In this article, we have discussed sociological concepts and more on key terms and concepts in sociology.
A few examples of sociological concepts are social mobility, social identity, norms and values, social stratification and labelling. These are essential topics that focus on how individuals are influenced by society.
It also looks at how individuals influence the society they live in.
Continue reading this guide to find out the sociological concepts and more.
What Are the Key Terms and Concepts in Sociology?
According to StrudySmater.co.uk, if have studied sociology, then you must be familiar with some recurring sociological concepts commonly used in theories and research.
Understanding the meaning of these recurring concepts is very important. it’s also crucial to understand how these recurring concepts are used and applied in sociological research, especially if you are a student.
The following are some key concepts and terms in sociology.
- Socialization (including primary and secondary)
Let’s explore the sociological concepts to understand their impact on society.
The term “Macrosociology” defines the large-scale approach to studying sociology. By using a macro-sociological approach, sociologists study the structural process within society holistically.
This allows sociologists to study the common relationship between society and societal processes.
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Microsociology refers to the study of society using a small-scale approach. It involves studying and observing human interaction within a society.
Interactionists agree that this is the best way a society should be studied. They believe that individuals influence and shape society and not otherwise.
Microsociology studies society on a smaller scale and focuses on issues such as interactions and processes within society.
Social stratification refers to the classification of groups into a hierarchy. The groups are classified based on their social-economic status like income, wealth, etc.
Social stratification is classified into three layers in Western society according to Sociologygroup.com. There is the upper class, the middle class, and the lower class.
There are other subdivisions within a social class. An example is the upper-middle class.
We can point out another example in the West. For instance, the division between African-Americans and white Americans in the United States.
Slavery may have been abolished for over two centuries, but blacks in America had to deal with Jim Crow laws and systemic racism.
Social mobility simply refers to the movement of groups, families or communities within the social stratification of society. This movement could be downward and upward and it could cause a change in the community or family’s social status.
Societies offer various opportunities for communal or familial mobility. In Western society, their system is built to present opportunities to individuals who have worked their way up.
The Western system acknowledges academic achievements which tend to secure lucrative jobs for an individual to move up the system.
Marxism is an economic, political, and social theory named after the great German philosopher, Karl Marx. The term “Marxism” tries to examine and understand the effects of capitalism on production, economic development, and labour.
It also focuses on the occurring challenges between the bourgeoisie (the capitalist class) and the proletariats (the working class or lower class).
According to Sociologygroup.com, Marxism was propagated by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels during the 1848 Communist Manifesto.
Karl Marx believed that the working class controlled the means of production and that the capitalist class were exploiting the labour of the bourgeoisie.
Socialization (Primary and Secondary)
Socialization is simply defined as a continuing process whereby a person acquires an identity and learns the norms and values of a given society.
Generally, there are two types of socialization which include primary and secondary socialization.
Primary Socialization: This occurs when a child learns and understands the norms and values and behaviours accepted within a society.
Secondary Socialization: Unlike primary socialization, secondary socialization occurs when an individual learns and understands what an individual within a small group considers appropriate.
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Agency is among the sociological concepts and it’s defined as the capacity of individuals to make important decisions. It’s the ability to act independently on your own will.
Colonialism is the practice of acquiring full or partial control over another nation, occupying it and exploiting it for economic gains.
The Europeans are famous for this practice. They settled in different continents like North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. The African continent and Australia were also occupied by the Europeans, including several islands scattered across the world.
The term counterculture refers to a movement that rejects or opposes mainstream cultural values. A culture whose values and norms differ from those of society according to Helpfulprofessor.com.
A counterculture is always at odds with mainstream cultural values and sometimes in direct opposition to the prevailing norms.
An example is the “hippie” counterculture established during the 1960s in the United States. Back then, there were protests against the U.S. government getting involved in the Vietnam War.
A coercive organization is a term by Max Weber which refers to an organization that uses all kinds of intimidation and threats to make its members comply with odd and strict rules.
According to Investopedia.com, conflict theory was first developed by German philosopher Karl Marx. Conflict theory is a theory that society finds itself in a state of perpetual conflict as a result of competition for limited resources.
Culture describes the norms and values, beliefs, practices, and language that a group of people share in common within society. Subcultures emerge from various cultures within our society.
An individual can be a member of multiple cultures and can still fit in between two cultures.
Gender socialization is the act of teaching people how to behave appropriately to suit societal expectations of their gender. It’s important for little boys to learn how to demonstrate masculinity.
It’s also important for girls to learn how to demonstrate feminity.
Functionalism is a sociological perspective that clearly states that society is characterized by some rules and norms.
Generally, functionalists often use the human body as an example. They perceive different aspect of society as the different parts of the human body which is all interconnected.
According to Sociologygroup.com, a functionalist theory will always support the gender hierarchy in families. Functionalists believe that there are specific roles in a family that should be performed by the father or mother.
The children are not left out as they also have roles to perform to ensure that the family is part of a functional society.
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Inequality is among the sociological concepts and it’s often used to describe social inequality in sociology.
Social inequality describes the condition of unequal access to the benefits of being a member of society.
Groupthink occurs when a small group of individuals arrive at a consensus without reasoning or evaluation of the consequences. According to helpfulprofessor.com, American psychologist Irving Janis introduced the term to better explain the psychological idea behind certain foreign policy decisions.
Irving Janis further explained and gave examples like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam War.
In-groups and Out-groups
An in-group is a social group that an individual belongs to and identifies as a member of that group. While an out-group is a social group that an individual feels and does not want to identify with.
Out-group is the direct opposite of in-group. Both sociologists and psychologist often perceive in-groups as being biased which sometimes lead to marginalization.
A paradigm is a perspective often used to formulate certain theories. There are three core paradigms in sociology which include conflict perspective, functionalist perspective, and symbolic interactionism.
We all live in a society where we share and interact with other people. Generally, there are a total of six different types of society.
A stereotype is a generalized idea about a specific group of people or things. African-American and Muslims are usually stereotyped in mainstream films.
According to Sociologygroup.com, American sociologist C. Wright Mills introduced the term “Sociological Imagination” in one of his books published in 1959.
An individual that usually indulges in sociological imagination should be able to separate himself from an odd situation.
We can understand sociological imagination in a certain way. For instance, social outcomes are based on things that we do.
A few years ago, the economy of nations around the world was affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Countries around the world went into recession and we were affected as well.
Most of us lost our jobs and discovered new talents. Businesses were affected and some business owners were on the verge of losing everything.
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Social facts refer to the values, cultural norms and behaviours that are “eternal to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him” (Emile Durkheim).
Sociological concepts include feminism which is a term with many different uses.
Feminism as a term is often used by writers to refer to a political movement in the West and Europe. There are those who use the term to give meaning to the belief of systematic injustice against women.
Hence, it’s common to differentiate between feminism as a political movement and feminism as a belief system.
Ethnocentrism refers to the judging of one’s culture, values, practices, beliefs, etc. There are several examples of ethnocentrism and you can check it out for yourself.
If you are an individual who has experienced discrimination at some point in your life, perhaps you may have a different definition of the term.
Discrimination is hurting and it affects the mental state of those discriminated against. Responses to discrimination are usually protests or mass demonstrations.
There are several sociological concepts in sociology. We listed some of the concepts and terms in sociology which include macro-sociology, micro-sociology, culture, norms, values, and socialization.
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- helpfulprofessor.com: 33 Key Sociological Concepts (A To Z List)
- sociologygroup.com: 10 SOCIOLOGICAL CONCEPTS THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW
- studysmarter.co.uk: Key Sociological Concepts
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