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UNIT 1: Sociology: A Discipline (12 pgs)………………………………………..2

UNIT 2: Founding Fathers and their contributions (22 pgs)…………………13

UNIT 3: Basic Concepts in Sociology (29 pgs)…………………………………35

UNIT 4: Basic Social Institutions (58 pgs)………………………………….......64

UNIT 5: Socialization and Social Control (11 pgs)…………………………...122

UNIT 6: Social Stratification (16 pgs)………………………………..……..…133

UNIT 7: Social Interaction and Processes (9 pgs)……………………………149

UNIT 8: Sociology of Law (6 pgs)……………………………………..………157

TOTAL: 8 Units - 163 Pgs

UNIT 1: Sociology: A Discipline (12 pgs)

Sociology is a social science that studies society and the individual in perspective of Society. The
origins of Sociology lie in the 19th century but during the 1960-70s, it became a major social
science subject, taught in universities and colleges, and schools. The scope of sociology has only
become more scientific with time.

Sociology Definition

"Sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies. It is a dazzling and compelling
enterprise, having as its subject matter our own behaviour as social beings. The scope of
sociology is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of passing encounters between
individuals in the street up to the investigation of world-wide social processes". Anthony
Giddens ("Sociology", 1989).

Sociology does not claim to be a potentially all-inclusive and all-sufficing science of

society which might absorb the more specialized social sciences. The late origin of sociology
does not mean that its standing as compared with other social sciences is very weak. Its scope
has been clearly demarcated right from the early days. Its concepts, terms, typologies and
generalizations leading to theories, emerged from the very beginning. Moreover, there are
striking similarities between sociology and other social sciences: man as a principal ingredient of
their subject matters, applications of some methodological tools like observation, comparative
method, casual explanations, testing and modification of hypothesis etc.

When so much is common to sociology on the one hand and the other social sciences it is
understandable that there is some amount of commonness in the studies as well as mutual
borrowings in the form of data, methods, approaches, concepts and even vocabulary.

In brief, sociology is a distinct social science, but it is not an isolated social science as the
current trends indicate that every social science is depending more and more on inter-disciplinary
approach, i.e., historians and sociologists, for example, might even work together in curricular
and search projects which would have been scarcely conceivable prior to 1945, when each social
science tendered to follow the course that emerged in the 19th century; to be confined to a single,
distinguishable, though artificial, area of social reality.

Development of Sociology

Sociology is the youngest of the recognized subjects of social sciences. Auguste Comte in France
coined the word 'sociology' in his Positive Philosophy published in 1838. He believed that a
science of sociology should be based on systematic observation and classification not on
authority and speculation. This was a relatively new idea at that time. Herbert Spencer in
England published his Principles of Sociology in 1876. He applied the theory of organic
evolution to human society and developed a grand theory of social evolution.

They proclaimed that sociologists should collect, organize and classify factual data and
derive sound social theories from these facts. While they called for scientific investigation they
did relatively little of it themselves.

Emile Durkheim gave the most notable early demonstration of scientific methodology in
sociology. In his Rules of sociological Method, published in 1895, he outlined the methodology
which he pursued in his study 'Suicide' published in 1897. Instead of speculating upon the causes
of suicide, he first planned his research design and then collected a large mass of data on the
characteristics of people who commit suicide and then derived a theory of suicide from these

Courses in sociology appeared in many universities in the 1890s. The American Journal
of Sociology began publication in 1895 and the American Sociological Society was organized in
1905. Whereas most of the early European sociologists came from the fields of history, political
economy or philosophy many of the early American sociologists had been social workers,
ministers and nearly all were from rural backgrounds.

Urbanization and industrialization were creating grave social problems and these early
sociologists were looking for scientific solutions. They saw sociology as a scientific guide to
social progress. The early volumes of the American Journal of Sociology contained relatively
few articles devoted to scientific description or research but carried many sermons filled with
advice etc.

Relevance of Sociology

Sociology makes a scientific study of society. Prior to the emergence of sociology the study of
society was carried on in an unscientific manner and society had never been the central concern

of any science. It is through the study of sociology that the truly scientific study of the society
has been possible. Sociology because of its bearing upon many of the problems of the present
world has assumed such a great importance that it is considered to be the best approach to all the
social sciences.

Sociology studies role of the institutions in the development of the individuals. It is

through sociology that scientific study of the great social institutions and the relation of the
individual to each is being made. The home and family, the school and education, the church and
religion, the state and government, industry and work, the community and association, these are
institutions through which society functions. Sociology studies these institutions and their role in
the development of the individual and suggests suitable measures for restrengthening them with
a view to enable them to serve the individual better.

Study of sociology is indispensable for understanding and planning of society. Society is

a complex phenomenon with a multitude of intricacies. It is impossible to understand and solve
its numerous problems without support of sociology. It is rightly said that we cannot understand
and mend society without any knowledge of its mechanism and construction. Without the
investigation carried out by sociology no real effective social planning would be possible. It
helps us to determine the most efficient means for reaching the goals agreed upon. A certain
amount of knowledge about society is necessary before any social policies can be carried out.

Sociology is of great importance in the solution of social problems. The present world is
suffering from many problems which can be solved through scientific study of the society. It is
the task of sociology to study the social problems through the methods of scientific research and
to find out solution to them. The scientific study of human affairs will ultimately provide the
body of knowledge and principles that will enable us to control the conditions of social life and
improve them.

Sociology has drawn our attention to the intrinsic worth and dignity of man. Sociology
has been instrumental in changing our attitude towards human beings. In a specialized society,
we are all limited as to the amount of the whole organization and culture that we can experience
directly. We can hardly know the people of other areas intimately. In order to have insight into

and appreciation of the motives by which others live and the conditions under which they exist
knowledge of sociology is essential.

Sociology has changed our outlook with regard to the problems of crime etc. It is through
the study of sociology that our whole outlook on various aspects of crime has changed. The
criminals are now treated as human beings suffering from mental deficiencies and efforts are
accordingly made to rehabilitate them as useful members of the society.

Sociology has made great contribution to enrich human culture. Human culture has been
made richer by the contribution of sociology. The social phenomenon is now understood in the
light of scientific knowledge and enquiry. According to Lowie, most of us harbor the comfortable
delusion that our way of doing things is the only sensible if not only possible one. Sociology has
given us training to have rational approach to questions concerning oneself, one's religion,
customs, morals and institutions. It has further taught us to be objective, critical and
dispassionate. It enables man to have better understanding both of himself and of others. By
comparative study of societies and groups other than his existence, his life becomes richer and
fuller than it would otherwise be. Sociology also impresses upon us the necessity of overcoming
narrow personal prejudices, ambitions and class hatred.

Sociology is of great importance in the solution of international problems also. The

progress made by physical sciences has brought the nations of the world nearer to each other. But
in the social field the world has been left behind by the revolutionary progress of the science.
The world is divided politically giving rise to stress and conflict. Men have failed to bring in
peace. Sociology can help us in understanding the underlying causes and tensions.

The value of sociology lies in the fact that it keeps us update on modern situations. It
contributes to making good citizens and finding solutions to the community problems. It adds to
the knowledge of the society. It helps the individual find his relation to society. The study of
social phenomena and of the ways and means of promoting what Giddens calls social adequacy
is one of the most urgent needs of the modern society. Sociology has a strong appeal to all types
of mind through its direct bearing upon many of the initial problems of the present world.

Scope of Sociology

There are two schools of thought with different viewpoints regarding scope and subject matter of
sociology—formal and synthetic school. According to formal school, sociology was conceived to
be a social science with a specifically defined field. This school had George Simmel, Ferdinand
Tonnies, Alfred Vierkandt and Leopord Von Wiese as its main advocates. On the other hand the
synthetic school with Durkheim, Hobhouse and Sorokin advocated a synthesis in form of
coordination among all social sciences.

Formal School of Sociology

Formal school argued in favor of giving sociology a definite subject matter to make it a distinct
discipline. It emphasized upon the study of forms of social relationships and regarded sociology
as independent. According to Simmel sociology is a specific social science which describes,
classifies, analyses and delineates the forms of social relationships or in other words social
interactions should be classified into various forms or types and analysed. Simmel argued that
social interactions have various forms. He carried out studies of such formal relationships as
cooperation, competition, sub and super ordinate relationships and so forth. He said however
diverse the interests are that give rise to these sociations; the forms in which the interests are
realized may yet be identical. He emphasized on the process of abstraction of these forms from
human relationship which are common to diverse situations. Tonnies divided societies into two
categories namely Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (association) on the basis of
degree of intimacy among the members of the society.

