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A 1973 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on a request by the Nisga'a peoples of British Columbia for a declaration that legal title to their land had not been lawfully extinguished. The decision considerably advanced the position of Natives in their claims that aboriginal ownership of land had been continuous and had survived European colonization. Six of the seven judges agreed that aboriginal legal ownership of the land had existed prior to the arrival of Europeans. In deciding whether this legal ownership still existed, three judges stated that they did still own the land and the other three argued that Natives had ceded effective control to the Crown and implicit extinguishment had taken place (the seventh judge ruled on a technical matter so did not address the question of legal ownership). In 1974, largely in response to this decision, the federal government established an office to deal with Native land claims. In 1996 the Nisga'a people, the federal government and the province of British Columbia reached an agreement, in principle, that would settle land claims.

A Christian doctrine associated with John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvinism is important for sociologists as a component of the Protestant ethic, a set of social and religious ideas considered favorable to the development of capitalism. See: PROTESTANT ETHIC / .

Federal legislation, passed in 1966 and considered by many as a keystone of the Canadian welfare state. The legislation required the federal government to shoulder half the cost of social programs undertaken by the provinces, chiefly social assistance (welfare programs). This policy enabled the federal government to set national standards for social programs and, backed by its right to withhold payments to provinces whose policies did not conform to federal standards, it was able to impose some consistency across the country. In 1991 the federal government imposed a limit on the funds it would pay out for social programs to more affluent provinces and this led to the situation where the federal government was paying only approximately one-third of the actual costs. In 1996 CAP was replaced by the Canada Health and Social Transfer program which combines federal funding for health, postsecondary education and welfare and transfers a designated amount of money to each province rather than transferring a percentage of actual costs. The replacement of the CAP was seen as the end of an era by many Canadians since it reduces the ability of the federal government to impose national standards and will lead to many provinces having to reduce their social programs to fit within the funds transferred under the Canada Health and Social Transfer program.


A Division of Statistics Canada, formed in 1981, with a mandate to collect national data on crime and justice.

Begun in 1917, Canadian Press is a cooperative operated by 87 of Canada's daily newspapers. The agency supplies Canadian newspapers (and some other media outlets) with the majority of their domestic and world news. In 1996 there was concern that the continuing concentration of ownership of newspapers would result in the breakdown of the cooperative and lead to fewer sources of news.

An accumulation of goods or wealth used for the production of other goods and services rather than for immediate or personal use. If one just plays games on their computer, the computer can not be considered capital. However, if it is used to produce reports or graphs which are then sold, the computer can be considered capital. Capital is central to a capitalist economic system. See: CAPITALISM / .

The process of accumulating resources for use in the production of goods and services. Private capital accumulation takes place when productive capacity exceeds the immediate needs for consumption. For example, a farmer can accumulate capital (stored grains, improved equipment etc.) during years of good harvests and good farm revenues. Generally, accumulation is directly linked to profitability: the resources used to make commodities can be replaced and augmented when the commodity is sold for a profit. Capital accumulation can also take place in the public sector, where, from a structuralist approach within a conflict perspective, the state is seen as performing the function of aiding in the accumulation of private capital. This function may be performed by the state providing an educated work force (human capital), building rail lines into resource areas, maintaining a legal system to resolve contract disputes and providing tax incentives or tax breaks. See: STRUCTURALIST APPROACH / .

Punishment of crime by execution of the offender. The word capital is from Latin and it refers to the head, the locus of life. While capital punishment is still widely imposed in world societies, it has been abolished in the countries of western Europe and in Canada. The last hanging in Canada took place in 1962, after which the Canadian government routinely advised the Governor General to commute all death sentences. Capital punishment was formally abolished by changes to the law in 1976. A free vote was held in the House of Commons in 1987 and the majority supported the continued abolition of the death penalty.

An economic system in which capital (the goods or wealth used to produce other goods for profit) is privately owned and profit is reinvested so as to accumulate capital. The dynamics of the economic exchange in capitalism are unique. In a barter system of economic activity a producer may grow a pound of potatoes and barter them for an equivalent amount of honey produced by someone else. In this exchange the goods bartered are of roughly equal value. In capitalism, however, a person uses capital to produce goods and then sells those goods for cash. The amount of cash received is greater than the value of the good produced such that a profit is created allowing for reinvestment in the capital stock and to support the owner and producers. See: CAPITAL / LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE / .

In common use this refers to the sequence of stages through which people in a particular occupational sector move during the course of their employment . It has also been applied to analyzing the various stages of an individual's involvement with criminal activity.

Those individuals whose criminality is a like a career. They have gone through the minor leagues to the majors and devote many aspects of their life to criminality. These individuals tend to commit a large portion of the total amount of crime in a community. Career criminality is associated with an individual's exposure to deviant sub-cultures especially those that exist in weakly controlled areas of society.

A form of millenarian movement ( a belief in what is to come) found in the islands of Melanesia in the South Pacific. These cults involve the belief that ritual activities and observances will lead to the arrival of free ‘cargoes’ of goods. It appears that the cults are a development from the indigenous belief that necessary goods and animals for food and supplies are released by the gods or guardian spirits when the people have completed proper ritual observances. The cargo cults show the influence of the modern world in that the cargoes are expected to arrive by boat or plane as do the goods and supplies used by white immigrants and colonizers. The cults have proved to be enduring even when cargo does not materialize, since this is seen as a sign that ritual observation and activity has been inadequate or inappropriate.

A term from ecology referring to the level of land or resource use - by humans or animals - that can be sustained over the long term by the natural regenerative power of the environment.

Equivalent to the expression ‘common law’. Previous decided cases, or precedents, are an important source of Anglo-Canadian law. Precedent established by previous cases is binding on judges if the case is equivalent and if it has been decided in a superior court. See: COMMON LAW / STARE DECISIS / .

