- 1 Social structure – Wikipedia
- 2 History
- 3 Definitions and concepts
- 4 Origin and development of structures
- 5 Critical implications
- 6 See also
- 7 Further reading
- 8 social structure – Structuralism
- 9 Later trends in social structure theory
- 10 structuration theory
- 11 Theories of structure and agency
- 12 Giddens’s theory
- 13 Three Major Perspectives in Sociology
- 14 The symbolic interactionist perspective
Social structure – Wikipedia
Sociological structure is defined as the regular social structures in society that are both the result of and a determinant of the behaviors of individuals, according to the social sciences. Societal groupings or sets of roles, with varying functions, meanings, and goals are also considered to be organized in a structurally connected manner. Family, religion, legislation, the economy, and social class are all examples of social structure. When compared to “social system,” which refers to the parent structure within which these multiple systems are contained, “sociological system” is more descriptive.
Another way of putting it is that social structure is the framework upon which a society is created.
It has been in widespread usage in social science since the 1920s, particularly as a variable whose sub-components required to be separated in relation with other sociological variables, as well as in academic literature, owing to the increasing impact of structuralist thought on the field.
It is particularly essential in the modern study of organizations since the structure of an organization may influence its flexibility, ability to adapt, and other characteristics.
- Societal structure refers to the system of socioeconomic stratification (most notably the class structure), social institutions, or other structured interactions between significant social groupings on a macroscale.
- ‘Social structure’ refers to the ways in which’social norms’shape the conduct of individuals within a social system on a microscale, such as in a family or a group of friends.
- For example, John Levi Martin has hypothesized that some macro-scale structures represent the emergent features of micro-scale cultural institutions, according to the theory (i.e., “structure” resembles that used by anthropologistClaude Levi-Strauss).
- However, by simply presenting the cultural parts of social structure asphenomenalof its economic aspects, Marxist sociology has similarly historically intermingled multiple meanings of social structure, although in a more subtle way.
Because people who identify with the majority are seen as “normal,” while those who identify with the minority are regarded as “abnormal,” majority-minority interactions produce ahierarchical stratification within social institutions that benefits the majority in all aspects of life.
Historically, the study of social structures has had a significant impact on the study of institutions, culture and agency, social interaction, and history, among other fields. Alexis de Tocqueville is credited with coining the phrase “social structure” for the first time. Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Ferdinand Tönnies, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber would all make significant contributions to structural conceptions in sociology later in their careers. According to the latter, for example, the institutions of contemporary society: the market, bureaucracy (both private company and state administration), and politics were all explored and evaluated (e.g.
- In one of the first and most thorough analyses of social structure, Karl Marx tied the modes of production to political, cultural, and religious life, therefore demonstrating the link between them (an underlying economic structure).
- Later Marxist views, such as that of Louis Althusser, offered a more complicated link in which cultural and political institutions were said to have a relative autonomy and that economic causes were only “in the final instance” to determine the overall state of affairs.
- Durkheim recognized two types of structural relationships in this context: mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity.
- The former refers to structures that bring together comparable components via a common culture, whereas the latter refers to mechanisms that bring together dissimilar parts through social interchange and material dependency.
- Regardless of how different the interests that give birth to these associations are, the manner in which those interests are fulfilled may be the same or similar.
The concept of social structure underwent extensive development in the twentieth century, with significant contributions from structuralist perspectives drawing on theories developed by Claude Lévi-Strauss, as well as feminist, marxist, functionalist (e.g., those developed by Talcott Parsons and his followers), and a variety of other analytic perspectives, among others. Some scholars, following Marx, attempt to identify the fundamental characteristics of society that explain the other dimensions, with the majority stressing either economic production or political power as the most important.
- Others, such Peter Blau, have attempted to build a formal theory of social structure on numerical patterns in interactions, examining, for example, the manner in which elements such as group sizes impact intergroup ties.
- It is important to note that the concept of social structure is intricately tied to a number of important problems in social science, including the relationship between structure and agency.
- Giddens emphasizes the duality of structure and agency, in the sense that structures and agency are inextricably intertwined and cannot be thought of as separate entities.
- When it comes to the deconstruction of the binaries that underpin conventional sociological and anthropological thinking (particularly the universalizing tendencies of Lévi-Strauss’ structuralism), Giddens’ analysis is strikingly similar to that of Jacques Derrida.
