Dictionary of modern Sociology

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The SAGE Dictionary of SOCIOLOGY and STEVE BRUCE STEVEN YEARLEY01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 1 A predictability. While this fits the history of ABSOLUTE POVERTY Also known as western Europe, in eastern Europe and other subsistence poverty, this is an idea of poverty parts of the world absolutism retarded rather derived from the minimum requirements for than encouraged progress. subsistence: what a person must have to live and to make a living. ABSTRACTED EMPIRICISM C. Wright Mills in The Sociological Imagination (1959) ABSOLUTE RATES OF MOBILITY We can derided social scientists who allowed the pri- describe social mobility in absolute or rela- mary task of understanding to be subverted tive terms. The absolute rate of mobility is by technical issues of data collection and the proportion of people in a particular analysis. Mills thought his colleagues misled social class who move up or down in the by a desire to imitate the natural sciences. socio-economic hierarchy. Relative social Excessive concern with the internal validity mobility is the proportion of one social class of statistical techniques and the assumption that moves up or down compared with the that if it could not be quantified, it was not proportion of another class that moves. The evidence, meant that what passed for sociol- distinction is important because the two ogy was actually closer to alchemy: elegant measures can give a very different impression but pointless. Worse, because the survey data of the degree of social mobility. favoured by empiricists related to indivi- duals (e.g. their attitudes or their demo- ABSOLUTISM This denotes a political graphic characteristics), the importance of regime in which the ruler (usually a social structure was under-estimated. Mills’s monarch) is not constrained in the exercise critique is a useful caution against losing of power either by custom or by rule of law, sight of the purpose of research, but its and which has an effective centralised blanket application as an argument against administration so that the ruler’s will can be quantitative research is improper. Empirically- turned into action. The idea plays an impor- minded historical sociologists (such as tant part in models of political evolution. Charles Tilly) and students of social mobility Max Weber saw the absolutist state as a (such as John Goldthorpe) have ably demon- progressive stage between feudalism and strated that it is possible to combine statisti- modern capitalism: it created a bureaucratic cal and technical sophistication in data administration, gradually gained a monopoly collection and analysis with insightful theory of the legitimate use of force, and used that and a due appreciation of the role of social force to impose law and order and hence forces.01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 2 accommodation achievement present often cause us to re-interpret the ACCOMMODATION When used to describe past. Validity is further challenged by our relations between discrete populations habit of retrospective re-valuation. We cannot (defined, for example, by ethnicity or reli- help but see our past from our present. As our gion) the term suggests groups finding ways lives change, so does the way we recollect, of co-existing without losing their defining view, interpret and account for our past. characteristics. It is often contrasted with Ethnomethodology argues the intriguing acculturation: the process in which a minor- case that accounts should be the primary ity is absorbed into the majority and entirely focus of sociological study, not for what they loses its distinctiveness. Assimilation falls can tell us about people’s motives, but for somewhere between the two. Robert Park what they tell us about the social relations described assimilation as achieving a degree involved in representing our motives to each of cultural solidarity sufficient at least to other and what they reveal about the sustain a national existence. Only extreme mechanics of ‘account giving’. nativists took this to mean the complete eradication of cultural distinctions. With wide-scale migration (e.g. of Muslims to See vocabularies of motive. western Europe), the extent to which the modern state can or should require religio- ACCULTURATION See accommodation. ethnic minorities to accommodate has become an important political issue. ACEPHALOUS From the Greek meaning ‘without a head’, this term is used to describe ACCOUNTS The descriptions and justifica- a political system with no single overarching tions that people (or ‘actors’) give of their authority: the traditional African lineage actions. Sociologists differ in the extent to political system, where authority is exercised which they regard actors’ accounts as central at the level of the clan or the lineage seg- to the sociological enterprise. Those who ment, is an example. think sociology should explain meaningful social action insist that such accounts are essential to understanding the motives and ACHIEVED STATUS See status, ascribed. reasoning that make action meaningful. Scholars (such as structuralist Marxists), who ACHIEVEMENT This is the successful regard external social forces as the primary accomplishment or performance of some causes of conduct, pay little attention to socially defined task. Talcott Parsons regarded actors’ accounts because they cannot sup- it as a defining characteristic of modern soci- pose that people are fully or even dimly eties that people were recruited or selected aware of what causes them to act in one way for particular social roles by achievement rather than another. (acquiring specific credentials or qualifica- For those who are interested in accounts tions, for example) rather than by ascription. there is always a problem of knowing to what Acquiring credentials does play a much greater extent accounts can be taken as reliable part in attaining social positions in modern guides to the past (especially those given in than in traditional societies: for example, civil some circumstance where the account is service, church, army and police officials are intended to persuade: courtroom testimony, now trained and tested for promotion; they do religious testimonies, chat-show confessions). not inherit or buy their offices. But it remains the The point is not so much that people lie case that inherited and ascribed characteristics (though they do); it is that the needs of the 2 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 3 action action theory such as race and gender continue to play a phrase is associated with the 1960s, the idea major part in people’s life-chances and their that researchers have a moral obligation to social stratification. assist their subjects has an enduring appeal to those who study groups which they believe to be relatively disadvantaged. If imposed ACTION Any unit or sequence of individ- on all sociological work, such an injunction ual social activity that is purposeful and would create obvious problems for the disci- involves deliberation is action. The implied pline; we would only be able to study people contrast is with behaviour. This useful pairing of whom we approved. allows us to range conduct on a scale accord- ing to the amount of conscious deliberation, See ethics of research, value-freedom. thought or choice involved. At the behaviour end we would place conduct which is in some sense driven by forces beyond our knowledge ACTION THEORY A key question in sociol- and control. Such forces can be internal (e.g. ogy concerns the primary focus of the enter- a biological reflex or an instinct) or external prise: do we study social action or social (e.g. as when we uncritically or even unknow- structure? Max Weber and those influenced by ingly accept the preferences of our social him, see sociology as the explanation of social class). At the action end we would place con- action (hence action theory) and understand- duct based on fully-conscious decision- ing actors’ meanings, purposes, beliefs and val- making. Social science disciplines and schools ues as the essential first step in that work. within them are often defined by their gen- Weber distinguished four main types of eral preference to see human conduct as action: traditional or customary (because our action or behaviour. Psychologists and biolo- people