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The term was introduced by George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) to refer to the aspect of identity, or self, that reacts in social interaction to the expectations of others. In social interaction individuals are aware of the expectations of others, but they do not necessarily conform to these expectations in their reactions. This spontaneous, never entirely predictable, element of individual personality makes each individual a unique social actor. See: ME / .

Concept of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), founder of psychoanalysis. The id is the unconscious drives and psychic energies of humans as biological organisms. As such, it is untouched by culture and social learning and encompasses all that is primitive, natural and pre-civilized in human passions and energies. Freud seems to have assumed that the human struggle to achieve self consciousness against the ungoverned and unconstrained passions of the id, remained deeply buried in the unconscious minds of all human beings. See: EGO / SUPEREGO / .

An abstract model of a classic, pure, form of social phenomenon. It is a model concept and does not necessarily exist in exact form in reality. An example is Ferdinand Tonnies's dichotomy Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft . Tonnies described two opposite, or polar types, of social association, one personal and committed (community) one impersonal and unemotional (society-association). These two formal types then provide a benchmark for the analysis and comparison of actually existing societies. Max Weber also used this method of analysis with his ideal types of bureaucracy, authority and social action.

A perspective that asserts the independent causal influence of intellectual ideas on social organization and culture. It is contrasted to materialism, which focuses on concrete aspects of social organization as causative of particular intellectual ideas and values. Max Weber can be said to have given an idealistic explanation of the growth of capitalism by linking it to the emergence of a ‘Protestant Ethic’. See: HISTORICAL MATERIALISM / .

Thought to be a central aspect of postmodern politics and communities in which the legitimacy of a unitary public identity or an overarching sense of self has diminished and in its place the previously private identities of citizens (based on their race, ethnicity, sexual preference, physical state, or victimization) compete for public recognition and legitimation. Some theorists fear that this will lead to private values and identities coming to take precedence over public involvement as citizens. See: CITIZEN / .

Explanations of specific events, phenomenon or behaviours which are sought in the careful examination of specific preceding events. For example, why did Mary murder the butler? Or, What caused World War I? For the most part clinical psychologists and historians are interested in ideographic explanations. Other disciplines, like sociology, are interested in explanations of classes of events or behaviours and seek these in a careful examination of a few general categories or classes of preceding events. For example, why do men murder their partners? Or, What are the causes of international violence? These explanations are known as nomothetic explanations.

A situation where a particular ideology (see definition) is pervasively reflected throughout a society in all principal social institutions and permeates cultural ideas and social relationships.

A linked set of ideas and beliefs that act to uphold and justify an existing or desired arrangement of power, authority, wealth and status in a society. For example, a socialist ideology advocates the transformation of society from capitalism to collective ownership and economic equality. In contrast, a liberal ideology associated with capitalist societies upholds that system as the best, most moral, most desirable form of social arrangement. Patriarchal ideology also has this characteristic of asserting claims and beliefs that justify a social arrangement: in this case, male social domination of women. Another example is a racist ideology claiming that people can be classified into distinct races and that some races are inferior to others. Racist ideologies are used as justifications for systems of slavery or colonial exploitation. Although there is often a dominant ideology in a society, there can also be counter-ideologies that advocate transformation of social relationships. See: DOMINANT IDEOLOGY THESIS / HEGEMONY / .

A fundamental principle of criminal law is that individuals may not offer the legal defence that they were unaware that their acts were designated as criminal under the law. All citizens are presumed to know the law.

The movement of peoples into a country or territory (movement of people within countries is referred to as migration.) Immigration has played the central role in the development of Canada from the first permanent European settlements in the mid 1600's to the 1990's where 16% of Canadians were born outside Canada. The birth rate of Canada's population - the number of children born to a woman in her fertile years - is about 1.6, much lower than the 2.1 that would be needed to maintain a stable population. The prospect of a declining and aging population has led to some calls for increased immigration to Canada . Economic recession, the demands on public services resulting from the concentrated patterns of immigrant settlement and concern about inter-ethnic tensions, have more recently led to controversy about levels of immigration. A special mention should be made of Quebec, where the population increased, until the 1960's, mostly through a high birth rate. In history, Quebec had one of the highest birthrates known in any world society. Although there has been immigration of Francophones to Quebec, chiefly from old French colonial territories, the great majority of the Francophone population has descended from the approximately 60,000 people who lived there when the French empire over Quebec ended in 1759.