He has on the basis of forms of relationship tried to differentiate between community and
society. Max Weber also makes out a definite field for sociology. According to him the aim of
sociology is to interpret or understand social behaviour. But social behavior does not cover the
whole field of human relations. Indeed not all human interactions are social. Sociology is
concerned with the analysis and classification of types of social relationships.

Criticism of formal School

Formal school has been criticized on the issue that it has emphasized on merely abstract forms
and neglected the concrete contents of social life. Abstract forms separated from concrete
relations cannot be studied. Ginsberg says that a study of social relationships would remain
barren if it is conducted in the abstract without the full knowledge of the terms to which in
concrete life they relate. Sociology doesn't alone study the forms of social relationship. Political
science, International law also studies forms of social relationship. The conception of pure
sociology is not practical as no social science can be studied in isolation from other social

Synthetic School of Sociology

Synthetic school wanted sociology to be synthesis of the social sciences and thus wanted to
widen the scope of sociology. According to Durkheim, sociology has three principal divisions'
namely-Social morphology, social physiology and general sociology. Social morphology is
concerned with geographical or territorial basis of life of people such as population, its size,
density and distribution etc. This can be done at two levels -analysis of size and quality of
population which affects the quality of social relationship and social groups. Secondly, the study
of social structure or description of the main forms of social groups and institutions with their
classification is the subject matter of this school. Social physiology deals with the genesis and
nature of various social institutions namely religion, morals, law and economic institutions etc.

In general sociology the main aim is to formulate general social laws. Attempt is made to
find out if there are links among various institutions which would be treated independently in
social physiology and in the course to discover general social laws. Hobhouse perceived
sociology as a science which has the whole social life of man as its sphere. Its relations with the
other social sciences are considered to be one of mutual exchange and mutual stimulation. Karl
Mannheim's divides sociology into two main sections-systematic and general sociology and
historical sociology. Systematic sociology describes one by one the main factors of living
together as far as they may be found in every kind of society. The historical sociology deals with
the historical variety and actuality of the general forms of society. It falls into two sections-
comparative sociology and social dynamics. Comparative sociology deals mainly with the
historical variations of the same phenomenon and tries to find by comparison general features as
separated from industrial features. Social dynamics deals with the interrelations between the
various social factors and institutions in a certain given society for example in a primitive
society. Ginsberg has summed up the chief functions of sociology as it seeks to provide a
classification of types and forms of social relationships especially of those which have come to
be defined institutions and associations. It tries to determine the relation between different parts
of factors of social life for example the economic and political, the moral and the legal, the
intellectual and the social elements. It endeavors to disentangle the fundamental conditions of
social change and persistence and to discover sociological principles governing social life.

Thus on the basis of viewpoints of different sociologists we can get a general outline of
the scope of sociology. Firstly the analysis of various institutions, associations and social groups
which are results of social relationships of individuals should be the concern of sociology.
Secondly the links among different parts of society should be studied.

This objective is dealt with justice by functionalist school of sociology and Marxist
school also gives importance to this viewpoint. Thus social structure should be given adequate
importance in subject matter of sociology. Thirdly sociology addresses itself to the factors which
contribute to social stability and social change. Fourthly sociology should also explain the trend
of the changing pattern and the aftermath of the changes in the society.

Three Major Perspectives in Sociology

Sociologists analyze social phenomena at different levels and from different perspectives.
From concrete interpretations to sweeping generalizations of society and social behavior,
sociologists study everything from specific events (the micro level of analysis of small
social patterns) to the “big picture” (the macro level of analysis of large social patterns).

The pioneering European sociologists, however, also offered a broad

conceptualization of the fundamentals of society and its workings. Their views form the
basis for today's theoretical perspectives, or paradigms, which provide sociologists with an
orienting framework—a philosophical position—for asking certain kinds of questions about
society and its people.

Sociologists today employ three primary theoretical perspectives: the symbolic

interactionist perspective, the functionalist perspective, and the conflict perspective. These
perspectives offer sociologists theoretical paradigms for explaining how society influences
people, and vice versa. Each perspective uniquely conceptualizes society, social forces, and
human behavior (see Table 1 ).

TABLE 1 Sociological Perspectives

Sociological Level of
Perspective Analysis Focus

1.Symbolic Micro Use of symbols; Face-to-face interactions


2. Functionalism Macro Relationship between the parts of society; How aspects of

society are functional (adaptive)

3. Conflict Theory Macro Competition for scarce resources; How the elite control the
poor and weak

Symbolic interactionist perspective

The symbolic interactionist perspective, also known as symbolic interactionism, directs

sociologists to consider the symbols and details of everyday life, what these symbols mean,
and how people interact with each other. Although symbolic interactionism traces its origins
to Max Weber's assertion that individuals act according to their interpretation of the
meaning of their world, the American philosopher George H. Mead (1863–1931)
introduced this perspective to American sociology in the 1920s.

According to the symbolic interactionist perspective, people attach meanings to

symbols, and then they act according to their subjective interpretation of these symbols.
Verbal conversations, in which spoken words serve as the predominant symbols, make this
subjective interpretation especially evident. The words have a certain meaning for the
“sender,” and, during effective communication, they hopefully have the same meaning for
the “receiver.”

In other terms, words are not static “things”; they require intention and
interpretation. Conversation is an interaction of symbols between individuals who
constantly interpret the world around them. Of course, anything can serve as a symbol as
long as it refers to something beyond itself. Written music serves as an example. The black
dots and lines become more than mere marks on the page; they refer to notes organized in
such a way as to make musical sense. Thus, symbolic interactionists give serious thought to
how people act, and then seek to determine what meanings individuals assign to their own
actions and symbols, as well as to those of others.

Consider applying symbolic interactionism to the American institution of marriage.

Symbols may include wedding bands, vows of life-long commitment, a white bridal dress, a
wedding cake, a Church ceremony, and flowers and music. American society attaches
general meanings to these symbols, but individuals also maintain their own perceptions of
what these and other symbols mean. For example, one of the spouses may see their circular
wedding rings as symbolizing “never ending love,” while the other may see them as a mere
financial expense. Much faulty communication can result from differences in the perception
of the same events and symbols.

Critics claim that symbolic interactionism neglects the macro level of social
interpretation—the “big picture.” In other words, symbolic interactionists may miss the
larger issues of society by focusing too closely on the “trees” (for example, the size of the
diamond in the wedding ring) rather than the “forest” (for example, the quality of the
marriage). The perspective also receives criticism for slighting the influence of social forces
and institutions on individual interactions.

The functionalist perspective

According to the functionalist perspective, also called functionalism, each aspect of

society is interdependent and contributes to society's functioning as a whole. The
government, or state, provides education for the children of the family, which in turn pays
taxes on which the state depends to keep itself running. That is, the family is dependent
upon the school to help children grow up to have good jobs so that they can raise and
support their own families. In the process, the children become law-abiding, taxpaying
citizens, who in turn support the state. If all goes well, the parts of society produce order,
stability, and productivity.

If all does not go well, the parts of society then must adapt to recapture a new order,
stability, and productivity. For example, during a financial recession with its high rates of
unemployment and inflation, social programs are trimmed or cut. Schools offer fewer
programs. Families tighten their budgets. And a new social order, stability, and productivity

Functionalists believe that society is held together by social consensus, or cohesion,

in which members of the society agree upon, and work together to achieve, what is best for
society as a whole. Emile Durkheim suggested that social consensus takes one of two forms:

Mechanical solidarity is a form of social cohesion that arises when people in a

society maintain similar values and beliefs and engage in similar types of work. Mechanical
solidarity most commonly occurs in traditional, simple societies such as those in which
everyone herds cattle or farms. Amish society exemplifies mechanical solidarity. In contrast,
organic solidarity is a form of social cohesion that arises when the people in a society are
interdependent, but hold to varying values and beliefs and engage in varying types of work.
Organic solidarity most commonly occurs in industrialized, complex societies such those in
large American cities like New York in the 2000s.

The functionalist perspective achieved its greatest popularity among American

sociologists in the 1940s and 1950s. While European functionalists originally focused on
explaining the inner workings of social order, American functionalists focused on
discovering the functions of human behavior. Among these American functionalist
sociologists is Robert Merton (b. 1910), who divides human functions into two types:
manifest functions are intentional and obvious, while latent functions are unintentional
and not obvious. The manifest function of attending a church or synagogue, for instance, is
to worship as part of a religious community, but its latent function may be to help members
learn to discern personal from institutional values.

With common sense, manifest functions become easily apparent. Yet this is not
necessarily the case for latent functions, which often demand a sociological approach to be
revealed. A sociological approach in functionalism is the consideration of the relationship
between the functions of smaller parts and the functions of the whole.

