judgment about another group usually involving stereotypes.

The socially constructed meaning of human traits such as skin color, facial shape, eye color, and hair texture.

Prejudiced ideas and stereotypes put into action.

A statement of questionable validity that is indiscriminately applied to all members of a group.


Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka
A landmark supreme court decision that ended institutional discrimination in the American education system.

Action based on prejudice.

Institutional Discrimination
Discrimination that results from the day-to-day operations of some institutions in society.

An attitude or judgment about another group that is unfair and usually involves stereotypes.

Theories of Inequality in Race

Authoritarian Personality Theory
A theory of prejudice that sees prejudice as the result of personality development throughout the lifecourse.

Conflict Theory of Prejudice
A theory of prejudice that sees prejudice as rooted in class, and that people in power use prejudicial attitudes to justify their position and entitlements.

Culture Theory of Prejudice
A theory of prejudice that holds that we live in a culture of prejudice and that prejudicial attitudes are transmitted through generations culturally.

Scapegoat Theory
A theory that holds that people blame another person or group for their problems, typically the powerless, when they cannot direct their anger at the appropriate agent.

Inequalities in Patterns of Interaction

An extreme form of segregation that is encoded in law.

When people of a minority group abandon their cultural traditions and adopt the cultural traditions of the dominant majority.

The mass killing of one group of people by another group of people.

Race Mixing between people, especially with respect to offspring.

A situation in which unique cultural traditions are upheld, but people are united under the umbrella of civic society or polity.

When groups are kept apart from each other.

Gender Roles and Sexism

Gender Roles
Expectations for behavior based on one’s gender status (male or female).

A theory that multiple forms of oppression (e.g. race, gender, age, sexuality, disability) combine to create overlapping experiences of discrimination.

A form of social organization where women have power and control and hold the dominant positions in social life.

A form of social organization in which males hold the dominant positions in society and in the household, holding authority over wives and daughters.

The view that one sex is better than the other.


Liberal Feminism
Argues that women are able to show their equality with men through individual pursuits. The basic inequalities between men and women, according to liberal feminists, are thought to be found in the divide between public and private.

Radical Feminism
A fringe form of feminist theory that argues that patriarchy is so entrenched that the socially constructed category of “gender” needs to be eliminated entirely by separating reproduction from women’s bodies.

Socialist Feminism
The branch of feminist theory that argues that the inequality and exploitation of women is inextricably linked with the system of capitalist production (i.e. capitalism structures inequality).

Problems in Gender Inequality

The advocacy for equal rights between men and women.

Sexual Harassment
Uninvited sexual advances in the form of words, gestures, or contact.

Functions of Religion

Emile Durkheim’s Three Functions of Religion
Durkheim highlighted three important functions of religion: 1) Social Cohesion; 2) Social Control; 3) Provides Meaning.

Everyday objects and ideas, or the mundane and the commonplace.

A term meant to capture how religious a person is, or in other words, how important religion is in someone’s life.

Objects and ideas in society that are treated with reverence, deference, and awe.

Stratification in Society

Social Stratification

Caste System
A rigid system of social stratification that does not allow for social mobility.

Class System
A system of social stratification based on economic achievements in the lifecourse.

Industrial Revolution and Societies
The industrial revolution and the transition to industrial capitalism largely got rid of caste systems of social stratification and replaced them with less rigid and more flexible class systems of stratification.

Social Inequality
A condition in which members of a society have different amounts of wealth, power, and prestige.

Social Mobility
The degree to which one can move upwards or downwards in society.

Social Stratification
Like layers of soil, or “strata,” social stratification is the hierarchical layering of groups of people in society from high to low.

Class System

Class System
A system of social stratification based primarily on economic achievements over the lifecourse.

A system of social rewards based on individual efforts and achievements (i.e. on merit).

Status Consistency
Consistency across various measures of inequality (i.e. wealth, prestige, and power).

