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one not substantially different from other

markets, but different in the degree to which it

has only begun to be tapped. For many social

theorists, cyberspace is interesting both for its

internal relationships – new forms of socialization

such as bulletin boards (BBSs) and massively multiplayer

game environments (MMPs) – and for its

articulation with real, geographical material


The interconnection with reality takes several

forms. Cyberspace is a source of news and opinions,

many of them unsanctioned by traditional

gatekeeping institutions, which may provide infrastructure

for the development of new forms of

public life. Cyberspace is also feared as a barely

comprehensible jungle where pedophiles and con

artists thrive. The greatest fear is that, through

the powers of the internet, cyberspace may intervene

in real, social space, for example in allowing

a child molester to make a rendezvous with a

potential victim, or con men to access real bank

accounts. Since Amsterdam’s, France’s, and India’s

initial forays in the early 1990s, many city and

some national governments have extended the

provision of services to online environments, including

in some cases voting and other forms of

citizen participation in government. At the same

time, the subversion of electronic systems

(“hacking”) has become a weapon of war, notably

in the Middle East during the Second Intifada in

the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Identifying even

such basic data as the number of participants in

cyberspace has proved difficult. Describing its

sociological characteristics is equally difficult,

and a nascent scholarly field. Among significant

contributions are A. R. Galloway’s Protocol (2004),

cyberspace cyberspace


S. Lash’s Critique of Information (2002), C. May’s Information

Society (2002), and T. Terranova’s Network

Culture (2004).

The material infrastructure of cyberspace is

composed of a large number of computers linked

by electronic networks. A proportion of these

computers act as servers, storage devices

allowing open access from other computers. A

smaller proportion are routers, responsible for

conveying data across the network. A small

number of globally agreed software packages

(protocols) permit the traffic to be used on almost

every personal or institutional computer. Some

subnetworks (intranets) are closed to all but

named users. The major languages employed

are English, Mandarin, Spanish, and Korean.

Many networks, routers, and servers are integrated

with national and global telecommunication

and entertainment corporations. But many

are not, and the technology is cheaply available

to individuals, groups, and companies who wish

to communicate with the public. The most successful

applications to date are e-mail, which

allows person-to-person communication, and

file-sharing, through which users can swap data,

commonly music, images, and software. Cyberspace

raises serious challenges for law (intellectual

property), justice (online and international

crime), the military (information warfare), and

representational democracy. SEAN CUBITT

cyberspace cyberspace



Dahrendorf, Ralph (1929– )

The author of close to thirty books including Class

and Class Conflict in Industrial Society (1959) and Society

and Democracy in Germany (1967), Dahrendorf’s

most influential contributions to sociology

include the conceptual elaboration of factors

affecting the likelihood of group conflict (see

social conflict), which are empirically variable

across time and place; an attendant critique of

Karl Marx’s universalizing of his historically

narrow analysis of class conflict in nineteenthcentury

Europe; an insistence on the analytical

differentiation of industrialism from capitalism;

and a concern with formal variations in types of

organization and association, in types of authority

relations, in patterns of conflict regulation, and

in relations of stratification along a number of axes.

Dahrendorf is popularly known as a “conflict

theorist” but in fact has always refused to oversimplify

reality through exaggerating tendencies

of integration (as, for example, in functionalism)

or of conflict (as, for example, in Marx). He is an

anti-utopian who urges people to have the maturity

to live with complexity. To emphasize this

complexity, he has drawn attention throughout

his work to the relatively independent nature of

many aspects of social life, from those specific to

international relations, industrial society, politics,

and nuclear weapons, through divergent forms of

ownership and control to, latterly, those related to

the environment and to biological issues associated

with genetic engineering, to name just

some. His sociology is marked deeply by a political

commitment to liberal values and to the welfare

state, to both liberty and citizenship entitlements.

Dahrendorf has combined his intellectual work

with a hugely impressive presence in the practical

worlds of both politics and academic administration.

