Social Structure – Meaning, Elements and kinds



Social Structure – Meaning, Elements and kinds!

Social structure may be the fundamental concept for that proper knowledge of society. Herein we advise to provide a rather detailed look at the key idea of social structure.

I. Concept of Social Structure:

Since lengthy many efforts happen to be designed to define ‘Social Structure’ but nonetheless there’s no unanimity of opinion on its definition.


Herbert Spencer was the very first author to throw light around the structure of society. He known as society a living thing but his look at society was confused. Emile Durkheim also designed a futile make an effort to define it.

Listed here are the key thoughts about social structure:

(i) Nadel’s view:

S. F. Nadel writes, “;We reach the structure of society through abstracting in the concrete population and it is conduct, the pattern or internet work (or system) of relationships acquiring between actors within their capacity of playing roles in accordance with each other.”


Nadel has attempted to describe in the definition that ‘structure’ describes a definable articulation, an purchased arrangement of parts. It relates to the outer aspect or even the framework of society and it is totally unconcerned using the functional facet of society. So he’s emphasized the social structure refers back to the network of social relationship that is produced one of the people once they communicate with one another based on their statuses in compliance using the patterns of society.

Nadel, therefore, states, “;structure signifies an purchased arrangement of parts, which may be treated as transportable, being relatively invariant, as the parts are variable. Based on him you will find three aspects of a society: —

(i) someone

(ii) institutionalized rules based on that the people from the group interact

(iii) an institutionalized pattern or expression of those interactions

The institutionalized rules or patterns don’t change easily which creates orderliness in society. These rules determine the statuses and roles of the people. There’s a purchase of these roles and statuses also which supplies an purchased arrangement of people.

(ii) Ginsberg’s view:

Based on Ginsberg, “;The study of social structure is worried using the principal types of social organisation, i.e. kinds of groups, associations and institutions and also the complex of those which constitute societies……. A complete account of social structure would involve overview of the entire field of comparative institutions.”

Ginsberg has written the people organise themselves into groups for that achievement of some object or goal which groups are known as as institutions. The price tag of those institutions gives birth towards the structure of society.

The primary defect of Ginsberg’s view is the fact that he doesn’t make any among social structure, social organisation and social groups. At another place he writes, “;The social structure of the community includes the different sorts of groups which individuals form and also the institutions that they participate.”

(iii) Radcliffe Brown’s view:


Radcliffe Brown would be a great social anthropologist of England. He is one of the structural-functional school of sociology. He writes, “;The aspects of social structure are people, the dwelling itself becoming an arrangement of persons in relationship institutionally defined and controlled.

To explain his definition he quoted examples in the Australian and African tribal societies. He stated that kinship system included in this may be the description of institutionalized relationship. These relationships bind people together inside a specialised way and therefore ascribe for them particular positions.

The kin, occupying the group of positions, results in a pattern that is referred to as “;kinship structure.” He reported another example in the Thonga and Bantu tribes of Nigeria. There’s a custom of having to pay ‘Bride-cost’ known as labola included in this. This practice associated with marriage binds people together. For that payment of labola not just the people of family, but the kith and kin join their hands together.

This labola is offered being an economic aid for use during the time of marriage from the bride’s brother or her near relatives. Thus the institution of marriage brings not just the people from the families brings a type of economic aid. Thus the institutionally defined and controlled marital relations be a outcomes of two families within the socio-economic field and therefore their determined positions produce a pattern of marriage and kinship structure.

Afterwards, Radcliffe Brown gave another meaning of social structure. He stated, “;…Human beings are connected with a complex network of social relations. I personally use the word ‘social structure’ to indicate this network of really existing relations.” The constituents of social structure are persons, and one is a person considered less a living thing but because occupying position inside a social structure.

Radcliffe Brown views social structure just as real much like individual microorganisms. Based on him, both social structure and also the human organism are vulnerable to change yet they’re stable. By change he implies that the organs of both structures are prone to development or destruction. The abilities from the human organism first develop from infancy to maturity after which their downfall starts in senior years. Similarly, in social structure, new people place their birth and also the old continue dying.

But despite this continuous change their fundamental features remain stable. Quite simply, we might state that the running facet of social structure is definitely under change while outer framework is stable. Radcliffe has utilized the terms, ‘actual structure’ and ‘general structure’ correspondingly.

He’s distinguished between structural form, and ‘social structure’. Social structure is abstract its expression can be done only within the functions or roles from the parts or units of social structure. Therefore, we are able to understand social structure only with regards to the functions or roles of their components.