Domination by one or more countries over others for political and economic objectives. It can be effected by force of arms or through the economic and political power exercised by state and corporate agencies. Imperialism is sometimes organized in a formal empire, with a ruling nation and colonized territories, but it can also exist where one nation or region exercises dominant influence over international trade and investment, patterns of economic development and mass communication. See: COLONIALISM / METROPOLIS-HINTERLAND THEORY / .

The fertilization of a human egg outside of the womb (usually in a laboratory dish). The fertilized egg is then implanted in the womb where normal development occurs.

A philosophy of incarceration that argues that some offenders might have to be incarcerated not for what they have done but to prevent future harm to the community. This depends on the community's ability to identify those that might re-offend. Some also argue that it is unfair to punish people for what they might do, rather than for what they have done. Selective incapacitation is provided for under dangerous offender legislation.

sexual intercourse between individuals who are culturally regarded as too closely related for sexual intimacy to be legitimate or moral. Incest rules vary cross culturally, but generally all cultures forbid intercourse between parents and children, between siblings and between grandparents and grandchildren. Rare historical exceptions to the rules are ancient Egypt and traditional Hawaii where siblings were favoured marriage partners among the royal family and probably other members of the aristocracy and the wealthy. Many cultures have mythical or religious stories that warn of the terrible consequences of violating incest rules.

A contrasting term to prevalence. Incidence tells us the frequency of occurrence of some event during a particular time period. For example there were 581 criminal homicides in 1997, or the rate of crime for one year is higher than for the previous year.

One of three classes of immigrants to Canada (the other two being family class and refugees). The independent class do not require sponsorship - they apply on their own - but they are rated on a point system which tends to give points to education and training, labour market demands, age and having family in Canada. See: SPONSORED IMMIGRANT / .

Causal research examines the world in terms of variables (those things which reveal variation within a population). An independent variable is typically the cause, while a dependent variable is the effect. The independent variable is that variable assumed to be the causal variable. In experimental research it is the variable the investigator manipulates. The effect (the dependent variable) is dependent on the causal variable. If unemployment is thought to cause crime rates to increase, unemployment is the independent variable (it can vary between high and low) and crime rates the dependent variable. Something which is an independent variable at one time can be a dependent variable at another.

Many of the concepts social scientists study are quite complex and cannot adequately be measured by a single indicator. In these cases researchers develop several indicators and in some case will give different weights to each indicator. This combination of indicators and weights is an index. Socio-economic status is difficult to measure and typically the indicators of income, occupation and education are used. If occupation is seen as more central it may be given more weight. An index of socio-economic status is developed.

As used by ethnomethodologists refers to the contextual nature of behaviour and talk. Talk for example is indexical in the sense that it has no meaning without a context or can take on various meanings dependent on the context. As we construct talk or listen to talk we all must engage in the interpretive process of constructing a context. With this context we give the talk a sense of concreteness or definiteness. There is no way to avoid indexicality, however, nor a way to remove it, since talk about context itself is also indexical. For this reason constructing a sense of reality is an ongoing accomplishment of social members.

The British North America Act (1867), creating the nation of Canada, gave responsibility for the Native peoples of the new nation to the federal government. Federal legislation governing Natives was first passed in 1868 and in 1876 the first Indian Act was passed. This Act provides a legal definition of ‘Indian’ and for those covered by the designation provides a framework in which their activities are governed. From the outset the Act espoused the goal of assimilation and in the name of this end authorized many repressive actions by the state. The Inuit (until recently referred to as ‘Eskimo’) of the North were not included in the Indian Act and a court decision in 1939 was required to declare them a federal responsibility. The Act has been described as a ‘total institution’ since the lives of Natives covered it are entirely lived out within its rule. The Act has been a powerful instrument for the colonization of Indian lands and peoples. Since 1970 there have been suggestions that the Indian Act be removed and Native peoples become similar to other citizens in Canada. See: total institution; reserve; Potlatch;

Indictable offenses are the most serious category of crime, carry substantial criminal penalties, and are usually tried in higher courts often before juries.