Functionalism has received criticism for neglecting the negative functions of an

event such as divorce. Critics also claim that the perspective justifies the status quo and
complacency on the part of society's members. Functionalism does not encourage people to
take an active role in changing their social environment, even when such change may
benefit them. Instead, functionalism sees active social change as undesirable because the
various parts of society will compensate naturally for any problems that may arise.

The Conflict perspective

The conflict perspective, which originated primarily out of Karl Marx's writings on class
struggles, presents society in a different light than do the functionalist and symbolic
interactionist perspectives. While these latter perspectives focus on the positive aspects of
society that contribute to its stability, the conflict perspective focuses on the negative,
conflicted, and ever-changing nature of society.

Unlike functionalists who defend the status quo, avoid social change, and believe
people cooperate to effect social order, conflict theorists challenge the status quo, encourage
social change (even when this means social revolution), and believe rich and powerful
people force social order on the poor and the weak. Conflict theorists, for example, may
interpret an “elite” board of regents raising tuition to pay for esoteric new programs that
raise the prestige of a local college as self-serving rather than as beneficial for students.

Whereas American sociologists in the 1940s and 1950s generally ignored the conflict
perspective in favor of the functionalist, the tumultuous 1960s saw American sociologists
gain considerable interest in conflict theory. They also expanded Marx's idea that the key
conflict in society was strictly economic.

Today, conflict theorists find social conflict between any groups in which the
potential for inequality exists: racial, gender, religious, political, economic, and so on.
Conflict theorists note that unequal groups usually have conflicting values and agendas,
causing them to compete against one another. This constant competition between groups
forms the basis for the ever-changing nature of society.

Critics of the conflict perspective point to its overly negative view of society. The
theory ultimately attributes humanitarian efforts, altruism, democracy, civil rights, and other
positive aspects of society to capitalistic designs to control the masses, not to inherent
interests in preserving society and social order.

UNIT 2: Founding Fathers and their contributions (22 pgs)

Auguste Comte

Auguste Comte (1798 - 1857) was a French positivist thinker and came up with the term of
sociology to name the new science made by Saint-Simon. One universal law that Comte saw at
work in all sciences he called the 'law of three phases'. It is by his statement of this law that he is
best known in the English-speaking world; namely, that society has gone through three phases:
Theological, Metaphysical, and Scientific.

The Theological phase was seen from the perspective of 19th century France as preceding
the Enlightenment, in which man's place in society and society's restrictions upon man were
referenced to God. By the "Metaphysical" phase, he was not referring to the Metaphysics of
Aristotle or any other ancient Greek philosopher, for Comte was rooted in the problems of
French society subsequent to the revolution of 1789. This Metaphysical phase involved the
justification of universal rights as being on a vauntedly higher plane than the authority of any
human ruler to countermand, although said rights were not referenced to the sacred beyond mere

What he announced by his term of the scientific phase, which came into being after the
failure of the revolution and of Napoleon, was that people could find solutions to social problems
and bring them into force despite the proclamations of human rights or prophecy of the will of
God. In this regard, he was similar to Karl Marx and Jeremy Bentham. For its time, this idea of a
scientific phase was considered up-to-date, although from a later standpoint it is too derivative of
classical physics and academic history. The other universal law he called the 'encyclopedic law'.
By combining these laws, Comte developed a systematic and hierarchical classification of all
sciences, including inorganic physics (astronomy, earth science and chemistry) and organic
physics (biology and for the first time, physique sociale, later renamed sociologie). This idea of a
special science-not the humanity, not metaphysics-for the social was prominent in the 19th
century and not unique to Comte. The ambitious-many would say grandiose-way that Comte
conceived of it, however, was unique. Comte saw this new science, sociology, as the last and

greatest of all sciences, one that would include all other sciences, and which would integrate and
relate their findings into a cohesive whole.

Comte's explanation of the Positive philosophy introduced the important relationship

between theory, practice and human understanding of the world. On page 27 of the 1855 printing
of Harriet Martineau's translation of The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, we see his
observation that, "If it is true that every theory must be based upon observed facts, it is equally
true that facts can not be observed without the guidance of some theory. Without such guidance,
our facts would be desultory and fruitless; we could not retain them: for the most part we could
not even perceive them. He coined the word "altruism" to refer to what he believed to be a moral
obligation of individuals to serve others and place their interests above one's own. He opposed
the idea of individual rights, maintaining that they were not consistent with this supposed ethical
obligation (Catechisme Positiviste).

Comte formulated the law of three stages, one of the first theories of the social
evolutionism: that human development (social progress) progresses from the theological stage, in
which nature was mythically conceived and man sought the explanation of natural phenomena
from supernatural beings, through metaphysical stage in which nature was conceived of as a
result of obscure forces and man sought the explanation of natural phenomena from them until
the final positive stage in which all abstract and obscure forces are discarded, and natural
phenomena are explained by their constant relationship. This progress is forced through the
development of human mind, and increasing application of thought, reasoning and logic to the
understanding of world. During his lifetime, Comte's work was sometimes viewed skeptically
because he elevated Positivism to a religion and named himself the Pope of Positivism. Comte
coined the term "sociology", and is usually regarded as the first sociologist. His emphasis on the
interconnectedness of different social elements was a forerunner of modern functionalism.
Nevertheless, like many others from his time, certain elements of his work are regarded as
eccentric and unscientific, and his grand vision of sociology as the center-piece of all the
sciences has not come to fruition. His emphasis was on a quantitative, mathematical basis for
decision-making remains with us today. It is a foundation of the modern notion of Positivism,
modern quantitative statistical analysis, and business decision-making

Karl Marx
Karl Marx's (1818- 1883) thought was strongly influenced by:

 The dialectical method and historical orientation of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel;

 The classical political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo;

 French socialist and sociological thought, in particular the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

The most important concepts of Karl Marx

The following concepts of Marx have aided sociological thought significantly;

 Dialectical Materialism

 Materialistic Interpretation of History, i.e., Historical Materialism

 Class and Class conflict

 Alienation

Marx believed that he could study history and society scientifically and discern tendencies of
history and the resulting outcome of social conflicts. Some followers of Marx concluded that a
communist revolution is inevitable. However, Marx famously asserted in the eleventh of his
Theses on Feuerbach that "philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the
point however is to change it", and he clearly dedicated himself to trying to alter the world.
Consequently, most followers of Marx are not fatalists, but activists who believe that
revolutionaries must organize social change.

Marx's view of history, which came to be called the materialist conception of history (and
which was developed further as the philosophy of dialectical materialism) is certainly influenced
by Hegel's claim that reality (and history) should be viewed dialectically. Hegel believed that the
direction of human history is characterized in the movement from the fragmentary toward the
complete and the real (which was also a movement towards greater and greater rationality).
Sometimes, Hegel explained, this progressive unfolding of the Absolute involves gradual,
evolutionary accretion but at other times requires discontinuous, revolutionary leaps - episodal
upheavals against the existing status quo.

For example, Hegel strongly opposed the ancient institution of legal slavery that was
practiced in the United States during his lifetime, and he envisioned a time when Christian
nations would radically eliminate it from their civilization. While Marx accepted this broad
conception of history, Hegel was an idealist, and Marx sought to rewrite dialectics in materialist
terms. He wrote that Hegelianism stood the movement of reality on its head, and that it was
necessary to set it upon its feet. (Hegel's philosophy remained and remains in direct opposition to
Marxism on this key point.)

Marx's acceptance of this notion of materialist dialectics which rejected Hegel's idealism
was greatly influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach. In The Essence of Christianity, Feuerbach argued
that God is really a creation of man and that the qualities people attribute to God are really
qualities of humanity. Accordingly, Marx argued that it is the material world that is real and that
our ideas of it are consequences, not causes, of the world. Thus, like Hegel and other
philosophers, Marx distinguished between appearances and reality. But he did not believe that
the material world hides from us the "real" world of the ideal; on the contrary, he thought that
historically and socially specific ideologies prevented people from seeing the material conditions
of their lives clearly.

