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a docile, obedient, and willing attitude towards

his/her master. In the Bible, Paul remarks

“Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and

to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not

to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete

and perfect fidelity.”

Religion has played a central role in legitimating

slavery and, later, in its abolition. The Old

Testament drew a distinction between the limited

servitude of Jews and the lifelong, hereditary servitude

of gentiles. Islam was most explicit in its

conviction that freedom, not slavery, is the natural

status of mankind, yet Islamic law also sanctioned

the enslavement of infidels, and Arabs

and Muslim converts were the first to make use

of sub-Saharan African blacks. Resistance and

revolt were common occurrences, and a massive

slave revolt occurred between 869 and 883 in what

is now Iraq.

From its origins, the enslavement of whites was

as common as that of blacks. It was medieval

Arabs who first came to associate the most degrading

forms of labor with black slaves. The Arabic

for slave, abd, came with time to mean only a

black slave and modern racial stereotyping of

blacks has its origin in medieval Islam, while

the Latin designation sclavus is the root of

the English word “slave.” Sclavus was used to

denote the ethnicity of those inhabitants captured

along the Dalmatian coast and sold by Italian

merchants to Muslims in the Middle East. These

were white Christians, who later were called

“slavs” in English.

Northern European nations, France, Holland,

and England, were the first free-labor nations in

world history and were also the major beneficiaries

of the Atlantic slave system. The abolitionist

Thomas Clarkson’s The History of the Rise, Progress,

and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave

Trade by the British Parliament (1808) provides an

account of the history of the Atlantic slave trade

and traces its origins to 1503, “when a few slaves

were sent from the Portuguese settlements in

Africa into Spanish colonies in America,” while

English participation began in 1562 “in the reign

of Elizabeth.” Sugar, rice, cotton, and tobacco were

the prime crops which drove the Atlantic slave

trade. It has been argued that sugar, the first consumer

nutrient for a mass market, provided the

extra nourishment which drove the early stages of

the industrial revolution in Great Britain.

Slavery was never unproblematic in the United

States and its spread was always a matter of moral

concern, even where the early founders, including

Presidents George Washington (1732–99) and

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), were slave-holders.

Few, however, allowed these moral concerns to

interfere with their practical concern for profit.

One exception was the great patriot Patrick Henry

(1736–99), who immediately after the War of Independence

declared that he could no longer justify

his own involvement in the ownership of slaves.

Although grounded in religion and the First

Great Awakening (a series of religious revivals

starting as early as 1679, along the eastern seaboard

of America), movements to abolish the slave

trade and slavery itself coincided with the Enlightenment

and the emergence of nationalism and

democratization, that is, with modernity itself.

Abolitionists and the accompanying doctrine of

abolitionism drew inspiration from Enlightenment

philosophers such as John Locke (1632–

1704) and from the scientific theories of lsaac

Newton (1642–1727), as well as Christianity, evangelical

Protestantism, and the dissenting sects,

such as Methodists and Quakers. John Wesley

(1703–91), the founder of Methodism, published

his Thoughts on Slavery in 1774, which contained

ideas linking religion and the Enlightenment:

“Liberty is the right of every human creature as

soon as he breathes the vital air and no human

law can deprive him of that right which he derived

from a law of nature.” Many of those involved

in abolitionist movements were ministers.

“Among the evils, corrected or subdued, either by

the general influence of Christianity on the minds

of men, or by particular associations of Christians,

the African Slave-trade may very properly be

slavery slavery


considered as occupying the foremost place”: such

are the opening words of Thomas Clarkson’s testimony

before the British Parliament. American

abolitionism was formalized with William Lloyd

Garrison’s founding of the Liberator in 1831.

Women, excluded from formal political participation,

also played a very forceful role in these movements,

both in Britain and its former colonies,

such as the United States.

Slavery was outlawed in the British Empire in

1833 after a struggle of more than fifty years.

During the American Civil War (1861–5), fought

over the individual states’ rights to slavery, President

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

of 1863 formally freed all slaves within the

United States.

