Chapter 1 Thinking About Social Problems Key Terms objective element Refers to the existence of a social condition. subjective element The belief that a particular social condition is harmful to society. social problem A social condition that a segment of society views as harmful to members of society and in need of remedy. institution Established and enduring patterns of social relationships (family, religion, politics, economics, and education). social group Two or more people who have a common identity, interact, and form a social relationship. primary group Small, intimate, and informal groups. secondary group Large or small, task-oriented, impersonal, and formal groups. status Positions within a social group. ascribed status Assigned on the basis of factors over which the individual has no control (e.g. sex, race). achieved status Assigned on the basis of some characteristic or behavior over which the individual has some control (e.g. parent, college graduate). master status Status that is considered the most significant in a person’s social identity. roles The set of rights, obligations, and expectations associated with a status. beliefs Definitions and explanations about what is assumed to be true. values Social agreements about what is considered good and bad, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable. norms Socially defined rules of behavior. folkways The customs and manners of society. laws Formalized norms that are backed by a political authority. mores Norms that have a moral basis. sanctions Consequences for conforming to or violating norms. symbol Language, gestures, and objects whose meaning is commonly understood by the members of a society. sociological imagination The ability to see the connections between our personal lives and the social world in which we live. latent function Consequences that are unintended and often hidden. manifest function Intended and recognized conflict perspective. anomie Norms that are weak, conflicting, or unclear. alienation Powerlessness and meaningless in people’s lives. macro sociology Looks at the "big picture" of society and suggests how social problems are affected at the institutional level. micro sociology Concerned with the social psychological dynamics of individuals interacting in small groups. labeling theory If a social condition or group is viewed as problematic if it is labeled as such. variable Any measurable event, characteristic, or property that varies or is subject to change. Researchers must operationally define the variables they study. operational definition Specifies how a variable is to be measured. hypothesis A prediction or educated guess about how one variable relates to another variable. dependent variable The variable the researcher wants to explain. independent variable The variable that is expected to explain change in the dependent variable. experiment Involve manipulating an independent variable to determine how it affects the dependent variable. field research Involves observing and studying social behavior in settings in which it occurs naturally. survey research Interviews, questionnaires, and talking computers that elicit information from respondents through questions (important to have representative sample). sample A portion of the population, selected to be representative so the information from the sample can be generalized to a larger population.