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This term has been applied to social movements among both Asian Indians and North American First Nations peoples. In both contexts it refers to a social movement and a political philosophy that asserts a peoples' common identity and unity across political or state boundaries and tribal divisions.

A form of longitudinal research in which a panel of respondents or subjects is selected and then followed or interviewed over time. If a panel of first year university students is selected the researcher would, for example, be able to learn what their routes are towards an undergraduate degree. Drawing a sample of undergraduates at year one, year two and year three would not provide the same degree of detail.

A framework used in thinking about and organizing an understanding of natural or social phenomena. All societies, and the individuals within them, tend to have relatively fixed assumptions about how to understand and interpret the world, but there is great variation in these assumptions from place to place and from time to time. For many centuries, for example, natural phenomena like the eclipse of the sun, thunder , lightning or flood were explained within a paradigm of religious belief and myth, today they fall within the paradigm of science. As sets of assumptions change over time this process can be referred to as a paradigm shift: there emerges a new way of looking at the world. The term came into social science vocabulary from the writings of Thomas Kuhn (1970), a historian of science. He challenged the conventional wisdom of history that claimed that science was a long, slow process of building on previous knowledge. Rejecting this view Kuhn argued that the history of science can be seen rather as a history of dominant paradigms and paradigm shifts. A paradigm in his presentation was a set of assumptions about the kinds of questions to ask in science and how to go about looking for answers. As a particular body of knowledge builds up there are a growing number of anomalies which can only be forced with difficulty into the dominant theory. At some point people begin to see things differently and to ask different questions in an attempt to explain their observations and they eventually arrive at a new theory which is a better way to account for the anomalies.

Offspring of siblings of the same sex.

A political system similar to a kingdom that brings together a number of partly autonomous villages or communities under the hierarchical rule of a grand chief

Founded in 1968 under the leadership of Rene Levesque the party had the main aim of achieving political sovereignty for Quebec within the framework of a continued association with Canada. It first came to power in 1976 and began to prepare a political strategy leading to a referendum vote on ‘sovereignty-association’ in 1980. The referendum proposal was defeated by a majority of 60% to 40% but, under its immensely popular leader, the party was able to comfortably win the 1981 provincial election. After losing the subsequent election under new leadership, the party returned to power in 1994 and immediately prepared for a new referendum on sovereignty -association. The proposal was brought to a referendum in 1995, defeated once more, but by a very narrow margin, ensuring that the issue of Quebec's relationship with Canada will remain at the centre of Canadian political life into the next century.


Distinguished from other research techniques in that the subjects, usually oppressed or exploited groups, are fully involved in the research, from the designing of topics to the analysis of data. While the findings of such research may be useful and indeed emancipatory, the process of community or neighborhood building during the carrying out of the research is of equal importance.

Literally ‘rule by the father’ but more generally it refers to a social situation where men are dominant over women in wealth, status and power. Patriarchy is associated with a set of ideas, a ‘patriarchal ideology’ that acts to explain and justify this dominance and attributes it to inherent natural differences between men and women. Sociologists tend to see patriarchy as a social product and not as an outcome of innate differences between the sexes and they focus attention on the way that gender roles in a society affect power differentials between men and women. See: IDEOLOGY / HEGEMONY / .

The ‘bringing home’ of all legal authority over the laws and Constitution of Canada. The Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the BNA Act) was British legislation and it could be changed only by Britain's parliament (although this was done only on the request of Canada's parliament). In the Constitution Act 1982, a new exclusively Canadian amending procedure was established and the parliament of Great Britain no longer holds any legal authority regarding Canada.

A system in which family descent is reckoned through the blood links of males. Typically names and property follow the male line of descent. A man's descendants are his own children, and women are little recognized as ancestors. See: matrilineal descent

The custom of a newly married couple taking up residence in the groom's family household or village. See: MATRILOCAL RESIDENCE / NEO-LOCAL RESIDENCE / .

A right, a status or tangible asset inherited from a father or other ancestor. In principle, a patrimony may be inherited by either sex although the term is generally associated with patrilineal transmission of status, property and wealth.