Structural Social Mobility
Social mobility that occurs when structural changes, rather than individual efforts, cause groups of people to move up or down in society.

Kuznets Curve

Kuznets Curve
A graphical representation of the idea that as societies advance in technological sophistication, they at first become more unequal before later reaching industrial society, which tends to lessen the inequality that had been built up.

Davis Moore Thesis and the Egalitarian Society

David Moore Thesis
A theory that argues that some social stratification is good for society.

Belief that all people are equal and deserve rights and opportunities.

Marx and Class Conflict

Karl Marx
Nineteenth century German philosopher who studied the economic and social consequences of the rise of industrial capitalism. Marx has had a profound impact on the development of many social science disciplines, including sociology. In particular, his work is often cited as the foundation of much of the conflict theoretical tradition in sociology.

Separation from a group, activity, or society.

Capitalist (Bourgeoisie)
Also known as the bourgeoisie, these people are the owners of the means of production.

Class Conflict
Antagonism between social classes.

Means of Production
The raw materials, machines, inputs, and factories used in the act of commodity production.

Common laborers who do not own the means of production, only their labor

Religious Organizations

The institution of religion that is integrated into society as a whole.

A religious-like devotion to a state and the citizenship ideals of that state.

A small, close-knit group who devoutly follows the instruction of a charismatic leader.

A church that recognizes religious difference and exists separate from the nation state.

A highly traditional worldview that dismisses all other religious groups by taking one book as word-for-word truth.

A smaller, less formal and more spontaneous religious group that exists apart from the larger society.

State Church
A church that is linked to a nation state.

Calvinism and the Protestant Ethic

Protestant Ethic
An ethos born of Calvinism that champions hard work, frugality, material prosperity, and disciplined labor in a calling as pleasing to God.

John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential thinker of the Protestant Reformation who advanced the idea of predestination and founded Calvinism. The doctrine of predestination asserts that either one’s salvation in heaven, or condemnation in hell, has been predetermined by God before they are born.

Max Weber
Hugely influential, founding sociologist who argued that the ideas of Calvinism, specifically predestination, imbued people in society with a strong work ethic such that traditional attitudes towards work and labor were replaced by a capitalist orientation towards work.


Oldest form of religion, hardly practiced
A religious belief that holds that the natural world, and elements within it like plants, animals, rocks, and clouds, have consciousness and affect the happenings of humanity.

Gender and Gender Stratification

George Murdock
An American anthropologist who studied cross-cultural comparisons of preindustrial societies.

Across societies, some tasks (e.g. cooking) were primarily performed by women; others (e.g. hunting) were mostly practiced by men.

Margaret Mead
An American cultural anthropologist whose work focused on gender.

The socially constructed identity (statuses and roles) associated with being male or female.

Gender Stratification
The ranking of groups based on perceived differences in the status of group members, in this case between men and women.

Challenge 3 – Stratification in the US and the World

Race and Ethnicity in the US

African Americans
Americans who trace their ancestry to Africa.

Arab Americans
Americans who trace their ancestry to the Middle East.

Asian Americans
Americans who trace their ancestry to Asia.

Hispanic Americans (Latinos)
Americans who trace their ancestry to Spanish speaking Latin American countries.

Native Americans
Americans who trace their ancestry to the inhabitants of North and Central America prior to the arrival of Europeans.

Social Construction of Race
The notion that our ideas of race and our conceptual racial categories are created through social interaction, rather than being “natural” propensities.

White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs)
Americans who trace their ancestry to primarily English ancestors and have a Protestant cultural heritage.

White Ethnic Americans
Americans who trace their ancestry to disadvantaged, white European groups.

Income, Wealth, and Occupations

Blue-Collar Occupations
Occupations involving manual labor.

Conspicuous Consumption
Buying goods and services to display social status publicly.

Money earned from goods, services, or investments.

Intergenerational Social Mobility
A change of social position or rank, moving up or down, from one generation to the next.

