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Published by Upinder Singh Lovey
business ethics
business ethics

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Upinder Singh Lovey on Apr 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Social Systems
A social system basically consists of two or more individuals interacting directly or indirectly in a bounded situation. There may be physical or territorial boundaries, but thefundamental sociological point of reference is that the individuals are oriented, in a wholesense, to a common focus or inter-related foci. Thus it is appropriate to regard suchdiverse sets of relationships as small groups, political parties and whole societies as socialsystems. Social systems are open systems, exchanging information with, frequentlyacting with reference to other systems. Modern conceptions of the term can be traced tothe leading social analysts of the nineteenth century, notably Auguste Comte, Karl Marx,Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim; each of whom elaborated in some form or other conceptions of the major units of social systems (mainly societies) and the relationshipsbetween such units- even though the expression social system was not a key one. Thus, inMarx's theory, the major units or components of the capitalist societies with which hewas principally concerned were socio-economic classes, and the major relationshipsbetween classes involved economic and political power.The most influential conceptualization of the term has been that of Talcott Parsons.Parsons' devotion to this issue has two main aspects. First, what is called the problem of social order; i.e. the nature of the forces giving rise to relatively stable forms of socialinteraction and organization, and promoting orderly change. Parsons took ThomasHobbes Leviathan, 1651, as his point of departure in this part of his analysis. Hobbes hadmaintained that man's fundamental motivation was the craving for power and that menwere always basically in conflict with each other. Thus order could only exist in stronggovernment. To counter this Parsons invoked the work of Max Weber and, in particular,Durkheim, who had placed considerable emphasis on the functions of normative, factorsin social life, such as ideals and values. Factors of this kind came to constitute themainspring in Parsons Delineation of a social system. Thus in his major theoretical work,The Social system, 1951, he defines a social system as consisting in a plurality of individual actors interacting with each other in a situation which has at least a physical or environmental aspect, actors, who are motivated in terms of a tendency to theoptimization of gratification and whose relations to their situations, including each other,is defined and mediated in terms of a system of culturally structured and shared symbols.The major units of a social system are said to be collectivities and roles (i.e. notindividuals as such); and the major patterns or relationships linking these units are values(ends or broad guides to action) and norms (rules governing role performance in thecontext of system values). Parsons second major interest has been to make sociologymore scientific and systematic, by developing abstract conceptions of the social system;one of this points being that even though Weber placed much emphasis upon normativefactors as guiding action, there was in Weber's sociology no elaboration of a theoreticallyintegrated total system of action. Hence the attempt to combine in one framework both aconception of actors in social situations and an overall, highly abstract, outside view of the major factors involved in a social system as a going concern. Various points inParsons' formulation have been criticized. Notably, objections have been made to theemphasis upon normative regulation, and it has been alleged that Parsons neglected social
conflict under the pressure of his systematic perspective; i.e. pre-occupation with systemness and analytical elegance which blinds the sociologist to disconsensus in real life andspurs him to stress integrative phenomena in his analyses. However, it is widely agreedthat sociologists should operate with some clearly defined conception of what constitutesa social system. Thus, for many sociologists the term social system is not by any meansrestricted to those situations where there is binding normative regulation; but in order toqualify as social system it must involve a common focus, or set of foci, or orientationsand a shared mode of communication among a majority of actors. Thus, on this basisthere can be a system of conflict.Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Ethics is an important component of the overall approach to corporate responsibility,  sometimes called corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is abusiness modelthatbegan emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Under the CSR model, corporateresponsibility and ethics are considered intertwined.Thephilosophyof CSR stresses compliance with the law and high ethical standards  toward consumers and the public. It also envisions positive actions in the areas of theenvironment and the public interest. It promotes the active elimination of harmfulcorporate practices even when they are outside the realm of government regulation.Other areas in which corporate responsibility and ethics overlap under the CSR model isthe inclusion of the public interest and environmental concerns in corporate planning anddecision making. Corporate responsibility includes creating voluntary ethical andenvironmental standards and developing projects for community growth. Companies thatfollow the CSR model adhere to the “triple bottom line” sloganof “People, Planet, Profit.”Some commentators believe that corporate responsibility and ethics intersect withconsumer ethics, as more people become aware of their individual impact on theenvironment and the world. As more consumers begin to make their choices based onsocial and environmental concerns,corporations strengthen their commitment to these issues. As a company practices social corporate responsibility, the result can become partof itscorporate identity.Some observers point out that operating under a CSR model increases corporate profits in the long run.Some critics of the CSR model suggest that corporate social and environmental concernsare only superficial, and that the government should take the lead in addressing these

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