TOEFL IBT – Sociology

Vocabulary is promordial in order to improve your TOEFL score. Remember, Preparation is the key to succeed !

This vocabulary will be useful if you ever take a sociology course in school, for having an educated discussion with a friend, or especially for any number of English language exams you may take. Here we will look at the most commonly used words in the field, along with their French translations.

agricultural revolution

the introduction of new farming technologies that increases food output in farm production

The agricultural revolution gave us a world of plenty, yet plenty of want.

la revolution agricole


the sense of dissatisfaction the modern worker feels as a result of producing goods that are owned and controlled by someone else

When you put power and alienation together, you get violence.



the belief that spirits roam the natural world

Animism is the oldest known type of belief system in the world.



an opinion held by the researcher that might affect the research or analysis

Gender bias on the part of doctors is one potential explanation.

le parti pris


the elite class

The racing bourgeoisie couldn’t be unhappier about the prospect.

la bourgeoisie


the steady acquisition of material possessions, often with the belief that happiness can be achieved this way

It may be that thrift and consumerism are compatible after all.

le consumérisme

conversation analysis

a sociological approach that looks at how we create meaning in naturally occurring conversation, often by taping conversations and examining them

She had also introduced conversation analysis to Finland and has also had an interest in women’s studies.

l’analyse de la conversation


religious movement that makes a new claim about the supernatural and therefore does not as easily fit within the sect-church cycle

Wacky extremist cults have long inhabited the fringes of most societies.

le culte

culture shock

a sense of disorientation when you enter a radically new social or cultural environment

Bringing a Russian to the ranch is culture shock for sure.

le choc culturel


harmful or negative acts against people deemed inferior on the basis of their racial category

There should be no discrimination because of AIDS and homosexual relationships.

la discrimination


one’s ethnic quality or affiliation that is based on cultural differences

From that, he can often determine age and sometimes ethnicity.



a naturalistic method based on studying people in their own environment in order to understand the meanings they attribute to their activities

Ethnography and performance work together to invoke emotion in the reader.


field notes

detailed notes taken by an ethnographer describing her activities and interactions

An English translation of the field notes synthesis was published in 2003.

les notes de terrain


a theoretical statement explaining the relationship between two or more phenomena

The hypothesis is worth considering in any investigation of economic injustice.



a system of beliefs, attitudes, and values that directs a society and reproduces the status quo of the bourgeoisie

He has an ideology, but he is not an ideologue.


literature review

a thorough search through previously published studies relevant to a particular topic

According to scientific literature reviews, there is no evidence to the contrary.

la revue littéraire


a paradigm that places trust in the power of science and technology to create progress, solve problems, and improve life

All of them believed that modernism transcended national and cultural differences.

le modernisme


a set of assumptions, theories, and perspectives that make up a way of understanding social reality

I want to build a new society with our own paradigm.

le paradigme

participant observation

a methodology whereby the researcher both observes and becomes a member of the social setting

His method of choice is usually participant observation, more specifically ethnography.

l’observation participante

qualitative research

research that works with non-numerical data such as text, interviews, or pictures

Another way into this might be through looking at qualitative research methods.

la recherche qualitative

quantitative research

research that uses numbers so it can be studied and manipulated mathematically

Quantitative research is the backing to most observable phenomena in psychology.

la recherche quantitative


the degree to which the same questions will produce similar answers

The other issue with this research is reliability.

la fiabilité

scientific method

a procedure for acquiring knowledge that emphasizes collecting concrete data through observation and experimentation

Some flaws in the scientific method were apparent in these two tests.

la méthode scientifique


a movement away from religion and spiritual belief

It is between secularism and religious fundamentalism in all its forms.

la laïcité


the legal or social practice of separating people on the basis of their race or ethnicity

We must break this segregation and so stop people being killed.

la ségrégation


a political system based on state ownership or control of principal elements of the economy in order to reduce levels of social inequality

In her later years, she championed feminism along with socialism.

le socialisme

social sciences

the disciplines that use the scientific method to examine the social world

The department largely attracts students pursuing academic careers in the social sciences.

les sciences humaines et sociales


a group of people who shape their lives in aggregated and patterned ways that distinguish their group from other groups

What sort of society makes anyone believe that this was justice?

la société


the degree of integration or unity within a particular society

If it comes to a withdrawal, Germany will show solidarity.

la solidarité


abstract proposition that explains the social world and makes predictions about future events

The prosecution’s theory was that the motive was money.

la théorie

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