At the end of the 1960s he was a Free Democrat

(FDP) member of the German Bundestag and a

parliamentary secretary of state at the Foreign

Office, then a European Commissioner in Brussels

in 1970–4, before becoming the Director of the

London School of Economics in 1974–84. From

1987 to 1997 he was Warden of St. Anthony’s

College, Oxford. He was created a United Kingdom

life peer in 1993. ROB STONES

Darwin, Charles (1809–1882)

The theory of natural selection was developed

independently by Charles Darwin and Alfred

Wallace (1823–1913). It was first introduced by

Darwin in 1859 in Origin of the Species. Both men

developed the theory on the basis of intensive and

substantial empirical work.

From 1831 to 1836 Darwin served as naturalist

aboard the HMS Beagle, a mapping and scientific

expedition sponsored by the British government.

During this voyage he worked in the Galapagos

Islands and elsewhere, studying new species and

collecting them for later study. Wallace worked in

the Amazon area and the East Indies in the 1840s.

He also collected examples of species unknown to

the western world.

Their studies led to the assertion that evolutionary

change is gradual, stretching over thousands

of millions of years. The main mechanism for

evolution was a process called natural selection.

And they argued that the millions of species alive

in the modern era probably arose from a single

original life form through a branching process

called “specialization.”

Biological laws, Darwin and Wallace argued,

affect all living beings, including humans. Population

growth within limited resources leads to a

struggle for survival. Certain characteristics confer

advantages and disadvantages upon individuals

during this struggle. The selection of these

traits, and their inheritance over time, leads to

the emergence of new species and the elimination

of others.

For many social scientists, the theory of natural

selection should be seen as a product and reflection

of its time. This was a point made in our contemporary

era by, among others, Michel Foucault.

Darwin is seen as a high Victorian, his ideas being

little more than the struggle for existence in

society being transferred to the natural world.

Furthermore, even the distinction between scientific

and nonscientific knowledge is seen by many


contemporary sociologists as spurious. “Science”

is obfuscation, a way of legitimating the power of

institutions and dominant social classes.

The parallels between the theory of Darwin and

Wallace and the society in which they worked

were also pointed out by Karl Marx. The class

struggle in Victorian England, he argued, was

being transplanted by Darwin back onto the natural

world. Similarly, the “specialization” of species

was the division of labor in human society, again

extended to the realm of nature. Marx, and to

an even greater extent Friedrich Engels, nevertheless

recognized that Darwin’s theory was an exceptionally

important piece of science. Darwin

and Wallace had uncovered real causal mechanisms

which were generating species. These issues

regarding the social construction of Darwin and

Wallace’s scientific theory remain important and

are developed and discussed in a number of texts

concerned with the social construction of science.

These include D. Amigoni and J. Wallace, Charles

Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” (1995).

Darwin’s and Wallace’s theories and ideas were

certainly colored by the experience and predominant

values of their day and they have since been

developed by scientists such as S. Gould, Ever Since

Darwin (1980). But the fact that Darwin’s and Wallace’s

theory has survived largely intact for over

150 years suggests that it is much more than a

social construction. It described, as Marx and

Engels implied, real relationships and processes.

All knowledge is inevitably “socially constructed,”

but this need not mean that knowledge is only

socially constructed. It can refer to relationships,

processes, and mechanisms which are real, if not

necessarily observable. But, as discussed in evolutionary

psychology, social Darwinism, and Herbert

Spencer, the direct application of Darwin’s and

Wallace’s ideas to human society remains full of

difficulties and dangers. Human behavior cannot

be simply attributed to our evolutionary history,

evolutionary processes being always mediated in

complex ways by social relations and social processes.

Similarly, and despite the attempt by

Spencer and others to transfer Darwin’s work to

human society, there are few useful parallels to be

made between the structure of organisms and

those of society.

