Social order

Last updated

The term social order can be used in two senses. In the first sense, it refers to a particular set or system of linked social structures, institutions, relations, customs, and enforce certain patterns of relating and behaving. Examples are the ancient, the feudal, and the capitalist social order. In the second sense, social order is contrasted to social chaos or disorder and refers to a stable state of society in which the existing social structure is accepted and maintained by its members. The problem of order or Hobbesian problem, which is central to much of sociology, political science and political philosophy, is the question of how and why it is that social orders exist at all.

Contents

Sociology

Thomas Hobbes is recognized as the first to clearly formulate the problem, to answer which he conceived the notion of a social contract. Social theorists (such as Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Jürgen Habermas) have proposed different explanations for what a social order consists of, and what its real basis is. For Marx, it is the relations of production or economic structure which is the basis of social order. For Durkheim, it is a set of shared social norms. For Parsons, it is a set of social institutions regulating the pattern of action-orientation, which again are based on a frame of cultural values. For Habermas, it is all of these, as well as communicative action.

Principle of extensiveness

Another key factor concerning social order is the principle of extensiveness. This states the more norms and the more important the norms are to a society, the better these norms tie and hold together the group as a whole.

A good example of this is smaller religions based in the U.S., such as the Amish. Many Amish live together in communities and because they share the same religion and values, it is easier for them to succeed in upholding their religion and views because their way of life is the norm for their community. [1]

Groups and networks

In every society, people belong to groups, such as businesses, families, churches, athletic groups, or neighborhoods. The structure inside of these groups mirrors that of the whole society. There are networks and ties between groups, as well as inside of each of the groups, which create social order.

Some people belong to more than one group, and this can sometimes cause conflict. The individual may encounter a situation in which he or she has to choose one group over another. Many who have studied these groups believe that it is necessary to have ties between groups to strengthen the society as a whole, and to promote pride within each group. Others believe that it is best to have stronger ties to a group, enabling social norms and values to be reinforced.

Status groups

"Status groups" can be based on a person's characteristics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, caste, region, occupation, physical attractiveness, gender, education, age, etc. They are defined as "a subculture having a rather specific rank (or status) within the stratification system. That is, societies tend to include a hierarchy of status groups, some enjoying high ranking and some low." [2] One example of this hierarchy is the prestige of a school teacher compared to that of a garbage man.

A certain lifestyle usually distinguishes the members of different status groups. For example, around the holidays a Jewish family may celebrate Hanukkah while a Christian family may celebrate Christmas. Other cultural differences such as language and cultural rituals identify members of different status groups.

Smaller groups exist inside of one status group. For instance, one can belong to a status group based on one's race and a social class based on financial ranking. This may cause strife for the individual in this situation when he or she feels they must choose to side with either their status group or their social class. For example, a wealthy African American man who feels he has to take a side on an issue on which the opinions of poor African Americans and wealthy white Americans are divided and finds his class and status group opposed.

Values and norms

Values can be defined as "internal criteria for evaluation". Values are also split into two categories, there are individual values, which pertains to something that we think has worth and then there are social values. Social values are our desires modified according to ethical principles or according to the group, we associate with: friends, family, or co-workers. Norms tell us what people ought to do in a given situation. Unlike values, norms are enforced externally – or outside of oneself. A society as a whole determines norms, and they can be passed down from generation to generation.

Power and authority

An exception to the idea of values and norms as social order-keepers is deviant behavior. Not everyone in a society abides by a set of personal values or the group's norms all the time. For this reason, it is generally deemed necessary for a society to have authority. The adverse opinion holds that the need for authority stems from social inequality.

In a class society, those who hold positions of power and authority are among the upper class. Norms differ for each class because the members of each class were raised differently and hold different sets of values. Tension can form, therefore, between the upper class and lower class when laws and rules are put in place that do not conform to the values of both classes.