A status group, within a system of hierarchical social stratification, in which membership is hereditary. Caste differentiations are usually based on religious and mythical traditions and caste membership determines occupational roles, place of residence and legal and customary rights and duties. Caste is maintained from generation to generation by the practice of within-caste marriage (endogamy) and strict formality in social interaction with other castes. See: CLASS / ENDOGAMY / .

A relationship between two variables such that one (the independent variable) can be claimed to have caused the other (the dependent variable). In order to establish causality three conditions must be met: a. there must be a correlation or association between variables; b. the independent variable (the cause) must occur before the dependent variable (the effect); c. the relationship must not be spurious. See: SPURIOUSNESS / VARIABLES / .

Those features or characteristics with might produce a particular effect (eg: features that might cause an individual to commit a crime). Causal analysis is a positivist approach to criminology. In order for something to be a cause it must meet three criteria: a) the cause must happen before the effect; b) there must be a correlation between the causal variable and the effect variable; c) All other possible reasons for the correlation must be entertained and discarded.

the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation founded in 1932 in Calgary and adopting a radical socialist political programme at its first convention in Regina Saskatchewan in 1933. The party had limited success in federal politics, but gained power in Saskatchewan in 1944 to be North America's first social democratic government. The main support for the party came from farmers' movements, labour and unions and from socialists in many spheres of society especially the churches. In 1961 the party was dissolved and was re-established as the New Democratic Party.


An agreement between the Federal government of Canada and the ten provincial governments to amend the constitution of Canada established by the Constitution Act, 1982. Major aspects of the agreement were the entrenchment of a right to aboriginal self -government, decentralization of power from the Federal to provincial governments and clauses recognizing the distinct character of Quebec society and culture. The agreement provided for a national referendum to be called before legislative change was made. The Agreement was defeated in a national referendum in 1992. See: REFERENDUM / .

Groups, usually distinguished by ethnic identity, that have played a pioneering role in the opening and development of new territories and immigrant societies. In Canada these groups have customarily been identified as the British and the French.

Part of the Constitution Act of 1982 the Charter came into effect in April of 1982. The Charter provides protection for a wide range of individual rights typical of liberal democracies but until this time not constitutionally protected in Canada. As a part of the Constitution of Canada the Charter can not be changed without the consent of both Parliament and the provincial legislatures.. The Charter includes provisions to protect mobility rights and minority language rights. The legislature of the Province of Quebec did not support the Constitution Act of 1982 and its adoption without this consent has increased nationalist support for sovereignty in Quebec. Several efforts have subsequently been made to make constitutional changes and achieve consensus with Quebec. See: CHARLOTTETOWN AGREEMENT / MEECH LAKE ACCORD / CONSTITUTION / BILL OF RIGHTS / .

Refers to the research and social theory that emerged in the first half of the 20th century from the world's first school of sociology at the University of Chicago. Due to its phenomenally rapid growth, the city of Chicago was seen as a laboratory for sociological research into the effects of urbanism on culture and social relationships. In criminology it focused on the socio-cultural causes of urban crime and on crime prevention.

An institution composed of members sharing some common religious and ethical views and joining them together in religious celebration and social activities. Churches, as distinct from sects or cults, tend to be established and culturally accepted and broadly supportive of the surrounding institutions of society, to be hierarchical and to have a priesthood or set of authorized office holders. See: CULT / SECT / .

Originally a status possessed by an individual in ancient Roman society and distinguishing them as free individuals, with full legal rights, from those, like slaves, who were in servitude and lacked civil rights. The term is used generally to refer to the individual as an active member of a democratic political community. It was not until the Canadian Citizenship Act : of 1947 that the people of Canada became ‘Canadian’ citizens. Prior to that date immigrants and native-born people alike were simply British subjects.

While the legal system in English Canada is dependent on common law and the principle of stare decisis, the Quebec civil code is derived from the French Civil Code and to some extent the Roman Code. In this system law is codified and judges look to the written law to determine essential principles and then are free to apply those principles to a specific case. They are not bound by precedent as is the case in a common law system. See: COMMON LAW / STARE DECISIS / .

The sphere of social life that is separate from the intimate bonds of family and autonomous from regulation and scrutiny of the state. It generally refers to the social interactions between individuals as free makers of contracts acting with rational self-interest in a society where all have equal legal status. The concept of civil society also implies limits on the state's role in regulating social life and a generalized responsibility of individuals to act with due regard to the interests and collective life of the community.

the term is used by archaeologists and anthropologists to describe societies that exhibit complex culture and social organization. Characteristics of complexity can include the presence's of cities, occupational specialization, intensive agricultural production, social stratification, long distance trade and commerce, monumental public architecture, writing and other intellectual achievements Using these characteristics it is possible to identify many ancient societies like the Babylonians, Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans and the Maya of Mesoamerica as civilizations. . Social scientists often prefer to avoid the term because it was used in a moral sense by Europeans during the 19th and early 20th century to suggest a contrast between civilized societies and uncivilized primitive people and became part of an ideology upholding colonial domination.

The term is used in various ways in sociology. It usually implies a group of individuals sharing a common situation within a social structure, usually their shared place in the structure of ownership and control of the means of production. Karl Marx (1818-1883), for example, distinguished four classes in capitalist societies, a bourgeois class who own and control the means of production, a petite bourgeoisie of small business and professionals, a proletariat of wage workers and a lumpenproletariat of people in poverty and social disorganization who are excluded from the wage earning economy. In land based economies, class structures are based on individual's relationship to the ownership and control of land. Class can also refer to groups of individuals with a shared characteristic relevant in some socio-economic measurement or ranking (for example all individuals earning over $50,000 a year): it then has a statistical meaning rather than being defined by social relationships. While class is extensively used in discussing social structure, sociologists also rely on the concept of status, which offers a more complex portrait in which individuals within a class can be seen as having quite differentiated social situations. See: LUMPENPROLETARIAT / PETITE BOURGEOISIE / PROLETARIAT / STATUS / .