Intragenerational Social Mobility
A change of social position or rank, moving up or down, within one generation or lifetime.

Socioeconomic Status (SES)
A measure of social standing based on a composite picture that captures different dimensions of social inequality like differences in power, status, and class.

The monetary value of your assets and income, minus any money you owe as debts.

White-Collar Occupations
Occupations dealing more with information processing rather than physical labor.

US Classes

Lower Class
Members make less than $30,000 a year.

Middle Class
Members make between $30,000-$200,000 a year; contains 3/5 of Americans.

Upper Class
Members make more than $200,000 a year.

Working Class
Members from both the lower class and the upper class who make up to $50,000 a year and have little or no savings or investments.

Working Poor
People who work hard but cannot seem to get ahead, they live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to make ends meet.

Poverty, Welfare and Power

Absolute Poverty
A form of poverty that is so extreme that individuals suffering from absolute poverty live in danger.

Colonial Power
Power gained through colonial settlement.

Corporate Welfare
Aid or tax breaks to corporations with the hopes that they create jobs which trickle down to individuals.

Feminization of Poverty
A shift in the demographics of poverty in which we see a higher proportion of females in poverty than before.

Functional Poverty
A form of poverty in which a person can only meet their basic, functional needs of food and shelter with little else.

A social phenomenon describing members of society who do not have adequate housing.

Imperial Power
Power gained through imperial expansion, through establishing economic control over a territory for the purpose of exploitation or resource extraction.

Individual Welfare
Aid to individuals directly.

Relative Poverty
A form of poverty where one person is poor relative to another.

Capitalist World Economy

Immanuel Wallerstein
American sociologist who developed World Systems Theory (Capitalist World Economy) to explain global economic stratification.

Capitalist World Economy (World Systems Theory)
A theory that holds that core countries are intimately connected with peripheral and semi-peripheral countries in a world system, and that the core exploits the periphery.

Core Countries
Powerful countries that economically, politically, and culturally control most of the world system.

Periphery Countries
Weak countries that have been integrated into the world system in a dependent position.

Semi-Periphery Countries
Countries in the middle that benefit from close relationships with core countries in the exploitation of periphery countries.

High, Middle and Low Income Countries

High Income Countries
Countries with an above average standard of living as measured against the average global standard of living.

Low Income Countries
Countries with a below average standard of living as measured against the global average.

Middle Income Countries
Countries with a standard of living that is consistent with the global average.

Colonialism and Neocolonialism

When a country expands and takes over another country for economic gain.

Global power based on economic exploitation by multinational corporations.

Slavery and Human Trafficking

Chattel Slavery
A form of slavery which treats slaves as property.

Child Slavery
The slavery of young people.

Debt Bondage (Economic Slavery)
A form of economic slavery where a company charges an employee for services and then pays that worker too little to ever be able to pay off the debt.

Human Trafficking
A form of global slavery where people are moved from one place to another for the purpose of forced labor.

Servile Forms of Marriage
The slavery of a marriage partner, typically a female.

Modernization and Dependency Theory

Dependency Theory
A theory that explains global inequalities with respect to historical oppression.

Modernization Theory
An explanation for global stratification that asserts that technological and cultural differences between nations serves as the basis of global stratification.

Rostow’s Stages of Modernization
A theory that holds that affluence can be attained by all nations if they move through the following stages: 1) Traditional Stage; 2) Preconditions for Take-off; 3) Take-Off; 4) Drive to Technological Maturity; 5) High Mass Consumption.

Challenge 1 – Modern Society

Individuals and Modernity

A social character in which people are grounded in tradition and steadfastly conform to time-honored ways of doing things.

A society where bureaucracy and the quest for material success have weakened traditional forms of social solidarity.

A social character in which people have an outward focus on making good impressions and being well-liked.

A stage society enters after modernity in which we move beyond modern social institutions.

