Definitions

social

social service

also called social work

Any of various professional activities or methods concerned with providing social services (such as investigatory and treatment services or material aid) to disadvantaged, distressed, or vulnerable persons or groups. The field originated in the charity organizations in Europe and the U.S. in the late 19th century. The training of volunteer workers by these organizations led directly to the founding of the first schools of social work and indirectly to increased government responsibility for the welfare of the disadvantaged. Social service providers may serve the needs of children and families, the poor or homeless, immigrants, veterans, the mentally ill, the handicapped, victims of rape or domestic violence, and persons dependent on alcohol or drugs. Seealso welfare.

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Concept of government in which the state plays a key role in protecting and promoting the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those who lack the minimal provisions for a good life. The term may be applied to a variety of forms of economic and social organization. A basic feature of the welfare state is social insurance, intended to provide benefits during periods of greatest need (e.g., old age, illness, unemployment). The welfare state also usually includes public provision of education, health services, and housing. Such provisions are less extensive in the U.S. than in many European countries, where comprehensive health coverage and state-subsidized university-level education have been common. In countries with centrally planned economies, the welfare state also covers employment and administration of consumer prices. Most nations have instituted at least some of the measures associated with the welfare state; Britain adopted comprehensive social insurance in 1948, and in the U.S., social-legislation programs such as the New Deal and the Fair Deal were based on welfare-state principles. Scandinavian countries provide state aid for the individual in almost all phases of life.

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Branch of economics established in the 20th century that seeks to evaluate economic policies in terms of their effects on the community's well-being. Early theorists defined welfare as the sum of the satisfactions accruing to an individual through an economic system. Believing it was possible to compare the well-being of two or more individuals, they argued that a poor person would derive more satisfaction from an increase in income than would a rich person. Later writers argued that making such comparisons with any precision was impossible. A new and more limited criterion was later developed: one economic situation was deemed superior to another if at least one person had been made better off without anyone else being made worse off. Seealso consumer's surplus; Vilfredo Pareto.

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or social welfare

Any of a variety of governmental programs that provide assistance to those in need. Programs include pensions, disability and unemployment insurance, family allowances, survivor benefits, and national health insurance. The earliest modern welfare laws were enacted in Germany in the 1880s (see social insurance), and by the 1920s and '30s most Western countries had adopted similar programs. Most industrialized countries require firms to insure workers for disability (see workers' compensation) so that they have income if they are injured, whether temporarily or permanently. For disability from illness unrelated to occupational injury, most industrial states pay a short-term benefit followed by a long-term pension. Many countries pay a family allowance to reduce the poverty of large families or to increase the birth rate. Survivor benefits, provided for widows below pension age who are left with a dependent child, vary considerably among nations and generally cease if the woman remarries. Among the world's wealthy countries, only the U.S. fails to provide national health insurance other than for the aged and the poor (see Medicare and Medicaid).

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Relative rank that an individual holds, with attendant rights, duties, and lifestyle, in a social hierarchy based on honour and prestige. Status is often ascribed on the basis of sex, age, family relationships, and birth, placing one into a particular social group irrespective of ability or accomplishments. Achieved status, on the other hand, is based on educational attainment, occupational choice, marital status, and other factors involving personal effort. Status groups differ from social classes in being based on considerations of honour and prestige rather than purely economic position. Relative status is a major determinant of people's behaviour toward one another, and competition for status seems to be a prime human motivator.

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or social settlement or community centre

Neighbourhood social-welfare agency. The staff of a settlement house may sponsor clubs, classes, athletic teams, and interest groups; they may employ such specialists as vocational counselors and caseworkers. The settlement movement began with the founding of Toynbee Hall in London in 1884 by Samuel Augustus Barnett (1844–1913). It spread to the U.S. in the late 19th century with the establishment of such institutions as Chicago's Hull House (founded by Jane Addams). Many countries now have similar institutions. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, U.S. settlement houses were active among the masses of new immigrants and worked for reform legislation such as workers' compensation and child-labour laws.