The awareness of individuals in a particular social class that they share common interests and a common social situation. Class consciousness is associated with the development of a ‘class-for-itself’ where individuals within the class unite to pursue their shared interests. See: CLASS-FOR-ITSELF / .

Where members of a social class absorb and become committed to values and beliefs that serve and support the interests of other classes rather than their own. The concept assumes that there is an objective ‘class interest’ of which its members are unaware.

Where the divisions between social classes become obvious and somewhat fixed: it is difficult for individuals to change their social class because their whole life situation - income, wealth, education, status - is shaped by their class location.

Usually used by political economy theorists in discussion of the corporate class to acknowledge significant segmentation of this class. It is commonly linked to such distinctions as that between finance-based capital and industrial-based capital, each viewed as having different interests and perspectives. This is a useful concept in avoiding the simplistic view that the ‘corporate class’ is a necessarily unified group.

A class of individuals conscious of sharing a common social situation and who unite to pursue common interests. See: CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS / .

A social class composed of individuals who objectively share class membership - they share social and economic situation - yet who are unconscious of their class membership or of shared interests that unite them.

A basic form of learning whereby a neutral stimulus is paired with another stimulus that naturally elicits a certain response; the neutral stimulus comes to elicit the same response as the stimulus that automatically elicits the response.

Considered to be the first formal school of criminology, classical criminology is associated with 18th and early 19th century reforms to the administration of justice and the prison system. Associated with authors such as Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Samuel Romilly (1757-1818), and others, this school brought the emerging philosophy of liberalism and utilitarianism to the justice system, advocating principles of rights, fairness and due process in place of retribution, arbitrariness and brutality. Critical criminologists see in these reforms a tool by which the new industrial order of capitalism was able to maintain class rule through appearing to apply objective and neutral rules of justice rather than obvious and direct class domination through coercion. Criminal law is stated in terms of moral universals rather than being seen as rules that simply protect the interests of property holders. The claims to fairness in the justice system provide a sense of legitimation for the state and the order it represents. See: POSITIVE SCHOOL / .

Known also as ‘laissez faire’, the theory claims that leaving individuals to make free choices in a free market results in the best allocation of scarce resources within an economy and the optimal level of satisfaction for individuals - ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’. See: CLASSICAL LIBERALISM / .

A political and economic philosophy emerging along with the growth of capitalism. The central belief is that unregulated free markets are the best means to allocate productive resources and distribute goods and services and that government intervention should be minimal. Behind this is an assumption about individuals being rational, self-interested and methodical in the pursuit of their goals. By the end of the 19th century, the belief in free markets became moderated in some versions of liberalism to acknowledge the growing conviction that liberty or freedom for the individual was a hollow promise if the social conditions of society made liberty meaningless. It was believed that the state must become more involved in managing the economy in order to soften the negative effects of market economies and maximize the well-being of each individual. This new direction for liberalism is often referred to as ‘progressive liberalism’. This newer philosophy supported the growth of the welfare state, but has come under attack in the past two decades. See: CLASSICAL ECONOMIC THEORY / NEO-LIBERALISM / .

A society that does not have a hierarchy of different social classes and in which individuals have similar resources of wealth, status and power. Found in simple hunter-gatherer societies (like the pygmies of Zaire) and also a socialist vision of a future society founded on collective ownership of the means of production.

A phrase used to describe Canadian government policy towards what were once considered universal benefits of the welfare state. While all senior citizens receive old age pensions from the government, it is now the case that if total income exceeds a certain amount a portion, or all, of additional old age benefits is taxed back (clawed back) through annual individual income taxation. In the future the Old Age Security pension will be paid to individuals based on their income (or household income for couples). See: MEANS TEST / UNIVERSALITY / .

A society where it is improbable that individuals will be able to change their social class location usually because class location is ascribed. The opposite of social mobility. See: CLASS CRYSTALLIZATION / STATUS, ASCRIBED / .

The culture of what are assumed to be the first human inhabitants of the Americas. Stone spear points were found at a site near Clovis New Mexico in the 1930s and dated to 11,200 years ago. This date is consistent with the theory that the first humans arrived on the American continent by way of a land and ice bridge across the Bering Strait. During the 1990s growing evidence of earlier settlements (at least 1000 years earlier) has suggested that some peoples may have arrived further south, by sea crossing, in separate and earlier migrations.

A recent term capturing the phenomenon of young adults returning to live with their parents or choosing to remain at home past the customary age for leaving home. This practice is connected to deterioration of employment opportunities for young adults. See: EMPTY NESTERS / .

The use of force or commands to gain obedience without willing consent of the individual.

Also known as ‘ethnoscience’, examines the ways that peoples of different cultures classify or categorize items of the everyday world. Has some connection to ethnomethodology.

All people sharing a similar experience or event at a particular time. For example all children born in Toronto in 1963 or all students graduating from high school in 1980. Cohorts are frequently used in longitudinal research. Marvin Wolfgang, for example, established a research project to follow all male children born in Philadelphia in 1940 in order to determine their encounters with the police. See: LONGITUDINAL STUDIES / .

the name given to the mutually hostile relations after the end of World War 11 in 1945 between the now fallen communist systems of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and Asia and the world's capitalist societies and their allies led by the United States. While this was a war of propaganda, of spying sabotage and political and economic subversion on both sides, it avoided the ‘hot war’ of direct conflict between the world's dominant military powers. The cold war reflected the new realities of the nuclear age and the catastrophic consequences of armed super power conflict. The economic and political collapse of communism has now ended this era in international relations.

