Social Structure

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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 to be the first anthropological study of social structure.  It may be known that the word structure was first used in the context of the structure of the house.  Thereafter, the body structure was used in biology and was taken into sociology from biology itself.  Just as the structure of a body or material thing is there, so is the structure of society.  The structure of a society is also made up of several units such as family, institutions, associations, normative relations, values ​​and positions etc.  All these units are related to each other systematically and are relatively fixed at their respective places.  By the combination of all these, an external form of society appears, which we call social structure.


Society is not an independent system.  It has different parts.  These various 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, patterns and social patterns, and the conditions and imperfections made by each person in the group. This definition shows that –

-.  Building social structure, social institutions, agencies.  Social patterns and situations and roles of the individual.

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

– These units are related to each other.

– A specific hierarchy is found in the social structure.


  In Karl Manheim’s view, ‘social structure is a network of interactive social forces that has led to the emergence of various methods of observation and thinking.  “This statement shows that –

– Social structure is a network of social forces.

– Social powers here mean the means of social control.

-.  These social powers continue to interact.

Also, these powers give rise to methods of observation and thinking.

 According to H. M. Johnson, “The structure of an object is made up of the expected permanent interrelationships existing in its organs.”  A certain amount of stability is found in the word organ itself.  Since a social system is made up of unrelated actions of people, its structure must be traced to the amount of regularity or repetition of these actions.  “It is clear from this definition that social mobility is linked to social change. This definition suggests that –

– There are many units to build social structure.

 – Interrelations are found in these units.

  – These relationships have the qualities of stability and the actions related to individuals contribute to the construction of social structure.

  RKMerton has given the basis of social structure to the status and role of individuals in the society.  He says that a person enjoys many statuses in society and has roles related to each situation.  The social structure is formed from these conditions and roles.  In the light of the above definitions, it can be said that social structure is made up of many units (social group institutions, status and role of individuals etc.).  These units are interrelated.  It is considered relatively more stable.





Characteristics of Social Structure

– Particular Arrangement:

Social structure is a specific hierarchy.  The construction of any social structure is not just by the sum of units, but they have to be combined in a specific order.  The structure cannot be created in the absence of sequence.  In the same way, if brick, stone, cement, iron, sand, etc. are mixed in one place, the building is not built.  The structure of the building is properly formed only when these things are systematically combined.

 – Effect of Local Characteristics:

Social structure has local characteristics.  This is why the structure of one society is different from another.  Actually society is influenced by geographical, economic, cultural and political conditions of that place.  It is but natural that the structure of society should be marked by localism.

 – Interrelated:

The property of interrelation is found in units of social structure.  Each tack is related to another unit.  Family, Skull.  Colleges, hospitals, police stations, courts, etc. are units of social structure.  They have their own special function in the society, which explains its importance, but all these units are not independent, but are related to each other in some form or the other.  This is the characteristic of social structure.  These above characteristics make the concept of social structure more clear.  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 McEvers.  And Page has mentioned this feature.  Parsons referred to institutions, agencies, models, situations and roles as units of social structure.  None of these entities is tangible, but intangible, so social structure is also intangible.  Wright believes that social structure refers to a state or condition or relation, which is why it is an abstract concept.

– Relatively Stable:

Social structure is a relatively permanent concept.  Johnson states that the units from which social structures are built are relatively more stable.  That is why social structures built from relatively permanent units are relatively permanent.  Actually structure is a paradigm of permanent elements or organs and for this reason highly variable elements cannot be included in them.

 – Social Processes:

Social processes contribute to building social structure.  Cooperation, adjustment, neutralization, competition and conflict, etc. are some of the processes in which a social structure cannot be built.  A special social structure is created according to the nature of these processes.  M. B. Olsen has considered social structure to be external to processes.

 – Sub-Structures:

Social structure has many sub-structures.  That is to say, the units from which the social structure is formed have their own distinct.The structure is there.  For example, social structure is formed by family, school, college, hospital, caste etc. Thus social structure is made up of many sub-structures.


– Outer Form:

Social structure makes sense of the external nature of society.  It is made up of various units (groups, institutions, committees, status and roles of individuals, etc.).  These units are related to each other and form a structure.  In the same way as the body structure is formed from different parts of the body (hands, feet, ears, eyes etc.).

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