Sociology Terms

Sociology Terms Relevant to the Theme of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Ethnocentrism –One ethnic group or racial aggregate viewing its ethnicity/race as superior to that of others. Defined as such, it is
synonymous with racism.

Ideology – Refers to a shared set of beliefs, attitudes, and values which individuals, groups, organizations, and nations hold; and which inform their behavior and underlying policies; an ideology is supported and reinforced by the dominant institutions within the society.

Nationalism – Two definitional dimensions: Nationalism “as a means to an end” (generally a positive historical force for change; has it raison d’être self-determination in hopes of bringing into existence a new sovereign independent country; generally involves out of a colonial dialectic); Nationalism “as and end in itself” (has been a giant diabolical evil; always establishes a hierarchy of nationalisms; always characterized by some form of scapegoating in the form of racism, ethnocentrism, sexism, fascism, homophobia; supra-nationalism).

Power – The authoritative allocation of values; power is exercised, not possessed.

Racism –Defined as an extreme pathological prejudice (it is an attitude, whether overtly or covertly expressed); defined as a policy it is “The predication (basing) of decisions and policies on consideration of race or color for the purpose of subordination and maintaining control over another group of people”

Social Darwinism – A post Civil War ideology that distorted Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Social Darwinist (e.g. William Graham Sumner and Herbert Spencer argued that individuals and economic achievement reflected “survival of the fittest.” Proponents of Social Darwinism argue that racial, ethnic, and gender aggregates values and levels of achievements in society correspond to their cultural and biogenetic make-up) Social Darwinism is essentially an apologia for capitalism and racism, and sexism.

Socialization – The process of how one comes to have the values, attitudes, and beliefs that one holds. This comes from ones’ environment (friends, teachers, parents, church, etc.)

Worldview – Some characteristics; a0 it is a broad collection of images, beliefs, attitudes that a people and culture hold; b) it is intrinsic to every culture; c) it provides us with our earliest perceptions of “right” and “wrong”; d) WV impacts our perceptions prior to formal socialization practices; e) the impact of WV is implicit before it is made explicit on our images, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; f) WV is not scientific, nor is it hardwired or cemented.

Zero sum conflict –a) The most destructive form of conflict that humans can engage in; b) for the parties involved in the conflict it is either-or, no in-between, and no compromise; c) you win and I lose –or– I win and you lose.