Agency The capacity of individuals to operate independently of the social structure. One of the central questions in sociology has long been the extent to which human behaviour should be understood as constrained or determined by social structure, or as purposive and involving the exercise of choice and judgement.
Altruism Behaviour that is motivated solely by a concern for the good of others. It is distinguished from behaviour that is motivated by self-interest, or is prompted by a sense of duty or the need to honour an obligation.
Behavioural This term is used in the Uterature on welfare to refer to explanations of social problems that focus upon the observed behaviour of those who experience those problems. The best known example is the belief that the cycle of deprivation is due to the parenting practices of problem families. It follows that a behavioural explanation has much in common with an individualist explanation. The term behavioural, however, has a different meaning in psychology. Here it refers to the belief that it is only observable behaviour that can be studied scientifically.
Christian socialism This term was originally used to refer to nineteenth—and twentieth-century writers who condemned capitalism as incompatible with Christian teaching. More recently, however, it has come to be used to refer to commentators and politicians on the centre left whose stance on social issues — including welfare reform — is influenced by their Christian faith.
Communitarian(ism) These terms are used to refer to a diverse group of theorists and commentators, and also to a social movement. At the core of communitarianism is the belief that it is necessary to restore a sense of community within Western societies and to reaffirm the obligations and duties that individuals owe to the communities in which they live. Communitarians defend the right of communities to judge the behaviour of their members, and to insist that individuals act in ways conducive to the common good of all. This has led to fierce debates with libertarians.
Congress (US) The legislature of the federal government of the United States. It