GCSE Sociology: Studying Society key terms and definitions

Key terms and definitions for the studying society topic, note: does not include research methods.

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Key Terms for Studying Society
Agents/agencies of socialisation ­ Institutions in society which
establish/reinforce norms and values in people. An example is the family; they
socialise their children to behave normally and teach them acceptable behaviour
like manners.
Beliefs ­ ideas and attitudes that people have in society.
Conformity ­ to conform means to behave and think like the mainstream culture
around you, to abide by the law and accept society's goals and attitudes, and not
strive to stand out.
Conflict/consensus ­ a conflict theory is one that says that society consists of
groups which are all fighting for money and resources, and society functions
through exploitation. Marxism and Feminism are both conflict theories. A consensus
theory is very different to a conflict theory and says that society functions
through interdependence and shared goals between groups/individuals in society.
Functionalism is a consensus theory.
Culture ­ Shared patterns of behaviour, beliefs and attitudes within groups in
Cultural differences ­ the differences between cultures (in terms of norms,
values, beliefs, opinions, behaviour etc)
Customs ­ established habits, modes of behaviour or traditions, often within
groups in society.
Discrimination ­ treating people differently or denying them opportunities because
of prejudices you have towards the group they belong to.
Ethnic group/ethnicity ­ culture or nationality to which an individual belongs.
Feminism ­ The feminist theory says that many systems in society are patriarchal
(male dominated) and looks at aspects of society through the perspective that
women are oppressed or denied opportunities in those situations.
Functionalism ­ functionalism believes that society functions because of each part
of society playing its part well with a shared goal, and it believes that if one part
of society is dysfunctional, the whole of society will be affected.
Gender/Sex ­ the biological approach says that your sex (genetics) controls
certain aspects of your characteristics, but the sociological idea of gender looks
at how attributes and typical characteristics can be attributed to the sex a person
is and how a person acquires these traits through gender socialisation.
Identity ­ the way a person sees themselves both as an individual and part of
society. Many things can contribute to this, including age, social class, ethnicity,
nationality etc.
Marxism ­ a conflict theory that says that society works through exploitation in
capitalist societies of the lower classes, and society exists of groups fighting for
money and resources. It looks through aspects of society through the perspective
of class inequality.
Multicultural society ­ Our society today is described as being multicultural, which
means that many cultures and backgrounds exist within it.
Nature/nurture ­ nature is the biological idea that the person you become depends
on your genetics, whereas nurture is the sociological idea that the way you are is

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Norms ­ ideas, attitudes and behaviour patterns that are `normal' and expected of
people in society.
Roles- multiple roles and role conflict ­ a role is a part you play, set pattern of
behaviour expected for certain situations, for example being a mother. A person is
unlikely to have just one role, for example someone can play a role as a mother, a
wife, a working person, and may be members of groups in which she has a role.…read more

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Secondary socialisation is
carried out by your peer groups, your school and other institutions, in which norms
and values are reinforced, and more complicated expectations are established, for
example what is `cool' and `uncool.'
Status- ascribed and achieved ­ your status is your social position in life, often
related to which class you are in. Your ascribed status is aspects of your position
which you have no control over, such as your gender, age, `race' etc.…read more


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