Those people inhabiting a land prior to colonization by another nation. In Canada this would include the Indians and Inuit but would probably not include the Metis who are of mixed European and aboriginal descent. See: ABORIGINAL PEOPLES / .

A term used to refer to biological or psychological explanations of criminal or deviant behaviour by individuals. The assumption is that the deviant behaviour of individuals can be at least partly explained by some physical or psychological trait that makes them different from normal law abiding citizens.

A value system, central to classical liberalism and capitalism, which upholds choice, personal freedom, and self-orientation. See: CLASSICAL LIBERALISM / .

A theory which focuses on explaining the behaviour of individuals and using factors or features of the individual in explaining this behaviour. An alternative to this approach would be to explain the behaviour of a group (the crime rate of Canada) in terms of characteristics of this group.

Unlike individualism which refers to an individualistic value system, individuation refers to the process by which individualism is accomplished, the breaking down of obligatory ties and responsibilities to other people or to institutions so that the individual is freed from social bonds. Such a process must also lead to the adoption of the value of individualism. See: INDIVIDUALISM / .

Developing a theory or reaching a conclusion after consideration of several empirical observations. See: GROUNDED THEORY / .

A general term referring to workplace relationships between workers and management. Industrial relations has become an important professional and academic discipline, since successful management of industrial relations is closely linked to workplace productivity and product quality. There have been many different approaches to the management of industrial relations in modern capitalist societies, but they generally share the characteristic that they seek to discipline, motivate and engage workers in processes of production or administration without making any fundamental change to the structure of ownership or direction of the workplace. At the end of the 19th century scientific management became increasingly popular as a means of workplace direction and this approach relied upon close and systematic control of the work process and of the methods of work employed. Beginning in the 1920's and 1930's, a new movement in industrial relations began to focus instead on the management of human relations in the workplace after it was demonstrated that creation of a positive communicative atmosphere at work was capable of stimulating worker productivity. In more recent years, the idea of quality control circles, where workers take direct responsibility as work groups for productivity and work quality has become popular following successful use of this approach in Japan. There have also been numerous schemes to increase worker participation in the workplace, either through enhanced workplace communication, consultation and co-operative worker-management planning or through worker representation and participation directly in management. See: SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT / ALIENATION / .

The production of goods for trade and profit using machines to enhance the productivity of labour. The term is used to describe the profound technological changes that began in England in the mid 18th century. Before the 18th century there was very little power machinery except wind and water mills and production was carried out with hand tools and hard human labour. The industrial revolution introduced technologies that could employ power from water, steam, gas, coal, electricity and oil to replace or enhance human labour. This made possible a level of economic productivity that had never before been achieved and it initiated a process of unending technological transformation and social change. Socially, the industrial revolution is associated with the rational organization of work, a transformation from a society of self sufficient producers to a society of employed wage workers and the spread of a market-driven system of allocation of resources. In Canada these changes occurred in the 19th century. Social scientists continue to be interested in how this technological transformation affected social relations, politics, community life, family structure, and women's role in society. Many people argue that the computerization of society is bringing with it a set of changes equal in importance to the industrial revolution.

The process of developing an economy founded on the mass manufacturing of goods. Industrialization is associated with the urbanization of society, an extensive division of labour, a wage economy, differentiation of institutions, and growth of mass communication and mass markets. Many western societies are now described as post-industrial since much economic activity is based on the production of services, knowledge or symbols.

Where individuals have very different amounts of wealth, status and power. This is a characteristic of all complex modern societies, however equality of condition is often present in small-scale, hunter-gatherer societies. See: CLASS / .