Similar in meaning to Emile Durkheim's term ‘mechanical solidarity’ this refers to a state of social bonding or interdependency which rests on similarity of beliefs and values, shared activities, and ties of kinship and cooperation among members of a community.

Political domination of one nation over another that is institutionalized in direct political administration by the colonial power, control of all economic relationships and a systematic attempt to transform the culture of the subject nation. It usually involves extensive immigration from the colonial power into the colony and the immigrants taking on roles as landowners, business people and professionals. Colonialism is a form of imperialism. Canadian society can itself be seen as a colonized nation with regard to Britain and the United States, but can also be seen as a colonizing nation in relation to first nations peoples. See: DEPENDENT DEVELOPMENT / IMPERIALISM / .

An economy directed by state authorities, rather than market forces. There are a variety of command economies. In the ancient world, command was found in agricultural economies, especially those dependent on large scale systems of irrigation requiring extensive regional planning and coordination. The power to control water resources gave central authorities immense social and economic dominance. Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and Egypt are examples. Large sectors of the economy were also commanded in other ancient and medieval societies like Rome, China and among the Inca. In modern times, command economies were dominant in the Soviet -style communist societies, where state central planning agencies allocated capital and resources, established production targets and fixed the levels of prices. Command economies, because they rely on centralized bureaucratic administration, appear to be inherently less efficient than market mechanisms in allocating resources and stimulating economic growth. Soviet-style central planning has now been generally abandoned as a method of economic management. See: STATE CAPITALISM / .

Growing tension between the police and the Black community of Toronto and a destructive ‘riot’ in the summer of 1991 lead to 1992 Report to the Premier of Ontario by Stephen Lewis (former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations). This lead to the creation of a Commission of Inquiry and to several published reports from the Commission.

The degree to which an individual pursues conventional goals. In Travis Hirschi's work, aspects of the ‘social bond’.

Founded in 1970, lobbied during the 1970s and 1980s for nationalist economic and cultural policies. Among the founding members were Walter Gordon, chair of a 1956 Commission which alerted Canada to the dangers of American domination, and Mel Hurtig who was to go on to found the National Party to contest the 1993 federal election on a platform of nationalism and anti-continentalism. See: CONTINENTALISM / GORDON REPORT / LAMENT FOR A NATION / .

A good or service that is exchanged or sold in the market place.

The common law tradition found in English Canada derives from feudal England where it had become the practice for the King to resolve disputes in accordance with local custom. Customs which were recognized throughout the country were called common custom and decisions made by the King and by subsequent courts set up to settle disputes became known as common law. Common law is considered a source of law which means that the cases settled over the past 600 years themselves become part of the law and these precedents become binding on present and future judges. Another source of law is statutes. See: CASE LAW / CIVIL CODE / STARE DECISIS / STATUTES / .

A term used by ethnomethodologists, derived from Alfred Schutz (1899-1959), referring to the practical or everyday reasoning used by members of society to create and sustain a sense of social reality as being objective, factual, predictable and external to themselves. Since the objectivity of the world as a practical accomplishment is the focus of ethnomethodology this kind of reasoning is a primary topic of investigation. Also referred to as mundane reasoning. See: ETHNOMETHODOLOGY / .

A political theory that advocates collective ownership of the means of production (resources, land and capital), abolition of private property and equalisation of incomes. Communism differs from socialism because it contemplates revolutionary social change rather than just electoral politics. The first modern communist society was established in Russia after the revolution of 1917 and this political system was imposed by the Soviet Union, after the second world war, on many countries of Eastern Europe. In Asia, a successful communist-led revolution in China in 1949 led to the growth of communist regimes and political movements in other areas, including Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia. These centralized and dictatorial communist systems were far from the model societies envisaged by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels who believed that a communist revolution would create co-operative collective ownership a true community-based democracy and a weakening of the role of the state . See: SOCIALISM / .

A philosophy or belief system which places priority on the community or on social values. Often contrasted to individualism or libertarianism. It claims that meaning in individual life and individual liberty are only possible within a strong and vital community so government policies and individual choices should be responsive to social values. See: COMMUNITY / LIBERTARIANISM / .

A society where peoples relations with each other are direct and personal and where a complex web of ties link people in mutual bonds of emotion and obligation. In the social sciences, especially sociology, the idea of community has provided a model to contrast to the emergence of more modern less personal societies where cultural, economic and technological transformation has uprooted tradition and where complexity has created a less personal and more rationalized and goal-directed social life. See: GEMEINSCHAFT / GESELLSCHAFT / .

A general category of prevention strategies which focus on the community itself. This general category includes strategies such as ‘development crime prevention’ ‘effective guardianship’ or ‘situational crime prevention’.

A perspective that analyses social problems, including crime, as largely a product of organizational and institutional characteristics of society. It is closely related to sociology.

Comparative cultural studies is a new field of study where the notion of comparative is merged with the field of cultural studies from the basic premises of the discipline of comparative literature, meaning that the study of culture and culture products -- including but not restricted to literature, communication, media, art, etc. -- is performed in a contextual and relational construction and with a plurality of methods and approaches, inter- and multi-disciplinarity, and, if and when required, including team work. In comparative cultural studies it is the processes of communicative action(s) in culture and the how of these processes that constitute the main objectives of research and study. However, comparative cultural studies does not exclude textual analysis proper or other established fields of study. In comparative cultural studies, ideally, the framework of and methodologies available in the systemic and empirical study of culture are favoured.

The members of a national business class of senior corporate managers who derive their position and status from connection to foreign corporations of developed nations. The term is used in critical theories of the sociology of development to imply that a foreign-allied national business class tends to encourage local economic development that benefits other nations rather than their own. See: METROPOLIS-HINTERLAND THEORY / .