have always done it like this); affec- gists (especially geneticists) tend to see behav- tive (because it is emotionally satisfying); iour where sociologists see action. Within value-oriented (because it is the right thing sociology, Weberian and symbolic interaction- to do); and instrumental (because it is the ists tend to see action where structuralists most effective way to achieve a certain end). (especially Marxists) see behaviour. Implicit in action theory is the assumption that people are by and large rational; that they act for what count for them as good rea- See agency and structure, Blumer, sons. However, as Weber’s four types show, Giddens, Luhmann, Parsons. this rationality is not confined to the very narrow notion of ‘maximising benefits’ that ACTION RESEARCH This is a type of economists use; in Weber’s view it may be research in which the researcher not only perfectly rational to follow a custom (such as studies some social phenomenon but assists marrying one’s third cousin) even when per- in changing it, often in an experimental man- sonal advantage might be maximised by mar- ner. Examples could include assessments of rying a stranger. new criminal-justice proposals according to The contrast between action theory and which perpetrators of crime are obliged to various forms of structuralist sociology is often meet their victims and to listen to victims’ exaggerated. Action theorists have generally accounts of the effects of the crimes. Such paid considerable attention to the social struc- approaches reflect the fact that much social tures that shape individual action and are research is commissioned by groups and in turn shaped by it. Structuralists generally agencies which wish to understand some identify social structures by, and illustrate problem so as to solve it. Although the them with, examples of individual action. 3 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 4 action frame of reference adjacency pair ACTION FRAME OF REFERENCE Talcott ADAPTATION This denotes the way in Parsons elaborated a complex theory that which social systems of any kind (the family, begins with a systematic analysis of action an organisation such as a school, the nation- in which people choose between competing state) respond to their environment. In ends and means in circumstances that limit structural-functionalism, adaptation is one of those choices socially and physically. The the four functional pre-requisites that all social main social limits are norms and values. From systems must satisfy if they are to survive. these foundational concepts, Parsons gener- ates a complex model of the social system in AD HOC HYPOTHESIS This signifies a sub- which, critics argue, the choosing individual sidiary proposition added to a theory to save gradually disappears and the social system it from refutation. In the philosophy of sci- with its norms and values becomes the pri- ence developed by Karl Popper the reliance mary determinant of behaviour. on ad hoc hypotheses to plug holes is the defining mark of bogus science and he cites Marxism and Freudianism as two intellectual ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY This approach, systems preserved from falsification only by associated primarily with French social sci- ad hocery. entists Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, examines how innovations, usually in knowl- edge or technology, become established in AD-HOCING This term is employed by eth- society. They argue for a ‘sociology of trans- nomethodologists to characterise reasoning lation’, the central claim of which is that and description in everyday interaction. Since innovations succeed because other actors’ the words used in everyday speech are not interests are translated into the new enter- subject to rigorous definition there can be no prise. Latour argues, for example, that set criteria for establishing what other people Pasteur’s famous work on disease prevention mean or are talking about. If you are trying to succeeded because Pasteur translated the describe someone whom you met at a party interests of vets, farmers and livestock into there is no single correct description of them. his research programme: pasteurisation came Instead your description is taken as adequate to appear to be in the interests of them all. when other people claim to recognise the Latour and Callon stress that innovations description. In the same way, all descriptions typically work because their proponents are are taken to be ad hoc; their adequacy can skilled at building alliances (actor-networks) only be adjudged in practical terms. between many heterogeneous agents; such alliances can include human actors (such as vets) and non-human ones (such as bacteria ADJACENCY PAIR This term was introduced or sheep). by proponents of conversation analysis to Critics have focused on two issues. First refer to turns at talk that occur in patterned there is the problem of identifying the ‘inter- pairs, such as questions and answers, or greet- ests’ of non-human actors. Second, they worry ings and returned greetings, or invitations and about the circularity of the argument that con- acceptances/declinings. The point is not that flicts over innovation are won by the stronger questions are usually followed by answers alliance. The problem is that the strength of an but that questions make answers normatively alliance is finally demonstrated by the fact that expected. The failure to supply an answer can it won the controversy. The supposed strength thus be heard as the second speaker’s respon- explains the victory but the only evidence of sibility. Failure to supply an answer may be the strength is the victory itself. viewed as being evasive or slippery. To fail to 4 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 5 adolescence affective individualism return a greeting can be to snub someone. economy by the state as it tries to manage Conversation analysts suggest that it is from increasingly common and virulent economic these normative minutiae that the orderliness crises. This phase supposedly culminates in of everyday interaction is built. the final crisis and the transition to socialism. Contrary to Marxist expectations, of course, capitalism has shown itself remarkably robust ADOLESCENCE This denotes the emo- and thus remains in its advanced stage. Late tional and behavioural states supposedly capitalism is not itself static and sociologists associated with becoming an adult, the continue to disagree over how best to charac- period in the life-cycle between childhood terise present-day capitalist society. and adulthood and, more specifically, the period when the physical changes associated See globalisation, risk society, with biological puberty occur but the person’s end-of-history. sexual maturity is not yet socially recognised. Although most sociologists accept that bio- logical changes do affect character, so that AETIOLOGY See etiology. some of the emotional turbulence now commonly expected of adolescents can be AFFECT This denotes the emotional or explained by biology, we also recognise that feeling element (as distinct from the purely there is a large element of social construction cognitive element) of mental experience. in adolescence: the prosperity of modern What I am doing when I learn my father has societies has allowed the expansion of the died is cognitive; what I am doing when I feel indeterminate period between childhood saddened by that knowledge is affective. and adulthood and the creation of distinctive youth cultures. AFFECTIVE DISORDERS Disorders of the emotions such as anxiety and depression, as ADORNO, THEODOR (1903–69) A leading distinct from cognitive disorders, form one of member of the Frankfurt School, Adorno fled the major groupings of types of mental illness. Germany in 1934 for the USA. His work, often expressed in deliberately obscure lan- guage, ranged widely but he is best known AFFECTIVE INDIVIDUALISM Social histori- for his criticisms of popular culture (which ans such as Lawrence Stone believe that he saw as an industrial product designed to there was a radical change in the nature of manipulate the masses) and for his contribu- the family in 18th-century England (which tion to The Authoritarian Personality (1994), then spread globally). Previously, families a seminal influence on the study of right- had been deeply embedded in extended kin- wing