Where differences in individual possession of wealth, status and power result in definite advantages and disadvantages in the pursuit of personal success.

The logical process of moving from an indicator or observation to a conclusion or general rule.

Statistical tools or techniques used to draw inference about a population on the basis of research evidence from a sample. For example, estimating the frequency of value for a particular variable within a population. This is found commonly in reports of public opinion polls when it is noted that ‘a sample of this size is accurate to within +/- 3.2% [note, this number will vary] , 19 times out of 20 (i.e., 95%)’. See: STATISTICS / DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS / .

Refers to the process of imposing a stigmatized or inferiorized identity on a group of people. The people stigmatized tend to adopt a sense of inferiority that leads to a sapping of confidence and ability, inhibits political organization and results in a host of personal and collective social problems. This concept can be linked to the theory of a ‘culture of poverty’.

Also known as the ‘underground economy’, or the ‘hidden economy’, refers to those economic activities which are carried on outside the institutionalized structures of the economy. For most purposes this means they are transactions not reported to the taxation department, office of unemployment insurance, worker's compensation or municipal governments. Usually these transactions are based on cash exchanges but they may be bartered for goods or services.

In Marxist theory or political economy theory, refers to the base or economic foundation of society upon which the culture and social institutions of society are built. The concept of ‘infrastructure’ is similar to ‘mode of production’ and would include the forces of production and the relations of production. See: base; mode of production;

A right claimed particularly by Native peoples in Canada. By declaring that this right is inherent there is rejection of the notion that the right is bestowed by the government of Canada. Rather the right existed prior to Canada becoming a nation and therefore acknowledges that Native peoples were, and perhaps still are, nations with the right to fully make decisions for themselves. See: NATION / .

A pattern of social interaction, having a relatively stable structure, that persists over time. Institutions have structural properties - they are organized - and they are shaped by cultural values. Thus, for example, the ‘institution of marriage’, in western societies, is structurally located in a cohabiting couple and regulated by norms about sexual exclusiveness, love, sharing, etc. There is not full agreement about the number or designation of social institutions in a society but the following would typically be included: family, economy, politics, education, health care, media.

A social institution which encompasses the individual, cutting them off from significant social interaction outside its bounds. These institutions are frequently involved in the process of resocialization whereby individuals are detached from their previous sense of identity and re-shaped to accept and absorb new values and behaviour. Examples include religious orders, prisons and army training camps.

The condition of a group within a larger society where the major institutions --economy, politics, family, schooling, -- are reproduced thus enabling the smaller group to have little social connection with the larger group.

Where social interaction is predictably patterned within relatively stable structures regulated by norms. For example, seeking a diagnosis for a physical illness or obtaining advise or a cure is institutionalized within the ‘health care’ institution. Conflict over values or interests is institutionalized within the ‘political system’; sexual access and raising children is institutionalized within the ‘family’.

A view of the role of the state from a conflict or Marxist perspective. The state is seen as an instrument of the dominant class of the society and is assumed to operate at its behest. This approach stresses the importance of the intimate connection of the capitalist class to the state power apparatus and argues that it is this interconnection that explains political and economic policies in capitalist societies. This view has now been largely displaced by a structurally-focused analysis. See: STRUCTURALIST APPROACH / RELATIVE AUTONOMY / .

(1) The joining of different ethnic groups within a society into a common social life regulated by generally accepted norms and values. This process need not involve the obliteration of distinct ethnic identity, which would be assimilation, but it implies that ethnic identity does not limit or constrain commitment to the common activities, values and goals of the society. Canada's official policy of multi-culturalism assumes that social integration can be achieved without the elimination of the cultural distinctiveness of ethnic groups. (2) In the work of Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) the term refers to the density of connection between individuals and social institutions. He assumes that a society requires intense individual participation in a wide range of institutions for it to maintain social integration and provide individuals with a sense of meaning and belonging.