Claims to land made by the Native peoples not covered by a treaty with Canada or the British crown. Comprehensive claims are most significant in the north and in British Columbia, two regions with few treaties. Since the establishment of the land claims process in 1974 some claims have been resolved in the north and the principles of a treaty with the Nisga'a in British Columbia was signed in 1996. See: CALDER CASE / .

Specifications of proper and appropriate behaviour generally supported and shared in by members of a group. Societies contain different groups whose conduct norms are to some extent divergent.

The joining together of territories with separate political systems into a political union that establishes a Federal government. The Federal government is constitutionally permitted to exercise specific powers, while others are reserved for the exclusive jurisdiction of provincial or state governments. Canadian Confederation was established by the Constitution Act of 1867 (originally the British North America Act, 1867) which joined Ontario and Quebec (the ‘Province of Canada’) with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Six provinces later joined Confederation, Manitoba (1870) , British Columbia (1871) , Prince Edward Island (1873), Alberta and Saskatchewan (1905) and Newfoundland (1949). The Yukon , Northwest Territories and the territory of Nunavut do not have provincial status and exercise limited powers of government under the authority of the government of Canada. Within confederation can be found three distinct visions of the nation of Canada. One sees Canada with a strong federal or central government and weaker provincial governments; the second sees Canada with a weak federal government and strong provincial government; and the third sees Canada as the federation of a French speaking nation and an English speaking nation. These three visions have created tensions within Canada that continue to influence Canadian politics. See: NATIONAL POLICY / .

Sociological perspectives that focus on the inherent divisions of societies with social inequality and the way these social divisions give rise to different and competing interests. The central assumption is that social structures and cultural ideas tend to reflect the interests only of some members of society rather than society as a whole. This contrasts with consensus or functionalist perspectives which assume a foundation of common interest among all members of society. Marxism and feminism are examples of conflict perspectives. See: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES / .

A corporate organization in which divergent enterprises retain separate organizational and legal structures but are joined together by the controlling ownership of a corporate holding company. For example, companies B, C, and D may all be owned by company A. This whole structure is called a conglomerate.

See family, conjugal

See family, consanguineal.

A concept associated with Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), referring to the common norms, values and beliefs shared in by members of a community. It consists of beliefs and ideas that shape the structure and direction of community life, rather than just the personal interactions of individuals.

A major division in Canadian public opinion about the enforced drafting of individuals into the armed forces during the Second World War (1939-1945). During the First World War (1914-1918) the use of conscription was generally supported in English speaking Canada, but there was widespread opposition to it in Quebec. In the late 1930's, when a new European war seemed increasingly likely, Canada's Prime Minister Mackenzie King, promised that if Canada became involved in war there would be no conscription of individuals for service overseas. Once the war began in 1939, it became obvious that Canada could not avoid conscription if there was to be major involvement in the war against Germany. Conscription for service in Canada was introduced in 1940, and in 1942, the government asked the Canadian people to release it from the pledge not to introduce conscription for service overseas. In a national vote - a plebiscite -English-speaking Canada strongly supported a change in policy, but Quebec was strongly against. As a result of this split in opinion, the government adopted a cautious policy and not until November 1944 did it finally send conscripted armed forces to Europe. By that time there was a more supportive opinion in Quebec.

Any crime in which the ‘victim’ is a willing participant (drug use, prostitution, etc.).

Also known as functionalism, the foundation of this perspective is the assumption that societies have an inherent tendency to maintain themselves in a state of relative equilibrium through the mutually adjustive and supportive interaction of their principal institutions. The approach also assumes that effective maintenance of a particular form of society is in the common interest of all its members. See: FUNCTIONALIST EXPLANATION / STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM / .

It is important to think of conservatism as a set of ideas that is not necessarily the same as those upheld by political parties calling themselves ‘Conservative’. Some modern ‘Conservative’ parties are strongly associated with the idea of a reduced role for government (privatization, reduced social programs) and promotion of free markets. This perspective, however, is based on classical liberalism rather than conservatism. Conservative ideas do not welcome the unrestricted operations of a free market, but value social stability and the maintenance of traditional community bonds and social hierarchies. Conservatives assume that institutions and values that have lasted a long time embody the collective experience of the community. They have persisted because they have played a valuable and positive role in society. See: CLASSICAL LIBERALISM / NEO-CONSERVATISM / .

The public display of individual possession and consumption of expensive goods and services. The term, used by Thorsten Veblen (1857-1929), has been used to convey the idea of a society where social status is earned and displayed by patterns of consumption, rather than by what an individual does or makes.

The set of arrangements by which a nation governs itself. In Canada the core of the constitution is the BNA Act and its amendments (now called the Constitution Act 1867) and the Constitution Act 1982. Most of what we take to be the constitution, however, is not contained in these documents: things like responsible government, political parties, cabinet, the bureaucracy are absent. Some of these matters are covered by laws like the Elections Act, the House of Commons Act, the Legislative Assembly Acts and the Public Service Acts . In Canada, constitutional convention, embodying political traditions and practices, is unusually important and Canada's system of government cannot be understood simply from the written laws. For example, it is constitutional convention, but not law, that ministers must be members of the House of Commons or the Senate, or that the Governor General must appoint the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons as Prime Minister. It is appropriate to also include court judgments interpreting constitutional Acts and formal agreements between federal and provincial governments as parts of Canada's constitutional arrangements.

Passed by the parliament of Britain under pressure from the United Empire Loyalists who had arrived in Canada (many into the old province of Quebec) and wished to continue to live under British institutions, this Act divided the old province of Quebec into Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). A powerful British minority remained in Lower Canada and these people were given significant representation in the legislative assembly (30% of the seats for 10% of the population). Upper Canada elected to develop British institutions, while Lower Canada choose to retain the arrangements it had been granted under the Quebec Act of 1774. See: UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS / .

A culture in which the attainment of ownership and possession of goods and services is presented as the primary aim of individual endeavor and the key source of social status and prestige. See: AUDIENCE / POPULAR CULTURE / .

A research method involving the gathering of data capturing one or more variables descriptive of the content of a cultural expression such as movies, newspaper stories, speeches, cartoons or advertisements. A researcher may, for example, analyze stories of sexual assault to determine how blame is allocated in such stories, or may examine the covers of popular magazines such as Time, or Maclean's to see which sex or racial group is typically depicted or to observe differences in the depiction of men and women.

A British term referring to what North Americans would refer to as social mobility through equality of opportunity. Recruitment for positions in society is seen as a contest in which the contestants are competing freely. See: SPONSORED MOBILITY / .

Originally associated with the American vision of a ‘manifest destiny’ of the United States to occupy the whole North American continent, the word now refers specifically to social and economic policies that encourage and advance economic and political integration of the countries of North America. The term is also used generally to refer to processes of economic and political integration of continental nations. The North American Free Trade Agreement is an example of continentalism at work. See: FREE TRADE / .

Adherence to a criminal or other identity arising from the unattractiveness or unavailability of alternate life styles.

The term is associated with Karl Marx (1818-1883) who claimed that capitalist societies suffered from two unresolvable problems that would prevent both social harmony and a stable economic life. First, Marx assumed that the competitive processes of a capitalist market society would lead to a concentration of capital ownership in fewer and fewer hands. Marx built this claim on the assumption, which he holds in common with laissez faire economics, that a competitive economy must lead inevitably to the elimination of some producers by others, there must be winners and losers and the winners would grow increasingly large. Capitalism, Marx argued, contrary to the general assumption of laissez faire economics, had an inherent tendency towards concentration of capital in oligopolies and monopolies. The concentration of capital involved, first of all, the displacement of the handworker and the craftsworker and increasing domination of factory-based technology. An industrial proletariat of wage workers emerged, and grew larger, as independent producers were eliminated by factory-based competition. Capitalist corporations grew more concentrated and larger, the number of individuals owning the means of production became fewer. The class structure becomes polarized and the economic and social conditions of the two opposed main classes more strongly contrasted, leading to political activation of the working class and prolonged conflict with the dominant bourgeois class through political and industrial organization. It is this development of social polarization that provides the unsolveable social or relational contradiction of capitalist society. The social organization of a capitalist society also presented an inherent structural contradiction in the economic dynamics of capitalism. While capitalism revolutionized the means of production by promoting the greatest economic development in human history, its class structure focused the capacity to consume in a tiny minority of the population. The mass social scale of production could not remain compatible with the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. As a result, there must be inherent instability, or anarchy, in the whole capitalist system of production. The social effects of such instability in turn must intensify the political struggle of social classes hastening the event of socialist revolution. See: COMMUNISM / DIALECTIC / DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM / MONOPOLY / OLIGOPOLY / .

Those traditional, illegal behaviours that most people think of as crime. Most crime is conventional crime. Non-conventional crime, may be organized crime, white-collar crime, political crime, etc.

Also known as sequential analysis. One of three central themes that are the focus of ethnomethodology, the other two being mundane reasoning and membership categorization. Sociologists typically examine talk or conversation as a resource to learn something of people's attitudes, the ways people's lives are structured and how people differ from each other in their values and assumptions. The ethnomethodologist, on the other hand, treats talk or conversation as a topic to learn how ordinary members of society use properties of talk (eg: its sequential properties) in order to do things with words. A great deal of research has been done on the structure of turn taking, story telling and openings. See: ETHNOMETHODOLOGY / .

Behaviour by a company which avoids cutthroat competition in favour of a live-and-let-live attitude to competitors. This is a strategy to reduce corporate risk and is in direct conflict with the values of liberal ideology which emphasize competition.

A crime committed by corporate employees or owners to financially advantage a corporation. It may involve acts like fraud, environmental pollution, making of unsafe products and dangerous work environments.

The owners, directors and senior executives of the largest and most important of a nation's business corporations. Can be variously defined according to criteria of corporate size and type of enterprise. See: COMPRADOR ELITE / .

a political ideology historically associated with fascism. It upheld strong political leadership and strict social hierarchy and attacked the democratic system as leading to inefficiency, indecisiveness and social disorganization. Although not necessarily opposed to formal electoral democracy, this doctrine minimizes the scope of democratic action and advocates organisations representing labour and capital should be directly involved the making of public policy. Since corporatism has been historically associated with the suppression of free labour unions, it has generally upheld the domination of corporate owners rather than creating a genuinely participating role for workers. Corporatism has had only a marginal influence in Canada, but its essential ideas are evident in claims that globalization is inevitable and desirable and will increase economic efficiency by reducing the power of governments to interfere in the market place.

Any variable which is correlated (the relationship between the two variables is one of correlation) with another variable. Age and sex are the two strongest correlates of crime.

Criminologists from an empiricist perspective tend to look at the social world in terms of variables (anything which varies within a population or group rather than being constant). Everyone in your class is a student so that is a constant, however, there is a great deal of variation by factors like sex, age, income, program, GPA, religion, ethnic heritage. If one gathers information from the whole class on these variables we might begin to see that some variables vary in patterned ways. People with a particular ethnic heritage may tend to be more religious than those from other heritages. This would suggest a correlation; as one variable varies, so does the other. If there were more students of that particular ethnic heritage in the class then religiosity for the group would also increase. As one goes up, so does the other. This is referred to as a positive correlation. If one variable goes up and the other down, this is called a negative relationship. For example, as age goes up, the crime rate goes down, is a negative (or sometimes called an ‘inverse’) correlation. A correlation does not mean that one variable causes the other. A causal relationship has to be determined by further research work.

