Social Structure Vs Social Systems

The discussion during the class today provided a food for thought about ‘Theory and Social Structure’. The crux of the discussion was about the components of social structure and how they build the who pyramid of society in general and how each component works in particular.
Social Structures play the role of umbrella in a society which helps the society to function socially. It is comprised of various institutions, ideologies and social entities functioning in a social system. For instance, democracy (governance), religion (beliefs), military (security), judiciary (justice) and media (accountability) are the institutions of that social structure in which society functions and integrates the social process.

Social Systems on the other hand are the operational manuals for maintaining the social structure. Social systems have ‘norms, rules, laws and goals’ to execute within its jurisdiction so that the social system may achieve the ultimate objectives for the functioning of society.

Social structure is more about institutions while social system is generally for organizations. For example religion is an institution (social structure) on the other hand church/mosque/synagogue is an organization. Similarly military or democracy is social structures while army or congress are the institutions. The picture gives us a very wonderful view of social organization in which various social structures are shown while one may finds a social systems within each structure.

Social Process on the other hand is the mechanism within the social structure which helps it to function and adapt. Social process includes ‘socialization, integration, power & status distribution & adaptation’. Social process and social structures are catalyst for changing each other. For instance it is the social process which has transformed our social structure from cave age to a modern democratic society. But the dysfunction of the social system (congress) does not mean that social process have stopped believing in the social structures.

But sometimes it is the individuals which influence both on social process and social structures and we have the example of those charismatic leaders such as Gandhee with his non violence movement, Dr. King with his civil rights movement and Nelsen Mandela for the liberation of apartheid Africa. On the other hand one finds the leaders who disrupted the social structure and social process with their leadership such as Hitler and Taliban.

1 comment:

  1. The picture that you have up is of "The Cake" a famous picture depicting class relations in Tsarist Russia.

    My other comment is that although there have been many great leaders like Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, and others they came to prominence in concert with a social movement and had those conditions and movements not been present it is likely they would not have had the impact that they did. Thus, I attribute the greater portion of change to the totality of the social movement than to human agency. Also if Germany would not have been so receptive to Hitler's message and anti-Semitic to begin with, it would have been doubtful that Hitler would have been capable of the atrocities that he and his followers committed.