Though slavery is currently banned in all parts

of the world, it still continues, and current debate

concerns the extension of the concept to include

such practices as sex trafficking. RON EYERMAN

Small, Albion W. (1854–1926)

The son of a Baptist minister, Small has a unique

position in the development of North American

sociology as its first professor of sociology and the

founder of the first Department of Sociology in

North America at the University of Chicago in

1892. In 1895, he founded the American Journal of

Sociology, the first sociology journal in the United

States. He was President of the American Sociological

Society (the forerunner of the American

Sociological Association) in 1912 and 1913. His

main influence was on the institutional development

of North American sociology.

Small saw social science as having an essential

role in democracy and social reform, a combination

of concerns that was to flower sociologically

after 1915 in the Chicago School, although his

own interests tended to general sociology rather

than specific empirical studies. His primary interest

was in the relation of sociology and economics

and he was particularly influenced by German

writers such as Werner Sombart. He also translated

many essays by Georg Simmel. His key

writings are: General Sociology (1905), Adam Smith

and Modern Sociology (1907), The Cameralists (1909),

The Meaning of Social Science (1910), Between Eras:

From Capitalism to Democracy (1913), and Origins of

Sociology (1924). JOHN HOLMWOOD

small groups

The study of small groups has been a part of social

psychology since the pioneering studies of

Norman Triplett (1861–1910) in the late nineteenth

century. Triplett argued that the presence

of others affected individual performance. This

led to the recognition of the importance of social

influence in interpersonal relations. The small

groups approach – sometimes called the group

dynamics approach – flourished in the 1950s and

1960s – under the leadership of such figures as

Kurt Lewin (1890–1947), Robert Freed Bales, and

Dorwin Cartwright, particularly at universities

such as Michigan, Harvard, and Massachusetts Institute

of Technology.

In general, the groups approach analyzed social

interaction as a part of a system, and focused more

directly on behavior, in contrast to cognition or

emotion. Important studies attempted to determine

the roles, structures, and contexts of group

life that led some groups to be more effective than

others in task completion or in producing satisfaction

of members. Much research was observational,

conducted in experimental laboratories,

but some important studies, notably the Robbers

Cave experiments at the University of Oklahoma

in 1954 by of Muzafer Sherif and his colleagues,

had an ethnographic component, and others, such

as the self-analytic groups organized by Bales, had

a strong psychoanalytic component.

With the rise of cognitive and human information-

processing models in the 1970s, research on

small groups fell out of favor. However, studies of

small groups are still to be found in the sociology

of culture in studies of idioculture / small group

culture, in organizational sociology in studies of

work-group effectiveness, and in science studies in

studies of individual laboratories.


Smelser, Neil (1930– )

A leading American sociologist based for many

years at the University of California, Berkeley,

with wide-ranging accomplishments, Smelser’s

interests range from social change and modernization

theory, through the sociology of economic

life and collective behavior, to understandings of

personality and psychoanalysis. As a close associate

of Talcott Parsons, with whom he wrote Economy

and Society (1956), Smelser went on to become

a leading member of the postwar generation of

American social scientists who developed modernization

theory. His work has, however, continued

to develop, and he has played a major role in the

consolidation of economic sociology as a distinct

field of study within sociology, writing the first

textbook and reader in the area.

One of the major difficulties with modernization

theory was the sharp dichotomy proposed

between traditional and modern societies. Faced

Small, Albion W. (1854–1926) Smelser, Neil (1930– )


with criticism that this grossly exaggerated discontinuities

in social change, Smelser, in Social

Change in the Industrial Revolution (1959), proposed

that the idea of social differentiation allowed a

more nuanced way of analyzing gradual and complex

patterns of change. The idea of social differentiation

and related challenges of integration or

fragmentation remain a major theoretical theme

in postmodernism and neofunctionalism, without

any current sense of an emerging consensus.

A further important theme running throughout

Smelser’s life and work is that of the articulation

of psychoanalysis with sociological inquiry. In The

Social Edges of Psychoanalysis (1998), he notes that a

range of theorists from critical theory, through

feminism, to postmodernism have looked to psychoanalysis.