extremism. He was highly disdainful of ship networks and wider communities and a vision of sociology as a primarily or exclu- the family was not the primary focus for the sively empirical enterprise because it would emotional attachments of its members. Sex lack the critical edge which, as a Marxist, he was as much a matter of creating new per- regarded as the main point of social theory. sonnel as a source of pleasure. Marriage itself was instrumental in that economic and polit- ADVANCED CAPITALISM In Marxist the- ical advantage often played a greater part ory the final stage of the evolution of capi- than emotional ties in the choice of partners. talism is characterised by concentration of With industrialisation the family shrank in size ownership and increasing intervention in the and in social roles. The modern domesticated 5 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 6 affective involvement affective neutrality age sets nuclear family is characterised by close behind the average to be in various ways emotional ties, domestic privacy and the excluded from civil society. careful rearing of children for expressive rather than instrumental reasons. Affective See citizen. individualism captures the essence of wider changes: ‘affective’ because emotional attachment displaces more mundane and AFFLUENT WORKER This term was popu- practical considerations and ‘individualism’ larised by the titles of three volumes from a because the modern family is constructed seminal 1960s British project led by John around the bond of personal attraction Goldthorpe and David Lockwood. The study between free-acting individuals. of affluent manual workers in the British car As always with such grand attempts to industry was intended to test the embour- encapsulate the essence of a major change, geoisment (or ‘becoming middle class’) the- the notion can be criticised for exaggerating sis. Marxist theories suppose the working the extent of change and too closely associat- class is defined by its lack of ownership of ing it with particular causes. However, affec- the means of production (and hence lack of tive individualism does accurately capture power). The embourgeoisment alternative is a real difference between families of the that attitudes and behaviour are influenced modern western world and those either of more by wealth than by ownership and con- feudal Europe or many parts of the non- trol; as workers become better paid they will industrialised world. become more like the middle classes. The Affluent Worker studies came to importantly different conclusions. These workers had AFFECTIVE INVOLVEMENT; AFFECTIVE become more like the middle class in some NEUTRALITY See pattern variables. respects (e.g. buying their own houses and favouring domestic over community leisure activities) but they continued to vote for the AFFIRMATIVE ACTION See positive Labour party and remained active in trade discrimination. unions. In these activities, rational self- interest was more important than traditional AFFLUENT SOCIETY John K. Galbraith’s community loyalties; ‘instrumental collec- The Affluent Society (1958) drew attention to tivism’ had replaced class solidarity. a tension in the USA: it was indeed affluent but the private prosperity of the majority See orientations to work. was accompanied by a good deal of public squalor and there was a significant minority who had not only been left behind economi- AGE SETS These are broad age bands that cally but also in effect dis-enfranchised. define the social status, roles and patterns of Arguably the two problems remain with us behaviour appropriate for those who belong and have been extended globally: individual to them. Graduation from one age set to affluence comes at the expense of public ser- another is often marked by rituals or rites of vices and also creates major environmental passage. In many simple societies, age sets costs. Moreover, in many economies where are a crucial element of the social structure, the average standard of living has increased but even in industrial societies age remains markedly, the poorest, though they may also an important variable for the allocation of have prospered, have fallen far enough legal rights and responsibilities. 6 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 7 ageing aid us (e.g. as we are socialised into a particular AGEING The chronological process of set of beliefs, values and attitudes in child- growing older obviously has a biological hood) and limits our actions (by, for exam- basis: the human physique and its associated ple, allocating the resources necessary for capacities change over time in a manner that certain actions in an uneven manner). is regular, even if the timing of changes varies Clearly there are elements of social structure from person to person. Sociological interest that materially affect our lives; the opportu- in ageing concentrates on the social expecta- nities open to women are not the same as tions that we have of the elderly. At its sim- those open to men and the difference is a plest, there is a clear contrast between the product not just of biological differences but way that many traditional societies regard of the social significance that societies give to their oldest members (as repositories of wis- those biological differences. Very few sociol- dom and experience) and the relatively low ogists would deny the importance of both status that modern societies offer the elderly. agency and structure but they differ system- atically in their views of the proper focus for AGEISM The success of campaigns to out- sociology; and precisely the extent to which, law racism and sexism inspired the creation and the manner in which, individual action is of this term to describe discrimination based determined by social forces. That is, there is a on negative stereotypes about the elderly and division about what sociologists should study their capacities. and there is a separate division about how we expect to explain that which we study. Structural-functionalists and Marxists AGENTS OF SOCIAL CONTROL This term believe that that proper subject of sociology is used mainly in critical sociology to describe is not the individual but the social structure a variety of agencies that contribute to ensur- and the relationships between elements of ing that members of society conform. In addi- that structure. In this view, individuals are tion to such obvious ones as the police, courts of interest only as the carriers of properties of and prisons, the term would also embrace the structure. Emile Durkheim studied suicide social workers, teachers, clergymen and others not because he was interested in the motives whose controlling influence is not so immedi- of those who kill themselves but because he ate but is nonetheless taken to be significant. believed certain types of suicide and the rates at which they occur are characteristics of a certain type of society. At the other end, AGENCY AND STRUCTURE A major fault Weberian sociology, phenomenology and line in sociology concerns the relative free- symbolic interactionism take social action as dom of individuals. Beyond such obvious the proper focus for sociology study. constraints as the rule of the law and the Analytically separate from the question of power of the police, courts and prisons, there what sociology should study is the issue of are more abstract social forces and structures, where we expect to find the effective cause and sociologists differ in the relative weight of whatever interests us. they assign such structures in determining individual thought and action. Agency denotes individual capacity for free thought See structuration. and action; structure denotes the constraints on individuals that result from the fact that repeated patterns of action, legitimated by AID This encompasses a variety of ideologies, form the environment that shapes resources (such as food, technical expertise, 7 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 8 alienation alienation military hardware, medicines and capital) (a) from the product of their work because that are given to less developed countries by they have no control over the fate of the goods the developed world. Social scientists differ they produce; (b) from the act of production markedly in their assessment of the effects of itself because work is no longer a creative act aid. Modernisation theory