index (table of contents)
in·dex / ˈinˌdeks/ • n. (pl. -dex·es or esp. in technical use -di·ces / -dəˌsēz/ ) 1. an alphabetical list of names, subjects, etc., with references to the places where they occur, typically found at the end of a book. ∎ an alphabetical list by title, subject, author, or other category of a collection of books or documents, e.g., in a library. ∎ Comput. a set of items each of which specifies one of the records of a file and contains information about its address. 2. an indicator, sign, or measure of something: exam results may serve as an index of the teacher's effectiveness. ∎ a figure in a system or scale representing the average value of specified prices, shares, or other items as compared with some reference figure: the hundred-shares index closed down 9.3. ∎ a pointer on an instrument, showing a quantity, a position on a scale, etc. ∎ a number giving the magnitude of a physical property or another measured phenomenon in terms of a standard: the oral hygiene index was calculated as the sum of the debris and calculus indices. 3. Math. an exponent or other superscript or subscript number appended to a quantity. 4. Printing a symbol shaped like a pointing hand, typically used to draw attention to a note. 5. (the Index) short for Index Librorum Prohibitorum. • v. [tr.] 1. record (names, subjects, etc.) in an index: the list indexes theses under regional headings. ∎ provide an index to. 2. link the value of (prices, wages, or other payments) automatically to the value of a price index: the Supreme Soviet passed legislation indexing wages to prices. 3. [intr.] [often as n.] (indexing) (of a machine or part of one) rotate or otherwise move from one predetermined position to another in order to carry out a sequence of operations. DERIVATIVES: in·dex·a·ble adj. in·dex·a·tion / ˌindekˈsāshən/ n. in·dex·er n. in·dex·i·ble adj.
While these and many other simple indices are useful to sociologists interested in studying trends via longitudinal analysis, other more complex indices are of dubious utility, including (for example) the many available indices of deprivation and poverty. In the first place, the technical problems of combining multiple indicators of (say) deprivation into a meaningful single index are considerable. To mention only the most obvious, indicators may be closely correlated, although reflecting quite different processes; weighting, ranking, and collapsing of indicators is inevitably contentious, since these can all be done in many different ways (involving expert opinion, factor analysis, cluster analysis, and so on); and, finally, the causal analysis is undermined by the ecological problems (see ECOLOGICAL FALLACY) inherent in the resulting index (most clearly in the attempt to explain individual behaviour by reference to aggregated, usually district-level, data). In addition, many different indices have been created to cover the degree, extent, and intensity of deprivation, so that problems of interpreting the scores are further aggravated. The problems then involved in standardizing indicators across (say) countries simply underline the technical difficulties of creating meaningful composite indices.
Moreover, the availability of a growing range of sophisticated techniques for multivariate analysis renders these sort of composite indices increasingly obsolete. If relevant data are collected about (for example) unemployment, values, ethnicity, income, size and type of family, welfare dependency, and such like, from a sufficiently large sample, then the causal relationships between these characteristics can properly be treated as an empirical issue via the family of regression and other statistical techniques for causal modelling. The connections between structural location, behaviour, and beliefs can then be a matter for empirical investigation, and the researcher no longer needs to decide—a priori—how many of these attributes should be compounded before some putative condition of ‘deprivation’ is established.
Of course, politicians like to see league tables which rank local areas or regions in terms of a single index score purporting to reflect the degree of deprivation (or whatever), because such tables seem to provide a firm basis for public spending (and one which is easily understood). Sociologically dubious indices continue, therefore, to be a prominent feature of much policy research (see the report by UK Department of the Environment, 1991 Deprivation Index: A Review of Approaches and a Matrix of Results, 1995). However, whether they are good social science is quite another matter, and it is hard to see how such exercises help illuminate those causal relationships which constitute the primary interest of sociological research.
A list of books that the Catholic Church held to be contrary to church doctrine, and thus forbidden to its members. The official name of the list was the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or List of Forbidden Books. The first edition of the Index was published in the Netherlands in 1529, while the first to be published in Rome appeared during the Papacy of Paul IV in 1557.
The Index contained rules concerning the publication, selling, and reading of prohibited books. Those works placed on the Index were believed to endanger the faith of Christians, and be damaging to their moral and spiritual life. The works of Copernicus, for example, were placed on the Index and held to be contrary to the traditional idea that the earth lay at the center of the universe. Other authors whose works were condemned by the Index were Giordano Bruno, Desiderius Erasmus, Francis Bacon, John Calvin, Francois Rabelais, Martin Luther, and Niccolo Machiavelli. Authors could submit their works to the church for review, and were granted an opportunity to correct those passages that the authorities found to be in error. Anyone found publishing, reading or possessing the books on the Index were subject to excommunication, which meant separation from the church and a ban on attending the Mass.
In 1571 the church organized the Sacred Congregation of the Index, which dealt with books accused of errors, and published a list of corrections, the Index Expurgatorius, for books that were not deemed worthy of a complete ban. Some books were classified as forbidden, without any hope of being admitted by the church, while others were labeled “forbidden if not corrected” according to the list created by the Sacred Congregation.
The latest edition of the Index was published in 1948, and the church ended the authority of the list in 1966. The modern Curia, the administration of the Papacy, still includes an important department, known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, meant to uphold sound moral doctrine and suppress heretical or immoral teachings among its members.
See Also: Inquisition; Reformation, Catholic
A book containing references, alphabetically arranged, to the contents of a series or collection of documents or volumes; or a section (normally at the end) of a single volume or set of volumes containing such references to its contents.
Statistical indexes are also used to track or measure changes in the economy (for example, the Consumer Price Index) and movement in stock markets (for example, Standard & Poor's Index). Such indexes are usually keyed to a base year, month, or other period of comparison.
In mortgage financing, the term is used to determine adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) interest rates after the discount period ends. Common indexes for ARMs are one-year Treasurysecuritiesand the national average cost of funds to savings and loan associations.
Index Librorum Prohibitorum an official list of books which Roman Catholics were forbidden to read or which were to be read only in expurgated editions, as contrary to Catholic faith or morals. The first Index was issued in 1557; it was revised at intervals until abolished in 1966.