Darwin himself was very cautious about making

parallels between biological and social evolutionary

theory. On the other hand, his 1901 book

The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex

did make some preliminary forays into these

difficult connections. And his 1872 text, The Expression

of Emotions in Man and Animals, suggested

that human emotions and expressions could be

traced back to “man’s” evolutionary origins. It

can be seen as an early version of evolutionary

psychology. PETER DICKENS


The term data (which is plural) comes from the

Latin “things given.” This notion is a misleading

one because usually the gathering of evidence

involves much painstaking endeavor on the part

of the social scientist. Data come in all shapes and

forms and include responses to questionnaires or

interviews, observational materials, documentary

records, statistical information, visual materials,

oral histories, and so on. The key question for

researchers is how the sources of knowledge

(data) and the sources of understanding (theory)


The data-design phase of research involves considering

how best to collect data that will allow

the investigator to answer the questions that he or

she has posed. One of the frequent divisions drawn

in data type is the distinction between quantitative

and qualitative. These two approaches to data

collection have often been pitted against each

other as if quantitative and qualitative researchers

had completely different understandings of

how to gather knowledge of the social world.

While there may be some difference in emphasis

between those who work mainly with numeric or

statistical data and those who work with more

interpretative and phenomenological data, there

is much overlap between the two. The importance

of data design is in getting a “good fit” between

research question and type of data. If you want

to know the differences between men’s and

women’s pay in the United Kingdom it is unlikely

that you will get far without delving into statistics;

but qualitative information on how men

and women view their pay may also provide

important insights into differences. If you want

to know why women are under-represented in

top managerial jobs, then you will require not

only statistical knowledge about the relative success

rate of job applicants but also highly contextualized

information on men’s and women’s

different life circumstances. Ideally, quantitative

and qualitative data should complement each


Another distinction is between primary and secondary

data. It is wrong to think of social research

solely in terms of the first-hand collection

of data by means of, say, observation or asking

questions. A great deal of information is already

available having been collected by others, and


Darwin, Charles (1809–1882) data

often for other reasons. A wide range of data

sources is available to the social researchers.

Here I will just deal with two: statistical data

sources and documentary sources. Recent developments

in information technology, such as the

worldwide web, make data sources increasingly

accessible and amenable.

There is a huge array of statistical data, commonly

referred to as official statistics. These are

collected by government agencies. But the degree

to which the data are official varies enormously.

Some data, such as vital statistics, are the by product

of administrative processes like the statutory

registration of births, marriages, and deaths.

Others, like many of the surveys assembled by the

Office of National Statistics, are based on collections

of data by voluntary social surveys. The Census

is the most extensive (in the sense of sample

coverage) data that is available and, in Britain, the

Office of National Statistics Longitudinal Study,

based on just 1 percent of the total population,

allows for the tracking of population change on a

year by year basis.

The whole process of archiving and dissemination

of large-scale survey data has been revolutionized

because of the increasing availability of

computing power. It is now possible for the

researcher to select survey data for secondary analysis

and to download the whole survey or particular

sub-samples for further analysis. Secondary

data analysis involves extracting new findings

from existing data by reanalyzing the original

data resource.

The important thing in using secondary data is

to be mindful of the original purpose for which

they were collected and the particular agendas

that the collection of the data may have served.

Many quantitative researchers are acutely aware

that statistics are, to some extent, social constructions.

In other words, the concepts and measures

often reflect those that dominate official, political,

and economic life (Government Statisticians’ Collective,

1979). For example, employment surveys

may use a definition of work that is at odds with

the sociological interest in non-paid caring and

leads to an under-valuing of women’s contribution

to the economy. This does not mean that

data from employment surveys are not useful for

sociological analysis, but it does mean that the

researcher has to be fully aware of its limitations

and strengths.

Written documentary sources also pose great

opportunities and challenges for social scientists.

Few researchers need reminding that documents

can rarely be taken at face value. To assess the

value of documentary sources as evidence, it is

necessary to know why they were gathered in the

first place. Documents differ in terms of their

authorships – whether they are personal or official

documents. They also differ in terms of access,

which varies from closed through to openly published.

John Scott, in his book A Matter of Record

(1990), proposed that knowledge of authorship

and access is important for answering questions

about a document’s authenticity (whether it is

original and genuine), its credibility (whether it

is accurate), its representativeness (whether it is

representative of the totality of documents in its

class), and its meaning (what it is intended to say).

Social-research data cannot be separated from

ethical and political concerns. Most professional

bodies have ethical guidelines that govern the

collection of data and stipulate desirable practices,

such as the obtaining of informed consent.