The other important contribution to Marx's revision of Hegelianism was Engels' book,
The Condition of the Working Class in England published in 1844, which led Marx to conceive
the historical dialectic in terms of class conflict and to see the modern working class as the most
progressive force for revolution. The notion of labour is fundamental in Marx's thought.
Basically, Marx argued that it is human nature to transform nature, and he calls this process of
transformation "labour" and the capacity to transform nature labour power. For Marx, this is a
natural capacity for a physical activity, but it is intimately tied to the human mind and human

Karl Marx inherits the Hegelian dialectic and, with it, a disdain for the notion of an
underlying invariant human nature. Sometimes Marxists express their views by contrasting
"nature" with "history". Sometimes they use the phrase "existence precedes consciousness". The
point, in either case, is that who a person is, is determined by where and when he is - social
context takes precedence over innate behavior; or, in other words, one of the main features of
human nature is adaptability. Marx did not believe that all people worked the same way, or that
how one works is entirely personal and individual. Instead, he argued that work is a social
activity and that the conditions and forms under and through which people work are socially
determined and change over time. Marx's analysis of history is based on his distinction between
the means / forces of production, literally those things, such as land, natural resources, and
technology, that are necessary for the production of material goods, and the relations of
production, in other words, the social and technical relationships people enter into as they
acquire and use the means of production. Together these comprise the mode of production; Marx
observed that within any given society the mode of production changes, and those European
societies had progressed from a feudal mode of production to a capitalist mode of production. In
general, Marx believed that the means of production change more rapidly than the relations of
production (for example, we develop a new technology, such as the Internet, and only later do we
develop laws to regulate that technology). For Marx, this mismatch between base (economic)
and superstructure (social) is a major source of social disruption and conflict. Marx understood
the "social relations of production" to comprise not only relations among individuals, but
between or among groups of people or classes. As a scientist and materialist, Marx did not
understand classes as purely subjective (in other words, groups of people who consciously
identified with one another). He sought to define classes in terms of objective criteria, such as
their access to resources.

For Marx, different classes have divergent interests, which is another source of social
disruption and conflict. Conflict between social classes is something which is inherent in all
human history. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles (The
Communist Manifesto, Chap. 1)

Marx was especially concerned with how people relate to that most fundamental resource
of all, their own labour-power. Marx wrote extensively about this in terms of the problem of
alienation. As with the dialectic, Marx began with a Hegelian notion of alienation but developed
a more materialist conception. For Marx, the possibility that one may give up ownership of one's
own labour - one's capacity to transform the world - is tantamount to being alienated from one's
own nature; it is a spiritual loss. Marx described this loss in terms of commodity fetishism, in
which the things that people produce, commodities, appear to have a life and movement of their
own to which humans and their behavior merely adapt. This disguises the fact that the exchange

and circulation of commodities really are the product and reflection of social relationships
among people. Under capitalism, social relationships of production, such as among workers or
between workers and capitalists, are mediated through commodities, including labor that are
bought and sold on the market.

Commodity fetishism is an example of what Engels called false consciousness, which is

closely related to the understanding of ideology. By ideology they meant ideas that reflect the
interests of a particular class at a particular time in history, but which are presented as universal
and eternal. Marx and Engels' point was not only that such beliefs are at best half-truths; they
serve an important political function. Put another way, the control that one class exercises over
the means of production includes not only the production of food or manufactured goods; it
includes the production of ideas as well (this provides one possible explanation for why members
of a subordinate class may hold ideas contrary to their own interests).

Thus, while such ideas may be false, they also reveal in coded form some truth about
political relations. For example, although the belief that the things people produce are actually
more productive than the people who produce them is literally absurd, it does reflect the fact
(according to Marx and Engels) that people under capitalism are alienated from their own labour-
power. Another example of this sort of analysis is Marx's understanding of religion, summed up
in a passage from the preface to his 1843 Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of
Right: Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a
protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a
heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Whereas his
Gymnasium senior thesis argued that the primary social function of religion was to promote
solidarity. Here Marx sees the social function as a way of expressing and coping with social
inequality, thereby maintaining the status quo. Marx argued that this alienation of human work
(and resulting commodity fetishism) is precisely the defining feature of capitalism. Prior to
capitalism, markets existed in Europe where producers and merchants bought and sold
commodities. According to Marx, a capitalist mode of production developed in Europe when
labour itself became a commodity - when peasants became free to sell their own labor-power,
and needed to do so because they no longer possessed their own land or tools necessary to
produce. People sell their labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever

work they do in a given period of time (in other words, they are not selling the product of their
labor, but their capacity to work). In return for selling their labor power they receive money,
which allows them to survive. Those who must sell their labour power to live are "proletarians."
The person who buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology
to produce, is a "capitalist" or "bourgeois." Marx considered this an objective description of
capitalism, distinct from any one of a variety of ideological claims of or about capitalism. The
proletarians inevitably outnumber the capitalists.

Marx distinguished industrial capitalists from merchant capitalists. Merchants buy goods
in one place and sell them in another; more precisely, they buy things in one market and sell
them in another. Since the laws of supply and demand operate within given markets, there is
often a difference between the price of a commodity in one market and another.

Merchants, then, practice arbitrage, and hope to capture the difference between these two
markets. According to Marx, capitalists, on the other hand, take advantage of the difference
between the labor market and the market for whatever commodity is produced by the capitalist.
Marx observed that in practically every successful industry input unit-costs are lower than output
unit-prices. Marx called the difference "surplus value" and argued that this surplus value had its
source in surplus labour.

The capitalist mode of production is capable of tremendous growth because the capitalist
can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits in new technologies. Marx considered the capitalist
class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly revolutionized the means of
production. But Marx argued that capitalism was prone to periodic crises. He suggested that over
time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labour.
Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labour is the source of profits, he
concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit
falls below a certain point, the result would be a recession or depression in which certain sectors
of the economy would collapse. Marx understood that during such a crisis the price of labor
would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth
of new sectors of the economy.

Marx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be punctuated by
increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that the long-term consequence of this process
was necessarily the enrichment and empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment
of the proletariat. He believed that they were the proletariat to seize the means of production,
they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, and a system of
production less vulnerable to periodic crises. In general, Marx thought that peaceful negotiation
of this problem was impracticable, and that a massive, well-organized and violent revolution
would in general be required, because the ruling class would not give up power without violence.

He theorized that to establish the socialist system, a dictatorship of the proletariat - a

period where the needs of the working-class, not of capital, will be the common deciding factor -
must be created on a temporary basis. As he wrote in his "Critique of the Gotha Program",
"between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary
transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period
in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat."

In the 1920s and 30s, a group of dissident Marxists founded the Institute for Social
Research in Germany, among them Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, and
Herbert Marcuse. As a group, these authors are often called the Frankfurt School. Their work is
known as Critical Theory, a type of Marxist philosophy and cultural criticism heavily influenced
by Hegel, Freud, Nietzsche, and Max Weber. The Frankfurt School broke with earlier Marxists,
including Lenin and Bolshevism in several key ways. First, writing at the time of the ascendance
of Stalinism and Fascism, they had grave doubts as to the traditional Marxist concept of
proletarian class consciousness. Second, unlike earlier Marxists, especially Lenin, they rejected
economic determinism. While highly influential, their work has been criticized by both orthodox
Marxists and some Marxists involved in political practice for divorcing Marxist theory from
practical struggle and turning Marxism into a purely academic enterprise. Other influential non-
Bolshevik Marxists at that time include Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin and Antonio Gramsci,
who along with the Frankfurt School are often known by the term Western Marxism. Henryk
Grossman, who elaborated the mathematical basis of Marx's 'law of capitalist breakdown', was
another affiliate of the Frankfurt School. Also prominent during this period was the Polish
revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. In 1949 Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman founded Monthly

Review, a journal and press, to provide an outlet for Marxist thought in the United States
independent of the Communist Party. In 1978, G. A. Cohen attempted to defend Marx's thought
as a coherent and scientific theory of history by reconstructing it through the lens of analytic
philosophy. This gave birth to Analytical Marxism, an academic movement which also included
Jon Elster, Adam Przeworski and John Roemer. Bertell Ollman is another Anglophone champion
of Marx within the academy.

Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) was concerned primarily with how societies could maintain their
integrity and coherence in the modern era, when things such as shared religious and ethnic
background could no longer be assumed. In order to study social life in modern societies,
Durkheim sought to create one of the first scientific approaches to social phenomena. Along with
Herbert Spencer, Durkheim was one of the first people to explain the existence and quality of
different parts of a society by reference to what function they served in keeping the society
healthy and balanced-a position that would come to be known as functionalism. Durkheim also
insisted that society was more than the sum of its parts. Thus unlike his contemporary Max
Weber, he focused not on what motivates the actions of individual people (methodological
individualism), but rather on the study of social facts, a term which he coined to describe
phenomena which have an existence in and of themselves and are not bound to the actions of
individuals. He argued that social facts had an independent existence greater and more objective
than the actions of the individuals that composed society and could only be explained by other
social facts rather than, say, by society's adaptation to a particular climate or ecological niche.

