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of the concept view it as a significant

conceptual shift from poverty, while others contend

that it constitutes a valuable lens illuminating

aspects of poverty itself. These aspects,

identified in the literature, are: an emphasis on

relationships and rights; a broader framework of

analysis, which embraces social divisions such

as gender, race and ethnicity, and disability; a

multidimensional and multilevel understanding

that also incorporates a spatial dimension; a focus

on dynamics and process, including an understanding

of process as causal mechanism at the

societal and institutional level. Those who focus

on process in this way ask questions about the

agency and power of both excluders and excluded.


social indicators

Regularly collected social statistics can be used

to track trends in society, such as crime rates,

health outcomes, educational attainment, divorce

rates, and family composition. Such social indicators

parallel the more widely known economic

indicators, such as retail prices or the unemployment

rate. Governments have long collected national

social statistics through censuses and other

regularly collected large-scale surveys. These data

provide policymakers with the means to assess

how policies will impact on societies in the future,

and are central to the functioning of modern

governments. Improvement and expansion of

social-indicator data-collection efforts are a hallmark

of the modernization of states. Policymakers

today have at their disposal vastly improved

sources of information about social and economic

trends compared to a century ago.

Measurement issues are a critical component

of social indicators. Good indicators must be

capable of measuring the same thing at different

points in time. Problems arise in one of two ways.

First, social changes influence the meaning of

categories being measured (for example, the current

definition of rape differs greatly from that

of several decades ago). Second, changes in datacollection

techniques produce false impressions

of trends (for example, improvements in police

recordkeeping may give the impression of rising

crime when only improved reporting of crime has


The visibility and urgency of social problems

are closely linked to the collection of social indicators.

Potential problems without regularly

measured indicators may go unheeded by the

mass media and policymakers. Conversely, wellmeasured

problems more easily attract the attention

of key actors, especially when negative trends

social exclusion social indicators


appear (for example, rising crime rates, falling

educational test scores, or rising levels of teenage


Social indicators are frequently misused, misunderstood,

or manipulated in a variety of ways.

Short-term trends may indicate a larger long-term

pattern of change, or they may merely reflect

“trendless” fluctuation. Mistaking the latter for

a true long-term trend is a common misuse of

such indicators. Critical scrutiny of claims about

trends based on social indicators by social scientists

and policy activists is thus an important

part of the larger dialogue over public policies

designed to address social problems. J EFF MANZA

social integration

One of the central postulates of functionalism is

that the very idea of a society means that there is

a tendency towards integration among its parts.

Since the different parts of a society are maintained

by human action, this was frequently interpreted

to mean the integration of the subjective

meanings and motives of actors. Functionalists,

such as Talcott Parsons, argued that actors operated

within a common culture that both generated

the definition of role expectations and

provided them with internalized need dispositions

that served to define wants. Actors respond

not only to positive rewards, but also to internalized

feelings of guilt, anxiety, and the need for

approval; a functioning social system is also a

normative order.

For conflict theorists, such as Ralph Dahrendorf

and John Rex, functionalism was too one-sided. It

gave greater emphasis to values and norms, than

to power and social conflict. For Dahrendorf, it

was a “consensus” model. Its emphasis on social

processes tending towards integration was part

of a longstanding conservative tradition in social

theory going back to Plato. It was also unrealistic

and utopian in proposing a model of society

from which change is absent; social conflict was

more typical of society than social integration.

These criticisms struck a chord, but the position

was unstable for a number of reasons. Parsons

had sought to account for both power and consensus

in his model. It was difficult to argue that

the two models could be kept entirely apart and

used separately for different purposes, as Dahrendorf

and Rex argued, while expressing a preference

for the conflict model. The issues of conflict

and cooperation, and power and legitimation,

are intertwined.

David Lockwood went further. He argued that

conflict theorists were too concerned with overt

conflict between actors. Drawing on Karl Marx’s

analysis of capitalism, Lockwood suggested that

what was missing was a concept of system contradiction.