However, arguably, some of the most serious

instances of data abuse come at the analytical

and writing-up stages. Research claims sometimes

far exceed what the evidence or data warrant. This

is a practice that W. G. Runciman in his book The

Social Animal (1998) describes as an “abuse of social

science.” He cites several examples of where sociologists

are espousing ideology or opinion which

goes far beyond what the data can support. The

importance of being wary of over-stretching data

claims should apply, whether or not the conclusions

drawn are deemed politically correct.

Data archives (both quantitative and qualitative)

serve many important roles in modern social

science. It is worth mentioning three. First, they

allow for data to be widely accessed for secondary

research. Second, they encourage the cumulative

nature of social science by allowing researchers to

build on and replicate (often in different contexts

and times) what has gone before. Third, they help

safeguard the highest professional standards by

ensuring that social science evidence is available

for further scrutiny and reanalysis. JACKI E SCOTT

data analysis

– see data.

data resources

– see data.

Davis and Moore debate

– see functional theory of stratification.


– see profession(s).


data de-professionalization


Ian Lister, in Deschooling. A Reader (1974), has

claimed that the “de-schooling movement” was

“a general drift of thinking” which flourished in

the 1970s in advanced capitalist societies. A precursor

of the movement was the American social

critic, Paul Goodman, who published Compulsory

Miseducation (1962). In the United Kingdom, John

Holt, who had written How Children Fail (1964), How

Children Learn (1967), and The Underachieving School

(1971), considered himself a “de-schooler” from

the early 1970s. This coincided with the publication

of the work and author most identified with

the movement, Ivan Illich’s De-Schooling Society

(1971), and also with Everett Reimer’s School is

Dead (1971). Reimer defined schools as “institutions

which require full-time attendance of specific

age groups in teacher-supervised classrooms

for the study of graded curricula.” The defining

characteristics of de-schooling thinking are implicit

in this definition. De-schoolers opposed the

institutionalization of learning, arguing that

state-controlled socialization inhibited the expression

of individual freedomand creativity. Logically,

they could have no time for credentialism. There

was a nonconformist zeal about their views:

schools should be disestablished and secularized.

“To identify schools with education,” wrote Illich,

is “to confuse salvation with the church.” While

the movement might have seemed to be in alliance

with the radical pedagogy of educationists in

the Third World, such as Paulo Freire (1921–97),

there was an ambivalence in that the resistance to

state intervention might be interpreted as a conservative

inclination to retain the social status quo

and to resist the potential of state schooling to

counteract inequality. DEREK ROBBINS

death and dying

At its simplest, the cessation of life, death appears

to be a biological rather than a sociological phenomenon.

However, diagnosing death is not a

simple process as conflicts around the status of

patients in persistent vegetative states demonstrate.

Within medicine, death can be defined in

different ways: as the cessation of pulse and

breathing; as the loss of the body’s coordinating

system, that is, lower brain stem, death; and cerebral

cortex, that is higher brain stem, death. The

current definition of death as the cessation of

cerebral functioning is intimately tied to the harvesting

of organs from people now dead, but

whose vital physical functions – circulation and

breathing – are intact and keeping their organs

viable for transplantation.

While all individuals will die, how and when

they die will reflect broader patterns of inequality

in society, especially around socioeconomic status,

gender, and ethnicity. Unskilled manual workers

die earlier and sooner of known preventable diseases

than their skilled and professional counterparts.

While women experience more diagnoses

of ill-health – based around the medicalization of

their reproductive functions – they will outlive

men by five years; and members of significantly

disadvantaged ethnic minorities, particularly aboriginal

people, will die from preventable conditions

twenty-five years earlier than the affluent

and educated members of higher social classes,

who have much longer life expectancy. The greater

the inequality in a society, the poorer the

quality of life and the earlier the death for those

at the bottom of the social system. Death is far

from a straightforward biological event occurring

to individuals as a consequence of fate.

The occurrence of death, particularly in hospitals,

is a socially accomplished event. In Time for

Dying (1961), Barney Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss

demonstrated how dying was accounted for and

made explicable and conformed to scripts that

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