In his 1893 work The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim examined how social order
was maintained in different types of societies. He focused on the division of labor, and examined
how it differed in traditional societies and modern societies. Authors before him such as Herbert
Spencer and Ferdinand Toennies had argued that societies evolved much like living organisms,
moving from a simple state to a more complex one resembling the workings of complex
machines. Durkheim reversed this formula, adding his theory to the growing pool of theories of
social progress, social evolutionism and social Darwinism. He argued that traditional societies
were 'mechanical' and were held together by the fact that everyone was more or less the same,
and hence had things in common. In traditional societies, argues Durkheim, the collective
consciousness entirely subsumes individual consciousness-social norms are strong and social
behavior is well-regulated.

In modern societies, he argued, the highly complex division of labor resulted in 'organic'
solidarity. Different specializations in employment and social roles created dependencies that
tied people to one another, since people no longer could count on filling all of their needs by
themselves. In 'mechanical' societies, for example, subsistence farmers live in communities
which are self-sufficient and knit together by a common heritage and common job. In modern
'organic' societies, workers earn money, and must rely on other people who specialize in certain
products (groceries, clothing, etc.) to meet their needs. The result of increasing division of labor,
according to Durkheim, is that individual consciousness emerges distinct from collective
consciousness-often finding itself in conflict with collective consciousness. Durkheim also made
an association of the kind of solidarity in a given society and the preponderance of a law system.
He found that in societies with mechanical solidarity the law is generally repressive: the agent of
a crime or deviant behaviour would suffer a punishment that in fact would compensate collective
conscience neglected by the crime-the punishment acts more to preserve the unity of
consciences. On the other hand, in societies with organic solidarity the law is generally
restitutive: it aims not to punish, but instead to restitute normal activity of a complex society. The
rapid change in society due to increasing division of labor thus produces a state of confusion
with regard to norms and increasing impersonality in social life, leading eventually to relative
normlessness, i.e. the breakdown of social norms regulating behavior; Durkheim labels this state
anomie. From a state of anomie come all forms of deviant behavior, most notably suicide.

Durkheim developed the concept of anomie later in Suicide, published in 1897. In it, he explores
the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics, explaining that stronger social
control among Catholics results in lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, people have a
certain level of attachment to their groups, which he calls social integration. Abnormally high or
low levels of social integration may result in increased suicide rates; low levels have this effect
because low social integration results in disorganized society, causing people to turn to suicide as
a last resort, while high levels cause people to kill themselves to avoid becoming burdens on

According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration while
Protestant society has low levels. This work has influenced proponents of control theory, and is
often mentioned as a classic sociological study. Finally, Durkheim is remembered for his work
on 'primitive' (i.e. non-Western) people in books such as his 1912 volume Elementary Forms of
the Religious Life and the essay Primitive Classification that he wrote with Marcel Mauss. These
works examine the role that religion and mythology have in shaping the worldview and
personality of people in extremely (to use Durkheim's phrase) 'mechanical' societies. Durkheim
was also very interested in education. Partially this was because he was professionally employed
to train teachers, and he used his ability to shape curriculum to further his own goals of having
sociology taught as widely possible. More broadly, though, Durkheim was interested in the way
that education could be used to provide French citizens the sort of shared, secular background
that would be necessary to prevent anomie in modern societies. It was to this end that he also
proposed the formation of professional groups to serve as a source of solidarity for adults.
Durkheim argued that education has many functions:

1. To reinforce social solidarity

History: Learning about individuals who have done good things for the many makes an
individual feel insignificant.

Pledging Allegiance: Makes individuals feel part of a group and therefore less likely to break

2. To maintain social roles

School is a society in miniature. It has a similar hierarchy, rules, expectations to the "outside
world". It trains young people to fulfill roles.

3. To maintain division of labour

Sorts students out into skill groups. Teaches students to go into work depending on what they're
good at.

Max Weber

Maximilian Carl Emil Weber (21 April 1864–14 June 1920) was a German lawyer, politician,
scholar, political economist and sociologist, who profoundly influenced sociological theory.
Weber's major works deal with rationalization in sociology of religion, government,
organizational theory, and behavior. His most famous work is his essay The Protestant Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism, which began his work in the sociology of religion. In this work, Weber
argued that religion was one of the non-exclusive reasons for the different ways the cultures of
the Occident and the Orient have developed, and stressed that particular characteristics of ascetic
Protestantism influenced the development of capitalism, bureaucracy and the rational-legal state
in the West. The essay examines the effects Protestantism had upon the beginnings of capitalism,
arguing that capitalism is not purely materialist in Karl Marx's sense, but rather originates in
religious ideals and ideas which cannot be solely explained by ownership relations, technology
and advances in learning alone.

In another major work, Politics as a Vocation, Weber defined the state as an entity which
claims a "monopoly on the legitimate use of violence", a definition that became pivotal to the
study of modern Western political science. His analysis of bureaucracy in his Economy and
Society is still central to the modern study of organizations.

His most known contributions are often referred to as the "Weber Thesis". He was the
first to recognize several diverse aspects of social authority, which he respectively categorized
according to their charismatic, traditional, and legal forms. His analysis of bureaucracy thus
noted that modern state institutions are based on a form of rational-legal authority.

In 1904, Weber began to publish some of his most seminal papers in this journal, notably his
essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It became his most famous work,[14] and
laid the foundations for his later research on the impact of cultures and religions on the
development of economic systems. This essay was the only one of his works that was published
as a book during his lifetime.


Weber's early work was related to industrial sociology, but he is most famous for his later work
on the sociology of religion and sociology of government. Along with Karl Marx and Émile
Durkheim, Weber is regarded as one of the founders of modern sociology, although in his time he
was viewed primarily as a historian and an economist. Whereas Durkheim, following Comte,
worked in the positivist tradition, Weber created and worked – like Werner Sombart, his friend
and then the most famous representative of German sociology – in the antipositivist,
hermeneutic, tradition. Those works started the antipositivistic revolution in social sciences,
which stressed the difference between the social sciences and natural sciences, [22] especially due
to human social actions (which Weber differentiated into traditional, affectional, value-rational
and instrumental.

Weber began his studies of rationalisation in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Capitalism, in which he argued that the redefinition of the connection between work and piety in
Protestantism, and especially in ascetic Protestant denominations, particularly Calvinism,] shifted
human effort towards rational efforts aimed at achieving economic gain.

In Calvinism in particular, but also in Lutheranism, Christian piety towards God was
expressed through or in one's secular vocation. Calvin, in particular, viewed the expression of the
work ethic as a sign of "election". The rational roots of this doctrine, he argued, soon grew
incompatible with and larger than the religious, and so the latter were eventually discarded []
Weber continued his investigation into this matter in later works, notably in his studies on
bureaucracy and on the classifications of authority into three types—legitimate, traditional, and
charismatic. In these works Weber described what he saw as society's movement towards

It should be noted that many of Weber's works famous today were collected, revised, and
published posthumously. Significant interpretations of Weber's writings were produced by such
sociological luminaries as Talcott Parsons of Harvard, who imparted to Weber's works a
functionalist and teleological perspective (although Weber himself claimed his works were
merely descriptive of the phenomena he was studying), and C. Wright Mills.

Sociology of religion

Weber's work on the sociology of religion started with the essay The Protestant Ethic and the
Spirit of Capitalism, which grew out of heavy "field work" among Protestant sects in America,
and continued with the analysis of The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism, The
Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism, and Ancient Judaism. His work on
other religions was interrupted by his sudden death in 1920, which prevented him from following
Ancient Judaism with studies of Psalms, Book of Jacob, Talmudic Jewry, early Christianity and
Islam. His three main themes were the effect of religious ideas on economic activities, the
relation between social stratification and religious ideas, and the distinguishable characteristics
of Western civilization.

His goal was to find reasons for the different development paths of the cultures of the
Occident and the Orient, although without judging or valuing them, like some of the
contemporary thinkers who followed the social Darwinist paradigm; Weber wanted primarily to
explain the distinctive elements of the Western civilization.] In the analysis of his findings, Weber
maintained that Calvinist (and more widely, Protestant) religious ideas had had a major impact
on the social innovation and development of the economic system of Europe and the United
States, but noted that they were not the only factors in this development.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Weber's essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Die protestantische Ethik und
der Geist des Kapitalismus) is his most famous work. It is argued that this work should not be
viewed as a detailed study of Protestantism, but rather as an introduction into Weber's later
works, especially his studies of interaction between various religious ideas and economic
behaviour. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber put forward the thesis that
Calvinist ethic and ideas influenced the development of capitalism. In this work, he relied on a
great deal of statistics from the era, which indicated the predominance of Protestants among the
wealthy, industrial, and technical classes relative to Catholics. He also noted the shift of Europe's
economic center after the Reformation away from Catholic countries such as France, Spain and
Italy, and toward Protestant countries such as England, Scotland, Germany and Holland. This
theory is often viewed as a reversal of Marx's thesis that the economic "base" of society
determines all other aspects of it. Christian religious devotion had historically been accompanied
by rejection of mundane affairs, including economic pursuit. Why was that not the case with
Protestantism? Weber addressed that paradox in his essay.

