AS Sociology Revision- Key Terms

Set of key terms explained for the WJEC AS Sociology exam

  • Created by: Anna
  • Created on: 22-12-10 15:14


Socialisation: is the process of learning how to behave appropriately in society. We learn a set of rules about how to behave and if we break these rules there are formal and informal sanctions that are enforced. There are five different forms of behaviour:

-Values:these are widely accepted beliefs that something is worthwhile and desirable eg: free speech, democracy and wealth.

-Norms: these are values being put into practise. They govern how we are supposed to behave in certain situations and also how, according to our gender.

-Status: all members of society are given a status: this can be achieved or ascribed. Achieved statuses are earned through individuals work and achievements eg: a job title. While ascribed statuses are given to us at birth and are usually a reflection of our backgrounds and ethnicities,

-Roles: roles expects those of a certain status to behave in a certain way, Statuses have norms enforced onto them and these become a role, they can be applied to any class, occupation or gender.

-Customs: these are traditional and regular norms of behaviour associated with certain traditions and events in a particular culture eg: Bonfire NIght, Christmas, Halloween.

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Ways of Looking At Society

Social Systems (Overlook of society)

Structualism-belief that society controls people controls people that function within it.

Consensus-something everyone agrees on

Organistic Analogy- if one thing goes wrong, everything will fall apart

All norms, roles and values are culturally constructed.

Social Action (Looks closer)

Individuals shape society- work out what is happening in a given circumstance by applying meanings to behaviour.

Attitudes and actions of others affect the way we behave.

Conflicts-there are basic conflicts of interest in society with some groups gaining at the expense of others.


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-Founded by Emile Durkheim

-Culture is the cement that holds everyone together

-Society works because we all believe in a value consensus meaning that they all share the same norms, values and roles. And are part of a collective conscience.

-Strongly believe in social controls without these society will not function, through the organistic analogy-if one thing goes wrong, the rest will follow.

-Strongly relies on the idea of the nuclear family, therefore ignores modern contemporary families such as: single parent, gay couples...

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Types Of Socialisation

Socialisation is taught by agents of socialisation.There are three types of socialisation:

Primary Socialisation is the socialisation of young people. It takes place in the family where children learn essential skills such as language, customs, traditions and normal behaviour. Socialisation is still informal at this stage and is based around personal relationships.

Secondary Socialisation starts when a child begins school. In this stage children are judged according to universal criteria such as exam success. This is where formal socialisation is introduced as children are taught how to behave and what is expected of them. However there is still informal socialisation as peer pressure is introduced and children learn about other cultures from friends.

Adult Socialisation occurs after education and continues as a person progresses through life and careers. It can also involve  being re- socialised into a new environment eg: a new workplace, prison or other closed institutions, as not every environment has the same expectations and norms.

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Social Control

Societies have methods of ensuring that people conform to the norms and values. These are known as social controls. For social order to be kept intact these controls are needed. This control takes many forms but is generally categorized into formal or informal control.

Formal methods of social control refer to institutions set up to enforce social control. In modern Western society examples of this include the police and the military. These impose formal sanctions such as judicial punishments which could be anything from a fine to a prison sentence.

Informal methods of social control are more personal and involve friends and family rather than complete strangers or institution. If someone breaks a norm ie: dresses strangely or behaves inappropriately then this can result in them being alienated by the rest of society. It is the personal side of it that makes this method more effective in controlling people, particularly in controlling youth. As peer pressure is more common in young people than adults.

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Karl Marx argued that society and history is based on conflict between the classes.

This is a deterministic perspective as it argues that no matter what you do, your future is determined by your class and society.

All of society is split into two groups: the Bourgeosie-the middle richer class who own the factories in which the Proletariat work.

Workers are indoctrinated by ideology and religion into believing what they are told.

This ideological conditioning is also enforced by state appartus:

-Ideological State Apparatus: this includes friends, education and the media

-Repressive State Apparatus: this is more punishment orientated ie: the military, government control, execution.

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What makes an identity?

Race, religion, gender, sexuality, social class, career, social economic values, beliefs, interests, opinions, education, preferences, knowledge, culture, habitats, disabilities, age.

(those with similar values or parts of the identity join together forming a value consensus, and also forming common enemies)

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Identity (Mead)

Mead (1934): The I and Me

-The self has two aspects the "I" and the "me"

-The "I" makes sense of events going on around them and the "me" is present, past and future events.

-"I" is the cognitive, "me" is the physical and what people see and how people see them.

-Mead argued that socialisation involves developing the "I" so that the individual is able to engage in role taking.

-This involves taking on the role of others so that you are able to see yourself as others do.

-Mead argued that the self reaches its most advanced stage of development when it is able to take on the role of the "generalised other"- meaning the person starts to evaluate their own behaviour through the eyes of the rest of society.

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Key Terms You Should Know

- socialisation                                       -culture and cultural diversity 
- cultural transmission                           -sub-culture
- social control                                      -identity
- social roles                                         -norms & values
- the nature/nurture debate                     -status
- social structures                                 -agents of socialisation-primary (family) and
- sanctions                                            secondary (education and the media)
- social change                                     -social inequality
- conflict                                               -consensus
- social construction

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what is secondary socialisation

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