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