Social Structure – Concept and Theories

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Social Structure – Concept and Theories


Social structure is one of the important concepts of sociology. The concept of social structure in sociology was first used by Herbert Spencer in his book “Principles of Sociology”. Durkheim used it in ‘The Rules of Sociological Methods’. But unfortunately they could not explain it clearly. Lewis Henry Morgan’s book ‘Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family’ is considered the first anthropological study of social structure. It should be noted that the word structure was first used in the context of the structure of the house. After that, the form of body structure was used in biology and from biology itself was taken in sociology.

Just as a body or a material thing is structured, so is the structure of society. The structure of society is also made up of many units like family, institutions, associations, patterned relationships, values ​​and positions etc. All these units are related to each other systematically and are relatively stable in their respective places. By the combination of all these, an external form of society appears which we call social structure. Society is not a monolithic system. It has different parts. These different parts are systematically combined to form a structure. This structure is called social structure. In the words of Talcott Parsons, “Social structure refers to the specific hierarchy of interrelated institutions, agents and social patterns and statuses and roles performed by each individual in the group.” It is clear from this definition that –

-. Formation of social structure Social institutions, agencies. social norms and the statuses and roles of the individual.

-. In this form the social structure is abstract, because the units of its construction are intangible.

These units are related to each other.

A certain hierarchy is found in the social structure.



In the view of Karl Manheim, ‘Social structure is a network of interacting social forces from which various methods of observation and thinking have emerged. “This statement shows that—

Social structure is a web of social forces.

Here social forces mean the means of social control.

-. These social forces keep on interacting with each other.

At the same time, these forces give rise to the methods of observation and thinking.

According to H. M. Johnson, “The structure of an object is formed by the relatively permanent interrelationships existing in its parts. A certain amount of permanence is found in the word itself. Since a social order is made up of unrelated activities of people, its structure must be traced to the degree of regularity or repetition of these actions. It is clear from this definition that social mobility is related to social change. This definition shows that –

There are many units of construction of social structure.

Interrelationships are found in these units.

These relations have the quality of stability and the interaction between individuals contributes to the formation of social structure.

RK Merton has given the basis of social structure to the status and role of the individuals of the society. He says that in society the individual enjoys many statuses and each status has roles related to it. The social structure is formed by these statuses and roles. In the light of the above definitions, it can be said that social structure is made up of many units (social groups, institutions, status and role of individuals etc.). These units are interrelated with each other. It is considered relatively more stable.



 Characteristics of Social Structure 

Particular Arrangement: Social structure is a specific order. Any social structure is not formed by the mere sum of units, but they have to be combined in a specific order. Without order, a structure cannot be formed. In the same way, if brick, stone, cement, iron, sand etc. are kept mixed in one place, then the building is not made. Only when these things are systematically combined, the structure of the building is formed properly.

– Lack of Local Characteristics (Effect of LocalCharacteristics): Local characteristics are felt in the social structure. This is the reason that the structure of one society is different from the other. In fact, the society is influenced by the geographical, economic, cultural and political conditions of that place. Naturally, there is an impression of locality in the structure of the society.

– Interrelated: The property of interrelation is found in the units of social structure. Each tickard is related to other units. family, school. Colleges, hospitals, police stations, courts, etc. are the units of social structure. They have their own special function in the society, which makes their importance clear, but all these units are not independent, but are related to each other in some way or the other. This is the characteristic of social structure. these above characteristics

The concept of social structure becomes more clear from the students. In this form it can be said to be the result of the interactions of the lines.

Abstract Concept: Social structure is an abstract concept. Parsons and MacIver. And the page has mentioned this feature. Parsons has mentioned institutions, agencies, patterns, situations and roles as units of social structure. None of these units is tangible, but intangible, so the social structure is also intangible. Wright believes that social structure refers to a condition or condition or relationship, hence it is an abstract concept.

Relatively Stable: Social structure is a relatively stable concept. Johnson says that the units out of which the social structure is made up are relatively more stable. Therefore, social structures made up of relatively stable units are relatively stable. In fact, the structure is a model of the permanent elements or organs and therefore the highly variable elements cannot be included in them.

Social Processes: Social processes contribute to the formation of social structure. Co-operation, adjustment, assimilation, competition and conflict are some of the processes without which social structure cannot be formed. As the nature of these processes, a particular social structure is formed accordingly. M. B. Olsen (M. B. Olsen) considered social structure to be the external component of processes.

– Sub-structures: There are many sub-structures of social structure. That is to say that the units from which the social structure is made have their own separate structure. For example, social structure is formed by family, school, college, hospital, caste etc. In this way social structure is made up of many sub structures.




– Outer Form: The social structure gives a sense of the outer form of the society. It is made up of various units (groups, institutions, committees, status and role of individuals etc.). These units are related to each other to form a structure. In the same way as the body structure is formed from different parts of the body (hands, feet, ears, eyes etc.).






 Elements of Social Structure 


There is a lack of consensus among social scientists regarding the elements of social structure. H. M. Johnson has considered various groups, sub-groups and the social relations found among them as the elements of social structure. RM MacIver (R. M. Maclver) has seen family, community, caste, class, town, village etc. as elements. The basic elements of social structure can be understood as follows:

Statuses and Roles: The basic elements of social structure are the statuses and roles of individuals. Social structure is formed by the systematic combination of these two. In the social structure every person gets a fixed position, that is called his status. A person suited to the situation is expected to complete the work, that is his role. The harmony between status and role maintains the structure.

Social Interactions: Social interactions are an important element of social structure. In every society, individuals interact with each other to satisfy their various needs. does. In the course of this interaction, the division of labor is associated with maximum profit and satisfaction of the individual. The structure of society rests on this

Social Institutions: Institutions are important elements of social structure. Institutions mean those rules and procedures which contribute to the maintenance of social relations. The development of such institutions takes place after a long process. They have properties of relatively durability. Institutions determine fair and unfair practices. Through these social relations are established. The system of control is maintained. Thus social structure is made up of multiple elements. These elements are closer to the sociological perspectives.

Person: The first element of the social structure is called the individual. R. Brown (R. Brown) has written, “Humans are part of the social structure.” Individuals continue to develop social relations among themselves. This creates a complex web of relationships. These relationships become defined and regularized by social institutions. It organizes people in a certain way. This systematic form of individuals is the social structure.

Values ​​and Values: The basic element of social structure is social values ​​and norms. R. K. Merton (R. K. Merton) says that the orderliness of the social structure is maintained as long as the individuals of the group continue to behave according to the values ​​and norms. When the balance and orderliness of these rules get disturbed, the condition of Anomie develops.



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