Are five dichotomies, developed by Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) , to draw out the contrasting values to which individuals orient themselves in social interaction. One side of the dichotomies reflects the value patterns dominant in traditional society (Gemeinschaft), the other reflects the dominant values of modern society (Gesellschaft). The variables, listed with the traditional side of the dichotomy first, are: affectivity - affective neutrality; diffuseness - specificity; particularism - universalism; ascription - achievement; collectivity orientation - self orientation.

generally refers to laws and public and corporate policies that have as their objective the elimination of pay differentials linked to gender, ethnic identity or particular minority status. Pay equity is usually concerned with correcting gender -based labour market inequality experienced by women. (In principle such policies could apply also to men, but there is little evidence of gendered disadvantage for men in the labour market.) Two issues are addressed. First, is the problem of relatively direct discrimination: women being paid less than men for the same or essentially similar work. This practice is now illegal in Canada: the law requires equal pay for equal work. Second, is a more complex problem of identifying and correcting wage inequality that results from historical undervaluation of the types of work that are dominated by women. For example, day care workers are among the worst paid in Canada, but day care work is crucial to the working of Canada's economy. Policy makers have concluded that such examples indicate a need for an active principle of establishment of pay equity: equal pay for work of equal value. This principle allows comparison of pay rates between different types of work which are evaluated and weighted according to criteria such as skill, education, effort, working conditions. There are federal and some provincial laws mandating this form of pay equity, but there has been cautious application of them.

Prisons built in the early part of the 19th century and embodying the principle of solitary confinement as punishment for a criminal offense. The first penitentiary in North America was at Auburn, New York, built in 1816-25, and came to be known as the silent system. Offenders were confined in solitary cells at night and worked in congregate (and silence) during the day. Eastern State Penitentiary, built at Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania in 1829, embodied the solitary system, as offenders were confined to solitary cells for the entire period of confinement. Canada's Kingston penitentiary was opened in 1835 modeled after the Auburn penitentiary. As suggested by the name, penitentiaries had a strong Christian influence. A penitent is one who repents of sins, or feels pain or sorrow for offenses. Also one who is admitted to penance, which is the sacrament consisting in repentance or contrition for sins. Early advocates of the penitentiary, such as John Howard, were influenced by their Christian faith and equated crime with sin. This model provided a philosophy of punishment and also shaped Anglo-European penology by assuming that criminal offenders would be reformed or rehabilitated.

The study of the treatment and punishment of criminal offenders. Penology is now included within criminology.

‘Capita’ comes from a Latin term referring to head. Criminologists and sociologists refer to crimes (or divorce rates etc.) per capita . For example if there are only 0.01 crimes per capita, this would mean meaning you have a risk of 1% of being victimised. Criminologists usually use the idea of a rate per 100, 000 rather than the idea of ‘per capita’.

An important Canadian case which determined that women were indeed ‘persons’ under the Constitution Act 1867 (formerly the BNA Act). Following women's federal enfranchisement a debate arose over the eligibility of women to be appointed to the Senate. Requests to the government to make an appointment (the name of Judge Emily Murphy was offered) were rejected in 1919 on the grounds that a reading of the constitution meant that ‘persons’ referred only to men. In 1927 Emily Murphy was able to use a provision of the Supreme Court Act of 1875 to request a constitutional interpretation of the BNA Act: all five judges who heard the case agreed that ‘Women are not ‘qualified persons' within the meaning of Section 24 of the BNA Act, 1867’. Judge Murphy took her case to the Privy Council in London and on October 18, 1929 the Privy Council announced that women were indeed persons.

A middle class of professionals and small-business people who work for themselves or own small productive facilities. Marx predicted that this class would be gradually eliminated by the consolidation of large capital under competitive forces.

Defined as the study of phenomenon, phenomenology has had its primary influence on ethnomethodology. In the early development of phenomenology a distinction was drawn between phenomena (things as they appear in our experience) and noumena (things as they are in themselves). Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) believed that all we can ever know are the former. Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) argued that natural and social environments differ in that social objects appear only as perceived objects (ie: there is no ‘noumena’), they depend on human recognition for their existence and because of this social reality is in constant flux and ambiguity. Social reality is only an experienced reality rather than a natural reality. The experience of objects, events, activities, etc., is all there is. By accepting this claim, ethnomethodology has emerged as the study of the creation of social reality through mundane reasoning, account giving or the use of documentary method. The concreteness or factuality of the social world is seen to be an accomplishment of members of society and the methods of this accomplishment are the topic of investigation.