supposes that such but is merely a commodity that is bought and aid is usually helpful to development; depen- sold; (c) from their ‘species being’ because dency theory sees it as a novel form of colonial work under capitalism lacks what should be oppression that maintains, rather then reduces, its distinctly human quality; and (d) from each the advantage of the industrial capitalist West other because what should be social relations by, for example, opening up markets for west- of exchange are replaced by the market rela- ern exports or by supporting governments tionships of buying and selling. which are the West’s political allies. In the last For Marx and Marxists the above is the quarter of the 20th century the issue of aid scientific analysis of social realities. Alienation became inseparable from that of international is not a fancy name for unhappiness; workers debt since many developing countries became under capitalism are alienated whether they impoverished as a result of colossal, ill-advised appreciate it or not. loans taken out in the 1970s. Although Marxists present their analysis of labour under capitalism as a scientific theory, it rests on an untestable (and many would argue, See debt crisis. unusual) assertion about what humans are really like: desirous of expressing themselves through work. Were we to start by asserting ALIENATION The term is very widely used that people are essentially comfort-seeking and to convey a sense of improper loss or detach- that what they really need is a pleasant, safe and ment. Originally used in the active form, ‘to secure life, then there would be no reason to alienate’ meant to remove something from suppose that capitalism was any more alienat- someone; ‘alienation’ was thus a particular ing than other economic systems; all could be form of theft or confiscation. This was super- judged by the extent to which they deliver ben- seded by the passive form so that ‘to be alien- efits. The whole approach is open to the even- ated’ no longer meant to have been stolen more damning criticism that by starting with a and came to mean instead ‘to have had some- utopian view of the purpose of human produc- thing stolen from you’ and shifted from prop- tion and exchange, it misses the fact that the erty to human relations. Alienation was the working lives of most serfs and peasants in pre- state of not having proper human relations. capitalist societies were generally less pleasant The word was popularised by Karl Marx than those of workers under industrial capital- (1970) in his Economic and Philosophical ism which, however alienated they might be, Manuscripts of 1844 as a description for the were markedly more prosperous. estrangement of people from their true Since Marx’s time, the term has been human nature. People are essentially creative. broadened to include almost any sort of unde- They re-shape the material world into objects sired separation and it is often psychologised and in so doing put some of themselves into so that it denotes personal unhappiness at the things they make: the products of their some state of affairs, not the state of affairs labour. In pre-capitalist society, the making of itself. In some usages it comes close to Emile objects for one’s own use or for fair exchange Durkheim’s notion of anomie; in others to was properly human. In capitalist society, Max Weber’s account of responses to the because the workers do not own the means large-scale impersonal rational bureaucracies of production but have to sell their labour, of the modern world. they are allegedly ‘alienated’ in four senses: 8 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 9 alterity amplification of deviance In the 1960s the term returned again to science) as the work of Galileo or Charles the sociology of work in Robert Blauner’s Darwin. In his later years he became sceptical (1964) Alienation and Freedom. He identified of this claim and, indeed, seems to have various forms of alienation that resulted from recanted most of his views. Now barely read, different types of modern work; each linked to Althusser was extremely popular in the 1970s. the degree of personal control (or, as in the His standing fell with that of the French title ‘freedom’) inherent in different ways of Communist party (of which he was the lead- working. In a developmental model, he argued ing intellectual). He was always psychologi- that as production moved from craft work, cally unstable and in 1980 he murdered his through the use of machines, to the factory wife. He passed his remaining decade in vari- assembly-line, the degree of personal control ous secure psychiatric institutions. went down and that of alienation rose. His re-reading of the mature works of However, he concluded that in the final stage – Marx generated a number of phrases (ideo- that of automated continuous-flow produc- logical state apparatuses, repressive state tion – the control of the labour process apparatuses, interpellation, over-determina- returned to the worker as the job became tion) which were very popular for a short more complex and hence more satisfying. time. In some ways he softened Marxism: he allowed that the superstructure (in particular ideology and politics) shaped the context for See de-skilling. the economic base; he treated ideology as a collection of real social relations rather than ALTERITY This synonym for ‘otherness’ is as an illusion; and, for someone who was popular in postmodernist writing. Learning essentially a structuralist, he gave individuals to distinguish between the self and other is unusual prominence as the agents of social an essential part of child development and a relations. For all that, he has left little trace on vital tool for ordering our perceptions of the non-Marxist social science, mostly because he world. It may be taken further to construct undertook little empirical social research. whole classes of people as ‘other’ and hence not fully human, and then to project on to ALTRUISM Generally altruism is a concern that class qualities we fear and reject in our- for others rather than for oneself. Altruistic selves. Once we assign qualities to people by behaviour is often contrasted with egoistic including them in such categories we have or selfish behaviour (for example in Emile prejudice and stereotyping. Durkheim’s theory of suicide). See othering. ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE See suicide. ALTHUSSER, LOUIS (1918–90) A French structuralist Marxist, Althusser became AMBIVALENCE This signifies the presence famous in the late 1960s for his attempt to re- in one person at the same time of two compet- assert a scientific form of Marxism against the ing or conflicting emotions or attitudes. It is a rather woolly and humanistic forms it had particularly important idea for Sigmund Freud taken. He particularly rejected the centrality of who reported the closeness of love and hate. the notion of alienation and the importance of Karl Marx’s early works in favour of Das Kapital, which, somewhat implausibly, he AMPLIFICATION OF DEVIANCE See claimed to be science (and as important deviancy amplification. 9 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 10 analysis of variance (anova) annales school cases. Analytical induction need not depend, ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE (ANOVA) This is however, on the professionalism of any one a statistical procedure used to test differ- analyst because the competitive nature of ences between the distribution around the the profession should ensure that critics will means (see measures of central tendency) of challenge any hypothesis by seeking out fur- some characteristic within and between vari- ther cases that do not fit. ous groups. For example, we might wish to know how social class affects life expectancy. We would collect information about age at See grounded theory. death and social class, divide the sample into, say, five social classes, and then see how the degree of variation within any of the ANIMISM Most generally, animism is the social classes compares with the difference belief that natural objects and phenomena between the five classes. If the variation (such as trees, stones and winds) have souls. within each class is markedly less than In 19th-century evolutionary theories of reli- the variation between them, then we would gion, it was treated as the simplest form of conclude