According to Weber, one of the universal tendencies that Christians had historically
fought against was the desire to profit. After defining the spirit of capitalism, Weber argued that

there were many reasons to look for the origins of modern capitalism in the religious ideas of the

Weber showed that certain types of Protestantism – notably Calvinism – favored rational
pursuit of economic gain and worldly activities which had been given positive spiritual and
moral meaning. It was not the goal of those religious ideas, but rather a byproduct – the inherent
logic of those doctrines and the advice based upon them both directly and indirectly encouraged
planning and self-denial in the pursuit of economic gain. A common illustration is in the cobbler,
hunched over his work, who devotes his entire effort to the praise of God. In addition, the
Reformation view "calling" dignified even the most mundane professions as being those that
added to the common good and were blessed by God, as much as any "sacred" calling could.
This Reformation view, that all the spheres of life were sacred when dedicated to God and His
purposes of nurturing and furthering life, profoundly affected the view of work.

Weber noted that this is not a philosophy of mere greed, but a statement laden with moral
language. Indeed, Franklin claimed that God revealed to him the usefulness of virtue. To
emphasize the work ethic in Protestantism relative to Catholicism, Weber noted a common
problem that industrialists faced when employing precapitalist laborers: agricultural
entrepreneurs would try to encourage time spent harvesting by offering a higher wage, with the
expectation that laborers would see time spent working as more valuable and so engage it longer.
However, in precapitalist societies similar attempts often resulted in laborers spending less time
harvesting. Laborers judged that they could earn the same amount as previously, while spending
less time working and having more leisure. Weber also noted that societies having more
Protestants were those that have a more developed capitalist economy. It was particularly
advantageous in technical occupations for workers to be extremely devoted to their craft. To
view the craft as an end in itself or as a "calling" would serve this need well. This attitude was
well-noted in certain classes which have endured religious education, especially of a Pietistic

The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism

The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism was Weber's second major work on the
sociology of religion. Weber focused on those aspects of Chinese society that were different from
those of Western Europe and especially contrasted with Puritanism, and posed a question why
capitalism did not develop in China. In Hundred Schools of Thought Warring States Period, he
concentrated on the early period of Chinese history, during which the major Chinese schools of
thoughts (Confucianism and Taoism) came to the fore.

By 200 BC, the Chinese state had developed from a loose federation of feudal states into
a unified empire with patrimonial rule, as described in the Warring States Period.[35] As in
Europe, Chinese cities had been founded as forts or leaders' residences, and were the centres of
trade and crafts. However, they never received political autonomy and its citizens had no special
political rights or privileges. This is due to the strength of kinship ties, which stems from
religious beliefs in ancestral spirits. Also, the guilds competed against each other for the favor of
the Emperor, never uniting in order to fight for more rights. Therefore, the residents of Chinese
cities never constitute a separate status class like the residents of European cities.

Early unification of the state and the establishment of central officialdom meant that the
focus of the power struggle changed from the distribution of land to the distribution of offices,
which with their fees and taxes were the most prominent source of income for the holder, who
often pocketed up to 50% of the revenue. The imperial government depended on the services of
those officials, not on the service of the military (knights) as in Europe.

Weber emphasised that Confucianism tolerated a great number of popular cults without
any effort to systematise them into a religious doctrine. Instead of metaphysical conjectures, it
taught adjustment to the world. The "superior" man (literati) should stay away from the pursuit
of wealth (though not from wealth itself). Therefore, becoming a civil servant was preferred to
becoming a businessman and granted a much higher status.

Chinese civilization had neither religious prophecy nor a powerful priestly class. The
emperor was the high priest of the state religion and the supreme ruler, but popular cults were
also tolerated (however the political ambitions of their priests were curtailed). This forms a sharp
contrast with medieval Europe, where the Church curbed the power of secular rulers and the
same faith was professed by rulers and common folk alike.

According to Confucianism, the worship of great deities is the affair of the state, while
ancestral worship is required of all, and the multitude of popular cults is tolerated. Confucianism
tolerated magic and mysticism as long as they were useful tools for controlling the masses; it
denounced them as heresy and suppressed them when they threatened the established order
(hence the opposition to Buddhism). Note that in this context, Confucianism can be referred to as
the state cult, and Taoism as the popular religion.

Weber argued that while several factors favored the development of a capitalist economy
(long periods of peace, improved control of rivers, population growth, freedom to acquire land
and move outside of native community, free choice of occupation) they were outweighed by
others (mostly stemming from religion):technical inventions were opposed on the basis of
religion, in the sense that the disturbance of ancestral spirits was argued to lead to bad luck, and
adjusting oneself to the world was preferred to changing it. Sale of land was often prohibited or
made very difficult. Extended kinship groups (based on the religious importance of family ties
and ancestry) protected its members against economic adversities, therefore discouraging
payment of debts, work discipline, and rationalisation of work processes. Those kinship groups
prevented the development of an urban status class and hindered developments towards legal
institutions, codification of laws, and the rise of a lawyer class.

According to Weber, Confucianism and Puritanism represent two comprehensive but

mutually exclusive types of rationalisation, each attempting to order human life according to
certain ultimate religious beliefs. Both encouraged sobriety and self-control and were compatible
with the accumulation of wealth.

However, Confucianism aimed at attaining and preserving "a cultured status position"
and used as means adjustment to the world, education, self-perfection, politeness and familial
piety. Puritanism used those means in order to create a "tool of God", creating a person that
would serve the God and master the world. Such intensity of belief and enthusiasm for action
were alien to the aesthetic values of Confucianism. Therefore, Weber states that it was the
difference in prevailing mentality that contributed to the development of capitalism in the West
and the absence of it in China.

The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism

The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism was Weber's third major work on the sociology of
religion. In this work he deals with the structure of Indian society, with the orthodox doctrines of
Hinduism and the heterodox doctrines of Buddhism, with modifications brought by the influence
of popular religiosity, and finally with the impact of religious beliefs on the secular ethic of
Indian society.

The ancient Indian social system was shaped by the concept of caste. It directly linked
religious belief and the segregation of society into status groups. Weber describes the caste
system, consisting of the Brahmins (priests), the Kshatriyas (warriors), the Vaisyas (merchants)
and the Shudras (labourers). Then he describes the spread of the caste system in India due to
conquests, the marginalisation of certain tribes and the subdivision of castes.

Weber pays special attention to Brahmins and analyzes why they occupied the highest
place in Indian society for so many centuries. With regard to the concept of dharma he concludes
that the Indian ethical pluralism is very different both from the universal ethic of Confucianism
and Christianity. He notes that the caste system prevented the development of urban status

Next, Weber analyses the Hindu religious beliefs, including asceticism and the Hindu
world view, the Brahman orthodox doctrines, the rise and fall of Buddhism in India, the Hindu
restoration, and the evolution of the guru.

Weber asks the question whether religion had any influence upon the daily round of
mundane activities, and if so, how it impacted economic conduct. He notes the idea of an
immutable world order consisting of the eternal cycles of rebirth and the deprecation of the
mundane world, and finds that the traditional caste system, supported by the religion, slowed
economic development; in other words, the "spirit" of the caste system militated against an
indigenous development of capitalism.

Weber concludes his study of society and religion in India by combining his findings with
his previous work on China. He notes that the beliefs tended to interpret the meaning of life as
otherworldly or mystical experience, that the intellectuals tended to be apolitical in their
orientation, and that the social world was fundamentally divided between the educated, whose
lives were oriented toward the exemplary conduct of a prophet or wise man, and the uneducated
masses who remained caught in their daily rounds and believed in magic. In Asia, no Messianic
prophecy appeared that could have given "plan and meaning to the everyday life of educated and
uneducated alike." He argues that it was the Messianic prophecies in the countries of the Near
East, as distinguished from the prophecy of the Asiatic mainland, that prevented Western
countries from following the paths of China and India, and his next work, Ancient Judaism was
an attempt to prove this theory.