Simply put, functionalism had no

place for the idea that the parts of a social system

may contain tendencies towards malintegration,

or contradiction (the exception, perhaps, is Robert

K. Merton’s idea of dysfunction). According to

Lockwood, those tendencies may eventually come

to the surface in the form of oppositional interests

and conflicts among actors. These conflicts

may or may not be contained by the normative

order (for Lockwood, this is an empirical


Rather than proposing two separate models,

Lockwood argued that it is necessary to consider

the question of cooperation, conflict, and social

change in terms of two distinct, but interrelated,

sets of processes. One concerned normative processes

of social integration, the other concerned

material processes of system integration. The

problem with functionalism was that it conflated

the two and emphasized the mutual operation

of both sets of processes. Lockwood’s ideas have

been taken further in Ju¨rgen Habermas’s development

of the concepts of system and lifeworld.


social keynesianism

– see John Maynard Keynes.

social mobility

The movement of individuals and groups within a

stratification order, the comparative study of

social mobility, especially in industrial societies,

is a major area of empirical sociology. Part of the

ideological legitimacy of industrial societies has

been that they are open and meritocratic and the

study of social mobility has been central to the

evaluation of this claim.

Social mobility was first examined systematically

by Pitirim Sorokin in his book Social Mobility

(1927). His fundamental concern was with the

social structure within which movements take

place, and he conceived it to be a structure of

classes. Mobility might be a matter of the rise

and decline of whole classes or other large social

groups (as, for example, in caste mobility), or of

the relative openness of classes to movements

across their boundaries. Before Sorokin, Max

Weber had defined social class in Economy and

Society (1968: 302) as the “totality of those class

situations in which individual and generational

mobility is easy and typical,” while Vilfredo Pareto

social integration social mobility


had written on the circulation of elites in The Rise

and Fall of the Elites (1968).

Within advanced industrial societies, the study

of social mobility is more usually concerned

with a structure of occupations, ranked in terms

of their relative advantages and disadvantages.

Intergenerational mobility compares children’s

occupational achievements with those of their

parents, while intragenerational mobility is concerned

with an individual’s movement within

their own lifetime. The greater the mobility

between generations or over the life-course, the

more open the society is regarded to be, and the

less durable its system inequality.

According to Robert Erikson (1938– ) and John

Goldthorpe in The Constant Flux (1992), the liberal

theory of industrialism (which they associate

with functionalism) proposes that industrial societies,

when compared with preindustrial ones,

are characterized by high rates of social mobility;

upward mobility predominates over downward

mobility, mobility opportunities are more equal

across groups, and rates of mobility and the

degree of equality of opportunity increase over

time. Social positions in preindustrial society are

largely ascribed, whereas in industrial society they

are increasingly achieved through meritocratic


Feminists have criticized the emphasis on

male heads of household and father-to-son mobility,

arguing that it misses the performance of

gender-ascribed roles in the household and their

impact on the wider stratification order.

Social mobility raises serious issues of conceptualization

and measurement. Peter M. Blau and

Otis Dudley Duncan analyzed mobility in terms

of occupations ranked in a continuous hierarchy

of socioeconomic standing. In contrast, Marxist

and Weberian class theorists, such as Erik Wright

and Goldthorpe, argue that what should be studied

is movement between bounded groups defined

in class terms. Class theorists downplay the idea

of movement within a hierarchy, though there

are undoubted implications of a continuous

hierarchy of positions in the way in which occupations

are assigned to “classes” on the basis of

“more or less” income or authority. In this conceptualization,

there is interclass mobility as

well as intraclass mobility.

The occupational structure itself has changed

with the development of industrial society (for

example, there has been a decline in the number

of manual jobs and a corresponding rise in the

number of white-collar jobs). Some mobility

would necessarily follow from changes in the

occupational structure, if there were an increase

in the number of higher-class locations compared

with lower-class occupations. This seems to have

taken place, despite attempts by some Marxists to

assert a general thesis of the proletarianization

of occupations. Increased measurement sophistication,

with the development of log-linear modeling,

has enabled the analysis of rates of relative

mobility as a more appropriate measure of openness;

that is, the chances of an individual with

origins in one class finishing up in a particular

destination class rather than another, when compared

with individuals from a different class of

origin. Equally, the comparison could be with

relative positions in a hierarchy.