that social class is strongly associ- religious belief system, common to peoples ated with (and in this case therefore in all at the most primitive level of social evolu- likelihood a major determinant of) life tion. Such evolutionary models were thor- expectancy. oughly partisan in that they placed the religion of those people who promoted them (western European liberal Christians) at the ANALYTIC INDUCTION This denotes a peak of evolution. Nowadays, students of method of analysis common to forms of religion tend to be more concerned with the qualitative sociology. The analyst formulates social functions than with the detailed con- a hypothesis on the basis of known cases and tent of religious belief systems and the ten- then progressively modifies it to accommo- dency is to suppose that all religions serve date ‘decisive negative cases’: observations similar purposes. that do not fit the starting hypothesis. As with any method of induction, the quality of the conclusions depends on the willingness ANNALES SCHOOL An important group of of the analyst to continue to seek out con- French social historians was associated with trary or anomalous cases. The procedure the journal Annales d’histoire économique must also be used sensitively since endless et sociale (later titled Annales. Economies, modification of the original hypothesis can sociétés, civilisations and then Annales. lead to a descent into blandness, with succes- Histoire. Science Sociales) founded by Lucien sive modifications taking the form of ad hoc Febvre and Marc Bloch in 1929. The school hypotheses. opposed the conventional approach to his- Ordinary people regularly practise a form tory as the chronology of major political of lay sociology. What should make the events and stressed instead the importance of explanations offered by professional sociolo- social history, social structure and long-term gists more compelling is that, while lay historical trends. The school has made major people will often be satisfied once they find an contributions to classical debates in sociology explanation that fits the very limited number (such as the explanation of the transition from of cases that have come to their attention (all feudalism to capitalism). The work of Fernand sociologists are bearded because the two Braudel has been particularly influential for sociologists I know have beards), the profes- modern social science through Immanuel sional will exhaustively seek out further Wallerstein’s world-systems theory. 10 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 11 anomie anomie them to exceed the aspirations to which they ANOMIE From the Greek ‘a-nomos’ or ‘with- have been socialised, they lose that cultural out rules’, this is a social condition of break- strait-jacket of norms and find themselves down and confusion associated with either the psychologically adrift. They suffer a condi- absence of group rules or serious conflict over tion of anomie. them. The first major use in sociology is associ- The evidence Durkheim used in Suicide ated with Emile Durkheim’s Division of Labour would now be regarded with some consider- in Society (1893) and Suicide (1897). able scepticism, but his account of anomic For all that Durkheim insisted that sociol- suicide is intuitively plausible and important ogy should study societies and not individu- for understanding the way in which society als, his use of anomie in Suicide was an may shape the individual. Radicals some- important contribution to our understanding times chide Durkheim for the conservative of human nature. He pointed out that the implications of anomie: if personal stability behaviour of most animals is very largely rests on stable norms, then order itself becomes instinctive. Their biology determines and sets virtuous, almost irrespective of the specific limits on their needs; when a pig has satisfied contours of that order. its appetite it stops consuming. It also Robert K. Merton fitted Durkheim’s notion arranges their co-ordination; bees instinc- into a general theory of deviance. In the classic tively obey the signals contained in the secre- essay ‘Social Structure and Anomie’, Merton tions of their fellow bees. Humans lack such (1938) argued that, while the primary effect of instinctive constraints. Accordingly, however social structures and cultures is to encourage much they have or acquire, they can always conformity, the disjuncture between the two wish for more. The person who finally gains spheres may inadvertently create encourage the much-desired car can soon wish for a deviance. The culture of the USA encourages better one or for two cars. Hence we are all Americans to desire (and believe they potentially always threatened by constant deserve) the same goals: upward mobility and yearning and unhappiness at not attaining wealth. It also establishes norms regulating our constantly inflated ambitions. Society how those goals should be pursued: with hard performs for humans the task that instinct work and educational attainment. But the performs for other animals. Culture estab- social structure clearly distributes the means to lishes the expectations into which we are achieve those goals unevenly. Hard work and socialised. In a stable society people inter- striving at school would earn the typical black nalise social rules or norms about appropri- citizen far less than the typical white citizen. ate desires and aspirations that roughly fit That opportunities are very far from equally their circumstances. To put it crudely, as distributed will lead many people to feel rela- people can never be made content by giving tively deprived and hence justified in aban- them what they want (because they will doning their commitment to striving only by always want more), they are instead made the legitimate means. That they feel cheated content by being persuaded that what they causes people to give up faith in the rules have is what they deserve. This balance of (hence anomie). culturally-produced aspirations and circum- Merton imaginatively expands this obser- stances, can be disrupted by sudden social, vation about the social structural encourage- political or economic change. We might ment to crime into a typology of deviant expect suicide rates to go up in times of eco- behaviour. The conformists have access to nomic depression: poverty makes people the approved goals and the legitimate means. unhappy. But Durkheim argues that they Innovators remain positive about goals but also rise in times of economic boom. When negative about legitimate means: thieves people find that their circumstances allow 11 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 12 apartheid asiatic mode of production for example want the same things as everyone physical pleasures and comfort should be else but follow unacceptable routes to denied in order to purify or improve the soul. achieving them. Retreatists reject both the The distinction between other-worldly asceti- goals and the means: serious drug-takers and cism (in a monastery or convent, for example) alcoholics would be examples. Ritualists and this-worldly asceticism (adopting an atti- have given up on the goals but remain tude of monastic discipline while still living and strongly committed to the legitimate means: working in the normal world) is central to Max an example is the bureaucrat who regards Weber’s explanation of the rise of capitalism. rule-following as the end in itself. Merton’s final category consists of rebels; people who See Protestant Ethic thesis. reject some elements of both the goals and the means and substitute goals and means of ASCRIBED STATUS See status. their own. Not surprising for something so ambitious, Merton’s essay has been widely criticised. ASCRIPTION In general usage, to ascribe is Placing such emphasis on the social structure to give, impute or attribute certain features to leaves white-collar innovation unexplained; some object, person, event or act without jus- why should people who have full access to tification. In the absence of good evidence, to the legitimate means for getting on still assert ‘all politicians are corrupt’ is to ascribe cheat? More generally, it assumes that, prior a characteristic to a class of people. The to disappointment at being cheated by the implied contrast is with discovery. Instead of social structure creating anomie, the default finding out what politicians are really