Sociological concepts are key ideas in the study of sociology, and are generally taught in introductory sociology classes and texts. Examples of sociological concepts include ethnocentrism, taboos and social groups.
Sociology is the study of human society and of how individuals and groups interact within that society. Sociology is a science and, like any other science, it has key concepts that have been developed through the years by prominent sociologists. It also has a unique terminology, and borrows words from common usage that may have different definitions in a sociological context.
One basic sociological concept is groups. A social group, as defined by sociologists, is simply a collection of people who interact with each other. This could include a tribe, a town, or a group of coworkers. A primary group is an intimate group that interacts by direct, face-to-face communication, such as a family or close friends. A secondary group relies on rules to enforce behavior and is highly impersonal. Workers in a factory are a type of secondary group. This categorization of groups is based on the work of sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies, who studied the changes that took place in society when it changed from a traditional, rural environment to a modern, industrialized one.
Ethnocentrism is another key concept. It refers to feelings of superiority for one’s own culture, and judgment of other cultures. Another concept is taboos. A taboo is a behavior that is prohibited by a particular culture. Many taboos are not universal. Bigamy, for example, is taboo in some cultures yet perfectly acceptable elsewhere.