The Concept of the Continuum

The continuum is a range or series in which no part is clearly distinct from the next but in which there are distinctly defined extremes. It can refer to a set of levels or a scale, such as a range of musical styles or life stages. It can also refer to a series of events or experiences that are viewed as similar, such as a variety of crimes and their punishments. The concept of the continuum is used often in philosophy, science and social theory.

Examples of the continuum are scattered throughout popular culture. For example, parenting styles tend to fall on a basic continuum between those who discipline their children heavily and those who take a child centered approach. Similarly, gluten intolerance exists on a continuum from mild to severe. Gender is another topic that falls on a continuum, from male to female. Caste and class systems of stratification are opposite, extreme points on a continuum that measures the ease of mobility between achieved and ascribed statuses and the extent to which each system restricts interaction among people considered unequal.

These examples have been programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘continuum.’ This does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. the continuum

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