One of the great science hoaxes of the 20th century. Human fossil remains were discovered in 1912 on an estate near Piltdown Common in England. These bones were claimed to be evidence of the evolutionary transition from hominid to homo sapiens and were thought to be very important. While some doubt was raised about the authenticity of the discovery it was not until 1953 (after the use of fluorine tests for dating archaeological materials) that the bones were revealed as a hoax. There is still considerable mystery about the perpetrator of this hoax which stood for so long.

A term that denotes jobs and employment sectors dominated by women workers.

Expanding the dichotomy between blue-collar and white-collar occupations this phrase captures the particular concentration of women in jobs traditionally thought to be ‘women's work’. In 1991, for example, 57% of female workers (and only 26% of men) were in the three occupational categories: clerical, sales and service. 13.5% of women were in the specific occupations of stenographers, secretaries and sales clerks. Interestingly, 88% of cashiers were women as were 98% of secretaries, 93% of receptionists and 81% of elementary and kindergarten teachers.

Has three principal meanings in the social sciences. First, it is a model of politics where power is assumed to be widely dispersed to different individuals and interest groups within a society thus ensuring that political processes will be relatively open and democratic and will reflect a spectrum of social interests rather than the domination of particular groups. Second, it describes a society where individual and group differences are present and are celebrated as enriching the social fabric. Canada's policy of multiculturalism reflects pluralist values. Third, it is a view of the causation of social phenomena, especially of social change, that examines the interaction of a variety of factors rather than relying on a single explanatory cause. For example, Max Weber in stressing the importance of cultural as well as material forces in creating change within a society offers a more pluralistic framework for explanation than the more exclusively materialist approach of Marx. See: PROTESTANT ETHIC, MARXISM, HISTORICAL MATERIALISM / .

Literally ‘rule by the rich’, the term is used to denote a wide range of situations where a group of individuals are able to exert disproportionate power and influence in society and social institutions because of their wealth.

In Marxian analysis the inevitable historical process of the class structure becoming increasingly polarized. Over time, it is argued, the secondary classes of capitalism (the self-employed, the residual aristocracy, etc.) will disappear and be absorbed into either the bourgeoisie class or the proletariat. The class structure will come to consist only of these two classes. See: CLASS / .

An example of an occupational culture to which new recruits become socialized. It is thought that police culture is one of several demand characteristics which shape routine decision-making by the police. See: DEMAND CHARACTERISTIC / .

A major tradition in Canadian history and the social sciences. This is not a specific theory but a general approach to social analysis that stresses the interconnection of social, political and economic processes in society. Classic writers within this tradition include Harold Innis (1894-1952) and C. B. Macpherson (1911-1987). It remains central to contemporary Canadian social analysis and academic discourse.

The way in which the process of policing the community acts to maintain and reinforce deference to authority. By living within a system of social order people are socialized to accept that order and the way this it is justified by legitimating ideas, like tradition, inspired leadership or representative democracy. It can also mean more narrowly the way in which police activity, while superficially about maintenance of the criminal law, can be about the control or surveillance of particular groups and communities.

The component of the process of individuals coming to learn and internalize the culture of their society or group that is directly related to the transmission of political values and behaviours.

This can be narrowly defined as all that relates to the way a society is governed. Politics is the process by which the community makes decisions and establishes values that are binding upon its members. This definition comes from the original Greek meaning of ‘politics’, the government of the city state. In general speech, politics refers much more widely to processes that involve the exercise of power, status or influence in making decisions or establishing social relationships. This latter meaning is implied by the idea of ‘office politics’ or ‘sexual politics’ (as used by Kate Millett) or the claim that ‘the personal is political’.

An ‘umbrella’ term used to refer to the roles and institutions of a society that directly shape the way the society is governed. There is debate about what institutions should be included in a description of the polity. It involves state institutions of government, the political parties, interest and advocacy groups. It will also include the media and other institutions directly affecting poltical values, opinions and behaviour.

A marriage structure where a woman has more than one husband at one time. It is rare, but when it is found there is often fraternal polyandry, in which the husbands are brothers .

A marriage structure in which there is more than one spouse at a time: the term covers both polygyny and polyandry.