- Margaret Archer (morphogenesis hypothesis), Tom R.
Helena Flam (actor-system dynamics theory and social rule system theory), and Immanuel Wallerstein (World Systems Theory)
provide elaborations and applications of sociological classics in structural sociology. Helena Flam (actor-system dynamics theory and social rule system theory), and Immanuel Wallerstein (World Systems Theory)
Definitions and concepts
As previously stated, the following social structures have been identified:
- In social systems, relationships between specific entities or groups are defined as follows: the long-term patterns of behavior that participants in a social system exhibit in their interactions with one another
- The institutionalized norms or cognitive frameworks that structure the actions of actors in a social system
Institutional vs Relational
As an additional point of clarification, Lopez and Scott (2000a) distinguish between two categories of structural elements:
- Institutional structure is defined as “those cultural or normative patterns that govern the expectations that agents have about one other’s behavior and that organize their long-term relationships with one another.” Relations: “Social structure is considered as encompassing the connections themselves, seen as patterns of causal interconnection and interdependence among agents and their activities, as well as the positions that they hold.”
- Relational structure:
Micro vs Macro
Additionally, social structure may be separated into two categories: microstructure and macrostructure:
- Microstructure: The pattern of relations between the most fundamental elements of social life, which cannot be further divided and which do not have a social structure of their own (for example, the pattern of relations between individuals in a group composed of individuals, where individuals do not have a social structure
- Or the pattern of relations between social positions and social roles in an organization, where those positions and roles do not have a structure of their own)
- A pattern of relationships between items that have their own structure (for example, a political social structure between political parties, because political parties have their own social structure)
Sociologists also distinguish between the following categories:
- In a particular structure (organization), normative structures are the pattern of relationships between persons of varied social positions and their respective norms and styles of activity
- Ideal structures are a pattern of relationships between the beliefs and points of view of persons from a variety of social backgrounds. People with diverse social situations form interest structures, which are characterized by a pattern of relationships between their aims and wants. Interaction structures are the many ways in which people of differing social standing communicate with one another.
In modern sociology, it is occasionally necessary to distinguish between three types of social structures:
- The following are examples of relationship structures: familial or bigger family-like clan systems
- Communications infrastructures: the structures via which information is transferred (for example, in companies)
- Sympathy, dislike, and indifference are all examples of sociometric structures that may be found in organizations. Jacob L. Moreno conducted research on this topic.
Social rule system theory reduces the structures of (3) to specific rule system arrangements, i.e. the sorts of fundamental structures of social rule systems (1 and 2). It has a lot in common with role theory, organizational and institutional sociology, and network analysis, among other things. Structure and development are of interest, and the concern with them gives precise conceptual tools necessary for the generation of fascinating and fruitful hypotheses, models, and analyses.
Origin and development of structures
A number of scholars think that social structure develops spontaneously, as a result of wider systemic demands (for example, the necessity for labor and managerial classes as well as professional and military classes), or as a result of disputes between groups (e.g. competition amongpolitical partiesorelitesandmasses). Others feel that this structure is not the outcome of natural processes, but rather the consequence of social construction rather than natural processes. The power of elites who wish to maintain their position, as well as economic systems that place a strong emphasis on competition or collaboration, can all contribute to the formation of this phenomenon.
Organization and agency, possibly the most comprehensive explanation of the evolution of social structure, provides an excellent starting point.
Because it involves a large number of identifiable sub-variables, the concept of social structure may serve to conceal systemic biases (e.g. gender). Many people believe that men and women who have otherwise equal qualifications are treated differently in the workplace because of their gender, which would be referred to as a “social structural” bias. However, other variables (such as length of time on the job or hours worked) may be masked by this theory.
This is taken into consideration by modern social structural analysis techniques such as multivariate analysis and other methodologies, but the analytic dilemma of how to merge many parts of social life into a whole continues to exist.
