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Definition of Coercion

(noun) Compelling an individual or group—either intellectually, morally, or physically—to do something; using force or threatening to use force.

Examples of Coercion

Coercion Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: co·er·cion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /koh-UHR-zhuhn/
  • British English – /koh-UHR-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /koʊˈɜrʃən/
  • British English – /kəʊˈəːʃən/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: coercions
  • Coercion often comes from those in a position of authority or power.
  • A type of support.
  • A (noun) coercionist or (noun) coercer (verb) coerces others who are (adjective) coercible using (adjective) coercive or (adjective) coercionary tactics to (adverb) coercively create (noun) coerciveness.

Related Quotations

  • “But in reality there is in every society a specific group of phenomena which are distinguished by characteristics that are quite separate from those studied by the other natural sciences. When I undertake my duties as a brother, husband, or citizen and fulfil the commitments that I have entered into, I perform obligations which are defined outside myself and my actions, in law and custom . . . Here, then, is a category of facts with very special characteristics: they consist of ways of acting, thinking and feeling that are external to the individual and are endowed with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him” (Durkheim [1895] 2004:46–47).
  • “In addition to prejudices, the dominant group also applies various actions against minority ethnic groups, including avoidance, denial, threat, or physical attack. At different times, all of these forms of coercion may be used, depending on how threatening the minority group is perceived to be. These actions are collectively called discrimination” (Marger 1985:45).
  • “We thus arrive at the point where we can formulate precisely the field of sociology. It includes only one specific group of phenomena. A social fact is recognized by the power of external coercion which it exercises, or is capable of exercising, over individuals; and the presence of this power is in turn recognizable by the existence of some specific sanction, or by the resistance that it offers to any individual action that would violate it” (Durkheim [1895] 2004:49).

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Additional Information

Related Terms


Durkheim, Émile. [1895] 2004. “The Rules of Sociological Method.” Pp. 43–63 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.

Marger, Martin. 1985. Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Works Consulted

Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Coercion

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “coercion.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 28, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/coercion/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

coercion. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/coercion/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “coercion.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 28, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/coercion/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“coercion.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/coercion/>.