(iv) Parsons’ view:

Based on Talcott Parsons, “;Social structure is really a term put on the specific arrangement from the interrelated institutions, agencies and social patterns along with the statuses and roles which each and every person assumes within the group.”

Talcott Parsons has attempted to describe the idea of social structure in abstract form. All of the units of social structure, i.e. institutions, agencies, social patterns, statuses and roles are invisible and intangible and therefore are abstract. He’s emphasized the statuses and roles of people are based on customs, traditions and conventions of society.

These statuses give birth to various institutions, agencies and patterns. Each one of these when interrelated and organised inside a particular manner build the social structure of society. Social structure is worried with types of inter-relationship between the unit instead of using the units. The unit constitute the society. The purchased arrangement seen between the unit is social structure.

(v) Manley’s view:

Harry M. Manley writes, “;The structure of anything includes the relatively stable inter-relationships among its parts furthermore, the word ‘part’ itself implies a particular amount of Stability. Since a social system consists of the inter-related functions of individuals, its structure should be searched for in certain amount of regularity or recurrence during these functions.”

Thus, based on Manley, the ‘structure’ is a design of stability that is produced through the interrelation from the parts. These parts would be the groups and sub-categories of society. He doesn’t mean by stability that there’s no change whatsoever within the structure, but really he means that it’s comparatively stable.

For instance, the dwelling of community includes institutions and associations which contain people. Every individual is allotted a specific status and role to do. Using the dying of the baby, there’s no alternation in the status and role itself.

The brand new incumbent who succeeds the deceased individual is again to do exactly the same role within the same status. Thus the status and also the role are relatively stable which result in the structure stable. One of the constituent areas of social structure, Manley includes groups, sub-groups, roles, regulative norms and cultural values.

Social Structure - Meaning, Elements and kinds The household may be the

(mire) MacIver’s view:

MacIver and Page write, “;…The various modes of grouping ….. together comprise the complex pattern from the social structure……. Within the research into the social structure the function of diverse attitude and interest of social beings is revealed.”

MacIver and Page also have considered the social structure as abstract which consists of several groups like family, church, class, caste, condition, community etc. They’ve given due shown to individuals sources and forces who bind such groups right into a chain to provide them an absolute type of social structure.

Since society may be the organisation of social relationship and it is abstract, therefore, its structure is also abstract. MacIver and Page also make reference to the soundness and changefulness of social structure. They write, “;For as the social structure is unstable and changeful it features a definite character at each stage, and lots of of their major elements have proven greater persistence of type through change.” Within their study of social structure they’ve incorporated study regarding associations, institutions, groups, functional systems and institutional complexes.

After studying the various thoughts about social structure, we might conclude as under:

(a) Social structure is definitely an abstract and intangible phenomenon.

(b) As folks are the units of association and institutions so these associations and institutions would be the units of social structure.

(c) These institutions and associations are inter-related inside a particular arrangement and therefore produce the pattern of social structure.

(d) It refers back to the exterior facet of society that is relatively stable than the functional or internal facet of society.

(e) Social structure is really a “;living” structure that is produced, maintained for some time and changes.

II. Aspects of Social Structure:

Inside a social structure a persons beings organise themselves into associations for that quest for some object or objects. The goal could be satisfied only when the social structure relies upon certain concepts.

These concepts set the weather of social structure moving that is the following:

(i) Normative System:

Normative system is definitely the society using the ideals and values. The folks attach emotional importance to those norms. The institutions and associations are inter-related based on these norms. People perform their roles in compliance using the recognized norms of society.

(ii) Position System:

Position system refers back to the statuses and roles of the people. The desires, aspirations and expectations of the people are varied, multiple and limitless. So these may be satisfied only when the people of society are assigned different roles based on their capacities and abilities. Really the correct functioning of social structure is determined by proper assignment of roles and statuses.

(iii) Sanction System:

For that proper enforcement of norms, every society includes a sanction system. The combination and coordination of aspects of social structure rely on conformity to social norms. The non-conformists are punished through the society based on the nature of non-conformity.

It, however, does not necessarily mean there are no non-conformists inside a well organised society. Non-conformity can also be an important feature of society, otherwise there’d not be any progress. But the amount of non-conformists is smaller sized than the amount of conformists. The soundness of the social structure is determined by the potency of its sanction system.