A group of individuals and organizations linked together for the purpose of active promotion of particular values and objectives. Interest groups are usually associated with the political process through which they seek support and resources for their objectives. Interest groups encompass those with issue specific goals (eg: opposition to nuclear energy) as well as those seeking to regularly defend and advance their goals and objectives (eg: the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Labour Congress). Pluralist theory upholds the view that political process and political decision making is best thought of as consisting of open and competitive interest group interaction and advocacy within a framework of democracy.

A standard or criteria against which research results are judged. To be internally valid the results of an experiment or of a survey are considered to be accurate indications of the manipulation of an independent variable in the case of an experiment, or of the attitudes or knowledge of respondents in the case of a survey. If the results, however, can be seen as produced by the way the experiment or survey was conducted then the results are internally invalid. Something internal to the research process produced the results, so researchers are no longer measuring what they claim to be measuring. Selection bias in the allocation of subjects to the experimental and control groups may contaminate the results as can questions in a survey which elicit socially desirable answers. Placebos and double blind procedures in experiments are used to enhance internal validity. See double blind procedure; external validity; validity.

To segregate and confine those considered suspicious persons. Internment camps were used in Canada during both world wars. During the first war (1914-1918) nationals of Germany and of the Austro-Hungarian (this includes Ukrainians) and Turkish empires were interned. During the Second World War, enemy nationals and Canadian citizens were interned, including Germans, Italians and Japanese Canadians. A total of 720 Japanese-Canadian citizens were interned. Another 20, 000 were removed from their homes and relocated away from the Pacific coast until 1949 when they were allowed to return. See: WAR MEASURES ACT / .

A general category of theory including symbolic interactionism, labeling, ethnomethodology, phenomenology and social constructionism. The term is typically contrasted with structural theories which claim to remove the subjectivity of the actor and the researcher and assume that human behaviour can best be understood as determined by the pushes and pulls of structural forces. Interpretive theory is more accepting of free will and sees human behaviour as the outcome of the subjective interpretation of the environment. Structural theory focuses on the situation in which people act while interpretive theory focuses on the actor's definition of the situation in which they act. See: DEFINITION OF THE SITUATION / .

Sociologists who reject the assumption of the objective nature of social reality and focus on the subjective experience of actors have to avoid the fallacy of reducing the world only to personal experience. The concept of intersubjectivity achieves this: ordinary people as well as sociologists assume that if another stood in their shoes they would see the same things. We all constantly make our subjective experience available and understandable by others as well.

See levels of measurement.

A phrase associated with the great classical economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) referring to the self-regulating capacity of free markets. Free markets, through the mechanism of supply and demand, are assumed to provide the optimal allocation of scarce economic resources to alternate uses without the need for any conscious direction or control. See: MARKET ECONOMY / .

The degree to which an individual is active in conventional activities. In Travis Hirschi's work, aspects of the ‘social bond’.

A phrase associated with Max Weber who wrote that the new emphasis on materialism and wordly success that arose with Protestantism had imprisoned human society in an iron cage of self perpetuating rationalization and depersonalisation.

First defined by German sociologist Robert Michels (1876-1936), this refers to the inherent tendency of all complex organizations, including radical or socialist political parties and labour unions, to develop a ruling clique of leaders with interests in the organization itself rather than in its official aims. These leaders, Michels argued, came to desire leadership and its status and rewards more than any commitment to goals. Inevitably, their influence was conservative, seeking to preserve and enhance the organization and not to endanger it by any radical action. Michels based his argument on the simple observation that day-to-day running of a complex organization by its mass membership was impossible. Therefore, professional full-time leadership and direction was required. In theory the leaders of the organization were subject to control by the mass membership, through delegate conferences and membership voting, but, in reality, the leaders were in the dominant position. They possessed the experience and expertise in running the organization, they came to control the means of communication within the organization and they monopolized the public status of representing the organization. It became difficult for the mass membership to provide any effective counterweight to this professional, entrenched, leadership. Michels also argued that these inherent organizational tendencies were strengthened by a mass psychology of leadership dependency, he felt that people had a basic psychological need to be led. See: OLIGARCHY / .

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Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
The online version of this dictionary is a product of
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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
events and names