- ‘Olanike, Deji’ are two names for the same person (2011). The Role of Gender in Rural Development by. ISBN9783643901033
- Merton, Robert. 1938. “Social Structure and Nominate. ” 672–82
- Ab American Sociological Review3(5):672–82 Nina K. Muller-Schwarz is the author of this work (2015). The Blood of Victoria no Lorenzo: An Ethnography of the Solos of Northern Coco Province is a book on the Solos of Northern Coco Province. McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina
- Abcd Craig Calhoun’s “Social Structure” was included in the Dictionary of the Social Sciences in 2002. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Tönnies, Ferdinand, “The Present Problems of Social Structure,” 1905, Oxford University Press. Charles Crothers’ Social Structure was published in the American Journal of Sociology 10(5):569–88. London:Routledge
- s^ Blau, Peter M., and others, ed. 1975. Various approaches to the study of social structure are discussed. abLopez, J., and J. Scott. 2000.Social Structure. New York: The Free Press
- AbLopez, J., and J. Scott. p. 3
- Archer, Margaret S. 1995.Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach. Buckingham:Open University Press.ISBN9780335204960.OCLC43708597. p. 3
- Archer, Margaret S. 1995.Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach. It is published by the Cambridge University Press. Burns, Tom R., and H. Flam. 1987. The Shaping of Social Organization – Social Rule System Theory with Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Helena Flam and Marcus Carson, editors., SAGE Publishing, London, 2008. Rule System Theory: Applications and Explorations is a book about rule system theory. Peter Lang Publishers, ISBN 9783631575963
- Wallerstein, Immanuel. 2004. Frankfurt: Peter Lang Publishers, ISBN 9783631575963
- Introduction to the Study of World-Systems Analysis. Abberration et al. 2000
- D. Jary and J. Jary, eds. 1991
- Abberration et al. 2000
- Abberration et al. 2000. “Social framework,” says the author. This is the Sociology Dictionary from Harper Collins. Harper Collins Publishing Company, New York.
- Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephan Hill, and Bryan S. Turner published a paper in 2000 titled “Social framework,” says the author. A look at pages 326–7 in The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology (4th ed.). Penguin Books
- Eloire, Fabien. 2015. London: Penguin Books. “The Bourdieusian Conception of Social Capital: A Methodological Reflection and Application.” Forum for Social Economics 47(3):322–41
- Murdock, George. “The Bourdieusian Conception of Social Capital: A Methodological Reflection and Application.” Forum for Social Economics 47(3):322–41
- (1949). The Social Structure of a group of people. MacMillan Publishing Company
- Porpora, Douglas V. 1987. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company. The concept of social structure is defined as follows: Greenwood Press, New York, 1989
- — 1989. “Four Concepts of Social Structure,” according to the author. Smelser, Neal J. (1988), Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, Volume 19, Number 2, pages 195–211. “Social framework,” says the author. The Handbook of Sociology, edited by N. J. Smelser, has pages 103–209. SAGE Publications, London.
Another important theoretical approach to the concept of social structure is structuralism (also known as French structuralism), which studies the underlying, unconscious regularities of human expression—that is, the unobservable structures that have observable effects on behavior, society, and culture—in order to better understand the concept of social structure. It was the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure who established structural linguistics, which was further expanded by the French anthropologistClaude Lévi-Strauss.
- As a result, the theorist’s duty is to identify this underlying structure as well as the transformation rules that link this structure to the numerous observable manifestations.
- It was he who developed theories on the fundamental structure of family networks, mythologies, and eating and cooking practices in many cultures.
- Despite the fact that this structure does not specify actual expressions, the range of expressions that it may create is potentially limitless.
- More Information on This Subject may be found here.
- Various structures, including the human mind, grammar, and language, are referred to as “deep structures” or “substructures” in some circles.
- This technique was utilized by the French philosopher Michel Foucault in his investigation of physical punishment, for example.
- In France, structuralism emerged as a popular intellectual movement in the 1960s, with writers as disparate as Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Louis Althusser all being recognized as representatives of the new theoretical current.
When it comes to structuralism, for example, the Marxist structuralism of Althusser is diametrically opposed to the anthropological structuralism of Lévi-Strauss.
The assault of criticism launched against structural functionalism, class theories, and structuralism demonstrates the problematic nature of the idea of social structure as it pertains to social organization.
Other names are frequently used that have similar, but not identical, connotations, such as social network, social figuration, and social system, to name a few.
The method used by social structure theory and structuralism is the most significant distinction between the two theories.
The social structure method is preferred by the majority of sociologists, who see structuralism as philosophical in nature, meaning that it is more compatible with the humanities than with the social sciences.
A large number of sociologists, however, maintain that structuralism has a genuine position in their field as a theoretical framework.