This has been in part to link issues of

personality more closely with social analysis. In

this manner Smelser continues the Parsonian

interest in an integrated social theory, capable of

bridging the macro–micro divide. ROBERT HOLTON

snowball sample

– see sampling.

social action

All forms of human behavior other than physiological

reflexes are profoundly influenced by the

cultural settings and the social circumstances in

which they occur. Sociologists conceive the social

qualities of action from several different points of

view. The oldest sociological accounts of social

action hinge on subjective meaning. Utilitarians,

and subsequently in rational choice theory, emphasize

action subjectively motivated by actors

to maximize their interests or advantages and/or

to minimize their losses or discomfort. Max

Weber, who was influenced by neo-Kantian philosophy,

defined as social action only behavior that

involves the attachment of existential meaning by

an actor when she orients to other actors past,

present, or future.

mile Durkheim made a point of emphasizing

how cultural conditions shape the form and content

of social action. For Durkheim, our everyday

actions, such as speaking a certain language or

exchanging currency in certain ways, are structured

by collectively shared ways of life. The collectivist

aspect of Durkheim’s take on action

influenced the thought of Talcott Parsons and is

implicitly reconstructed by certain French poststructuralist

thinkers, including Pierre Bourdieu

and Michel Foucault.

During the twentieth century, sociological accounts

of social action took a new, praxiological

turn. Unlike philosophy, where praxis takes on

normative and political connotations, in sociology

praxis refers simply to enacted social conduct.

Hence, instead of questions about the subjective

meaning or motivation of action, praxis-oriented

sociologists ask how social action is produced

or performed. The pragmatist philosophers John

Dewey (1859–1952) and George Herbert Mead

exerted a strong praxiological influence on sociology

through the symbolic interactionist school.

Dewey emphasized the significance of routinely

enacted behavior and behavior involving thought

that occurs when routines are disrupted. Mead,

more ambitiously, saw social action in terms of

interactive patterns of sociality. For Mead, actors

produce interaction by emitting and reacting

to symbolic gestures. Symbolic gestures and the

learned responses they evoke are channeled

through the human mind where some greater or

lesser degree of personal autonomy is introduced.

The shift towards praxis-oriented accounts of

social action acquired both inspiration and momentum

in the works of Erving Goffman and

Harold Garfinkel. Goffman was influenced by

Durkheim. For Goffman, the social actions that

matter occur as rituals during interaction. These

rituals exhibit moral meaning and create smallscale

local systems of moral order. Goffman’s praxiological

attention to the subtle, tacit performance

of small but ritually significant gestures is a

highlight of his accounts.

Garfinkel took the praxiological turn about as

far as it could go. For him, action is always locally

situated, reflexively taking its meaning from the

unfolding context produced in a given setting and

thereby sustaining or redirecting the nature of

that setting. His research demonstrates the great

significance of the moment-by-moment production

of all kinds of social action, from sorting

bureaucratic files to making new discoveries in

the natural sciences. Anthony Giddens’s structuration

theory combines the Durkheimian with the

praxis-oriented accounts of social action. A logical

step that has yet to be taken is to combine the

subjective and the praxis-oriented accounts.


social administration

– see social policy.

social capital

This form of capital arises from relationships between

individuals, families, groups, or communities

that provide access to valuable benefits

and/or resources. It is one of several forms of

snowball sample social capital


capital – including human, symbolic, and cultural

capital – developed by sociologists as homologies

to economic capital. Although less tangible than

economic capital, these other capitals share many

characteristics with economic capital: they have

value to their holders, they can be accumulated,

and – most importantly – they can be “invested”

in ways that produce other social rewards or advantages.

Capital in all its forms is important to

study because it provides insight into otherwise

hidden forms of the reproduction of social inequality.

For example, social capital has been

shown to be associated with a wide variety of

outcomes, such as socioeconomic attainment,

educational attainment, political participation,

juvenile delinquency, and the success of ethnic

entrepreneurial enclaves.

Though its roots have been traced to a diffuse

set of classical theorists – from Karl Marx and

Alexis de Tocqueville to John Dewey (1859–1952)

and Alfred Marshall (1842–1924), to name a few –

the concept of social capital was introduced into

the social sciences through the work of Pierre

Bourdieu and James S. Coleman. There are, as

discussed below, some key differences in the conceptions

of social capital outlined by Bourdieu

and Coleman. Bourdieu views social capital as a

resource that individuals possess in various quantities

and qualities, which can be used strategically

to gain access to other, especially economic,

resources. Coleman’s functional theory of social

capital, on the other hand, focuses on groups

and the collective nature of social capital. It highlights

the benefits accrued by dense networks

characterized by trust and mutual obligation.