A correlation between two variables which does not include a control variable. A first-order correlation, then, would include one control variable as well as the independent and dependent variables.

The concept that aspects of a society's culture and social structure have a complementary fit or integration between them. This idea has been extensively used in the sociology of education to analyze and describe the way that schools and other institutions socialize and educate individuals to take places in a structure of social inequality.

A set of cultural ideas that, to some extent, differ from and conflict with, those generally upheld in the society. A counterculture develops when members of groups identify common values that distinguish them from others. These groups may be based on common appearance, ethnic group, sexuality, status or social behaviour. The term is close in meaning to subculture, but the concept of counterculture stresses the idea of an open and active opposition to dominant cultural values.

A structure of labour unions that brings together workers within the same area of craft or skill (typographical unions, carpenters, stoneworkers, iron molders, boilermakers, railway engineers, etc.). These unions, because their members possessed crucial knowledge and physical and conceptual skills, had considerable influence in the workplace and struggled to maintain control of their work process and standards of training and apprenticeship. They became uneasy about the rise of industrial unions which brought together all workers in a single industry regardless of their craft or level of skill. In this way they were somewhat elitist and perhaps cautious. Elizabeth Comack argues that Canadian industrialists, with the assistance of the federal government, exploited this tension within the union movement and used craft union fears of the threat of competition from Asian immigrants to transform concern about labour problems into a race issue. The government introduced legislation to control narcotics, which they linked to the Asian community and this encouraged suspicion of Asians from other workers thus splitting and weakening the union movement. It took many decades for some of the rifts within the union movement to be healed. See: SYNDICALISM / .

Any form of human behaviour that is designated by law as criminal and subject to a penal sanction. While crime is the central focus of criminology and a major topic of the sociology of deviance, there is no consensus on how to define the term. While the everyday use of the term seems to refer to intentional violations of criminal law or public law in general, many sociologists look at crime as a social construction, or a label, and look at crime being created through the passing of laws and the application of those laws. See: CLASSICAL CRIMINOLOGY / CRIMINOLOGY / CRITICAL CRIMINOLOGY / DEVIANCE / LABELING THEORY / .

The image of a ‘funnel’ refers to the much lower number of crimes detected and punished by the criminal justice system than the number actually committed. This model implies that crime is an objective occurrence, it is thought to exist in the qualities of certain acts without needing to be recognized, identified and officially responded to. This is what is called a ‘realist’ assumption about crime. Symbolic interactionists and phenomenologists, however, see ‘crime’ as something created and defined by processes of social interaction and interpretation and reject both the ‘realist’ assumption and the concept of the crime funnel. See: CRIME NET / .

A model of the relationship between crime and the resources employed in its detection and punishment by the criminal justice system. In this model the agents of the criminal justice system (the law makers and law enforcers in particular) are thought to operate like fishers: they can use nets of varying dimensions or with varying sizes of mesh and the ‘net’ will determine how much crime is caught. This model tends to be favoured by critical criminologists as they are interested in understanding how the state can use the criminal justice system to support particular interest groups in society or to legitimize the political and economic arrangements of the society. Like the crime model it reflects realist assumptions about crime. Crime is assumed to exist objectively and the net simply determines what quantity of it will be revealed. Symbolic interactionists and ethnomethodologists would reject this model and insist that crimes are only those events which are recognized, identified or categorized as crime. See: CRIME FUNNEL / NET WIDENING / .

An ideal type used to capture one side of a debate about the central values or practices of the criminal justice system: should the central value be the protection of the liberty of the individual citizen or should the central value be the maintenance of social order? This model gives emphasis to values and practices which would exert or enhance the system's capacity to control crime, and thus maintain social order, through police action, prosecution, conviction and punishment. See: DUE-PROCESS MODEL / .

Refers to the fact that crime is socially defined and that these definitions will vary from society to society.

A social category, imposed by the community, that correctly or incorrectly defines an individual as a particular type of criminal. The identity will pervasively shape their social interactions with others. It is similar in concept to ‘master status’.

Those conditions or structures which themselves seem to create crime. Just as hospitals create disease (eg: infection) it is possible that prisons or even courts or youth correction centres are ‘criminogenic’.

A economic market ( eg: for shoes, gasoline, etc) which is structured in such a way that it tends to produce criminal behaviour.

A form of criminology (the study of crime) using a conflict perspective of some kind: Marxism, feminism, political economy theory or critical theory. In all of these, the focus is on locating the genesis of crime and the interpretation of what is ‘justice’ within a structure of class and status inequalities. Law and the definition and punishment of crime are then seen as connected to a system of social inequality and as tools for the reproduction of this inequality. See: CLASSICAL CRIMINOLOGY / .

A sociology developed by the Frankfurt school that is influenced by divergent intellectual ideas, including Marxism and psychoanalysis. It starts from two principles: opposition to the status quo and the idea that history can be potentially progressive. Together these principles imply a position from which to make judgments of human activity (rather than just describing) and provide the tools for criticism. Sometimes associated with highlighting the ‘dark side’ of modernity, critical theory attacks social ideas and practices which stand in the way of social justice and human emancipation (the rational organization of society as an association of free people). Critical theory is opposed to ‘bourgeois liberalism’.

Offspring of siblings of the opposite sex.

Also known as comparative analysis. A method central to many social sciences involving the comparative examination of differing cultures. This method is crucial for distinguishing universal aspects of human culture and social organization from those which are particular to individual societies. By observing the range of variation in culture and organization between societies a deeper understanding of individual development, family, gender, crime control and social inequality etc. can be developed.

