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Glossary of Sociology 2600: Social problems

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Subjective Nature of Social Problems
What is and what is not a social problem is a matter of definition. Thus, social problems vary greatly by time and place.
Objective Reality of Social Problems
There are societal conditions that harm certain segments of the population and therefore, are social problems
Self-Actualization
The assumed need (by Maslow) of individuals for creative and constructive involvement in productive, significant activity.



Social Problems
Societal induced conditions that harm any segment of the population, and acts and conditions that violate the norms and values found in society.
Sociological Imagination
C. Wright Mill’s term emphasizing that individual troubles are inextricably linked to social forces
Person-Blame
The assumption that social problems results from the pathologies of the individuals
System Blame
assumption that social problems result from social conditions
Cultural Deprivation
The assumption by the members of a group that the culture of some other grup is not only inferior but also deficient. This term is usually applied by members of the majority to the culture of a minority group.
Recidivism
Re-involvement in Crime
Social Darwinism
The belief that the place of people in the stratification system is a function of their ability and effort.
Deviant Behavior
that violates the norms of a social organization.
Capitalism
The economic system based on private ownership of property, guided by the seeking of maximum profits.
Socialism
The economic system in which the means of production are owned by the people for their collective benefit.
Shared Monopoly
When four or fewer companies control 50 percent or more of an industry
Interlocking Directorate
The linkage between corporations that results when an individual serves on the board of directors of two companies (a direct interlock) or when two companies each have a director on the board of a third company (indirect interlock)
Oligarchy:
A political system of rule by the few



Plutoarchy
A government by or in the interest of the rich



Democracy
A political system that is of, by, and for the people
Power Elite
: People who occupy the power roles in society. They either are wealthy or represent the wealthy
Systemic Imperatives
The economic and social constraints on political decision makers that promote the status quo



Fertility Rate
The average number of children born to each woman in a country or region
Modern demographic Transition
A three stage pattern of population change occurring as societies industrialize and urbanize, resulting ultimately in a low and stable population rate
Absolute Poverty
: A condition of life so degraded by disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, and squalor as to deny its victims the basic necessities. Statistically those making less than $1 a day are in this category.
Life Chances
The chances throughout one’s life cycle to live and experience the good things in life
Pandemic
A worldwide epidemic
New Slavery
The new slavery differs from traditional slavery in that it is, for the most part, not a lifelong condition and sometimes individuals and families become slaves by choice – a choice forced by extreme poverty
Colony
A territory controlled by a powerful country that exploits the land and the people for its own benefit
Transnational Corporation
A profit oriented company engaged in business activities on more than one nation
Corporate Dumping
The exporting of goods by a business that have either been banned or not approved for sale in the US because they are dangerous



Biosphere
The surface layer of the planet and the surrounding atmosphere
Ecosystems
The mechanisms (plants, animals, and microorganisms) that supply people with the essentials of life



Environmental Justice
A movement to improve community environments by eliminating toxic hazards
Environmental Racism
The overwhelming likelihood that toxic producing plants and toxic waste dumps are located where poor people, especially people of color live
Greenhouse Effect:
When gases accumulate in Earth’s atmosphere and act like the glass roof in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight in but trapping heat that is generated
Culture:
The knowledge (ideas, values, beliefs) that the members of a social organization share
Cornucopia view of nature
the belief that nature is a vast and bountiful storehouse to be used by human beings
Planned Obsolescence
Existing products are given superficial changes and marketed as new, making the previous products out of date
Environmental Classism
poor, because of dangerous jobs and residential segregation, are more exposed than the more well to do to environmental dangers.
Redlining
When banks, savings and loans, government agencies, and insurance companies refuse to make home and small-business loans and insure property in poor and minority neighborhoods
Poverty Areas
neighborhoods in which at least one in five households live below the poverty line
High Poverty Areas
neighborhoods where at least two in five households live below the poverty line
Gentrification
The redevelopment of poor and working class urban neighborhoods into middle and upper middle class enclaves: often involves displacement of original residents



Slumlording
Landlords buy properties in poor neighborhoods for rent income. They do not maintain these properties because to do so would lower their profits
Warehousing
The withholding of apartments from the housing market by speculators who hope to sell them at a profit to developers
Job/Housing Mismatch
The inability of central city residents most in need of decent jobs to reach them on the urban fringe because 1 they cannot afford to operate a private automobile and 2 the public transportation system is inadequate; moving to the urban fringe is not an option because of housing costs and racial segregation. To the extent that jobs and job growth occur in one place, affluent and White and poor black and latinos are restricted to another, this mismatch is a form of spatial apartheid.
Triage:
The practice in understaffed and underfinanced public hospitals of treating the most urgent emergencies first, thereby delaying the treatment of other cases.