Spontaneous order

The order does not necessarily need to be controlled by the government. Individuals pursuing self-interest can make predictable systems. These systems, being planned by more than one person, may actually be preferable to those planned by a single person. This means that predictability may be possible to achieve without a central government's control. These stable expectations do not necessarily lead to individuals behaving in ways that are considered beneficial to group welfare. Considering this, Thomas Schelling studied neighborhood racial segregation. His findings suggest that interaction can produce predictability, but it does not always increase social order. In his researching, he found that "when all individuals pursue their own preferences, the outcome is segregation rather than integration," as stated in "Theories of Social Order", edited by Michael Hechter and Christine Horne.[ citation needed ]

Social honor

Social honor can also be referred to as social status. It is considered the distribution of prestige or "the approval, respect, admiration, or deference a person or group is able to command by virtue of his or its imputed qualities or performances". The case most often is that people associate social honor with the place a person occupies with material systems of wealth and power. Since most of the society finds wealth and power desirable, they respect or envy people that have more than they do. When social honor is referred to as social status, it deals with the rank of a person within the stratification system. Status can be achieved, which is when a person position is gained on the basis of merit or in other words by achievement and hard work or it can be ascribed, which is when a person position is assigned to individuals or groups without regard for merit but because of certain traits beyond their control, such as race, sex, or parental social standing. An example of ascribed status is Kate Middleton who married a prince. An example of achieved status is Oprah Winfrey, an African American woman from poverty who worked her way to being a billionaire. [3]

Attainment

Two different theories exist that explain and attempt to account for social order. The first theory is "order results from a large number of independent decisions to transfer individual rights and liberties to a coercive state in return for its guarantee of security for persons and their property, as well as its establishment of mechanisms to resolve disputes," as stated in Theories of Social Order by Hechter and Horne. The next theory is that "the ultimate source of social order as residing not in external controls but in a concordance of specific values and norms that individuals somehow have managed to internalize." also stated in Theories of Social Order by Hechter and Horne. Both arguments for how social order is attained are very different. One argues that it is achieved through outside influence and control, and the other argues that it can only be attained when the individual willingly follows norms and values that they have grown accustomed to and internalized. Weber's insistence on the importance of domination and symbolic systems in social life was retained by Pierre Bourdieu, who developed the idea of social orders, ultimately transforming it into a theory of fields.

See also

Related Research Articles

Sociology of religion

Sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology. This objective investigation may include the use of both quantitative methods and qualitative approaches such as participant observation, interviewing, and analysis of archival, historical and documentary materials.

Émile Durkheim French sociologist

David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and—with W. E. B. Du Bois, Karl Marx and Max Weber—is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science.

Social norm group-held belief about how members should behave

Social norms are regarded as collective representations of acceptable group conduct as well as individual perceptions of particular group conduct. They can be viewed as cultural products which represent individuals' basic knowledge of what others do and think that they should do. From a sociological perspective, social norms are informal understandings that govern the behavior of members of a society. Social psychology recognizes smaller group units may also endorse norms separately or in addition to cultural or societal expectations.

Anomie normlessness: the lack of social norms

Anomie is "the condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals". Anomie may evolve from conflict of belief systems and causes breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community. In a person this can progress into a dysfunction in ability to integrate within normative situations of their social world - e.g., an unruly personal scenario that results in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of values.

Sociology of knowledge Study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies

The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects that prevailing ideas have on societies. It is not a specialized area of sociology but instead deals with broad fundamental questions about the extent and limits of social influences on individuals' lives and with the social-cultural basis of our knowledge about the world. Complementary to the sociology of knowledge is the sociology of ignorance, including the study of nescience, ignorance, knowledge gaps, or non-knowledge as inherent features of knowledge-making.

In sociology, social facts are values, cultural norms, and social structures that transcend the individual and can exercise social control. The French sociologist Émile Durkheim defined the term, and argued that the discipline of sociology should be understood as the empirical study of social facts. For Durkheim, social facts "... consist of manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him."

Structural functionalism A sociological theory arguing that the stability of society is determined by functional institutions and individuals having a specific role

Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is "a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability".

Social structure Sociological classification of human societies according to their social characteristics

Social structure, in the social sciences, is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of individuals. Likewise, society is believed to be grouped into structurally-related groups or sets of roles, with different functions, meanings, or purposes. Examples of social structure include family, religion, law, economy, and class, whereas "social system" refers to the parent structure in which these various structures are embedded. Thus, social structures significantly influence larger systems, such as economic systems, legal systems, political systems, cultural systems, etc.

Social stratification population with similar characteristics in a society

Social stratification refers to society's categorization of its people into groups based on socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, race, education, gender, occupation, and social status, or derived power. As such, stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographic region, or social unit.

In social science, antipositivism is a theoretical stance that proposes that the social realm cannot be studied with the scientific method of investigation applied to nature and that investigation of the social realm requires a different epistemology. Fundamental to that antipositivist epistemology is the belief that the concepts and language that researchers use in their research shape their perceptions of the social world they are investigating, studying, and defining.