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Public provision for the economic security and social welfare of all individuals and their families, especially in the case of income losses due to unemployment, work injury, maternity, sickness, old age, and death. The term encompasses not only social insurance but also health and welfare services and various income maintenance programs designed to improve the recipient's welfare through public services. Some of the first organized cooperative efforts to provide for the economic security of individuals were instituted by workingmen's associations, mutual-benefit societies, and labour unions; social security was not widely established by law until the 19th and 20th centuries, with the first modern program appearing in Germany in 1883. Almost all developed nations now have social security programs that provide benefits or services through several major approaches such as social insurance and social assistance, a needs-based program that pays benefits only to the poor. Seealso Social Security Act; unemployment insurance; welfare; workers' compensation.

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Any discipline or branch of science that deals with the sociocultural aspects of human behaviour. The social sciences generally include cultural anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, criminology, and social psychology. Comparative law and comparative religion (the comparative study of the legal systems and religions of different nations and cultures) are also sometimes regarded as social sciences.

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Branch of psychology concerned with the personality, attitudes, motivations, and behaviour of the individual or group in the context of social interaction. The field emerged in the U.S. in the 1920s. Topics include the attribution of social status based on perceptual cues, the influence of social factors (such as peers) on a person's attitudes and beliefs, the functioning of small groups and large organizations, and the dynamics of face-to-face interactions.

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In psychological theory, a change in behaviour that is controlled by environmental influences rather than by innate or internal forces. In zoology, social learning is exhibited by innumerable species of birds and mammals, who modify their behaviour by observing and imitating the adults around them. Birdsong is a socially learned behaviour.

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Compulsory public-insurance program that protects against various economic risks (e.g., loss of income due to sickness, old age, or unemployment). Social insurance is considered one type of social security, though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The first compulsory national social-insurance programs were established in Germany under Otto von Bismarck: health insurance in 1883, workers' compensation in 1884, and old-age and disability pensions in 1889. Austria and Hungary soon followed Germany's example. After 1920, social insurance was rapidly adopted throughout Europe and the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. lagged behind until the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935. Social Security in the U.S. now provides retirement benefits, health care for persons over a specific minimum age, and disability insurance. Social-insurance contributions are normally compulsory and may be made by the insured person's employer and the state as well as by the individual. Social insurance is usually self-financing, with contributions being placed in specific funds for that purpose. Seealso unemployment insurance; welfare.

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Political ideology that advocates a peaceful, evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism, using established political processes. It rejects Marxism's advocacy of social revolution. Social democracy began as a political movement in Germany in the 1870s. Eduard Bernstein argued (1899) that capitalism was overcoming many of the weaknesses Karl Marx had seen in it (including unemployment and overproduction) and that universal suffrage would lead peacefully to a socialist government. After 1945, social-democratic governments came to power in West Germany (see Social Democratic Party), Sweden, and Britain (under the Labour Party). Social-democratic thought gradually came to regard state regulation (without state ownership) as sufficient to ensure economic growth and a fair distribution of income.

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Actual or hypothetical compact between the ruled and their rulers. The original inspiration for the notion may derive from the biblical covenant between God and Abraham, but it is most closely associated with the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Hobbes argued that the absolute power of the sovereign is justified by a hypothetical social contract in which the people agree to obey him in all matters in return for a guarantee of peace and security, which they lack in the warlike “state of nature” posited to exist before the contract is made. Locke believed that rulers also were obliged to protect private property and the right to freedom of thought, speech, and worship. Rousseau held that in the state of nature people are unwarlike but also undeveloped in reasoning and morality; in surrendering their individual freedom, they acquire political liberty and civil rights within a system of laws based on the “general will” of the governed. The idea of the social contract influenced the shapers of the American Revolution and the French Revolution and the constitutions that followed them.