Informal Economy
When opportunities are not present in the regular legal economy, people in poor ineer city neighborhoods often turn to this alternate economic exchange and activity for survival; much of the informal economy is illegal activity involving crime and drug trafficking.
White flight
The movement of predominantly upper middle class, middle class, and working class Whites from the central cities to the burbs.
Boomburg
A suburban city of at least 100,000 that has experienced a double digit growth each decade since it became urban.
Urban Sprawl
low density, automobile dependent development outside the central city.
Rural
The non-metropolitan population that resides in small cities and the open countryside
Persistently poor counties
Counties with continuous poverty rates of 30 percent or higher
Colonias
Shanytown settlements of Latino immigrants
Poverty
Standard of living below the minimum needed for the maintenance of adequate diet, health, and shelter
Official Poverty Line or Threshold
Arbitrary line computed by multiplying the cost of a basic nutritionally adequate diet by 3
Feminization of Poverty
Viewed erroneously as a trend for contemporary women to be more economically vulnerable than men. This view obscures the fact that woman have always been poorer than men, especially older women and women of color
New Poor
Poor who are displaced by new technologies or whose jobs have moved away to the suburbs, to other regions of the country or out of the country. They have less hope of escaping poverty than did the old poor
Old Poor
Poor of an earlier generation who had hopes of breaking out of poverty because unskilled and semiskilled jobs were plentiful
Working Poor
People who work but remain below their poverty threshold
Near Poor
People whose income are above that of the poverty threshold but below 125 percent of that threshold
Severely Poor
People whose cash incomes are at half of the poverty line or less
Welfare
Government monies and services provided to the poor
Wealthfare
Government subsidies to the non-poor
Tax Expenditures
Legal tax loopholes that allow the affluent to escape paying certain taxes and therefore to receive a subside (the tax deduction to home owners)
Regressive Tax
Tax rate that remains the same for all people, poor or rich. The result is that poor people pay a larger portion of their wealth than do affluent people
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Event that occurs because it is predicted. That is, the prophecy is fulfilled because people alter their behavior to conform to prediction
Culture of Poverty
View that the poor are qualitatively different in values and lifestyle from the rest of society and that these cultural differences explain continued poverty



Blaming the victim
belief that some individuals are poor, criminals, or school dropouts because they have a flaw within them, which ignores the social factors affecting their behaviors
Institutional Discrimination
When the social arrangement and accepted ways of doing things in society disadvantage minority groups.
Majority Group
Dominant group in society
Racial Stratification
System of inequality in which race is the major criterion for rank and rewards
Minority Group
Subordinate group of society
Racial formation
Sociohistorical process by which races are continually being shaped and transformed
Ethnicity
Culturally distinctive characteristics based on race, religion, and national origin
Racial-Ethnic Group
Group labeled as a race by the wider society and bound together by common social and economic conditions, resulting in distinctive cultural and ethnic characteristics
Deficiency Theories
Explanations that view the secondary status of minorities as the result of their own behaviors and cultural traits
Bias Theory
Explanations that blame the prejudiced attitudes of majority members for the secondary status of minorities
Structural discrimination theory
Explanations that focus on the institutionalized patterns of discrimination as the sources of the secondary status of minorities



Individual Racism
Overt acts by individuals that harm members of another race
Institutional Racism
Established and customary social arrangements that exclude on the basis of race
Colonial Theory
Argues that race was used by the dominant group in society to oppress a racial minority.
Nativism
Hostility towards immigrants, and efforts to restrict their rights
Color Blindness
Idea that race no longer matters in explaining inequality or in policy making, since racism has been overcome
Sex
Biological fact of femaleness and maleness
Gender
Cultural and social definitions of feminine and masculine
Gendered
Differentiation of womens and mens behaviors, activities, and worth
Feminist Approach
View that supports equal relations between men and women
Gender Stratification
Differential ranking and rewarding of women’s and men’s roles
Male Dominance
Beliefs, meanings, and placement that value men over women and that institutionalize male control of societally valued resources
Compulsory Heterosexuality
The system of sexuality that imposes negative sanctions on those who are homo or bisexual
Sexuality
way of organizing the social world based on sexual identity
Patriarchy
Forms of social organization in which men are dominant over women
Capitalist Patriarchy
Conditions of capitalism in which male supremacy keeps women in subordinate roles at work and in the home
Gender Roles Approach:
Males and females differ because of socialization. The assumption is that males and females learn to be different
Gender Structure Approach
Males and females differ because of factors external to them
Gendered institutions
All social institutions are organized by gender
Androgyny
The integration of traditional feminine and masculine characteristics
Gender Segregation
Pattern whereby women and men are situated in different jobs throughout the labor force.
Pay equity
Raising pay scales according to the worth of the job instead of the personal characteristics of the workers
Glass Ceiling

