Q. 1. What is social structure? Explain its meaning given by different sociologists.
Ans. Society is not an unbreakable system which cannot be broken. Society is made up of many parts. These parts of society are interrelated by doing their respective functions and produce a type of balance. In the words of Sociology this balance is known as social system. On contrary to this, when these different interrelated parts join each other and make a structure then this structure is known as social structure. In short the meaning of structure is the collection of those units or parts of society which are interrelated with each other.
Our society is the web of social relationships. It has different units which are related with each other. They cannot do anything without each other’s help. It means they have the sense of cooperation. These units are groups, institutions, associations, organizations etc. These units don’t have any independent existence, in fact when they relate with each other, take the form of one structure. One sequence is there in their relations. With this sequence, our society works properly.
Our society is changeable. Time to time change comes in this due to natural forces or due to inventions by humans. That’s why social structure also changes. It’s units are also not concrete because we cannot touch them. Yet these units of social structure like family, religion, institution, association, economy etc. are like each other but their types are different. Like any society is Patriarchal and any society is Matriarchal.
It means that except some similarity its types are different. In short we can say that social structure is that systematic arrangement through which social relations can be tied in one thread.
Definitions of Social Structure
1. Views of Redcliff Brown. Redcliff Brown was a famous anthropologist of England. He belongs to the structural functional school of sociology. According to him, ‘‘The components of social structure are human beings, the structure itself being an arrangement of persons in relationship institutionally defined and regulated.’’
2. Views of S.F. Nadal. According to S.F. Nadal, ‘‘We arrive at the structure of society through abstracting from the concrete population and its behaviour the pattern or network (or system) of relationship obtaining between actors in their capacity of playing roles relative to one another.’’
3. According to Harry M. Johnson, ‘‘Social structure is made with the mutual relations of different parts. Yet change comes in the parts of social structure but stability remains in them. According to him structure of any thing is the relative and permanent interrelations which exist in the different parts of that thing.
So, according to him, the structure of anything consists of relatively stable interrelationship among its parts, moreover the ‘part’ itself implies a certain degree of stability since a social system is composed of the interrelated acts of people, its structure must be sought in some degree of regularity or recurrence in these acts.’’ So, all these sociologists have included institutions, associations, groups and functional system in its study.
On the basis of given explanation we can explain social structure in the following way :
(1) Social structure is an abstract phenomenon.
(2) Persons of society are related with different units of society such as institutions, agencies, associations, groups etc. and that’s why all these are the units of social structure.
(3) These institutions, groups etc. are related with each other in a specific way with which sequence comes in social structure.
(4) These are related with external part of society.
(5) Social structure is formed with time and changes.
(6) Mobility and continuity exist in it.
Q. 2. What are the various characteristics of Social Structure?
Ans. 1. Different societies have different social structure. Every society has its own different rules because the relations which exist in different units of society have different place in social life. Except this, social structure in different societies is different. This difference is so because the relations which exist in units of society are different in different societies. It is related with specific society. That’s why social structure is related with specific society. Its different units such as family, institution, group, caste etc. have different forms. That’s why the social structure of two societies is different and structure can also have different forms.
2. It refers to the external aspect of society. Social structure is not related with internal system of society but is related with external aspect of society. For example the way in which different parts of human body make the complete body and make the external structure of body, in that same way different parts of society combine and form the external structure of society. Hands, legs, head, nose etc. only show the external parts of body. We can give information about different units of social structure but not about their functions. That’s why social structure expresses the external aspect of society.
3. Social structure is abstract. Social structure is the sequence of interrelations of different units of society. Groups, castes, institutions categories etc. are its units.
This sequence of social structure doesn’t have any concrete form. That’s why it cannot be touched and seen. It can be felt only. Different relations which exist in different units are without any form and that’s why structure is abstract. For example the colours of light of sun or size cannot be explained, can neither be touched. We can only explain that it is too hot or cold by only feeling its heat or coldness. In this way relations can only be explained but cannot be touched. So we can say that our social structure is abstract.
4. Social structure is changeable. Brown was of the view that mobility and continuity exist in social structure. It is not static. The way in which physical body changes in that same way change comes in structure of society but it doesn’t mean that the basic elements of structure also change. Like with physical changes its basic elements never change, in that same way different units of struture change but its basic elements never change.
5. Hierarchy of sub-structure in a structure. Our physical body is made up of many small structures, like structure of backbone, neck, hands, feet etc. All these small structures make large structure. In the same way we can take structure of educational institution. Staff, Principal. office etc. are sub-structures which form the full structure of educational institutions. In that same way in society, different categories and strates are there which jointly make a social structure.
Q. 3. Discuss different types of social structure.
Ans. Talcott Parsons has given four types of social structure. His classification is based upon social values i.e. universal social values, specific societal values, achieved social values and ascribed social values. Universal values exist in every society, specific values are related with specific society. A person has to work hard to achieve achieved values and ascribed values are related with birth. Four types of social structure are given below :
(1) Universalistic achievement pattern
(2) Universalistic ascribed pattern
(3) Particularistic achieved pattern
(4) Particularistic ascription pattern.
1. Universalistic Achievement Pattern. In this type of social structure two types of relations of pattern exist. First is universalistic social pattern and second is achieved pattern. In universalistic pattern kinship, community, caste and class are included which a person gets by birth. These patterns are fundamentalists and always oppose any change. On the contrary to that achieved patterns are related with achievements of person. In this type of structure selection of aims is done by universalistic values. This type of system is mobile. For example, society is divided into three parts in capitalistic society on the basis of money-rich class, middle class and poor class. This type of social structure is dynamic.
