Social order

Social order

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Social order'
Start a new discussion about 'Social order'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Social order is a concept used in sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 and other social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

. It refers to a set of linked social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

s, social institutions and social practice
Social Practice
The Social Practice Model sees literacy as a key dimension of community regeneration and a part of the wider lifelong learning agenda. Such an approach recognises that:*literacy and numeracy are complex capabilities rather than a simple set of basic skills...

s which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving.

A "social order" is a relatively persistent system of institutions, patterns of interactions and customs, capable of continually reproducing at least those conditions essential for its own existence. The concept refers to all those facts of society which remain relatively constant over time. These conditions could include both property, exchange and power relations, but also cultural forms, communication relations and ideological
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 systems of value
Value (personal and cultural)
A personal or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based...

s.

Social order as discussed in this article primarily refers to these structures and not to "order in society" with which it should not be confused. In this way, a society might be chaotic and dysfunctional but there is still a social order in a sheer sociological sense.

Sociology



The issue of social order, how and why it is that social orders exists at all, is historically central to sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

. Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 is recognized as the first to clearly formulate the problem, to answer which he conceived the notion of a social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

. Social theorists
Social theory
Social theories are theoretical frameworks which are used to study and interpret social phenomena within a particular school of thought. An essential tool used by social scientists, theories relate to historical debates over the most valid and reliable methodologies , as well as the primacy of...

 (such as Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

, Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

, and Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

) 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
Relations of production
Relations of production is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their theory of historical materialism, and in Das Kapital...

 or economic structure which is the basis of a social order. For Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

, it is a set of shared social norms. For Parsons, it is a set of social institutions regulating pattern of action-orientations, 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
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, the better these norms tie and hold together the group as a whole.

A good example of this is smaller religions based around the U.S., such as the Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

. 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.

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
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 and ties between groups as well as inside of each of the groups that create social order.

Some people belong to more than one group, which sometimes causes conflict. The individual may encounter a situation in which he or she has to choose one group over the 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 within a group so that social norms and values are reinforced.

Status groups


"Status groups" can be based on a person's characteristics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, region
Region
Region is most commonly found as a term used in terrestrial and astrophysics sciences also an area, notably among the different sub-disciplines of geography, studied by regional geographers. Regions consist of subregions that contain clusters of like areas that are distinctive by their uniformity...

, occupation, physical attractiveness
Physical attractiveness
Physical attractiveness refers to a person's physical traits which are perceived to be aesthetically pleasing or beautiful. The term often implies sexual attractiveness or desirability, but can also be distinct from the two; for example, humans may regard the young as attractive for various...

, gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, 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." One example of this hierarchy is the prestige of a school teacher compared to that of a garbage man
Garbage Man
Garbage Man may refer to:*a waste collector, a person who goes to houses and businesses to collect waste and take it to a landfill, incinerator, or waste facility.*"Garbage Man," a song by G. Love and Special Sauce from their 1994 album G...

.

A certain lifestyle usually distinguishes the members of different status groups. For example, around the holidays a Jewish family may celebrate Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

 while a Christian family may celebrate Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

. Other cultural differences such as language and cultural rituals identify members of different status groups.

Inside of a status group there are more, smaller groups. For instance, one can belong to a status group based on one's race and a social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 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
Deviance (sociology)
Deviance in a sociological context describes actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms...

. Not everyone in a society abides by a set of personal values or the group's norms all the time. For this reason it generally deemed necessary for a society to have authority. The adverse opinion holds that the need for authority stems from lack of Social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

. It is recognized that effective social justice and the need for authoritative Social control
Social control
Social control refers generally to societal and political mechanisms or processes that regulate individual and group behavior, leading to conformity and compliance to the rules of a given society, state, or social group. Many mechanisms of social control are cross-cultural, if only in the control...

 are inversely related. (refs. needed)

In societies, those who hold positions of power and authority are among the upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

. 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


Order does not necessarily need to be controlled by 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
Thomas Schelling
Thomas Crombie Schelling is an American economist and professor of foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control at the School of Public Policy at University of Maryland, College Park. He is also co-faculty at the New England Complex Systems Institute...

 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.

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 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 persons position is gained on the basis of merit or in other words by achievement and hard work. Status can also be ascribed, which is when a persons 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
Ascribed status
Ascribed status is the social status a person is assigned at birth or assumed involuntarily later in life. It is a position that is neither earned nor chosen but assigned...

 would be heiress to the Hilton dynasty Paris Hilton. An example of Achieved Status would be Oprah Winfrey and her empire.

Attainment of social order


There are currently two different theories 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 the 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 internalised. Weber's insistence on the importance of domination and symbolic systems in social life was retained by Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher.Starting from the role of economic capital for social positioning, Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location,...

, who developed the idea of social orders, ultimately transforming it into a theory of fields.

Further Reading

  • Hobbes, T. Leviathan
    Leviathan (book)
    Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly called simply Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan...

    or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil.
  • Stark, 2007. Sociology. ISBN?