Class theorists suggest that high rates of social

mobility in industrial societies are largely an

artifact of changes in the class structure. Mobility

opportunities became more equal relatively early

on in the process of industrialism, but for much

of the twentieth century they have remained

stable and rates of relative mobility have remained

unchanged. Critics of class-based schemes

have argued that they tend to overemphasize rigidities

and that, while inequality is very durable

and the early thesis of industrial society was

overstated, there is a secular weakening of family

influence that continues through the twentieth


The argument that meritocratic selection

should be the basis of achievement in industrial

societies is also strongly associated with the view

that education is a vehicle of selection. In 1960,

Ralph H. Turner suggested two ideal types of

sponsored versus contest mobility for considering

differences between the British and American

educational systems, respectively, though with

wider application beyond those two systems. In

sponsored mobility, there is early selection by

the elite of promising candidates from lower

echelons, while in contest mobility candidates

self-select themselves through effort and compete

on an equal footing for available elite positions.

The difference reflects the greater role of traditional,

status aspects within the British system

(for example, in selective schools, the role of

Oxford and Cambridge Universities), compared

with that of the United States.

In contest mobility, the availability of elite

positions places no restriction on the provision

of educational qualifications or their pursuit;

other sociologists, most notably Randall Collins,

have identified the tendency towards credentialism

in the American educational system and

have attributed this to competition among ethnic

social mobility social mobility


groups. Turner draws attention to the psychological

consequences of the two systems in terms of

their impact on feelings of worth and “phantasy

aspirations.” While Turner’s types are overstated –

he calls them ideal types – they draw attention to

cultural elements in the reproduction of social

inequality and its hidden injuries. These themes

were developed by the French sociologist Pierre

Bourdieu and his idea of the habitus of social

classes; the unequal social order determines the

experiences and ways of thinking of those differently

located within it, such that their attitudes

and behavior serve to reproduce inequalities and

thus limit mobility. JOHN HOLMWOOD

social movement theory

– see social movements.

social movements

These are relatively spontaneous forms of collective

political action which break everyday routines

and challenge established political norms;

the term originated in the circle around Claude

Henri Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon in the aftermath

of the French Revolution. From the middle

of the nineteenth century, it became associated

with the working class and the labor movement.

In their Communist Manifesto (1848), Karl Marx and

Friedrich Engels identified the working class

and the labor movement as the prime historical

agents of social change in modern society. It was

Lorenz von Stein who, in the mid-1840s, coined

the German phrase which later translated into the

English “social movement” and Werner Sombart

who established its study as a legitimate object

of research.

Max Weber and E´mile Durkheim conceptualized

social movements in relation to problems

of social integration, as forms of behavior associated

with periods of societal transition. The central

concern was with integrating the working

class and creating a new social order within the

nation-state. Social movements, conceived in

terms of social classes or masses, were forces

demanding to be recognized by and integrated

into the institutional framework of the nation.

This set a pattern for later interpretations.

The rise of fascism as a mass movement provided

the next phase in the conceptualization of

social movements. Rather than seeking integration,

these movements presented a threat to established

political institutions. Knowledge of them

was considered essential not to the promotion

of social integration but to prevent societal

disintegration. Influenced by theories of crowd

behavior developed by Gustav Le Bon, social movements

were interpreted as a form of collective

behavior and understood on a scale of rationality,

from the irrational behavior of the crowd to the

more rational social movement. Opposed to Le

Bon, this approach called for a social rather

than psychological explanation of group behavior.

While displaying similar characteristics to a

crowd, a social movement was considered more

rational because of an underlying goal-orientation

and the potential for new norms to emerge as it

developed. Herbert Blumer, who was closely associated

with symbolic interactionism, was a significant

figure in this theoretical development.