A marriage structure where men have more than one wife at a time. Widely spread in world societies, but practiced by only by a minority of those communities because population sex-ratios and a lack of economic resources make it inaccessible for the majority.

Intellectual opinions of popular culture, the culture of the masses, have been deeply shaped by critical theory. Since the Frankfurt School, which identified with the ‘high culture’ of the intellectual classes, popular culture has been seen as trivial, demeaning and commercialized, serving the interests of the capitalist system. Post-modernist theorists, however, no longer accept the belief that there is some objectively superior high culture setting a standard from which to make evaluations of others. They have been more interested in popular culture as representing the voices of the previously silent, and by adopting the methods of film analysis or literary criticism they examine the way popular culture is produced and the underlying assumptions upon which its meaning rests. See: CRITICAL THEORY / CONSUMER CULTURE / POSTMODERN / .

All elements which a researcher wishes to generalize to. Or, all members of given class or set. For example, adult Canadian, teenagers, Canadian inmates, criminal offenders, can each be thought of as populations. Populations are difficult to study because we cannot find all of the members (eg: heroin addicts or male prostitutes) or because of the expense (eg: surveying all teenagers). Social scientists avoid this problem by gathering a sample from the population and then generalizing from the sample to the population.


In criminology this refers to the first scientific school consisting of the Italian criminologists Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909), Raffaelo Garofalo (1852-1934) and Enrico Ferri (1856-1928). They support the assumptions of positivism and argue that criminality is determined - the effect in a cause-effect sequence - and that the mandate of criminology should be to search for these causes. It was believed that with the exception of those deemed to be ‘born criminals’, the discovery of the causes of crime would allow for effective treatment. This school therefore adopts a medical model (crime as sickness) and advocates rehabilitation of offenders, indeterminate sentences, and the dominance of professionals in correctional decision-making. See: POSITIVISM / CLASSICAL SCHOOL / CRITICAL CRIMINOLOGY / .

One way to think about the relationship between science and society and found in the early writings of August Comte (1789-1857). All of the assumptions that Comte makes are now rejected by postmodernists. Comte begins by imposing meaning on history, arguing that societies evolve through three stages: the theological stage, the metaphysical stage and the positive (or scientific) stage. Each of these stages is reproduced in the evolution of the human mind. The human mind, and the most privileged among these was the sociologist, would use the scientific method to arrive at an understanding of the universal laws of social development. Comte argues against democratic discourse in the belief that parties involved in the political process are always committed to a particular viewpoint. Only science can rise above the local and particular and understand impartially. The application of this knowledge to society would enable the liberation of individuals. Positivism, therefore, places science in a privileged position; assumes the possibility of a scientific understanding of human and social behaviour; assumes the separation of knowledge and power; and assumes the possibility of objectivity and impartiality. Positivism shaped sociology for the next 100 years. In much contemporary social science debate, however, positivism has become a term of abuse. See: POSTMODERN / .

The term denotes a time following the period in which a critical or conflict perspective was dominant. This perspective would accept the assumptions central to postmodernism or deconstructionism. See: POSTMODERN / .

The theory that modern economies in the Western world have moved from a focus on goods production (an industrial base) to a new foundation of knowledge and sophisticated services. This new economy is assumed to demand different kinds of workers, to allow for more job satisfaction and to foster less labour conflict.

A difficult term to grasp and having somewhat different significance in architecture, literary criticism and art than in the social sciences. In social theory it is best seen as a rejection of central assumptions of the modern world or of what has been described as the ‘enlightenment project’. This project has had at least two core beliefs. First is the assumption that modern society will become more democratic and just because of our growing ability to rationally and objectively understand the community's best interests. Second is the assumption that scientists and social theorists hold a privileged viewpoint since they are taken to operate outside of local interests or bias. Each of these assumptions suggests the possibility of disinterested knowledge, universal truths and social progress. The late twentieth century writings of Michel Foucault (1929-1984) and Jean Francois Lyotard called these assumption into question. Foucault's work has argued that knowledge and power are always intertwined and that the social sciences, rather than empowering human actors, have made humans into objects of inquiry and have subjected them to knowledge legitimated by the claims of science. Similarly Lyotard has argued that social theory has always imposed meaning on historical events (think of the writing of Marx) rather than providing for the understanding of the empirical significance of events. This rejection of the idea of social and intellectual progress implies that people must accept the possibility of history having no meaning or purpose, abandon the idea that we can know what is or is not true and accept that science can never create and test theories according to universal scientific principles because there is no unitary reality from which such principles can be established. We are left living in a fragmented world with multiple realities, a suspicion of science or authoritative claims and many groups involved in identity politics in order to impose their reality on others. The clearest signs of a postmodern approach to sociology can be found in social constructionism, ethnomethodology and labeling theory. See: POSITIVISM / METANARRATIVE / .

