Theory and Methods Key Terms

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Topic 5
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
Class Consciousness
Marxist analysis
The awareness of belonging to a social class
Term used originally by Marx
Describes societies where ownership is of land, businesses and so on is shared and not
privately owned
Refers to Goffman's version of interactionism
He sees people rather like actors in a play, with some of the script written and some
Functionalist theory
Activities or institutions which do not appear to benefit society
Economic Determinism
Belief that the form of society is mainly determined by the economic system
False Consciousness
Marxist analysis

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Topic 5
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 control the population through manipulating values
Such as the media
Shorthand term for symbolic interactionism
Theory developed from symbolic interactionism
Adapted for use in studies of deviance
Means of Production
Marxist analysis
The…read more

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Topic 5
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
Structural Approaches
These attempt to analyse society by looking it as a whole and then working down to its
constituent parts and then to individuals
Symbolic Interactionism
Theory associated with G.H.…read more

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Topic 5
The traditional social groupings, economic organisation and culture have all changed so
profoundly that traditional sociological explanations no longer hold truth
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 in society, giving
them the psychological confidence to engage in interaction
A different perspective on contemporary society
Rejects modernism and its attempts to explain the world through overarching theories
Instead, it suggests that there…read more

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Topic 5
Transformative Capacity
The ability of people to change society
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 Sociology
Refers to sociologists who tend to conduct quantitative studies and tend not to theorize
The testing of an empirical model with the aim of showing it to be false
An initial plausible…read more

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Topic 5
Those advocating an approach that supports the belief that the way to gain knowledge is
by following the conventional scientific model
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 life
Showing something to be false
The study of earthquakes
Sociological Imagination
Coined by C.W.…read more

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Topic 5
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 phenomenon that changes in response to changes in another phenomenon
Relating to theories of knowledge
A highly controlled situation where the researchers try to isolate the influence of each
Rarely used in…read more

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Topic 5
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
Multistage Cluster Sampling
Where subsamples are taken
To put into practice
Those sympathetic to the use of traditional scientific methods in sociology
Probability Sampling
See random sampling
Quantitative Research
Positivist approach to research
Favouring methods that…read more

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Topic 5
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.…read more

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Topic 5
Grounded Theory
An approach to theory construction in which theory is generated during research
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
Over Observation
Where the sociologist is open about the research role
Participant Observation
Where the sociologist joins a group of people and studies their behaviour
Phenomenological Approaches
Approaches such as interactionism which stress how people…read more


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