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Terms of Sociology

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Centre Periphery
There are important uses of the centre/periphery dichotomy in sociology. Edwards Shils argues that the core of the society is a central value system which has a sacred character and is the ultimate source of authority, legitimizing the distribution of wealth, rewards and roles in the social system while the various social elites are fundamentally involved in the centre, other social groups are locked at the periphery. As the means of communication improve the centre becomes more extensive within society and previously periphery groups become increasingly involved in the centre value system and subject to its authority. In the development theory of Marxist sociologists like A.G Frank the centre refers to loci of the economic power in the global organization of production and distribution. In this perspective the global economy is conceived in terms of hierarchy of economic centers which through military, political and trade arrangement extract economic surplus from subordinate peripheral economies and regions. The distinction between the industrialized core and the under developed periphery is thus part of a more general theory of imperialism. The backwardness of peripheral economies is held to be a consequence of their dependence on various core economies and not the effect of their dependence on various core economies and not the effect of their poor resources,illiteracy,traditionalism or political instability.

Chicago school
Established by Albion Small. Main advocates of this school were Park and Burgess and the school was heavily influenced by philosophical pragmatism. Observation of the experience and the analysis of urban social processes.

A demographic term describing a group of people who share a significant experience at a certain point of time. All the children born in one year from the birth cohort of that year.

Comparative sociology
Durkheim said comparative sociology is not a particular branch of sociology, it is sociology itself. In so far it ceases to be purely descriptive and aspire to account for facts.Max Weber also advocated comparative method. Earlier Montesquieu and Comte favored comparative method.Tylor like Comte said that one of the main aims of comparison is to discover what he called cultural adhesions or necessary correlations between two or more cultural phenomena such as rules of kinship behavior and rules of kinship terminology. According to Oxford dictionary of sociology where a sociological analysis is explicitly held to be comparative, this usually involves the study of particular social processes across nation states or across different types of society. Much of what is normally referred to as comparative sociology is perhaps more accurately described as cross-national research.

This is a system of marital exchange between two bands of tribes, according to which men of one tribe, marry women of other and vice-versa.

Relationship based on descent either from common male or female ancestor who may not be necessarily be a blood relation.

A group of agnates tracing descent from a common ancestor who may be mythical.

Class conflict Interpretation of society
The view that all social institutions forms of social control, ideas of right and wrong forms of government and religion status system as well as the process of change as such are the outward manifestation of a basic conflict among economic classes. In this view any given society would derive its peculiar institutions from the fact that one class had subdued and dominated all the others.

Comprador class
Its sociological meaning refers to an individual or a class who acts as a social structural mediator between the metropolitan and satellite countries. Their western tastes,lifestyles,economic interests and political needs reflect the links that join the economic structure of the satellite to the metropolis.

Commodity fetishism
A doctrine originally formulated by Marx. He made a distinction between producing something for one's own use and producing a commodity which is an object created solely to exchange since the producers do not come into contact with each other until they exchange their products. These objects come to stand for the social relationships people accept each other.

Communal society
An ideal type society in which most of the everyday life is regulated by tradition, custom and mores and in which there is relatively little emphasis on individual responsibility.

An area of common living which is defined according to the interests or characteristics of the people living in it an in which the people have the sense of being a unit. An aggregate of people living in an area among whom the relations are impersonal and formal and who are defined ecologically and symbiotically rather than socially.

Community organization
The high degree of mutual interdependence among the institutions and groups in a community in addition to a well-developed sense of community cohesion among the people and a willingness on their part to cooperatively achieve common interests.

Concentric Zone theory
E.Burgess a sociologist of Chicago School proposed an ideal type model of urban growth in industrialized societies. He argued that cities take the form of five concentric rings. The innermost ring is the central business district containing most the markets,offices,banks and other serve facilities. The second ring is the zone of transition. As a result it is the run-down area of cheap housing. The third zone contains manual workers. The fourth is the middle class suburb and the fifth is the commuters zone. The real cities do not conform exactly to these five zone model. As criticism against the concentric zone theory Homer Hoyt had suggested the sector model while Harrison Ullman has suggested the multiple nuclei theory.


  1. The social process of opposition among antagonistic groups in which each deliberately seeks to destroy, subdue or thwart the others whether such opposition is violent or not.
  2. Violent opposition among groups.
  3. Relations between two individuals who seek to thwart to subdue each other.

Conjugal family
A biological family the parents and their offspring.