Ancient Judaism

In Ancient Judaism, his fourth major work on the sociology of religion, Weber attempted to
explain the "combination of circumstances" which resulted in the early differences between
Oriental and Occidental religiosity.] It is especially visible when the innerworldly asceticism
developed by Western Christianity is contrasted with mystical contemplation of the kind
developed in India. Weber noted that some aspects of Christianity sought to conquer and change
the world, rather than withdraw from its imperfections. This fundamental characteristic of
Christianity (when compared to Far Eastern religions) stems originally from ancient Jewish
prophecy. Stating his reasons for investigating ancient Judaism,

Weber wrote that:

Anyone who is heir to the traditions of modern European civilization will approach the problems
of universal history with a set of questions, which to him appear both inevitable and legitimate.
These questions will turn on the combination of circumstances which has brought about the
cultural phenomena that are uniquely Western and that have at the same time (…) a universal
cultural significance.

Further, he adds:

"For the Jew (…) the social order of the world was conceived to have been turned into the
opposite of that promised for the future, but in the future it was to be overturned so that Jewry
could be once again dominant. The world was conceived as neither eternal nor unchangeable, but

rather as being created. Its present structure was a product of man's actions, above all those of the
Jews, and God's reaction to them. Hence the world was a historical product designed to give way
to the truly God-ordained order. There existed in addition a highly rational religious ethic of
social conduct; it was free of magic and all forms of irrational quest for salvation; it was
inwardly worlds apart from the path of salvation offered by Asiatic religions. To a large extent
this ethic still underlies contemporary Middle Eastern and European ethic. World-historical
interest in Jewry rests upon this fact. Thus, in considering the conditions of Jewry's evolution,
we stand at a turning point of the whole cultural development of the West and the Middle East".

Weber analyzes the interaction between the Bedouins, the cities, the herdsmen and the
peasants, including the conflicts between them and the rise and fall of the United Monarchy. The
time of the United Monarchy appears as a mere episode, dividing the period of confederacy since
the Exodus and the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan from the period of political decline
following the Division of the Monarchy. This division into periods has major implications for
religious history. Since the basic tenets of Judaism were formulated during the time of Israelite
confederacy and after the fall of the United Monarchy, they became the basis of the prophetic
movement that left a lasting impression on the Western civilization.

Weber discusses the organization of the early confederacy, the unique qualities of the
Israelites' relations to Yahweh, the influence of foreign cults, types of religious ecstasy, and the
struggle of the priests against ecstasy and idol worship. He goes on to describe the times of the
Division of the Monarchy, social aspects of Biblical prophecy, the social orientation of the
prophets, demagogues and pamphleteers, ecstasy and politics, and the ethic and theodicity of the
prophets. Weber notes that Judaism not only fathered Christianity and Islam, but was crucial to
the rise of modern Occident state, as its influence were as important to those of Hellenistic and
Roman cultures.

Sociology of politics and government

In the sociology of politics and government, one of Weber's most significant contributions is his
Politics as a Vocation essay. Therein, Weber unveils the definition of the state that has become so
pivotal to Western social thought: that the state is that entity which possesses a monopoly on the
legitimate use of physical force, which it may nonetheless elect to delegate as it sees fit. In this

essay, Weber wrote that politics is to be understood as any activity in which the state might
engage itself in order to influence the relative distribution of force. Politics thus comes to be
understood as deriving from power. A politician must not be a man of the "true Christian ethic",
understood by Weber as being the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount, that is to say, the injunction
to turn the other cheek. An adherent of such an ethic ought rather to be understood to be a saint,
for it is only saints, according to Weber, that can appropriately follow it. The political realm is no
realm for saints. A politician ought to marry the ethic of ultimate ends and the ethic of
responsibility, and must possess both a passion for his vocation and the capacity to distance
himself from the subject of his exertions (the governed).

Weber distinguished three pure types of political leadership, domination and authority:

Charismatic domination (familial and religious),

Traditional domination (patriarchs, patrimonalism, feudalism), and

Legal domination (modern law, state and bureaucracy)

In his view, every historical relation between rulers and ruled contained such elements
and they can be analysed on the basis of this tripartite distinction. He also notes that the
instability of charismatic authority inevitably forces it to "routinize" into a more structured form
of authority. Likewise he notes that in a pure type of traditional rule, sufficient resistance to a
master can lead to a "traditional revolution". Thus he alludes to an inevitable move towards a
rational-legal structure of authority, utilising a bureaucratic structure. Thus, this theory can be
sometimes viewed as part of the social evolutionism theory. These ties to his broader concept of
rationalisation by suggesting the inevitability of a move in this direction.

Weber is also well-known for his critical study of the bureaucratisation of society, the
rational ways in which formal social organizations apply the ideal type characteristics of a
bureaucracy. It was Weber who began the studies of bureaucracy and whose works led to the
popularization of this term. Many aspects of modern public administration go back to him, and a
classic, hierarchically organized civil service of the Continental type is called "Weberian civil
service", although this is only one ideal type of public administration and government described
in his magnum opus Economy and Society (1922), and one that he did not particularly like

himself – he only thought it particularly efficient and successful. In this work, Weber outlines a
description, which has become famous, of rationalization (of which bureaucratization is a part)
as a shift from a value-oriented organization and action (traditional authority and charismatic
authority) to a goal-oriented organization and action (legal-rational authority). The result,
according to Weber, is a "polar night of icy darkness", in which increasing rationalization of
human life traps individuals in an "iron cage" of rule-based, rational control.[53] Weber's
bureaucracy studies also led him to his analysis – correct, as it would turn out, after Stalin's
takeover – that socialism in Russia would lead to over-bureaucratization rather than to the
"withering away of the state" (as Karl Marx had predicted would happen in communist society).

UNIT 3: Basic Concepts in Sociology (29 pgs)

Understanding Society

The term society is most fundamental to sociology. It is derived from the Latin word socius
which means companionship or friendship. Companionship means sociability. According to
George Simmel it is this element of sociability which defines the true essence of society. It
indicates that man always lives in the company of other people. Man is a social animal said
Aristotle centuries ago. Man needs society for his living, working and enjoying life. Society has
become an essential condition for human life to continue. We can define society as a group of
people who share a common culture, occupy a particular territorial area and feel themselves to
constitute a unified and distinct entity. It is the mutual interactions and interrelations of
individuals and groups.

August Comte the father of sociology saw society as a social organism possessing a
harmony of structure and function. Emile Durkheim the founding father of the modern sociology
treated society as a reality in its own right. According to Talcott Parsons, Society is a total
complex of human relationships in so far as they grow out of the action in terms of means-end
relationship intrinsic or symbolic. G.H Mead conceived society as an exchange of gestures which
involves the use of symbols. Morris Ginsberg defines society as a collection of individuals united
by certain relations or mode of behavior which mark them off from others who do not enter into
these relations or who differ from them in behavior.

Cole sees Society as the complex of organized associations and institutions with a
community. According to Maciver and Page, society is a system of usages and procedures of
authority and mutual aid of many groupings and divisions, of controls of human behavior and
liberties. This ever changing complex system which is called society is a web of social

Types of Societies

Writers have classified societies into various categories Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft of
Tonnies, mechanical and organic solidarities of Durkheim, status and contract of Maine, and
militant and industrial societies of Spencer. All these thinkers have broadly divided society into
pre-industrial and post-industrial societies. Sociologists like Comte based their classification of
societies on intellectual development. Most of them concede the evolutionary nature of society-
one type leading to the other. One more way of dividing societies is that of Marx. His
classification of society is based on the institutional framework of society as determined by a
group of people who control the means of production. Marx distinguishes five principal types of
societies: primitive, Asiatic, ancient, feudal and capitalist.

Following these classifications, sociologists often refer to societies as primitive or

modern non-literate or literate. A more recent kind of classification which is also used while
distinguishing societies into types is the one between open and closed societies. A closed society
is the one which is a traditional and simple society or a totalitarian State tends to resist change,
while an open society admits change.

None of these classifications is accurate; for every major type have number of sub-types.
One type like the capitalist can be of various kinds like carboniferous type, finance capital, and
the modern neo-colonial or multi-national type. Further, it is to be borne in mind that the chief
task of a sociologist is not that of identifying societies but finding out whether a particular kind
of society has the potential to nurture, defend and survive.

Such a study alone can reveal the sociological aspects of societies and thereby facilitating
understanding of societies as they are, and, if need be, activate the required changes. In other
words, sociology based on values relies on objective analysis of societies.

However, in recent years there have been several studies of what are variously called
irrigation civilization or hydraulic societies. These studies have been related to the general study
of bureaucracy, but little has yet been done in the way of large scale comparative work of various
complex organized societies.

It is not enough, however, to characterize pre-British India as an irrigation civilization

with a centralized bureaucracy and a village system of production. The unity and stability of
Indian society depended also upon two other factors, caste and religion. There, the aspect of
caste to be emphasized is not so much its rigid hierarchical character and the way in which it
divided groups from each other, as its integrating function, closely connected with religion.

