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THEORY AND METHODS: KEY
DEFINITIONS
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MODERNIST SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES
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Capitalism

Term used originally by Marx
Describes industrial society based on private ownership or property and businesses

Class Conflict

Marxist analysis
The inevitable conflict arising between social classes based on their differing economic
interests

Class Consciousness

Marxist…

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The lack of awareness of being exploited

Flexible Accumulation

Term used by Harvey (Neo-Marxist)
Explains how Capitalism has continued to find new ways of profiting from people

Functional Prerequisites

Functionalist theory
Societal needs

Ideological State Apparatus

Term used by Althusser ( Neo-Marxist)
Institutions which he claims exist to…

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Althusser (Neo-Marxist)
Institutions which he claims exist to control the population through aggressive means,
such as the police

Social Action Theory

Another name for symbolic interactionism
Social action theories focus on how society is built up from people interacting with each
other

Structural Approaches

These attempt to analyse…

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The traditional social groupings, economic organisation and culture have all changed so
profoundly that traditional sociological explanations no longer hold truth

Meta-Narratives

Postmodernist term
Refers to the structural theories of Marxism and Functionalism

Ontological Security

The idea that people want to believe there is some reality beyond them…

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Transformative Capacity

The ability of people to change society



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SOCIOLOGY AND SCIENCE
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Causal Relationship

A relationship between two factors in which one causes the other

Comparative Method

A method that involves comparing societies to find out key differences that might explain
different social phenomena

Empirical…

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Positivists

Those advocating an approach that supports the belief that the way to gain knowledge is
by following the conventional scientific model

Realism

The view that sociology should aim to uncover the relationship between the wider
structures that determine the way we relate to other people in everyday…

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The researcher selects a series of different places and then chooses a sample at random
from the cluster of people within these areas

Cross-Sectional Survey

A survey conducted at one time with no attempt to follow up the people surveyed over a
longer time

Dependent Variable

A social…

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Interpretive Sociologist

Those whose approach to sociology and research emphasizes understanding society by
exploring the way people see society
Rather than following traditional scientific analysis

Longitudinal Survey

A survey that is carried out over a considerable number of years on the same group of
people

Multistage Cluster Sampling…

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A list used as the source for a random sample

Social Fact

A term used by Durkheim
Claims that certain objective `facts' exist in society that are not influenced by individuals
Examples include the existence of marriage, divorce, work etc.

Stratified Sampling

Where the population under study is…

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Grounded Theory

An approach to theory construction in which theory is generated during research

Meaning

The word used by Blumer to describe the sense people make of a particular situation

Non-Participant Observation

Where the sociologist simply observes the group but does not seek to join in their
activities…

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