In sociology, rationalization is the replacement of traditions, values, and emotions as motivators for behavior in society with concepts based on rationality and reason. For example, the implementation of bureaucracies in government is a kind of rationalization, as is the construction of high-efficiency living spaces in architecture and urban planning. A potential reason as to why rationalization of a culture may take place in the modern era is the process of globalization. Countries are becoming increasingly interlinked, and with the rise of technology, it is easier for countries to influence each other through social networking, the media and politics. An example of rationalization in place would be the case of witch doctors in certain parts of Africa. Whilst many locals view them as an important part of their culture and traditions, development initiatives and aid workers have tried to rationalize the practice in order to educate the local people in modern medicine and practice.

Sociology of culture science of sociology

The sociology of culture, and the related cultural sociology, concerns the systematic analysis of culture, usually understood as the ensemble of symbolic codes used by a member of a society, as it is manifested in the society. For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Culture in the sociological field is analyzed as the ways of thinking and describing, acting, and the material objects that together shape a group of people's way of life.

Sociological theory theory advanced by social scientists to explain facts about the social world

Sociological theories are statements of how and why particular facts about the social world are related. They range in scope from concise descriptions of a single social process to paradigms for analysis and interpretation. Some sociological theories explain aspects of the social world and enable prediction about future events, while others function as broad perspectives which guide further sociological analyses.

Marxist criminology

Marxist criminology is one of the schools of criminology. It parallels the work of the structural functionalism school which focuses on what produces stability and continuity in society but, unlike the functionalists, it adopts a predefined political philosophy. As in conflict criminology, it focuses on why things change, identifying the disruptive forces in industrialized societies, and describing how society is divided by power, wealth, prestige, and the perceptions of the world. "The shape and character of the legal system in complex societies can be understood as deriving from the conflicts inherent in the structure of these societies which are stratified economically and politically". It is concerned with the causal relationships between society and crime, i.e. to establish a critical understanding of how the immediate and structural social environment gives rise to crime and criminogenic conditions.

Cultural reproduction

Cultural reproduction is the transmission of existing cultural values and norms from generation to generation. Cultural reproduction refers to the mechanisms by which continuity of cultural experience is sustained across time. Cultural reproduction often results in social reproduction, or the process of transferring aspects of society from generation to generation.

  1. Groups of people, notably social classes, act to reproduce the existing social structure to preserve their advantage
  2. The processes of schooling in modern societies are among the main mechanisms of cultural reproduction, and do not operate solely through what is taught in courses of formal instruction.

Social conditioning is the sociological process of training individuals in a society to respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society. The concept is stronger than that of socialization, which is the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies. Manifestations of social conditioning are vast, but they are generally categorized as social patterns and social structures including nationalism, education, employment, entertainment, popular culture, religion, spirituality and family life. The social structure in which an individual finds him or herself influences and can determine their social actions and responses.

Comparative historical research

Comparative historical research is a method of social science that examines historical events in order to create explanations that are valid beyond a particular time and place, either by direct comparison to other historical events, theory building, or reference to the present day. Generally, it involves comparisons of social processes across times and places. It overlaps with historical sociology. While the disciplines of history and sociology have always been connected, they have connected in different ways at different times. This form of research may use any of several theoretical orientations. It is distinguished by the types of questions it asks, not the theoretical framework it employs.

Deviance (sociology) Action or behavior that violates social norms

In sociology, deviance describes an action or behavior that violates social norms, including a formally enacted rule, as well as informal violations of social norms. Deviance is a behavioural disposition that is not in conformity with an institutionalized set-up or code of conduct. Although deviance may have a negative connotation, the violation of social norms is not always a negative action; positive deviation exists in some situations. Although a norm is violated, a behavior can still be classified as positive or acceptable.

Theories about religions Theories of religion in the social sciences

Sociological and anthropological theories about religion generally attempt to explain the origin and function of religion. These theories define what they present as universal characteristics of religious belief and practice.

Sociology Scientific study of human society and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions

Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order and social change. Sociology can also be defined as the general science of society. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter can range from micro-level analyses of society to macro-level analyses.

References

  1. Deji, Olanike F. (2011). Gender and Rural Development: Introduction. LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN   978-3643901033 via Google Books.
  2. Sociology: Tenth Edition by Rodney Stark, 114
  3. Joseph R. Gusfield (1986). Symbolic crusade: status politics and the American temperance movement. University of Illinois Press. p. 14. ISBN   978-0252013126 via Google Books.

Further reading