A custom of the First Nations peoples of the Pacific north-west coast, where a ceremonial period of feasting was accompanied by lavish giving away, and sometimes destruction, of goods and property. Those who gave away or destroyed the most property earned the greatest social prestige. Anthropologists have described the ceremonies as a form of ‘war with property’. The Potlatch also had important elements of economic distribution, social bonding and political processes, all central to the maintenance of a society. The Canadian government considered the practice to be destructive of the stability and established hierarchy of native communities and it was outlawed (from 1884 until 1951) and rigorously suppressed. See: CULTURAL GENOCIDE / .

That division, arbitrarily arrived at and usually based on income, which divides the poor from the non-poor. There is considerable controversy about how this line should be determined and Statistics Canada uses the term low incomes rather than poverty and calculates low-income cutoffs. This line or cutoff can be determined in a variety of ways. One method is to determine the minimum income required to purchase a basket of goods and services thought to be necessary to maintain a minimum standard of living. Another alternative is to look at expenditures on the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing. Poverty or a low income may be determined when a family spend 20% more of their income on these necessities than does the average family. This method has been used by Statistics Canada. A third method would be to assert that a family is in poverty if its income is less than 50% of the median family income, adjusted for family size. Changes to Statistics Canada policy in the late 1990's reduced the extent of poverty considerably by redefining the concept.

The capacity of individuals or institutions to achieve goals even if opposed by others. Sociologists and political scientists, among others, have examined the way power is exercised through political parties and institutions of the state or the way that men exercise power within the family or the work place. Since the work of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), however, there has been an interest in the way that ‘knowledge’ itself is an instrument of power. Post-modernist such as Foucault adopt a position of ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’ so they no longer assume the validity of particular ways to look at the world or the truth or objectivity of specific perspectives (such as social science theory). Rather, Foucault draws attention to the ways in which the theories of the human sciences, including sociology and political science, are themselves the outcome of struggle between different competing perspectives in which one becomes temporarily victorious and then becomes a source of repression and constraint. This perspective has roots in the traditional concerns of the sociology of knowledge.

An explanation for differences in criminality building on the idea that social control is stratified within the family. Traditionally, for example, girls have been subjected to more social control than have boys. Further, mothers have traditionally been responsible for exercising social control and their increasing involvement in the work place may enhance their power within the home, decrease their social control activity and affect the willingness of girls to violate norms.

See commonsense reasoning.

A research design which does not fit the standards of an authentic experiment. Usually undertaken for exploratory purposes. Typical of this design is the elimination of a control group, thus it is often called a single-group experiment. This design will not allow definitive conclusions about the causes of the effect observed.

To make a judgment about an individual or group of individuals on the basis of their social, physical or cultural characteristics. Such judgments are usually negative, but prejudice can also be exercised to give undue favour and advantage to members of particular groups. Prejudice is often seen as the attitudinal component of discrimination.

As used by Erving Goffman (1922-1982), refers to the methodical as well as the unintentional practices of presenting or displaying ones ‘self’ in ways that create a particular definition of the situation. This presentation may include verbal messages as well as gestures, clothing style, hair style, posture, etc. A person may try to present their self in a particular way by ‘dressing up’ to go to court or they may find themselves the victim of a jury's definition of the situation derived from the accused's appearance. The presentation of self is usually done front stage, while in the back stage the actor can let their guard down and ‘act themselves’.

This term tell us about the number of particular events in the community. AIDS for example may be very prevalent (the total number with this syndrome) but the incidence (new cases) is going down each year.

See group, primary.