Those who have conducted study in the domain of social structure have done so with a specific set of aims in mind. They have concentrated their efforts on the creation of theories, rules, generalizations, calculi, and procedures that account for the structural regularities that exist in society. They have not, on the other hand, been preoccupied with establishing the existence of many structural regularities in society (such as linguistic routines, the permanence of national boundaries, the stability of religious practices, or the durability of gender or racial inequality).
Furthermore, empirical data such as the distribution of cities around the world, land use patterns, shifts in educational achievement, changes in occupational structure, the manifestation of revolutions, the increase in collaboration between institutions, the existence of networks among groups, the routines of different types of organizations, the cycles of growth or decline in organizations and institutions, or the unintended collective consequences are all considered in the analysis.
- The development of structural theories that apply to institutions and entire societies is the work of a small number of sociologists, who have taken the approach known as macrosociology.
- Unlike Marx, Lenski demonstrated statistically that variations in the primary tools of subsistence used in a given society accounted for different types of social stratification systems in that society.
- According to Hawley, the explanatory variables include the makeup of the people, the external environment, the complex of organizations, and technological advancements in the field.
- When Hawley applied this concept to the world ecosystem, he concentrated on the challenge of the ecosystem’s extension and growth.
- He stated that the rise and dissemination of technology leads to population growth, increases the load on the environment, and causes changes in the organization of institutional structures and institutions.
- InStructural Contexts of Opportunities(1994), Peter M.
- He discovered the ways in which distinct demographic groupings are related to one another.
- In populations with various group affiliations, in-group relationships have a tendency to foster intergroup ties more than out-group associations.
It is only via the application of macrosociological or structural theory that such discoveries may be obtained, as they are not readily attainable through the study of individuals or isolated groups.
“Duality of structure” refers to a concept in sociology that gives viewpoints on human behavior that are informed by a synthesis of structure and agency effects, which is known as the “duality of structure.” While traditional social theories describe the ability of humans to act as being constrained by powerful stable societal structures (such as educational or religious institutions) or as being dependent on the individual’s ability to express his or her own will (i.e., agency), structuration theory acknowledges the interaction of meaning, standards or values, and power and proposes a dynamic relationship between these different facets of society.
Theories of structure and agency
For over a century, the relationship between structure and agency has been a fundamental premise of the science of sociology. These theories, which are referred to as the objectivist view in this context, contend that individuals’ behavior is primarily influenced by their indoctrination into that system (for example, complying to societal standards regarding gender and socioeconomic class). There are several levels of operation for structures, with the study lens focused on the level that is most suited for the subject at hand.
A study of institutions and social networks (such as religious or familial structures) may be conducted on a mid-range size, while a study of how community or professional standards restrict agency could be conducted on a micro-scale.
Emile Durkheim, a French social scientist, emphasized the need of stability and permanence, but philosopher Karl Marx viewed structures as serving the demands of a small group while failing to fulfill the needs of a large number.
Instead of being considered as incommensurable forces, social structures are understood as outcomes of individual activity that may either be perpetuated or abandoned as a result of that action.
Structure and agency are two factors that impact human behavior, and sociologists have questioned the binary character of this argument, emphasizing the synthesis of these two effects on human behavior. An important academic in this field is British sociologist Anthony Giddens, who is credited with inventing the notion of structural deconstruction. Giddens believes that, just as structure has an impact on an individual’s autonomy, structures are sustained and adapted via the exercise of agency.
- Consequently, structuration theory seeks to comprehend human social behavior by reconciling the contradictory viewpoints of structure-agency and macro-micro perspectives, which are both prevalent in social science.
- Structuration theory holds the notion that neither the structure nor the agency theories are sufficient to describe all of social activity in their entirety.
- Therefore, social institutions have no intrinsic stability outside of human action since they are formed via social interaction.
- This is known as reflexivity.
- In a social system, he suggests three different types of structure.
- The second element is legitimation, which is comprised of normative viewpoints that are ingrained as social norms and values in the first element.
The third structural element identified by Giddens is dominance, which is concerned with the use of power, notably in the management of resources. Beverley J. Gibbs is a fictional character created by author J. Gibbs.