like, position was conformity. Nonetheless it is still the observer has given them a certain quality. profoundly influential, particularly on studies This sense of something given or undeserved of subcultures and delinquency. is carried over into the modern social science pairing of ascription with achievement. High APARTHEID An Afrikaans term for separa- social position may be ascribed or achieved. tion (as in ‘apart’), this denotes the policy In feudal society rank is usually inherited; in to segregate people by race pursued by the modern societies it is often achieved by indi- South African government between 1948–94. vidual effort and merit. The policy involved an elaborate classification of race, rules to discourage the integration ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION This of races (especially inter-marriage) and a dis- notion was originally proposed by Karl Marx criminatory allocation of rights. Race discrim- and Friedrich Engels to explain the relative ination is a common feature of many societies backwardness of oriental societies such as and until the 1960s many US states had a vari- China and Egypt and developed by Karl ety of race laws but the South African exam- Wittfogel, a member of the Frankfurt School, ple is one of the few where a state attempted in his Oriental Despotism (1957): Asiatic eco- to maintain an all-encompassing structure of nomies were supposed characterised by an racial discrimination. absence of private property, state control over public works (in particular irrigation See civil rights movement (US). systems; hence the related description ‘hydraulic societies’), a self-sufficient village ASCETICISM All the major world reli- economy, an absence of autonomous cities gions have wings inspired by the notion that and simplicity of production methods. 12 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 13 assimilation authoritarian personality Without private property there could be no whimsical. In any particular instance, all class struggle between the landowners and three assumptions may be contested. By peasants; hence stagnation. While class strug- inserting questions about made-up issues gle occurs naturally in the West it arises in into an otherwise normal battery of ques- the East only because colonialism brings cap- tions, survey researchers have demonstrated italist exploitation. that people will not only claim to know Detailed research has failed to support the about a fictitious item of proposed legislation idea that a range of Asian societies had a but will also declare themselves strongly in common economic structure; the belief that favour or against it. However, there is plenty they had owed more to western ignorance of survey evidence that people do have rela- and stereotyping than to accurate compara- tively stable attitudes towards many aspects tive study. The idea fits awkwardly with of their worlds and that these attitudes vary Marxist thinking because it describes a quar- with shared characteristics such as education ter of the world as an exception to what and social class. Marxists otherwise claim is a universal model of progressive evolution through class con- ATTITUDE SCALE Although more impor- flict. Equally suspect, it makes colonialism a tant in psychology, where it is common to good thing and makes Asians at least partly look for personality characteristics that are responsible for their own backwardness. relatively free of context (such as dogmatism The notion has now been largely aban- or authoritarianism), attitude scales are used doned. The consensus among left-wing in many fields of social research. Questions scholars is that the backwardness of the East are designed to assess not just whether some- has very little to do with any intrinsic prop- one is pro- or anti-something but how erties of those societies and is largely to be strongly they feel in either direction. explained by western exploitation. Sophisticated statistical methods are now used to assess the extent to which responses See dependency theory, orientalism. to attitude scales form single clusters. ASSIMILATION See accommodation. See scale. ATTITUDE Given the difficulty in knowing AUTARCHY The meaning would be clearer in detail the actions of people in society, if it were ‘auto-archy’ because it signifies sociologists have often had to content them- ‘self’ rule in the sense of absolute sovereignty selves with investigating people’s attitudes. A or despotism: a type of regime in which the great deal of sociology has been concerned ruler is not constrained by any ‘other’. with studying changes in attitudes and with mapping the way that attitudes vary with gender, class, education and so on. However, AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY In 1950, this whole endeavour assumes that attitudes Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel J. Levinson, denote a relatively stable system of beliefs Theodor Adorno and R. Nevitt Sandford concerning some object, that result in an published The Authoritarian Personality, evaluation of that object. Thus when we talk which popularised the idea that certain people, of an ‘attitude to abortion’ we suppose that by virtue of their upbringing, acquired people know what abortion is, that they a character that predisposed them to accept- approve or disapprove, and that they are not ing anti-democratic political beliefs. Rigid 13 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 14 authority automation discipline and conditional affection created a and justifies his rejection of the tradition only personality that found comfort in submission with the claim to be the Son of God. to authority while directing aggression Very loosely we can understand much towards outsiders, usually racial minorities. about the differences between pre-modern The notion was initially extremely influential and modern societies by noting that tradi- because it seemed to explain the anti- tional authority is prevalent in the former and Semitism and fascism of the previous two legal-rational authority (especially as embod- decades and because it accepted the popular ied in bureaucratic organisations) dominates assumption that how one was raised as a child the latter. Charismatic authority may period- was profoundly important. It fell out of ically appear in all sorts of societies but it is favour with sociologists and political scien- less common in modern societies. tists because, although intuitively plausible, there was little evidence for the existence of AUTOMATION A simple way of understand- a distinctly authoritarian personality type. ing the evolution of work is to see it as the The evidence that a distinct personality made gradual replacement of animal power by inan- people receptive to political ideas fitted imate power and control. Prehistoric people equally well even if one reversed the causal used only their own strength. Early modern connection; it was equally possible that being people used their own strength and that of socialised into an authoritarian political cul- domesticated animals, augmented by such ture shaped people’s personalities. simple machines as the inclined plane and the block and tackle. Modern buildings are erected See open and closed mind. by people operating machines powered by fos- sil fuels. Automation marks that stage of tech- nological advance in which work is performed AUTHORITY If people obey a command primarily by machines that are only remotely because they fear the consequences of refusing, controlled by people. Truly automatic pro- they are responding to power. If they obey cesses are closed systems, which require no because they believe they should, they are human intervention once the machines that responding to authority. Authority is that sub- perform the work have been designed and type of power that is accepted as legitimate. assembled. The invention of the silicon chip Max Weber distinguished three different types computer has greatly enhanced our capacity to of authority. Traditional authority involves an automate not just the manufacture of goods appeal to custom and ancient practice. Legal- but also the processing of people. rational authority involves obedience to formal Sociologists are interested in the effect that rules, which have been established by proper automation has on the workers directly procedure: civil servants who distribute pass- involved and on