All research on labour markets has shown them to be divided or fragmented. The term used today is ‘segmented labour market’ suggesting there are many components to the market. Earlier it was thought the market was divided into a primary labour market and a secondary labour market. This was interesting because men dominated the primary market and women and minorities dominated the secondary market. Primary labour markets tend to offer high salaries or wages, better working conditions, and more job stability. This market tends to be found in those sectors of business that are capital intensive. Labour that is required tends to be more skilled and the high costs of labour can often be covered by the profit generated from an efficient plant. Workers are more apt to be unionized and to be able to make greater wage demands than workers in a secondary labour market. See: SECONDARY LABOUR MARKET / .

An imagined first society in which all resources were owned in common. Has a close correspondence with some actual hunting and gathering societies.

A term to denote simple human societies that are assumed to represent how human beings lived in communities in the earliest times of history. The dictionary defines the word as ‘belonging to the beginning or to the first times’. The term is now out of favour in both sociology and anthropology because it appears to denigrate these simple societies by suggesting they are less civilized than modern societies. While ‘primitive’ can be used in its formal sense to describe simple societies, the favoured term today is ‘hunter-gatherer society’. See: Hunter gatherer society

The culture of prison society and thought by some to arise from the ‘pains of imprisonment’, while others believe it is imported to the prison. Also known as the ‘convict code’, some of the features of prison subculture are: do not inform on your fellow prisoners, do not trust staff, help other residents, show your loyalty to other residents, share what you have.

The process of being socialized into the culture and social life of prison society to the extent that adjusting to the outside society becomes difficult.

The distinction between the public domain (or sphere) and the private domain became an important tool of early feminist analysis as it helped in describing and understanding women's location in society. The parts of society consisting of politics and paid work are seen as the public domain and family life as the private domain.

That part of the economy which is controlled or owned by private individuals, either directly or through stock ownership. See: PUBLIC SECTOR / .

(1) The process of moving economic resources from the public sector to the private sector. Publicly owned transportation resources, natural resources, hospitals, etc., may be sold to private individuals or to privately owned corporations. Canada has been unusual in having a large public sector. Classical liberal theory, however, is opposed to government involvement and interference in economic activity and the recent resurgence of interest in classical liberalism (see neo-liberalism) has led to pressure to privatize government owned resources and services. See: CROWN CORPORATION / CLASSICAL ECONOMIC THEORY / . (2) The term has also been applied to the growth in modern societies of a family life separated from the outer community. In traditional societies there is little separation of private and public spheres, but privatization appears to take place with urbanization and industrialization. See: family, bourgeois

In social science research a sample drawn from a population using methods which ensure random selection; each member of the population must have an equal probability of being drawn.

A term used by ethnomethodology and put to effective use by Dorothy Smith to describe as a problem of interest that which is normally not seen as a problem because it is taken for granted. By bracketing one's own membership in the world a researcher makes the commonsense and taken-for-granted world problematic. By making the everyday and ordinary problematic a researcher is able to uncover the structure and dynamic of the everyday. See: BRACKETING / .

The legal rules governing practice and procedure of the courts, processes of examination, evidence, investigation and conduct of public officials. Procedural law originates in common law (the civil law in Quebec), and court judgments based on equity, natural justice and statute.

The sociology of work sees a number of occupations evolving over time and becoming professions. All professions are thus occupations but not all occupations are professions. A profession is an occupational group that is largely self-regulating. Such a group has the legitimate authority (usually delegated from government) to set its own standards for entrance, to admit new members, to establish a code of conduct, to discipline members and it claims to have a body of knowledge (achieved through education) which legitimizes its autonomy and distinctiveness. Examples of professions would be physicians, lawyers, clinical psychologists, or real estate agents. Other group, such as nurses, police officers, etc. can be seen as having some of these attributes and can be described as ‘professionalizing’ - in the process of becoming a profession.

A taxation structure which progressively increases the percentage of a citizen's income (or wealth) which is paid in tax as income (or wealth) increases. The consequence should be that the more well off are taxed at a higher rate than are the less well off. Canadian income tax is of this form although recent changes in taxation regulations have made it somewhat less progressive than before. See: REGRESSIVE TAXATION / FLAT TAX / .