invisible barrier that limit women’s upward occupational mobility.
Human Agency
People are agents and actors who cope with, adapt to, and change social structures to meet their needs
Demography
The study of population
Fertility
Birth Rate
Mortality
Death Rate
Baby Boom Generation
The term referring to people born in the 15-year period following WW2, when an extraordinary number of babies were born in the US
Dependency Ratio
The proportion of the population who work compared to the proportion who don’t work
Therapeutic Care
The approach in a health facility that focuses on meeting the needs of residents
Custodial Care
The approach in a health facility that focuses on meeting the needs of the institution, resulting in poor quality care for the patients
Beanpole Family Structure
: A family structure in which the number of living generations within linkages increases, but there is an intergenerational contraction in the number of members within each generation
Ageism
The devaluation of and the discrimination against the elderly
Disengagement:
The response by some people to the aging process of retreating from relationships, organizations, and society
Deviance
Behavior that does not conform to social expectations



Heterosexuality

Sexual orientation towards someone of the opposite sex
Homosexuality
Sexual orientation towards someone of the same sex



Bisexuality
orientation towards or attraction to both sexes
Master Status
Position so important that it dominates all other things.
Stigma
Powerful negative social label that affects a person’s social identification and self-concept
Sexual Preference
Person’s choice regarding the sex of people to whom he or she is attracted
Sexual Orientation
Sexual attraction to the same or opposite sex is not a matter of choice but is determined by genetic or environmental factors
Homophobia
Fear or loathing of homosexuality and homosexuals
Sodomy
Oral or Anal sex
Secret Gays
Homosexuals who conceal their sexual orientation
Gay Activists
Homosexuals who openly identify themselves as such and challenge society in an effort to eliminate the stigma and discrimination they face
Scientific Management
Efforts to increase worker efficiency by breaking down work into very specialized tasks, the standardization of tools and procedures, and the speeding up of repetitive work
Alienation
Separation of human beings from each other, from themselves, and from the products they create
Sweatshop
Substandard working environment where labor laws are violated
Segmented or Dual Labor Market
Capitalist economy is divided into two distinct sectors-one in which production and working conditions are relatively stable and secure, the other composed of marginal firms in which working conditions, wages and job security is low
Discouraged Workers
People who have not actively sought work for 4 weeks. These people are not counted as unemployed by the bureau of labor stats
Reserve Army of the Unemployed
Unemployed people who want to work. Their presence tends to depress the wages of workers and keeps those workers from making demands on employers for fear of being replaced
Globalization
process by which the earth’s people are increasingly interconnected economically, politically, culturally, and environmentally
Capital Flight
Investment choices that involve the movement of corporate monies from one investment to another (investment overseas, plant relocation, and mergers)
Outsourcing
The hiring of foreign firms to provide information based good and services to the US companies and their consumers
Structural Transformation of the economy
Fundamental change of the economy resulting from several powerful contemporary forces; technological breakthroughs in microelectronics, the globalization of the economy, capital flight, and the shift from a manufacturing economy to one based on information and services
Sunset industries
industries declining in output and employment
Sunrise industries
industries characterized by increased output and employment



