Glossary of terms from social theory – Web 2.0 Knowledge Technologies and the Enterprise

Glossary of terms from social theory

Please see for further explanations of these terms.

Cognitive system the system of social institutions in an organisation which reflects the concepts which are material to production and service delivery and by means of which the world is interpreted.

Cultural postulates logical premises or statements which express deeply held beliefs about the world within a group or organisation and which are generally common and shared within the group.

Direct control the exercise of coercive power over individuals by which their conformance is enforced through directives, procedures and measurement.

Distinctive knowledge knowledge which is owned by an expert and which is particular to that person.

Emerging knowledge knowledge which is not yet externalised but emerges by virtue of it being brought out and combined in group situations and collaborations.

Externalisation the process of expressing, by language or other symbolic acts, meanings and intentions to others.

In-group prototype the conceptual template which describes and prescribes the attributes which are appropriate to signify group membership in specific contexts.

Indirect control the exercise of coercive power over individuals by which conformance is achieved by aligning the distribution of rewards and indirect pressure, such as group norms, with the objectives of the organisation.

Institution the perceptible structures of social order and patterning which indicate and determine how people in a given group should and do behave.

Institutional control the exercise of power through the creation and inculcation of cognitive and normative ways of thinking which cause people to behave in the interest of the group or organisation.

Internalisation the process of absorbing and understanding the symbols used in communication with others in a group.

Legitimation the act of making an event, a concept or activity legitimate by attaching it to existing norms and values in society.

Normative system the system of social institutions which contains values and principles which signify certain actions, methods or responses as the right thing to do.

Objectivation the process of creating new common understandings of reality within social groups.

Organisational memory the past experiences and learning within an organisation that can be brought to bear on current problems or tasks.

Proprietary descriptive knowledge knowledge which is specific to an organisation that describes how things can be done or how they are usually done.

Proprietary prescriptive knowledge knowledge which is specific to an organisation which prescribes how things must be done.

Regulative system the system of social institutions which embodies the rules of routine action, procedure, roles and responsibilities.

Reification the process by which a social concept or idea appears to exist independently of the social groups which create that concept.

Social identity the sense of belonging and self-hood which is generated by being a member of a specific group.

Socialisation the process of internalising and absorbing a group’s culture, norms, routines and values in order to participate as a member of that group.

Transactive memory system a way of explaining how responsibility for knowledge in groups can be shared by using information directories to track down or use the right source of knowledge when knowledge is needed.