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Group of people within a society who possess the same socioeconomic status. The term was first widely used in the early 19th century, following the industrial and political revolutions of the late 18th century. The most influential early theory of class was that of Karl Marx, who focused on how one class controls and directs the process of production while other classes are the direct producers and the providers of services to the dominant class. The relations between the classes were thus seen as antagonistic. Max Weber emphasized the importance of political power and social status or prestige in maintaining class distinctions. Despite controversies over the theory of class, there is general agreement on the characteristics of the classes in modern capitalist societies. In many cases the upper class has been distinguished by the possession of largely inherited wealth, while the working class has consisted mostly of manual labourers and semiskilled or unskilled workers, often in service industries, who earn moderate or low wages and have little access to inherited wealth. The middle class includes the middle and upper levels of clerical workers, those engaged in technical and professional occupations, supervisors and managers, and such self-employed workers as small-scale shopkeepers, businesspeople, and farmers. There is also often an urban substratum of permanently jobless and underemployed workers termed the “underclass.” Seealso bourgeoisie.

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In biology, a subset of individuals within a colony of social animals (chiefly ants, bees, termites, and wasps) that has a specialized function and is distinguished from other subsets by morphological and anatomical differences. Typical insect castes are the queen (the female responsible for reproduction), workers (the usually sterile female caretakers of the queen, eggs, and larvae), soldiers (defenders of the colony; also sterile females), and sometimes drones (short-lived males). The differentiation of larvae into various castes is often determined by diet, though hormonal and environmental factors can also play a role.

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or Italic War or Marsic War

(90–89 BC) Rebellion waged by ancient Rome's Italian allies (Latin, socii). The allies in central and southern Italy had aided Rome in its wars, but they were denied the privileges of Roman citizenship. The people of central Italy's hills—the Marsi in the north and the Samnites in the south—organized a confederacy and began an uprising for independence, winning victories over Roman armies in the north and south. After Rome granted citizenship to those who had not revolted and those who would immediately lay down their arms, Italian interest in the struggle declined. Sulla defeated the weakened rebels in the south, and legislation was passed to unify Italy south of the Po River.

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Religious social-reform movement in the U.S., prominent from circa 1870 to 1920 among liberal Protestant groups. The movement focused on applying moral principles to the improvement of industrialized society and particularly to reforms such as the abolition of child labour, a shorter workweek, and factory regulation. Many of its aims were realized through the rise of organized labour and through legislation of the New Deal.

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A chaperone (or occasionally chaperon) is an adult who accompanies or supervises one or more young, unmarried men or women during social occasions, usually with the specific intent of preventing inappropriate social or sexual interactions or illegal behavior (e.g., underage drinking or illegal drug use). The chaperone is typically accountable to a third party, usually the parents of one of the accompanied young people.

The word derives figuratively from the French word chaperon, meaning "hood", and later a kind of hat. This is either from this sense or from falconry, where the same word meant the hood placed over the head of a bird of prey to stop its desire to fly.

Traditionally, a chaperone was an older married or widowed woman accompanying a young woman when men would be present. Her presence was a guarantee of the virtue of the young woman in question. Female chaperones were also called dueñas, a Spanish word. Chaperones for young men were not commonly employed in Western society until the latter half of the 20th century.

Chaperones may be resisted and resented by the young people being supervised. The practice of one-on-one chaperones for social occasions has largely fallen out of use in Western society, though the term is often applied to parents and teachers who supervise school dances.

The concept of a chaperone is also used in variation. For example, a chaperone might be an expert in a given activity who takes a group and accompanies them during outside activities to provide physical support, advice and emergency attention if necessary. Sometimes the term is applied to people who are essentially tour guides (as were the bear-leaders of the Grand Tour in previous times). In addition, the term is used as a verb similar to "guide" (eg. "I'll chaperone you around the city and show you all the best places.")

In culture

In drama, probably the best known example of a plot revolving around the need for, and lack of, a chaperone is Brandon Thomas's farce Charley's Aunt (1892).

The chaperone is spoofed in the 2006 musical The Drowsy Chaperone.

also can be a person who entertains a guess

See also

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