(iv) A Method of Anticipated Response:

The anticipated response system calls upon people to have fun playing the social system. ‘His preparation sets the social structure moving. The effective working of social structure is determined by the realisation of his responsibilities through the individual and the efforts to satisfy these responsibilities.

(v) Action System:

It’s the object or goal to become showed up at through the social structure. The entire structure involves it. The Experience may be the real cause which weaves the net of social relationships and sets the social structure moving.

It might be emphasized that social structure is definitely an abstract entity. It can’t be viewed. Its parts are dynamic and also altering. They’re spatially prevalent and, therefore, hard to see as wholes. Any scientific knowledge of social structure will need structural-functional approach.

III. Kinds of Social Structure:

Talcott Parsons has described four principal kinds of social structure. His classification is dependant on four social values: universalistic social values, particularistic social values, achieved social values, and related social values.

Universalistic social values are individuals that are found almost in each and every society and therefore are relevant to everyone. For instance, every society values the expert craftsmen as with that situation production is both cheaper and superior and therefore the efficient craftsmen are selected in each and every society.

Particularistic social values would be the options that come with particular societies which vary from society to society. If, for instance, selection is created based on caste, religion, condition etc. this means that such societies particularistic social values are thought more essential.

Once the statuses are achieved based on efforts, this means that such societies attach importance to achieved social values. Once the statuses are hereditary then your society gives shown to related social statuses.

The 4 kinds of social structure are:

(i) The Universalistic-Achievement Pattern:

This is actually the mixture of the worth patterns which sometimes are against the of the social structure built mostly about kinship, community, class and race. Universalism alone favours status- determination based on generalized rules individually of 1’s achievement.

When universalism is coupled with achievement values, it creates a social structure of universalistic-achievement pattern. Under this kind of social structure, the option of goal through the individual should be in accord using the universalistic values.

His pursuits are based on universalistic moral arms. This type of product is dynamically developing system by having an encouragement for initiative. Around the one hands, it must turn to adoptive structures that are incompatible using its major value patterns however, it can’t permit the adoptive structures to get too important, lest the social structure shift into another kind.

(ii) The Universalistic-Ascription Pattern:

Under this kind of social structure, the weather of worth-orientation are covered with the weather of ascription. Therefore, in this social structure, strong emphasis is laid around the status of the baby, instead of on his specific achievements. The emphasis is on which a person is quite than you are on what he’s done. Status is related towards the group rather than the person. The person derives his status from his group.

Hence in this structure are located the concepts of aristocracy and ethnic brilliance. Nazi Germany was such a kind of society. In this kind of social structure all sources are mobilized within the interest from the collective ideal. It tends to possess a “;political” accent as distinguished in the “;economic” accent.

There’s a powerful focus on the condition because the primary organ for that realization from the ideal states of collective matters. Collective morality as distinguished in the individual morality includes a particularly central place. To summarize, it might be stated the universalistic-achievement kind of social structure is “;individualistic” whereas the universalistic-ascription type is “;collectivistic”.

(iii) The Particularistic-Achievement Pattern:

This kind combines achievement values with particularism. The main qualifying criterion of valued achievement is located not in universalistic terms for example conformity to some generalized ideal or efficiency however these are centered on certain points of reference inside the relational system itself or are natural within the situation.

The focus on achievement results in the conception of the proper pattern of adaptation the product of human achievement and which may be maintained only by continuous effort. This kind involves an even more unequivocal acceptance of kinship ties than may be the situation with either from the universalistic types. It’s more traditionalistic. Parsons has stored the Indian and also the Chinese social structure under this category.

(iv) The Particularistic-Ascriptive Pattern:

Within this type even the social structure is organised round the relational reference points particularly individuals of kinship and native community however it is different from the particularistic-achievement type inasmuch because the relational values are taken as given and passively “;adapted to” instead of designed for an positively organised system. The dwelling is commonly traditionalistic and emphasis is laid on its stability. Based on Parsons, the Spanish social structure may be the illustration of this type of type.

IV. Social Institutions:

We might also devote some focus on the idea of social institutions because social institutions are- necessary to keep up with the purchased arrangement of social structure. The institutions are collective modes of conduct. They prescribe a means of doing things. They bind the people from the group together. Some thinkers have distinguished between ‘institutions’ and ‘institutional agencies’.

Based on them, the word ‘institution’ refers back to the normative patterns of conduct, whereas institutional agencies would be the social system by which these go to town. Consider there’s a detailed integration of those normative complexes and also the systems by which they’re made effective, therefore, the majority of the authors don’t separate them. The most popular practice is to consult family, school, church, condition and many more because the institutions of society.