A political philosophy characterizing American society from approximately 1890 to 1920. Set against decades of expansion and growth, progressives became acutely aware of the price paid for this development in terms of inequality and social problems. To address these they called for policy committed to social justice and social democracy. They found new sympathy for the poor, for minorities, and for women and children. To address the needs of these peoples it saw a need for a strong central government and increasing regulation of many segments of the business world. These attitudes about the role of the state are sometimes referred to as ‘progressive liberalism’ (in contrast to classical liberalism). See: CLASSICAL ECONOMIC THEORY / CLASSICAL LIBERALISM / .

An electoral system where the number of seats won is directly linked to the number of votes cast for each party. Examples include Israel, Germany and, since 1996, New Zealand. In Germany, voters cast one ballot to elect a constituency representative and one ballot for a party: parties must win at least 5% of the vote before receiving an allocation of parliamentary seats. In Canada a ‘simple plurality system’ is used where the individual receiving the largest number of votes is elected in each constituency. This system leads to persistent disproportion between seats won by parties and the votes cast for them. For example in 1993, the Reform Party won 19% of the total vote and over fifty seats while the Progressive Conservative Party, with just over 16% of the vote, gained only two seats. It is suggested that in a federal system such as Canada, proportional representation would further weaken the power of the central government.

This ethic, or set of ideas, emerging in the 16th century, was cited by Max Weber (1864-1920) as an important influence in encouraging the development of capitalist society. For Protestants, particularly those influenced by the ideas of John Calvin, obedience to God's will demanded energetic and enterprising work in one's occupation or ‘calling’. Profits were morally justified as the reward for this hard work and, so long as they were not casually squandered on luxuries, the making of profit and the achievement of wealth was a just reward for dutiful and energetic work. Max Weber argued that the ‘Protestant Ethic’ was so strongly supportive of capitalist development that countries where Protestantism became dominant quickly moved ahead of Catholic countries in their level of economic development. Weber claimed that the Catholic church, in contrast, promoted ideas and attitudes that tended to obstruct economic development. Catholic doctrine stressed the importance of humility and acceptance of one's position in life, it discouraged pursuit of achievement by suggesting that seeking self-advancement was a distraction from pursuit of a good and moral life in preparation for eternal life after death.

The process of reducing all social activity and behaviour to the psychological characteristics of the human actors involved. Such reduction eliminates the possibility of sociology since it denies that there is anything greater than the individual. Society is simply an aggregation of individuals. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) argued against this in his study of suicide by arguing, and demonstrating, that even after providing a psychological explanation for individual acts of suicide there was something still to account for: the difference in suicide rates between societies. This he showed was derived from characteristics of the society and could be not explained as dependent on individual psychological characteristics.


Although there is considerable debate about whether ‘psychopath’ is an authentic psychiatric disorder it is typically classified under ‘personality disorder’. Psychopaths tend to be lacking in what is considered conscience, are unable to form emotional attachments (even to friends or family), are quite impulsive, and are only self-interested. There is also considerable debate about whether this group can be changed.

Unlike a ‘crime control model’ which focuses on punishment or moralizing with the offender, a public health model looks at particular kinds of crime (often drug abuse, prostitution, youth violence) as public health issues. A public health officer takes a very different view of crime than does a police constable. The public health model encourages us to think of ways to stop the spread of drug abuse or violence, for example, or how to prevent drug abusers from harming themselves or spreading infection to the community, or on initiating education programs in schools to teach young people how to recognize the possible onset of violence, how to prevent it, who to call if violence is experienced, etc.

The perception of crime and the threat of crime generally held by members of the community. Their perceptions may be manipulated by authorities and the media to focus on some types of crime and criminal behaviour and divert attention from others. Public perceptions of crime have typically been quite separate from an objective account of the amount of crime or its distribution.

That part of the economy which is owned or controlled by the public, usually through government agencies. Most schooling is part of the public sector as are hospitals, provision of social services, and some transit services. The more substantial portion of the economy consists of the private sector, those economic activities controlled or owned by private individuals, either directly or through stock ownership. See: CROWN CORPORATION / PRIVATE SECTOR / PRIVATIZATION / .

A negative sanction imposed on the violator of a system of rules and imposed by an authorized agent of that system of rules. The criminal courts can punish people for their violations of criminal law, the referee can punish those who violate the rules of a game of hockey, the principal can punish students who violate rules of the school.

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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