2. Universalistic Ascribed Pattern. In this type of social structure emphasis is given to birth rather than achievements. A person gets his status, personality, ability from his family group. In this type of system collective ideals are important. These collective ideals are sanctioned by society. A person gets status from this. In this person is more important rather than his achievement. It means that individual abilities of a person are of no value.
3. Particularistic Achieved Patterns—In this type of social structure achieved values are attached with specificism. In this emphasis is given on specific values instead of universalistic values. According to Parsons Chinese and Indian societies are of this type.
4. Particularistic Ascription Pattern—In fourth type, blood relations, local collection and modern groups are related. In this type of structure individual abilities are given importance. Feeling of individualism also develops in this. According to Parsons Spain’s social structure is related with this type. System is very important for stability of social structure. Persons hardly take part in social activities rather try to achieve their aims and give stability to social structure.
Q. 4. What do you know about Social Processes? Explain with definitions and types.
Ans. Social interactions have different forms. These different forms of social interactions are known as social processes. First of all it is necessary for us to know the meaning of Process. Process is the sequence of some related phenomenon which take us towards any specific result. Sequence of related phenomena happens more than one time. If any sequence takes place only once then it cannot be called as process. It should have relation within phenomenon and any result should be there of these phenomena. Continuity should be there in process. Necessary conditions of process are given below:—
(2) Relation of phenomenon
(3) Repetition of phenomenon
(4) Continuity of phenomenon
(5) Specific result.
In this way we can say that social process is the sequence of some specific and related phenomena which continuously are happening in our lives and which give birth to a specific result.
1. According to Ginsberg, ‘‘Social processes mean the various modes of interaction between individuals or groups including cooperation and conflict, social differentiation and integration, development and decay.’’
2. According to MacIver, ‘‘Social process is the manner in which the relations of the members of a group, one brought together, acquire a certain distinctive character.’’
3. According to Gillin and Gillin, ‘‘By social processes we mean those ways of interacting which we can observe when individuals and groups meet and establish system of relationship or which happen when changes disturb already existing modes of life.’’
4. According to Beisenz and Beisenz, ‘‘The various forms of interaction are called the social process.’’ So on the basis of given definitions we can say that social processes exist due to the result of interactions. All those inter-relations are studied in these processes which are there between humans and groups. These processes are changing according to the different situations.
Interaction is the work in reaction to any work. But when interactions take place again and again and when they produce any specific type of result then these specific results are known as social processes.
Types of Social Processes There are many types of social processes. Yet different sociologists have given different types of social processes but still on the basis of results we can divide basic social processes in two parts:—
1. Integrative Processes:—For example Cooperation, Accommodation, Assimilation etc.
2. Disintegrative Processes:—For example Competition and Conflict.
Q. 5. What do you mean by the process of cooperation? Give its definitions and characteristics.
Ans. The word cooperation is an English word which is taken from two Latin words ‘Co’ and ‘Operori’. Meaning of ‘Co’ is collective and meaning of ‘Operori’ is to work. In this way the literal meaning of cooperation is ‘to work collectively.’ If humans have same interests, they can live with each other. In this way when people with same interests, collectively try to achieve their interests or aims then that process is known as the process of Cooperation.
1. According to Green, ‘‘Cooperation is the continuous endeavour of two or more persons to perform a task or to reach a goal that is commonly cherished.’’
2. According to Ogburn and Nimkoff, ‘‘When men work together for common goals, their behaviour is called cooperation.’’
3. According to Cooley, ‘‘Cooperation arises when men see that they have a common interest and have at the same time, sufficient intelligence and self-control to seek their interest through united action perceived unity of interest and faculty of organization are the essential facts in intelligent consination.’’ In this way on the basis of given definitions we can say that cooperation is a social process in which we collctively try to achieve our common ends or goals. Two elements are necessary in this :—
1. Common ends.
2. Organized efforts.
Characteristics of Cooperation
1. Universal—The process of cooperation is a continuous process because it is related with every time and every sector of life. Cooperation is related with two types of needs of humans and these are :
(i) Psychological needs
(ii) Social needs If we look carefully, we come to know that our society depends upon the process of cooperation. Human life starts from cooperation. Cooperation of parents and by cooperating with children, family is formed. Cooperation is a universal process which exists in every society and every age. It exists in every sphere of life whether it is social, economic or political.
2. Common aims—Cooperation is related with human functions which are related with the aims of other persons and by leaving out his own aims. It means that when a person cooperated with others, he always thinks about the profits of others with his own profits. In this way humans try to achieve common aims in the process of cooperation.
3. Common efforts—In the process of cooperation, humans try to achieve their common aims by cooperating each other. Here we can take example of family, where father goes out for a job and earns money, mother takes care of house and children gets education. All of these perform different functions but they cooperate with each other so that the family can do progress. These days females are getting education and are doing jobs so that family can do speedy progress. If she is unable to get any job then she does any other work or business to earn money and cooperates with the family. Under these circumstances their main aim is to achieve the common aim of progress of the family. In this way they are doing common efforts for their common ends.
4. Consciousness—Sense of living together comes among humans due to process of cooperation because every one in this is conscious about the fact that if he will cooperate with others then another day they will also cooperate with him. In this way people are conscious and this consciousness asks them to cooperates with others. Here meaning of consciousness means person cooperates with others for the fulfilment of their needs.
5. Nature of change—Cooperation never remains the same in all the ages because the way in which change comes in needs, in the same way change also takes place in cooperation. It is so because sometimes we need cooperation at a large scale and sometimes we need limited cooperation. So it also has the nature of change.