Basic Concepts Let us start with some basic terms. Terms such as “society,” “social context,” “social stratification” and the like have particular definitions. It is important to define our terms so that we can have a mutual understanding.
Society = a system of interrelationships at the boundaries of which is a substantive level of interaction cleavage between it and its neighbors (Giddens et al 2003; Mann 1986).
Social context = the material and ideological conditions of society (Some refer to this as culture. Culture, though, is best understood as the productions of the material and ideological conditions of society, such as castles, hip-hop, pierogi, American Idol, and so on).
What are the material and ideological conditions of society?
A. Material conditions refer to that which your five senses can perceive: physical environment, technology, biology, e.g., Water sources, tractors, strength
B. Ideological conditions refer to intangible elements: thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, values, etc., e.g. Beliefs on the causes of inequality between groups – whether the economic structure is fair to all or if it favors some groups over others.
Social structure is a core concept in sociology. What do we mean by social structure?