Social Character
The typical patterns of personalities and behaviors in society at a particular historical point in time.

Ferdinand Tonnies

A sociologist who studied social groupings and is famous for his categorization of social groups as Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.

A form of community organization where group membership and tradition create bonds and solidarity.

A form of community organization where individualism, modernization, and inter-dependent social needs creates solidarity.

Social Movements

Alternative Social Movement
A social movement aimed at small change for a small number of people (i.e. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, or MADD).

Redemptive Social Movement
A social movement aimed at big change in a small number of people (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous).

Reformative Social Movement
A social movement aimed at small changes for a large number of people, or for society as a whole (i.e. the environmental movement).

Revolutionary Social Movement
A social movement aimed at big changes for everyone in society (i.e. a socialist revolution.)

## Social Movement Theories
Culture Theory
An explanation for social movements that asserts that movement participants draw on cultural resources and symbolic representations to communicate the message of the movement.

Deprivation Theory
An explanation for social movements that asserts that movements happen because people feel like they lack something.

Mass-Society Theory
An explanation for social movements that asserts that movements attract people who are socially isolated and gain a sense of purpose from movement participation.

New Social Movement Theory
An explanation for social movements that asserts that movements now happen because of quality of life and identity issues.

Political Opportunity Theory
An explanation for social movements that asserts that movements happen as a reaction to the flaws of capitalism.

Relative Deprivation
Where a person or a group of people feel deprived of something relative to another person or group.

Resource Mobilization Theory
An explanation for social movements that asserts that movements happen because of, and are benefited by, access to resources.


Computer Technology
Technology that uses electronic devices for processing and storage.

Macro Level
Looking at a big area, wide focus, or society as a whole.

Micro Level
Looking at a small area, a locality, or at a personal level.

Challenge 2 – Education

Education and Schooling

John Dewey
American philosopher whose ideas were influential in education reform.

A social institution that transmits skills, knowledge, cultural norms, and the basic facts important to a society.

Equal Opportunity
A principle advocating for the equality of life chances.

Mandatory Education Laws
American education laws requiring that children attend school until the age of sixteen or through the eighth grade.

Progressive Education
The idea that schools should make an effort so that education is relevant to people’s lives.

A system of formal educational instruction.

Functions of Schooling

Cultural Innovation Function of Schooling
A function of schooling that creates new ideas and technologies that have ramifications for society and culture.

Latent Functions of Schooling
Latent functions of schooling are those things that are not immediately recognized like schooling providing childcare, and schooling keeping young people out of the workplace as competitors.

Social Integration Function of Schooling
A function of schooling that shapes all manner of diverse pupils so that they come to share similar cultural norms and values.

Social Placement Function of Schooling
A function of schooling that sorts individuals such that they go on to fill various positions in the division of labor as adults.

Socialization Function of Schooling
A function of schooling that passes on the skills and attributes that students will need in order to grow into successful, functional adults in society

Schooling and Literacy

Functional Literacy
The knowledge of basic reading and writing so that a person can function in everyday life.

Home Schooling
A growing trend whereby students receive their formal schooling at home.

Parochial Schooling
Schooling that provides religious instruction alongside regular academic coursework.

Preparatory School Model
A form of private education designed to prepare students ages 14-18 for higher education.

School Problems

Functional Illiteracy
The absence of the basic reading and writing skills needed for everyday life.

Grade Inflation
The tendency to give work of comparable quality proportionately higher marks over time.

Student Passivity
Bored, disinterested students who are passive about their educational success.

Separating students by virtue of their scores on standardized tests.

Jane Elliot and Jonathan Kozol

Jane Elliot Experiment
Jane Elliot, an American school teacher from Iowa, developed the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise to teach white third graders about racism. This experiment divided the class into privileges and disadvantages associated with eye color to mimic social privileges and disadvantages based on race.

