What is "social structure"?
If the word “structure” refers to a set of relations between elements that have some measure of coherence and stability then “social structure” includes the relationships between elements of society. The first and primary elements of society are the people. That which binds the people binds society but all bonds are not created equal.
Social structure is the distinctive arrangement of the elements or institutions in a society whereby mankind may interact. Social structure can be changed by forces within society. An individual is not the structure of society but a resource and agent of society. While a social structure is an organized arrangements of the resources and agents of society. A social institution is a substructure that is patterned for the fulfillment of social needs. They may be public or private.
The foundational social structure may include institutions such as family, church, courts, government, economics and educational institutions. They may also include customs, practices, and perception of groups or classes.
Society may be required over the course of time to withstand the “heavy load” of reality in the form of disasters from nature and other societies as well as internal threats of infectious change, usurpation, or degeneration and decay. The structure of society may determine if that society and nation survives, degenerates or is destroyed, whether it remain free or bond.
These are all elements of society producing and sustaining the relationship of the people, binding and loosing them as they by their nature actually design and form the structure of society often over riding the intent and plans of the people. This is why most utopian ventures fail.
Structuration is "the state or process of organization in a structured form." The theory of structuration is a social theory of the creation and reproduction of social systems that is based in the analysis of both structure and agents, without giving primacy to either. Further, in structuration theory, neither micro- nor macro-focused analysis alone is sufficient.
Anthony Giddens' theory of structuration explores the question of whether individuals or social forces shape society. Structuration theory asserts that social action cannot be fully explained solely by the structure or agency, or by micro- nor macro-focused analysis alone.
Giddens seems to sees the individual's autonomy as influenced by social structure but those structures are only maintained and adapted through the exercise of agency through the interactions of individuals. The individual must act within the context of rules established within social structures if the social structure is to be reinforced within the thinking of the individual.
In New Rules, Giddens wrote “the universe is being constituted—or produced by—the active doings of subjects.” “Individuals produce society, but they do so as historically located actors, and not under conditions of their own choosing.”
Source of Culture
Where does culture come in to social structure?
Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and norms found in societies, including the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups. Man acquire culture through the learning processes of socialization within both eniironment, time and society, which creates divers cultures across societies.
According to James S. House, culture is what members of a social system collectively believe while social structure is the result of what members of a social system collectively do. Anthony Giddens defines social structure “as rules and resources”. Which makes structure a kind of grammar, that orients the actors' modes of social action. The rules are not separate from resource in the social structure.
While culture matters a contrast between traditional culture and post-traditional culture may allow for more options and sometimes producing more analysis among groups of individuals.
What is the Social Structure of a free society?
Any centralization of power draws those seeking power to desire more power and weakens those who are slothful in the exercise of the responsibilities of the power of choice until they also degenerate. This division creates a dialectic which divides society. The choices and actions of individuals alters the structures of society and may continue to divide society which alters society and the individuals within it. But also the structures of society that move or remove functions and choices within society to divergent groups will alter the individuals within that society.
Libertarians may apply ideological constrains like “do no harm”. But constraint, like liberty, must be self imposed internally and collectively encouraged. That is done by the presence of or the absence of certain elements of “social structures” such as the custom, culture, and moral ethics.
Like rules in biological DNA, any deviation from the rules of a given social structure could be attacked and removed or starved or excluded by the body of society.
It becomes impossible to think of the rules without also thinking of resources, and visa versa. Rules suggest a practiced process 'sanctioning of modes of social conduct' and acceptable behavior. It is natural to desire to be accepted and in a precarious or uncertain world it is frightening to be rejected. The basic social structures that define the acceptability of social molds or model can alter the mind of the individual. As the thinking is altered the reaction to events and conditions may alter the actions and reactions produced by Crowd psychology.
The actors' action within social systems of society constitute activities which compose both a virtual and abstract existence that becomes explicit in the actors' action altering the pattern or way he thinks. But the opportunities for diverse actions are altered by changes in structure. Some of those changes are created by conditions, new discoveries, alternative social actions and practices or even government policies. Changing options, making some actions more convenient or inconvenient or eliminating access to options all together will alter structures of society and the thinking of its members.
- Can you list changes by conditions, new discoveries, alternative social actions and practices and the policies of governments?
If the social structure is becoming detrimental to the health of society what can the individual do?
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- Anthony Giddens, (Baron Giddens), a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. Director of London School of Economics, House of Lords.
- James S. House, Angus Campbell Distinguished, University Professor Emeritus of Survey Research, Public Policy, and Sociology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.