The Use of Concepts in Sociology.
Every field of study makes the student memorize many words to which the field attaches special meanings. This is not an idle ritual; ft is done because precise concepts are necessary. First, we expressed concepts to merry on a scientific discussion. How would you explain machinery to a person who had no concept of wheel"? How useful to a specialist would a patient's medical history be if her physician had recorded it in the language of the layman? The several dozen sociological concepts which will harass the student in this book are necessary for a dear discussion of social phenomena. Secondly, tlu! formulation of Peccadilloes scintillated knowledge.
Some accurate descriptive knowledge must be organized before a concept can be framed. Then the analysis and criticism of this new concept point up the gaps and errors in present knowledge. Use of the concept often calls attention to facts and relationships which may have been overlooked: Years ago while studying migration, Park (1928) framed the concept of the "Gullibility man who is on the fringes of two groups or two ways of life while fully belonging to neither. The use of this concept quickly led to the recognition that there were many kind of marginal persons the person of mixes racial ancestry, who belongs dearly to neither race; the supervisor, who is not dearly either "management" or "labor the ambition ts climber, no longer in the lower class yet not securely a middle-class person and many others. Sound concepts like that of marginalia lead to increased knowledge.
Finally, concepts are useful as verbal short hand At the hardware store, it is faster to ask for a "wing-nut" than for "one of those funny nuts with little ears on it so it can be tightened by hand." The term "control group" replaces an entire sentence in a research report or discussion. Every discipline develops concepts as time-savers.
Most of .the concepts of sociology are expressed in words which also have a popular meaning, just as the term order has one meaning in zoology, another at the restaurant table, and still another at a law-and-order political rally. Every science appropriates some common words and makes them into scientific concepts by giving them a specific definition. Sociology is no exception.