These different orientations have given rise to

divergent research programs and are thus important

to distinguish. The concept of social capital

has recently come into vogue because of Robert

Putnam’s deployment of it in his widely discussed

work Bowling Alone (2000).

In a series of essays and books in the 1970s and

1980s, Bourdieu argued that social capital is one

form of capital, closely tied to other forms he

called “symbolic” and “cultural” capital. This line

of theoretical and empirical research arose out of

Bourdieu’s general concern with the role that

noneconomic forms of capital play in the transmission

of social advantages across generations.

According to Bourdieu, these various forms of capital,

although often ignored because they are less

tangible than economic capital, are nevertheless

significant because they disguise the processes by

which power relations and material inequalities

are reproduced.

Symbolic capital is the ability to make certain

kinds of relationships of power and privilege seem

disinterested or natural. The transmission of cultural

capital is one way in which this is accomplished.

Expressed both in embodiment (etiquette,

language style, or, more generally, one’s habitus)

and cultural resources (such as knowledge about

art, books, classical music, or scientific ideas), cultural

capital produces competencies that can contribute

to success in such areas as educational

achievement, occupational attainment, and marriage.

These processes are largely invisible to the

actors involved.

Social capital is a second way in which unequal

advantages may be disguised as merit. Bourdieu

defines social capital as a resource consisting of

durable social obligations or connections, such as

group or network memberships, that can be called

upon to access other valuable resources. As such,

social capital can be accumulated, the amount of

social capital held by an actor (most often an

individual for Bourdieu) depending on two

factors: the size of the network of connections

that can be effectively mobilized, and the volume

of capital (economic, cultural, or symbolic) possessed

by the other members of the network. A

key aspect of Bourdieu’s conceptions of social

and cultural capital are their instrumentality;

they can be converted into other forms of capital.

Social capital, like cultural capital, is a force that

helps to create, and sustain preexisting, social


There are several fruitful lines of empirical research

that have been inspired by, or draw upon,

Bourdieu’s model of social (and other) capitals.

One strand of this work provides strong evidence

tying social capital – in the form of connections or

ties to resources outside the family – to the attainment

of better jobs, earlier promotions, higher

earnings or bonuses, and physical and mental

health outcomes. Another important line of research

has examined how the lack of social capital

exacerbates the problems of the poor. “Social isolation”

is a shorthand for the lack of social capital

that would allow individuals, families, and/or disadvantaged

subgroups to escape poverty. Finally,

this approach provides a better understanding of

the benefits of dispersed networks of contacts that

holders of high levels of social capital typically

possess. In the influential work of Mark Granovetter,

Getting a Job (1974), such “weak ties” provide

important benefits in a variety of social settings,

especially in employment.

A second prominent conceptualization of social

capital was developed by Coleman, most notably

social capital social capital


in his Foundations of Social Theory (1990). While

Coleman’s and Bourdieu’s definitions of social

capital are similar at the most general level –

they both believe that social capital exists in the

relations between actors and that these relationships

facilitate the achievement of ends that

would be otherwise unattainable – they focus on

very different aspects of these relations. Instead of

viewing social capital as a resource, Coleman’s

model views social capital in terms of social structure.

It is primarily concerned with analyzing the

relationships between social capital and the positive

outcomes that result from dense family and

community networks. The key innovation of the

Coleman model is the role of social trust in these

relationships. Coleman emphasized the important

role that social capital plays in the creation of

human capital – investments, such as education,

training, and other forms of skills and knowledge,

that increase the productive potential of individuals.

Coleman argues that social capital within

the family (for example, strong relations between

children and parents that provide children access

to the parents’ human capital), and within the

community (for example, parents’ relationship

with the institutions of the community), are critical

types of social capital resources.

Two distinct lines of empirical research have

grown out of Coleman’s model of social capital.

Both examine close-knit groups or communities

and their outcomes. The first of these approaches

emphasizes the value of intrafamilial social capital

for children. This type of social capital manifests

itself in the development of human capital

mentioned above. Specifically, the more of their

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