Culture: The symbolic and learned aspects of human society. Culture is not biological but, instead, is transmitted and shared via social interaction.
Globalization: A social phenomenon characterized by the growing number of interconnections across the world. Rather than studying society in terms of various nation-states, sociologists today are concerned with multinational and global problems—especially in the face of increasing globalization. Whether globalization is a new phenomenon marking “modern progress” toward becoming “one world,” or simply a new (or even disguised) form of American imperialism, continues to be debated.
Institutions: Patterned sets of linked social practices, such as education, marriage, or the family, that are informed by broader culture, are regularly and continuously repeated, are sanctioned and maintained by social norms, and have a major significance for the social structure.
Issues: Problems extending beyond the individual and local environment. These are institutional in nature and often involve crises in institutional arrangement. The high unemployment rate across the United States is an example of an issue.
Modernity: In sociology, a term referring to the set of historical processes that transformed the traditional order. Early sociologists (specifically, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim) set out to understand the social upheaval and disruption caused by these processes, which include the rise of the nation-state, economic capitalism, bureaucratization, urbanization, and secularization.
Norms: Rules that prescribe correct behavior. In some cases, rules are made official (e.g., as laws). In others, they remain unofficial but commonly understood (e.g., when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited in the United States, people are expected to stand).
Postmodernity: In sociology, a term referring to contemporary developments in historical, social, and economic processes. Unlike modernity, postmodernity is characterized by postindustrial economies, decentralized organization, the cultural turn, derationalization, multiculturalism, life-cycle changes, new inequalities, and globalization. Roles: Bundles of socially defined attributes and expectations associated with social statuses or positions (again, e.g., mother, father, teacher, president).
Social problem: A situation that contradicts or violates social norms and values. Widespread drug abuse and racism are examples of social problems.
Social structures: Patterns of organization that constrain human behavior. These can be formal (such as school or government) or informal (such as peer pressure or trends).
Society: A population distinguished by shared norms, values, institutions, and culture. Societies are often defined by geographic, regional, or national boundaries.
Sociological imagination: As theorized by C. Wright Mills, the ability to understand not only what is happening in one’s own immediate experience but also what is happening in the world and to imagine how one’s experience fits into the larger world experience.
Sociology: The science of society. The sociologist studies how everyday, individual stories and relationships relate to the larger, collective stories of social groups, social systems, and societies.
Status: A position in social relations (e.g., mother, father, teacher, president). Status is normatively regulated; it is assumed that when a person occupies a particular status, he or she will behave in particular ways.
Subculture: The symbols and lifestyles of a subgroup in society, one that deviates from the “normal,” more general (dominant) culture of a society.
Troubles: Personal problems, private matters having to do with the self. An individual’s unemployment is an example of a trouble.
Values: Shared ideas of what is good/bad, desirable/undesirable, or sacred/profane in a society.
Chapter Two: Sociological Methods...