Research which makes observations at only one period in time. For example, conducting a survey or opinion poll. It is analogous to taking one still picture of the population or group being investigated. Longitudinal research, on the other hand, makes more than one set of observations and can be compared to a simple moving picture. See: LONGITUDINAL STUDIES / .

A corporate organization established by government, but having a separate legal and organizational identity from the government itself. Crown corporations have been established in a wide variety of social and economic sectors including transportation, mining and manufacture, communication and financial services. Canada has relied heavily on crown corporations, especially as a means of stimulating economic development and meeting communications and cultural objectives.

This concept was originally developed as one component of a typology: churches, denominations, sects and cults. Churches and denominations are seen as established forms of religious organization while sects were groups that had broken away from established groups in order to preserve what they thought were central traditions or orthodoxy. Cults on the other hand were religious forms and expressions which were unacceptable or outside cultural norms and thus seen as the first stage of forming a new religion. However, the term now has a rather negative meaning, suggesting strange beliefs, charismatic leadership, manipulation of members, strong emotional bonding, and slavish devotion to the group. See: CHURCH / SECT / .

The belief that family and individual life is most fulfilling when experienced in a private household where women are chief homemakers and caregivers. Also associated with the idea that women have moral and temperamental qualities that are best expressed in the personal and domestic sphere of life. The cult of domesticity has been given emphasis at various times in Canadian history, most recently in the period from 1945 to approximately 1960. See: BABY BOOM / .

As used by P. Bourdieu, in the sociological analysis of education, this term refers to the way that the schools reflect standards of cultural expression and definitions of valued abilities that are characteristic of the socially and economically dominant class in society. Students who bring this cultural capital (a form of human capital) to the school are apt to be most successful in meeting criteria set by the schools and the result is that the school system supports and justifies the privileges of children of the wealthy and powerful. The school can also be seen as bestowing cultural capital on students, improving the equality of opportunity for those groups not already in possession of this capital essential for maintaining an open class society.

A perspective on a subject that is shaped by cultural assumptions, rather than having a natural or objective basis. For example, marriage is a cultural construction: it is not biologically necessary for men and women to marry. Another example is gender, we have concepts of masculine and feminine that suggest to us how men and women should behave, but very few of these gender differences are determined by biological sex.

the study of the interaction between culture and environment. Culture is viewed in the context of the surrounding social and physical environment and the effects of culture on environment and of environment on culture can then be studied. A central assumption of this perspective is the idea that cultures in similar environments will share many characteristics.

An explanation for crime (such as homicide) which is phrased in terms of the culture of the subgroup or the culture of that nation. John Hagen, for example, has argued that Canada has a lower homicide rate than does the USA because Canada's culture (its values) is more traditional than that of the USA. Canada's culture, he argues, tends to focus on respect for authority, communitarianism and is more elitist than is the culture of the USA.

Comes from the word ‘gens’, meaning a clan or community of people related by common descent. The idea of cultural genocide implies the process of undermining, suppressing, and ultimately eliminating, native cultures. In Canada, the term has been used to refer to the government policy of using residential schools to separate native children from connection with their own cultures and languages and to impose European culture upon them. See: POTLATCH / RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS / .

The practice of systematically spreading the influence of one culture over others by means of physical and economic domination. Usually involves an assumption of cultural superiority (ethnocentrism) . In Canada, the term is associated with the concern that the power of United States entertainment and communications media tends to marginalize Canadian stories and Canadian experience and reduce Canadians' ability to communicate with each other. With the spread of satellite television, cultural imperialism is seen as a global problem. See: ETHNOCENTRISM / IMPERIALISM / .

Associated with the Frankfurt School in the early decades of the twentieth century and the writings of the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies (begun in 1964). Both of these groups began to look at culture as a force shaping lived human experience, rather than at the level of abstract generalization. Their focus was on examining the function of culture in everyday life and its role in a system of social hierarchy and domination. These studies eventually began to build on Antonio Gramsci's (1891-1937) concept of hegemony to demonstrate how class or gender rule is supported not only by overt mechanisms of law and the exercise of power, but is pervasively dispersed throughout society in institutional structures and cultural beliefs and values. Cultural studies now include a substantial portion of sociological work. See: HEGEMONY / .

A rejection of the notion that aspirations are entirely a matter of self-creation; rather they are defined by culture and transmitted by other members of the society. Merton assumes that everyone shares the same cultural goals or aspirations and that the primary goal is wealth. It should be noted that Merton wrote during the great depression and his idea may be appropriate for an age of scarcity. Do they apply to an age of prosperity? Other sociologists have argued, and demonstrated, that groups of people may have quite different aspirations or goals.

The generally shared knowledge, beliefs and values of members of society. Culture is conveyed from generation to generation through the process of socialization. While culture is made up of ideas, some sociologists also argue that it is not exclusively ideational but can be found in human-made material objects. They define a separate ‘material culture’. This distinction appears weak, since human-made material objects must embody human ideas. Culture and social structure are considered as the two key components of society and are therefore the foundation concepts of sociology.

The theory that certain groups and individuals tend to persist in a state of poverty because they have distinct beliefs, values and ways of behaving that are incompatible with economic success. The thesis is controversial and is opposed by situational theory, which locates the genesis of poverty in economic and social structures of society rather than in the value orientations of individuals or groups.

Where an individual encounters a new and different culture and experiences a major disruption of their normal assumptions about social values and behaviour. Their old values seem unable to provide guidance in the new situation, yet the new culture seems strange and unacceptable. It is experienced by individuals who travel to a very different society and discover cultural ideas and practices that differ very much from their own. It is common among immigrant groups and can sometimes affect whole societies if they are swept up in rapid social change. The concept has been applied to the experiences of aboriginal people following colonial contact.

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Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
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*This social science dictionary has 1000
entries covering the disciplines of sociology, criminology, political
science and women's study with a commitment to Canadian examples and
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