Blumer attributed a degree of creativity and social

learning to social movements.

Also significant in the development of the collective

behavior perspective, Talcott Parsons’s article

“Sociological Aspects of Fascist Movements,”

in Social Forces (1942) made use of classical social

theory to explain the emergence of contentious

collective behavior as due to “strains” relating to

the rationalization of society which accompanied

modernization. Social movements were conceptualized

from a macro-perspective as collective

behavior caused by the strain stemming from

rapid social change, which both marginalized

and then constituted certain groups.

The collective behavior perspective focused

on the strains of societal transition and the alienation

and marginalization of groups in relation

to them. The social movements of the 1960s called

this into question, given the number of middleclass

college students involved in them. What

cameto be called the resourcemobilization perspective

emerged with an organizational and institutional

focus. Far from marginal and irrational

crowd behavior, social movements were conceptualized

as structured, purposive–rational action.

As the name indicates, resource mobilization called

attention to the efficient and effectivemobilization

of resources as the prime indicator of success in

social movement. Key actors in this process were

called “movement entrepreneurs,” whose role was

the management of resources within social movement

organizations (M. N. Zald and J. D. McCarthy,

Social Movements in an Organizational Society, 1987).

As opposed to collective behavior, resource mobilization

conceptualized social movements in

structured settings and as themselves already

structured. Besides forms of organization, central

issues concerned leadership and the management

and effective use of available recourses, including

ideas as well as the traditional money and people.

social movement theory social movements


Utilitarian cost ⁄ benefit calculations and gametheoretical

models were introduced and the issue

of the “free rider” and the risks of participation

were of central concern. Internal developments in

this perspective were carried out by Charles Tilly in

From Mobilization to Revolution (1978), who added

wide-ranging historical scope by conceptualizing

social movements as engaged in protest and producing

protest events that could be mapped

and codified. Another internal development introduced

the term political opportunity structure,

and related mobilization to an interplay

between movements and their external political


The idea of “new” social movements developed

in Europe related to the emergence of environmentalism

and the women’s and peace movements in

the 1970s. The idea was that there might be a

fundamentally new type of social movement, as

opposed to a new way of studying them. New

social processes produced new conflicts and new

collective actors. New social movements, it was

argued, were triggered by concerns with the quality

of life and emerge in the sphere of daily life,

rather than in the sphere of production. They

are characterized by a concern with personal identity,

rather than the redistribution of wealth or

power, making their forms of action more symbolic

and expressive than instrumental and strategic.

In the work of Manuel Castells, the idea and

significance of urban social movements with a

more fluid and transitory structure were also

proposed as new.

One can identify a strong and weak version of

this thesis. The strong version, associated with

Alain Touraine and Alberto Melucci, was couched

in macro-theories of societal transformation

linking new social movements to the emergence

of a “postindustrial society” or “programmed,

information society.” Ronald Inglehart’s surveybased

research (The Silent Revolution: Changing

Values and Political Styles Among Western Publics,

1977), claiming to reveal a fundamental value

shift favoring “postmaterial” values, proved influential

in grounding ideas that a new politics

emerged with new movements. The weaker

version argued for a new perspective, rather

than a new theory of society or a fundamentally

new politics. While agreeing that something

significant had happened in the form and content

of social movements, it was proposed that a

change in perspective focusing on the more symbolic

and expressive dimensions of collective

action – primarily questions of identity – was


This cultural turn has continued. While values,

ideas, and ideology had been a central concern of

early approaches to social movements, the structural

and organizational focus of resource mobilization

tended to downplay their role. A new

focus on cognition and on frameworks of meaning

and interpretation resulted. The concept of

framing taken from Erving Goffman was introduced

to the study of social movements in the

mid-1980s. Social movements, it was pointed out,

offered new ways of interpreting the world, of

defining the social situation and attempting to

convince others in the process. The ability to

modify and affect meaning and interpretation,

to change, align, and coordinate, were thus made

central to social movement activity. Protest and

changing the world, it was argued, necessarily

involved changing the way people looked at the

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