Jonathan Kozol Reproduction Theory
Jonathan Kozol, an American educator and activist, has extensively researched how schools operate to pass advantage and disadvantage on to children through a process called social reproduction.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
A situation where you expect something to happen to yourself or others, and knowingly or not, encourage that outcome.

Challenge 3: Health


A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

Holistic Medicine
A type of health care that asserts that all aspects of a person’s well-being should be considered in a preventative approach to health management.

A social institution that focuses on the treatment and prevention of illness.

Social Epidemiology
Study of how various diseases on the one hand, and good health on the other, are distributed throughout a population.

Socialized Medicine
Government owned and operated health care.

Health Problems

The acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that attacks the body’s immune system.

Body Mass Index (BMI)
A calculation which judges body weight by comparing it to height.

Eating Disorder
Abnormal eating habits which involve excessive behaviors and psychological instability.

A state of unhealthiness from carrying too much weight and fat.

Paying for Health Care in the US

2010 Health Care Reform
A health care reform in the US attempting to make health care affordable by reforming the system.

Direct-Fee System
A system which has patients pay for medical services directly.

Health Maintenance Organization
A prepaid health care plan in which a fee is paid in advance for all necessary health care.

Sick Role

Psychosomatic Disorder
A mental illness with physical symptoms.

Sick Role
A temporary role a person assumes when sick that exempts them from normal day-to-day obligations.

Challenge 4: Population & Environment

Global Population

Demographic Divide
The large difference between countries’ birth and death rates.

Evolution of Cities
The process by which human cities have evolved throughout our history.

The process of urban population growth, of more and more people living in cities.

Zero Population Growth
Occurs when the rate of population growth is not too big or too small, but maintains the population at a consistent level.

Population Growth

Birth Rate
A rate of births over a specific time (normally expressed as x per 1,000 people).

Death Rate
A rate of deaths over a specific time (normally expressed as x per 1,000 people).

The empirical study involving the structure of human populations.

The ability to conceive children, which is measured statistically and referred to as birth rates.

Infant Mortality Rate
A rate of deaths of children under 1 year old over a specific time (normally expressed as x per 1,000 people).

Life Expectancy
The average years of life for a person within a group or population.

Movement of people into or out of an area.

Measuring how frequently death occurs in a given population

US Cities

Colonial Settlement
Occurs when colonial powers establish a community in a territory they have occupied.

An extensive metropolitan area containing numerous cities and suburbs.

Metropolitan Era
Refers to the time period from 1860-1950 when urbanization expanded in the United States due to historical circumstances and industrialization.

Urban Decentralization
Social movement of people away from city centers to the suburbs.

Urban Expansion
The growth of urban areas to cover more geographical area.

Malthusian Theory and Demographic Transition Theory

Demographic Transition Theory
A theory of population growth that argues that population growth varies as society progresses technologically.

Malthusian Theory
A theory of population growth that argues that rapid population growth increases would outpace food production leading to social chaos.

Population Pyramid
This pyramid graphically represents a population broken down by age and sex.

A way to express the number of males relative to the number of females in a population

Louis Wirth and Urban Ecology

Louis Wirth
American sociologist from the Chicago school of urban qualitative researchers who studied city life.

George Simmel
people who live in urban areas become desensitized due to overstimulation

Urban Ecology
The study of human interactions with, and within, an urban environment.

Environmental Concepts

The study of systemic interactions within the environment.

The natural interactions of organisms within an environment.

Environmental Deficit
The idea that humans are causing lasting damage to the natural world, we’re taking more than we’re giving.

An equation that attempts to explain how much of an impact a population has on the environment.

Natural Environment
The material reality of the natural world found on the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Sociological Understanding of the Environment

The diversity of biological life within an environment.

Ecological Sustainable Culture
A culture that allows for a healthy, long-term, and continued human interaction with the environment.

Environmental Racism
An institutionalized form of racism that results in minority groups suffering disproportionately from environmental dangers.

Global Warming
The rise in average temperature of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere since the late 19th century.