Types of Institutions:

You will find five types of institutions. They are (i) the household, (ii) financial aspects, (iii) religion, (iv) education, and (v) condition. There are a variety of secondary institutions produced from each one of the five primary institutions. Thus the secondary institutions produced from family will be the marriage, divorce, monogamy, polygamy etc.

The secondary institutions of financial aspects are property, buying and selling, credit, banking etc. The secondary institutions of faith are church, temple, mosque, totem, taboo etc. The secondary institutions of your practice are school, college, college etc. The secondary institutions of condition are interest groups, party system, democracy etc.

Institutions may grow just like the folkways and mores or they might be produced just like laws and regulations are enacted, for example, monogamy or polyandry increased as a result of some felt needs of those. Banks increased as the requirement for borrowing and lending money was felt. Schools and colleges are produced by deliberate choice and action. An essential feature that people get in the development of institutions may be the extension of the strength of the condition within the other four primary institutions.

The condition now exercises more authority by laws and regulations and rules. Sometimes, folkways and mores are integrated into laws and regulations, for instance, monogamy: sometimes, new laws and regulations might be enacted, for instance, Hindu Code Bill. Today the household has been controlled and controlled through the condition in lots of ways. Numerous traditional functions of family happen to be absorbed through the condition. The condition has enacted laws and regulations controlling marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance. The authority of condition has similarly been extended to financial aspects, to education and also to religion.

An establishment never dies. New institutional norms may switch the old norms, however the institution continues. For instance, the current family members have replaced the norms of patriarchal family, yet family being an institution continues. When feudalism died, government didn’t finish. The governmental and economic functions ongoing to become satisfied, although based on altered norms. All of the primary institutions are 1000’s of years old, just the institutional norms are new.

Functions of Institutions:

The functions of institutions have two kinds:

(i) Manifest and (ii) Latent. Manifest functions are individuals functions that are intended and primary functions, i.e., individuals functions that the institution mainly exists. Latent functions are unintended functions. They aren’t primary functions only the by-products.

Thus the manifest functions of your practice are the introduction of literacy, practicing work-related roles and also the inculcation of fundamental social values. Nevertheless its latent functions could be keeping youth from the work market, weakening the charge of parents or growth and development of friendship. The manifest functions of faith are worship of God and instruction in religious ideology. Its latent functions is always to develop attachment to 1’s religious community, to change family existence and also to create religious hate.

The manifest purpose of economic institutions would be to produce and distribute goods while its latent functions could be to promote urbanization, promote the development of work unions and redirect education. The latent functions of the institution may offer the intended objectives, or damages the norms from the institution.

Inter-relations of Institutions:

A social structure owes its stability to some proper adjustment of relationships one of the different institutions. No institution works inside a vacuum. Religion, education, family, government and business all interact on one another. Thus education creates attitudes which influence the acceptance or rejection of spiritual dogmas.

Religion may exalt education since it enables someone to be aware of facts of God or denounce it since it threatens the belief. Business conditions is going to influence the household existence. Unemployment may determine the amount of individuals who feel in a position to many. Discovered a duffel bag person may postpone his marriage till he will get used in a appropriate job.

Social Structure - Meaning, Elements and kinds pattern of marriage and

Postponement of marriage may modify the birth rates. The condition influences the functions of institutions. It might take over a few of the functions and see their institutional norms. The businessmen, educators, clergymen and also the functionaries of other institutions also aim to influence the functions of condition, since any condition action may obstruct or assist the realization of the institutional objectives.

Thus sisal institutions are carefully associated with one another. The inter-relationship of the several institutions could be likened to some wheel. The household may be the hub while education, religion, government and financial aspects would be the spokes from the wheel. The rim will be the community within that the various institutions operate.

All institutions face the issue of continuously modifying themselves to some altering society. Alterations in the social atmosphere would bring changes out of all institutions. Inflation could have a great affect on marriage, dying, crime and education. Introduction to economic institutions might have radical effects upon political institutions.

Any alternation in an establishment can lead to a general change in another intuitions. There might also occur a shifting of functions in one institution to a different. Day care, formerly the purpose of family, has now use the condition. When one institution does not meet an individual need, another institution will frequently assume the part. No institution can avoid affecting other institutions or avoid struggling with others.


Social Structure-Its meaning, definitions & elements