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Sociology Topics to Study for the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)

Sociology is the study of modern society, or the way people act in groups. For the MAT (Miller Analogies Test), you’ll need to become familiar with a bunch of sociology terms you may not know, along with a few important figures from the field.

Sociology terms that appear on the MAT test

Brush up on your knowledge of sociology by studying these terms and their definitions.

  • Action theory: Talcott Parsons’s belief that social science must consider people’s motives when studying their actions

  • Adoption: Legal process in which the parenting rights and responsibilities are transferred from one person to another

  • Affirmative action: Policies that benefit minorities or special interest groups in business or education

  • Antipositivism: The belief that social sciences are not subject to the same methods of understanding as the natural sciences

  • Antisemitism: Discrimination against Jews

  • Assimilation: Process by which minorities and immigrants become part of the dominant culture

  • Black Power: Slogan for ideologies promoting the collective interests of blacks

  • Cohabitation: An unmarried male and female living together

  • Cultural relativism: The belief of Franz Boas that civilization is relative, not absolute, and that there is not a relationship between culture and race

  • Demography: The study of living populations

  • Diffusion: The process of how innovations spread within an organization or social group

  • Endogamy: Practice of marrying only a person of a certain group or class

  • Functionalism: View that society’s parts work together to create stability

  • Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: Translated as “ community and society” are two normal types of human association according to Ferdinand Tönnies

  • Gentrification: High-income people acquiring property in low-income areas, as a result of which property values increase and lower-income residents are displaced

  • Hidden curriculum: Lessons learned in the classroom that were not intentionally taught

  • Institutional racism: System of inequality based on race

  • Labeling theory: Tendency of majorities to label minorities with a word or phrase

  • Macrostructure: Large-scale organization of society

  • Norm: Guideline that determines behavior of society

  • Overchoice (AKA choice overload): The problem of consumers having too many choices, this can lead to a consumer making a poor choice or no choice at all

  • Ponerology: Study of social injustice

  • Positivism: The belief that in the social and natural sciences the only valid truth is scientific truth

  • Role homogeneity: Multiple community roles performed by one individual

  • Scapegoat: A person or group that is singled out to receive unwarranted blame

  • Social capital: The collective benefits resulting from social cooperation between people or groups

  • Social stigma: Disapproval of someone who differs from social norms

  • Tertius gaudens: One person gaining from a disagreement between two others

  • Underclass: The lowest position in a social hierarchy

  • Vertical mobility: A person’s movement up or down the social-status ladder

  • Xenocentrism: Preference for products and ideas from another culture, this is the opposite of ethnocentrism

  • Xenophobia: A fear of people or things from a different culture

Important figures in the field of sociology

The following lists important people in the field of sociology that you should familiarize yourself with before taking the MAT.

  • Barzun, Jacques: American historian who studied culture

  • Coleman, James: American sociologist who defined social capital

  • Comte, Auguste: A founder of sociology and positivism

  • DuBois, W. E. B.: American sociologist who cofounded the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

  • Durkheim, Émile: French father of sociology

  • Parsons, Talcott: American sociologist who developed action theory

  • Simmel, Georg: German sociologist and founder of antipositivism

  • Spencer, Herbert: English sociologist and biologist who coined the term “survival of the fittest” and applied it to humans in a sociology context

  • Tönnies, Ferdinand: German sociologist who defined Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

  • Veblen, Thorstein: American sociologist who wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class — asserts that the division of labor from the feudal system continued into the modern era

  • Weber, Max: German sociologist who promoted antipositivism

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