society more generally. In his ports according to the regulations of a bureau- classic Alienation and Freedom (1964), Robert cratic organisation can invoke this sort of Blauner argued that automation would return authority for their actions with charismatic to workers much of the job satisfaction that authority, the charismatic leader is obeyed earlier stages of mechanisation had removed. because followers believe he or she possesses an A counter argument is that automation makes extraordinary character (usually derived from a work less intrinsically satisfying by reducing special relationship with the divine) that trumps the levels of skill and discretion needed to existing rules or prevalent customs. An exem- perform tasks (see de-skilling). For example, plar is the Christ figure in the New Testament developing photographic images used to be a who presents his radically innovative teachings highly skilled craft; now it can be done by a in the form ‘It is written … but I say to you …’ 14 01-Bruce-3321-Ch.A.qxd 11/18/2005 3:20 PM Page 15 autopoiesis average machine that needs very little skill to operate. AUTOPOIESIS This ungainly neologism Harry Braverman argued that while the disap- has been borrowed from biology and systems pearance of unskilled manual work and the theory, where it refers to the idea that sys- corresponding growth in the number of tems may be self-producing. The orderliness white-collar workers might superficially seem of biological cells, for example, is primarily progressive, the change was actually the generated by the operation of the cells them- reverse: while-collar workers were becoming selves, not by external factors. Certain com- proleterianised. puter programs can also be written so as The effects of automation are difficult to to create self-organising environments. assess conclusively because we need to balance Recently, sociologists have adopted this lan- the effects of changes to particular jobs with an guage as a way of trying to capture how it is acknowledgement that new jobs are created. that societies generate their own orderliness. The job of developing photographs may have At present, this seems to be merely the latest been de-skilled but this has only been possible in a long line of borrowings from the life sci- because new and highly skilled jobs have been ences and most uses of the term, including created in the design of the machines that have those by Niklas Luhmann, seem to be taken over the craft. That is, a high technology metaphorical rather than literal. economy, while making routine what were previously complex tasks, creates new work in the design and maintenance of the technology. AVERAGE See measures of central tendency. 15 02-Bruce-3321-Ch.B.qxd 11/18/2005 3:21 PM Page 16 B the status quo. It is this aspect of his work BACK STAGE OR REGION In Erving that has most appealed to contemporary Goffman’s dramaturgy, the back stage is con- cultural commentators. trasted with the front stage; it is the space in which people can relax and drop their role performance. In the example of a restaurant, BARTHES, ROLAND (1915–80) Barthes the kitchen is the back stage area in which was a key figure in the development of semi- waiters can joke, mock customers and toy otics, the study of signs, where he adapted with the food. When they come through the the linguistic arguments of Ferdinand de door into the restaurant’s front stage, they Saussure to apply to the analysis of culture are supposed to slip effortlessly into the con- and cultural symbols. Saussure had empha- trolled performance of the attentive waiter. sised that words are arbitrary indicators of meaning: there is nothing about the word ‘snail’ that fits it to describe snails. Another BAKHTIN, MIKHAIL (1895–1975) A word would do just as well. Barthes argued Russian writer concerned with literature and that cultural symbols are often just as arbi- language, Bakhtin’s life was inextricably trary: thus, a deerstalker and cape have come caught up with the history of the Soviet to stand for the garb of a detective. From this Union. Like many unorthodox intellectuals point it is a short step to suggest that the he was arrested in the late 1920s and was study of culture is fundamentally about read- forced into internal exile. Later, one of his ing cultural signs. Barthes often distinguished books was destroyed at the publisher’s between what something denotes (what it premises during the attempted Nazi invasion literally stands for or represents) and what of the USSR; the book never appeared it connotes (what it implies or suggests). because, though he had kept notes, he Cultural goods are often valued for what famously used up a large share of them as they connote as much as what they denote. make-shift cigarette paper during the war. Thus, a ‘designer’ handbag often functions no Bakhtin was a pioneer in the socio-linguistic better as a handbag than would other makes, analysis of fiction, particularly novels. He but is valued for what it connotes. was also fascinated by the phenomenon of car- nival, specifically in carnivals dating from the European Middle Ages during which grotesque BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE Karl Marx and improper behaviour was encouraged and used the terms to express the relationship social hierarchies were disrupted. For Bakhtin, between the economy (the base) and other carnival indicated the widespread potential features of society (the superstructure): for subverting established world-views and the nature of the economy and its level of02-Bruce-3321-Ch.B.qxd 11/18/2005 3:21 PM Page 17 basic human needs bauman, zygmunt (1925–) productivity is held to determine such other and Michel Foucault have all claimed him as things as the political structure, the legal sys- a prophet of postmodernity. In the 1920s he tem, the nature of the state and so on. Marx was involved in surrealism, in the late 1930s recognised that the real world is not that in anti-fascist politics, and after the Second simple and that actual relationships may World War he founded and edited Critique,a often run in the other direction (for example, major influence on Foucault and Jean the ability of a state to maintain law-and- Baudrillard. order will have a major effect on economic development) but it is a defining characteristic BAUDRILLARD, JEAN (1929–) Although of Marxist thought that, in the big picture, he is often classed with Lyotard and Derrida the influence of the base on the superstruc- as a postmodernist, French sociologist Jean ture is greater than the latter’s effect on the Baudrillard is better described as a disap- former. pointed Marxist who, like the members of the Frankfurt School, turned his attention to BASIC HUMAN NEEDS Lay people and popular culture and the media in an attempt professional social scientists talk often of to explain the failure of the working class to basic human needs but it is not easy to find play its revolutionary role. He is best known agreement about just what they are once we for the argument that modern societies are so move beyond the purely biological needs of saturated by the mass media that reality loses food and shelter. If we starve or freeze to its meaning. People are no longer participants death we are no longer human. But what in their own lives but observers of what the else is foundational? The list is commonly media has turned into ‘spectacles’. An exam- extended to take in what are thought to be ple is pornography, which ought to represent necessary preconditions for full participation unconstrained sexual excess but has been in social life. This raises the question of turned by the media into nothing; a symp- exactly which needs are given by our human tom of the dreary and relentless commodifi- constitutions and which are a result of social- cation of everyday life. Baudrillard can isation into a particular culture. For example, therefore be seen as proposing a peculiarly some sociologists of religion argue that radical form of semiotics; in our ‘age of sim- almost all societies have religions because the ulacra’ there are only signs and representa- human condition creates a need for gods; tions. All prospect of access to real things has others counter that religions socialise people disappeared. This situation he terms hyper- into feeling the needs that religions can sat- reality. With his own flair for publicity, isfy. As is clear in his