Three Major Perspectives in Sociology
The pioneering European sociologists, on the other hand, provided a comprehensive picture of the basics of society and the mechanisms by which it functions. Their ideas serve as the foundation for today’s theoretical perspectives, also known as paradigms, which give sociologists with an orienting framework—a philosophical position—for asking particular sorts of questions about society and its inhabitants. Contemporary sociologists are primarily concerned with three basic theoretical perspectives: the symbol interactionist view, the functionalist perspective, and the conflict perspective.
Each perspective conceptualizes society, social processes, and human behavior in a distinctive way (see Table 1).
The symbolic interactionist perspective
Taking a symbolic interactionist approach, often known as assymbolic interactionism, sociologists are directed to investigate the symbols and aspects of everyday life, as well as what these symbols signify and how people interact with one another. In spite of the fact that symbolic interactionism can be traced back to Max Weber’s assertion that individuals act in accordance with their interpretation of the meaning of their world, it was the American philosopher George H. Mead (1863–1931) who introduced this perspective to American sociology in the 1920s.
- The words have a certain meaning for the “sender,” and during efficient communication, the words should have the same meaning for the “receiver,” if not the same meaning.
- Conversation is the exchange of symbols between two or more people who are continually interpreting the reality in which they live.
- As an illustration, written music is used.
- As a result, symbolic interactionists pay careful consideration to how people behave, and then aim to understand the meanings that individuals attribute to their own actions and symbols, as well as to those of others.
- Flowers and music may be used in conjunction with wedding rings, vows of lifelong commitment, a white bridal gown and cake, a church wedding ceremony, and other symbols.
- In other cases, one spouse may regard his or her circular wedding rings as a symbol of “never-ending love,” while the other may regard them as nothing more than a financial burden.
- Some critics argue that symbolic interactionism fails to consider the macro level of social interpretation, or the “big picture,” in its analysis.
The approach has also come under fire for downplaying the importance of social forces and institutions in individual relationships, which some believe is a mistake.
According to the functionalist worldview, often known as functionalism, each facet of society is interconnected with the others and contributes to the overall functioning of the society in which it exists. The government, or state, provides education for the children of the family, which in turn pays taxes, on which the state is reliant in order to maintain its existence and function. In other words, the family is reliant on the school to assist children in growing up and obtaining decent occupations that will allow them to raise and support their own families. This results in the youngsters becoming law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, who in turn help to fund the government. If everything goes according to plan, the various sectors of society will provide order, stability, and production. If things do not turn out as planned, the various segments of society will have to adjust in order to reestablish a new sense of order, stability, and productivity. Examples of this include trimming or eliminating social services amid a financial slump characterized by high rates of unemployment and inflation. Schools have fewer programs to offer. Families are tightening their belts. As a result, a new social order, stability, and productivity are established. Society is kept together, according to functionalists, by social consensus, also known as cohesiveness. Members of society agree on what is best for society as a whole and work together to achieve that goal, according to functionalists. According to Emile Durkheim, social consensus can be expressed in one of two ways:
- A sort of social cohesiveness known as mechanical solidarity occurs when people in a community share similar values and views while also performing comparable forms of labor. Mechanical solidarity is most widespread in old, basic cultures, such as those in which everyone herds livestock or farms, and is less common in more complex society. Mechanical solidarity is shown by Amish civilization
- Organic solidarity, on the other hand, is a sort of social cohesiveness that occurs when people in a community are interdependent yet have a variety of values and beliefs and participate in a variety of forms of labor. Organic solidarity is most widespread in industrialized, complex cultures, such as those found in big American cities like New York in the 2000s
- Yet, it may also occur in less industrialized countries.
It was during the 1940s and 1950s that the functionalist approach gained the most traction among American sociologists and anthropologists. While European functionalists were first concerned with understanding the underlying workings of social order, American functionalists were concerned with uncovering the functions of human conduct and behavior in general. Robert Merton (b. 1910) is one of these American functionalist sociologists, who separates human functions into two types: visible functions, which are purposeful and evident, and latent functions, which are inadvertent and not obvious.
With a little common sense, the manifest functions become immediately obvious.
When it comes to functionalism, a sociological perspective is taken into consideration, namely the link between the functions of smaller parts and the functions of the whole.
Others argue that the worldview supports the status quo and apathy on the part of society’s participants.
Functionalists, on the other hand, believe that active social change is undesirable since the many components of society will automatically adjust for any issues that may occur.