Contingent Employment
Employment arrangement where employees work as temporaries or independent contractors, freeing employers from paying fringe benefits
Displaced Workers
Unemployed workers who face never being employed at comparably paying jobs because their training and skills have become obsolete.
Family
Social arrangements whereby people related by ancestry, marriage, or cohabitation live together, form an economic unit, and often raise children
Household
Residential unit in which members share resources. These units vary in membership and composition. A household is not always a family (parents and children) and a family is not always a household (because it may be separate geographically)
Downward mobility
movement to a lower social class
Modern Family
Nuclear families that emerged in response to the requirements of an urban, industrial society. It consisted of an intact nuclear household unit with the male breadwinner, full time homemaker wife and their dependent children
Postmodern Family
Multiple family forms and household arrangements that have emerged as a result of a number of social factors, such as women in the labor force, divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation arrangements
Nonfamily households
Persons who live alone or with unrelated individuals
Dual Worker Family
Family in which both spouses are in the labor force
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Federal law providing workers in establishments with more than fifty workers the right to unpaid, job protected leave for meeting family health needs
Family Values
Conservative phrase supporting the two-parent family. The implication is that all other family arrangements are the source of social problems
Wife Abuse
Use of physical force by a man against his intimate cohabiting partner
Child Abuse
Distinctive acts of violence and nonviolence and acts of omission and commission that place children at risk
Pronatalism
Strong positive value a society places on having children
Tracking
Ability grouping in Schools
Student Subculture
Members of the disadvantaged band together in a group with values and behaviors antagonistic toward school
Infant Mortality Rate
Number of deaths per 1000 live births
Defensive medicine
The practice of requiring extra diagnostic tests and medical procedures to protect the physician from liability
Medicare
Government program that provides partial coverage of medical costs primarily for people over age 65
Medicaid
Government health program for the poor
Patient Dumping
Practice by physicians and private hospitals of treating only patients who can afford their services
Health Maintenance organization
Health program in which members pay a fixed annual fee in return for all necessary health services
Medlining
Practice of managed care companies of limiting the number of patients with health problems and maximizing the number of healthy patients
Single Payer Plan
Tax supported health program in which the government is the sole insurer
Crime
An act that breaks the law
Violence
act of force perceived by the powerful as threatening to the status quo
Moral Order Crimes
Acts that violate the laws that enforce the morality of the majority
Victimless Crimes
Acts that violate moral order crimes; they may offend the majority but they do not harm other people
Secondary Deviance
Deviant behavior that is a consequence of the self-fulfilling prophecy of a negative label
Organized Crime
A business operation that seeks profit by supplying illegal goods and services
White Collar Crimes
Illicit acts committed by middle class and upper middle class people in their business and social activities
Corporate Crime
Illegal acts by business enterprises.
Political Crimes
Illegal acts intended to influence the political system. Also the abuse of authority by those in power. Finally, actions by the governments that are illegal or immoral.
Racial Profiling
The practice of targeting citizens for police encounters on the basis of race
Bail
Posting of money by the accused to guarantee that he or she will be present at the trail
Plea Bargaining
Arrangement between the prosecution and the accused where the latter pleads guilty in return for a reduced charge.
Adversary System
The US system of justice, whereby the state and the accused engage in a public battle to argue and provide evidence before an impartial judge or jury
Mandatory Sentencing
By law, judges must incarcerate certain types of criminals
Determinate sentencing
For a given offense, a judge must impose a sentence that is within the guidelines of the law
Underemployed
Employed at a level below that for which one has been trained
Capital Punishment
Killing of the criminal by the state
Parole
Conditional release from prison in which the former prisoner remains under the supervision of a parole officer
Recidivism Rate
Percentage of offenders who after their treatment or punishment has ended, are arrest and convicted of new offenses.
Drug
substance that directly affects the brain or nervous system when ingested
Social construction of drugs
Definitions concerning drug-related behaviors based on meanings that people in groups have imputed to certain things and behaviors.
Ontological Truth
A universal and undeniable reality
Politics of drugs
The labeling of some drugs as licit and others as illicit depends on the definition of drugs by the most powerful interest groups, which are able to get their definitions incorporated into the law.
Psychoactive Drug
Chemical that alters the perceptions and or moods of people who take it
Psychopharmacy
Science of drugs that affect the mind
Restorative Drug
Chemical that heals a traumatized part of the body
Additive drug
A Chemical that improve performance
Interdiction
Public policy of stopping the flow of drugs into the US by guarding the borders and by curtailing the creation, processing, and distribution of drugs in other countries
Heroin Maintenance
British approach to heroin addiction that treats addicts as sick rather than as criminal. Thus addicts are placed under the jurisdiction of physicians who administer drugs to their patients.
Methadone Maintenance
Used for heroin maintenance, this provides a heroin substitute (methadone) to addicts under medical supervision
Decriminalization of drugs
Legalization of drugs
War on Terror
All of the actions taken by the US government in reponse to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 including the American led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq
Cold War
The tension and arms race between the US and the USSR from WW2 until 1990
Terrorism
A methodology of using violence to gain political objectives. Officially defined by the US department of state as premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents.
National Security
The ways nations organize to protect borders, their national interest, and shield their citizens and businesses abroad with armies, military bases, intelligence networks, embassies and consulates. In the US, it is a responsibility of the president and cabinet members who run the departments of the government. Key government departments include State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security.
Defense Budget
The government’s spending plan for maintaining and upgrading the military defenses of the US.
WMDs:
Weapons that are purposely designed to be capable of destroying whole swaths of people and territory. Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are the main types that have been designed so far
Bush Doctrine
The policy guiding US military actions in the war on terror and the longer range plan for national security in the 21st century.
Bush Doctrine 2
The US policy for homeland security
International Law
The set of treaties and agreements that nations across the world have voluntarily entered into over the years
Fortress Society
A society that defends itself by creating barriers to block outside threats from penetrating its borders while expanding pathways for desired business and commerce across its borders at the same time
Net Foreign Direct Investment
The excess of private investment dollars going into a country from a foreign sources over investment dollars going out
Official development assistance
Government funded grants and loans to foreign countries for development projects
Revolving door executives
High level governments officials who move into or from high level corporate positions.

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