discussion of alienation, Baudrillard famously claimed that the 1991 Karl Marx supposes that the opportunity to Gulf War did not happen apart from its express oneself through creative work is a appearance on television. That said, it is clear basic human need. that the war actually took place, but its meaning and the details of what happened are inseparable from the televised coverage. BATAILLE, GEORGES (1897–1962) French philosopher Bataille lived a dual life. By BAUMAN, ZYGMUNT (1925–) His career day he was a respectable librarian at the began in his native Poland at the University Bibliothèque Nationale and philosopher; by of Warsaw in the 1950s but when he became night he was a sadist and alcoholic who wrote disillusioned with Marxism he was encour- pornography. He is mentioned in social theory aged to emigrate to Israel. He then moved to because Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, 17 02-Bruce-3321-Ch.B.qxd 11/18/2005 3:21 PM Page 18 beck, ulrich (1944–) behaviour Leeds in northern England. He first came insure against such hazards. The handling to prominence with Modernity and the and regulation of such risks becomes so con- Holocaust (1989) in which he argued that sequential that it changes the character of the Holocaust was a particularly modern contemporary societies. Society is no longer phenomenon to be explained by modern primarily a class society, it is a risk society. technology, by modern bureaucratic methods Beck’s second claim is that, in risk soci- for handling large numbers of people, and eties, there are widespread difficulties with by the lack of responsibility that Bauman the generation of authoritative knowledge. regarded as a consequence of modernisation. On the face of it, this claim is similar to that He later became associated with various of postmodernism. However Beck argues aspects of postmodernism. that the problem confronting knowledge is really one of ‘reflexive modernisation’. In other words, in the face of the new risks, BECK, ULRICH (1944–) Ulrich Beck’s medical, scientific and technical knowledge work became widely known to an interna- is subjected to closer and closer scrutiny. tional audience in the early 1990s when his Faced with this relentless self-examination, book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity expert knowledge becomes less certain and (1986) was first published in English transla- often more divided. Some experts speak in tion. Though the book is wide-ranging and favour of nuclear power, others against. The often surprisingly impassioned in its argu- authority of technical knowledge goes into ments, most readers agree that he makes two decline. novel claims. First, he proposes that contem- Beck’s work has become increasingly porary societies differ from their predeces- widely acknowledged largely because – sors because of the central importance of the unlike many sociological theorists – his ideas handling of risk. Of course, early modern appear to have been borne out in readily societies – in the 16th and 17th centuries for understandable ways. Following the publica- example – faced many threats. Bad weather tion of his book there were major risk prob- might ruin harvests, disease might strike lems surrounding ‘mad cow disease’ and the uncontrollably. Such risks were beyond planting of genetically modified crops. Beck’s human control. Subsequently, industrialisa- observations seemed to be bang on target. tion and the growth of medical and technical knowledge allowed people to exercise more control over their environments. Weather BECKER, HOWARD S. (1928–) Although forecasting diminished the threats to har- he made important contributions to the vests. There was less risk and people were study of professional socialisation with Boys optimistic that further risks would come in White: Student Culture in the Medical World under control. Insurance and compensation (1961) and to sociology of music with his schemes allowed people to be indemnified studies of jazz musicians (he was an accom- against risk to a large extent. However, by the plished jazz pianist), Becker is best known final quarter of the 20th century risk had for his pioneering work on labelling theory re-emerged. This time the risks were typically and his insistence that value-freedom was an of human creation. Societies are threatened obstacle to sociology’s mission to give a voice by the possibility of catastrophic nuclear to the underdog. power station failures or by climate changes caused by emissions into the atmosphere, and, unlike the case of typical industrial risks, BEHAVIOUR Although commonly used as it is hard to see how one could meaningfully a synonym for action or conduct, behaviour 18 02-Bruce-3321-Ch.B.qxd 11/18/2005 3:21 PM Page 19 behaviourism benjamin, walter (1892–1940) is usefully contrasted with action so that it special meals or a day out. A third form of refers to the automatic or reflex (such as behaviour modification is aversion therapy, jumping when stung) while action denotes which works by negative reinforcement. An intention, purpose and conscious thought. example is the implanting a chemical in the While there is little difficulty in distinguish- stomachs of alcoholics which causes vomit- ing extreme cases of both, much social con- ing when alcohol is drunk. duct falls into an ambiguous middle ground in that it is so much a product of effective BELIEF SYSTEM This denotes any com- socialisation that the actor would require a plex of interrelated propositions. The ‘sys- considerable effort of will to act otherwise. tem’ implies a degree of coherence and the presence of some integrating general princi- ples. Christianity is an example of a belief BEHAVIOURISM Strictly speaking a school system. Max Weber used Weltanschauung or within psychology rather than sociology, worldview in the same way. Although there behaviourism was an attempt to set up a pro- is no consensus about finer points of usage, gramme to study behaviour scientifically. worldview suggests something broader, less Behaviourists argued that scientific analysis propositional and more taken for granted depends on verifiable observations. But, since than belief system. consciousness, meanings and motivations are private, they cannot be observed. A scientific approach to human conduct must therefore BELL, DANIEL (1919–) This American depend on analysing connections between sociologist and essayist is best known for his observable inputs – stimuli – and observable argument in the End of Ideology (1960) that outputs – responses. The programme never antagonistic class ideologies had declined took off as a way of studying human conduct in industrial societies. The Coming of Post- since these ‘scientific’ interpretations of human Industrial Society (1973) was an attempt behaviour seemed much poorer than actors’ to depict the sort of society that had dis- own accounts or the accounts of novelists. placed the class-ridden societies which However, the behaviourists’ insistence on sociology had tried to comprehend. Also studying observable and verifiable aspects of influential was The Cultural Contradictions of human conduct has been echoed across the Capitalism (1976), which argued that the social sciences (especially ethnomethodology). individualistic hedonistic culture, typical of advanced capitalist societies, was a threat to the rationality required by the economic BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION This denotes system. a variety of techniques for the deliberate reshaping of human behaviour based on structured learning. One such is systematic BENJAMIN, WALTER (1892–1940) Benjamin desensitisation: the treatment of phobias by was a German essayist and literary critic gradually introducing the sufferer to the allied to left-wing groups. During the 1920s feared object in a controlled setting. Another he became acquainted with members of the is the token economy favoured by some men- Frankfurt School and, like them, was inter- tal hospitals, schools and other institutions: ested in the role of popular culture. For many individuals are awarded tokens when they years he was best known for an essay on ‘The perform some desired action (such as getting work of art in the age of mechanical repro- dressed or tidying up) and accumulated duction’ (1992), which analysed what would tokens are exchanged for rewards such as happen to ideas of elite cultural value and 19