Consanguine family
A type of family group which is organized around the brother and sister relationship. Though the siblings do not marry each other, they live together as a household group; their spouses live in other households.

Contract society
A society in which social control is exerted primarily by means of formal law rather than by customs alone.

Contract theory of societal origin
The hypothesis that human societies originated in a deliberate contract decided upon by savages who were living in a state of nature whereby everyone assumed a certain status in a society with its rights and obligations.

Convergence thesis
This point of view claims that the process of industrialization produced common and uniform political, social and cultural characteristics on societies which prior to industrialization may have had very different historical backgrounds in social structure. Even ideological differences becomes insignificant. All societies converge to a common point because industrialization requires certain characteristics in order to function effectively. These are an extended social and technical division of labour,the separation of the family from the enterprise and the workplace, a mobile urbanized and disciplined work-force, some form of rational organization of economic calculation ,planning and investment.

A body of fundamental beliefs which guide ethical conduct.

An impermanent assemblage of interacting persons who lack leadership and internal organization and who are without a group tradition or unique cultural background which would provide them with ready responses for acting as a group; this makes them suggestible,impulsive,irrational,fickle and unpredictable in their behavior in new situations.

Cultural anthropology
The study of the cultures of simple and primitive societies of cultural origins, cultural variability and the process of diffusion.

Cultural change
Any modification addition or loss of ideas, cultural objects of the techniques and practices that is associated with them.

Cultural conditioning
The process of learning the values, norms points of view and social practices of a given society by participating in its activities.

Cultural Determinism
The view that the culture of a particular people is a self-contained extra-human entity which operates under its own laws and shapes the human personality while the human initiative or will is seen as merely an appendage of culture.

Cultural evolution
The gradual change in the number, variety and complexity of culture objects as well as in their meanings and functions.

Cultural imperatives
The social norms which are found in all societies which presumably express the basic social needs of all people.

Cultural integration
The degree of consistency among the major values or ideals of a society.

Cultural Island
A culture group which lives in the midst of a larger society of a different culture.

Cultural lag
The discrepancy between two related parts of a culture because of different rates of change in the parts of a particular culture which changes more slowly than the parts which are related to it.

Cultural minority
A group of aggregate of people who have a unique culture in a society which is dominated by a group having another culture. The minority usually has a lower political, economic and social status than the dominant cultural group in the society. It may be a small cultural island in a city or it may be an entire nationality in a multi-national state.

Cultural Orthogenesis
The overdevelopment of a certain aspect of a culture compared to its other aspects. This concept assumes that there is such a thing as a culture that is equally developed in all its aspects.

Cultural pluralism
The co-existence of a several different culture groups in a multi-national state.

Cultural sociology
The study of the origins and change in the social practices and norms of a given society.

Cultural type
A type of personality which is either produced by a given culture or which gets its meaning from the way that the person regularly acts with reference to a given culture. It is the same as a social type. A type of culture pattern.

All the learned socially –meaningful conduct which is practiced in a given society including customs,norms,language,the religious ,economic and political beliefs and practices, art and so on. This definition excludes all the man made socially meaningful objects. All that is learned and shared by a particular society plus all their manmade material goods that have a social meaning. The term also refers to super organic or all the learned conduct and artifacts of man as a genius of animals as distinct from all that is biologically inherited by men.

Culture area
The geographic area in which a relatively homogeneous culture is located.

Culture Base
The culture of a people seen as consisting of the materials and techniques from which inventions may be made.

Culture centre
The place or area in which a given culture trait originated and from which it was diffused.

Culture complex
A construct of a meaningful configuration of culture traits which comprise an aspect of major importance in the way of life of people.

Culture conflict
The relationship between two cultural groups whereby each seeks to subordinate or destroy the culture of the other.

Culture contact
The initial state of mutual awareness between cultural groups.

Culture myth
A mythological explanation of the origin of a society, social practices or culture object which relies on the action of a cultural deity or culture hero.

Culture object
A man-made material object which is used for socially defined purpose;techinally the concept would also include things which were not actually made by men but which nevertheless would have a social meaning as for example a sacred lake or a sacred mountain.

Culture pattern
A contract which refers to a logical interpretation of all the culture traits and complexes in a given culture into a meaningful whole; it is intended as a general characterization of an entire culture for the purpose of comparing it with other cultures.

Culture trait
A construct which refers to the simplest element in a culture; a way of using a culture object, a social norm, a social attitude and so on.

The study of the origins and development of cultures.

Culture typology
A logical classification of cultures which purports to characterize the similarities and differences among them.

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