M.N. Srinivas, in a discussion of Indian social structure, observes that caste guarantees
autonomy to a community into relation with numerous other communities all going to form a
hierarchy. The importance of such an institution is obvious in a vast country like India which has
been the meeting place of many different cultures in the past and which has always had
considerable regional diversity. While the autonomy of a sub- caste was preserved it was also
brought into relation with others and the hierarchy was also a scale of generally agreed values.

The work of K. Wittfoged suggests that many important similarities can be found, in
ancient Egypt, in Byzantium and elsewhere especially in the social functions of the priests and in
the elements and caste revealed in detailed regulation of the division of labor. Each human group
develops its own social and political structure in terms of its own culture and history. There
broad types of social structures may be distinguished. First, the tribal society represented by the
social structures of African tribes second, the agrarian social structure represented by the
traditional Indian society. And the third, the industrial social structure represented by the
industrially advanced countries Europe and U.S.A. Sociologists also speak of yet another type,
called post industrial society, which is emerging out of the industrial society.


As Homo sapiens, evolved, several biological characteristics particularly favorable to the

development of culture appeared in the species. These included erect posture; a favorable brain
structure; stereoscopic vision; the structure of the hand, a flexible shoulder; and year round
sexual receptivity on the part of the female. None of these biological characteristics alone, of
course, accounts for the development of culture. Even in combination, all they guarantee is that
human beings would be the most gifted members of the animal kingdom.

The distinctive human way of life that we call culture did not have a single definite
beginning in time any more than human beings suddenly appearing on earth. Culture evolved
slowly just as some anthropoids gradually took on more human form. Unmistakably, tools
existed half a million years ago and might be considerably older. If, for convenience, we say that
culture is 500,000 years old, it is still difficult day has appeared very recently.

The concept of culture was rigorously defined by E.B. Taylor in 1860s. According to him
culture is the sum total of ideas, beliefs, values, material cultural equipments and non-material
aspects which man makes as a member of society. Taylor's theme that culture is a result of
human collectivity has been accepted by most anthropologists. Tylarian idea can be discerned in
a modern definition of culture - culture is the man-made part of environment (M.J. Herskovits).

From this, it follows that culture and society are separable only at the analytical level: at
the actual existential level, they can be understood as the two sides of the same coin. Culture, on
one hand, is an outcome of society and, on the other hand, society is able to survive and
perpetuate itself because of the existence of culture. Culture is an ally of man in the sense that it
enhances man's adaptability to nature. It is because of the adaptive value of culture that
Herskovits states that culture is a screen between man and nature. Culture is an instrument by
which man exploits the environment and shapes it accordingly.

In showing affection, the Maori rub noses; the Australians rub faces; the Chinese place
nose to cheeks; the Westerners kiss; some groups practice spitting on the beloved. Or, consider
this; American men are permitted to laugh in public but not to cry; Iroquois men are permitted to
do neither in public; Italian men are permitted to do both. Since this is true, physiological factors
have little to do with when men laugh and cry and when they do not do either. The variability of
the human experience simply cannot be explained by making reference to human biology, or to
the climate and geography. Instead, we must consider culture as the fabric of human society.

Culture can be conceived as a continuous, cumulative reservoir containing both material

and non-material elements that are socially transmitted from generation to generation. Culture is

continuous because cultural patterns transcend years, reappearing in successive generations.
Culture is cumulative because each generation contributes to the reservoir.

An inherent paradox exists within the social heritage where culture tends to be both static
and dynamic. Humans, once having internalized culture, attach positive value judgments to it and
are more or less reluctant to change their established ways of life. Through most of recorded
history men have apparently considered that change per say is undesirable and that the ideal
condition is stability. The prospect of change can seem threatening, yet every human culture is
subject to and does experience change. Those who speak of a generation gap portray two
generations at odds with each other. According to this view, the parent generation embodied the
dynamic dimension. We contend that if, in fact, a generation gap does exist in modern societies,
and the differences are of degree and not of substance. Part of the social heritage of almost every
modern society is the high value placed on progress. Parents encourage young people to seek
progress, and progress is a form of social change. Debates between generations in modern
societies are seldom about whether any change should occur. The debates are usually about how
such change should occur, how fast it should occur, and which methods should be used for
bringing about change.

The Development of Culture

The distinctive human way of life that we call culture did not have a single definite beginning.
This is to say that human beings did not suddenly appear on earth. Culture evolved slowly just as
anthropoids gradually took on more human form. The earliest tools cannot be dated precisely.
Australopithecus may have used stones as weapons as long as five million years ago. Stones that
have been used as weapon do not differ systematically from other stones, however, and there is
no way to tell for sure. The first stones that show reliable evidence of having been shaped as
tools trace back some 500,000 to 600,000 years. The use of fire can be dated from 200,000 to
300,000 years ago. Tools of bone had come into existence by 100,000 B.C. the age of
Neanderthals. The Neanderthals also apparently had some form of languages and buried their
deal with an elaborateness that indicates the possibility of religious ceremonies. Cro-Magnon,
dating from 35,000 years ago, was a superior biological specimen and had a correspondingly
more elaborate culture. Their cave paintings have been found. They also made jewellery of shells

and teeth, and carved statuettes of women that emphasized pregnancy and fertility. They made
weapons of bone, horn, and ivory, and used needle in the fabrication of garments.

Thus, a striking parallel appears between the evolution of Homo sapiens and the
development of culture. The parallel cannot be drawn in detail because all inferences to the
period before the dawn of history must be made from material artifacts, and these tell little about
the total way of life of the people who used them. Moreover, the parallel between biological and
cultural evolution should not be overdrawn. Cro-Magnon's brain capacity, for example, was
large, but factors having to do with the growth of culture itself were sufficient to prevent any
quantum leap in the development of learned behaviour.


In spite of the fact that invention occupied a dominant place in culture growth over such a long
period of time, most of the content of modern cultures appears to have been gained through
diffusion. The term diffusion refers to the borrowing of cultural elements from other societies in
contrast to their independent invention within a host society.

In order for diffusion to operate on a substantial scale, there must be separate societies
that have existed long enough to have elaborated distinctive ways of life. Moreover, those
societies must be in contact with one another so that substantial borrowing is possible. These
conditions probably developed late in the evolutionary process. Once begun, however, culture
borrowing became so pervasive that most of the elements of most modern cultures, including our
own, originated with other people.

Culture has grown, then, through a combination of invention and diffusion. It grew
slowly at first, mostly as the result of invention. As the culture base expanded and societies
became differentiated, the large -scale diffusion of traits become possible and the rate of growth
speeded up. In modern times, and particularly in the Western world, the rate of culture growth
has become overwhelming.

Cultural Lag

The role played by material inventions, that is, by technology, in social change probably received
most emphasis in the work of William F. Ogburn. It was Ogburn, also, who was chiefly
responsible for the idea that the rate of invention within society is a function of the size of the
existing culture base. He saw the rate of material invention as increasing with the passage of
time. Ogburn believed that material and non-material cultures change in different ways. Change
in material culture is believed to have a marked directional or progressive character.

This is because there are agreed-upon standards of efficiency that are used to evaluate
material inventions. To use air-planes, as an example, we keep working to develop planes that
will fly, higher and faster, and carry more payloads on a lower unit cost. Because airplanes can
be measured against these standards, inventions in this area appear rapidly and predictably. In the
area of non-material culture, on the other hand there often are no such generally accepted
standards. Whether one prefers a Hussain, a Picasso, or a Gainsborough, for example, is a matter
of taste, and styles of painting fluctuate unevenly. Similarly, in institutions such as government
and the economic system there are competing forms of styles, Governments may be
dictatorships, oligarchies, republics or democracies.

Economic system includes communist, socialist, feudal, and capitalist ones. As far as can
be told, there is no regular progression from one form of government or economic system to
another. The obvious directional character of change in material culture is lacking in many areas
of non-material culture. In addition to the difference in the directional character of change,
Ogburn and others believe that material culture tends to change faster than non-material culture.
Certainly one of the imperative aspects of modern American life is the tremendous development
of technology. Within this century, life has been transformed by invention of the radio, TV,
automobiles, airplanes, rockets, transistors, and computers and so on. While this has been
happening in material culture, change in government, economic system, family life, education,
and religion seems to have been much slower. This difference in rates of cultural change led
Ogburn to formulate the concept of culture lag. Material inventions, he believed bring changes
that require adjustments in various areas of non-material culture. Invention of the automobile, for
instance, freed young people from direct parental observation, made it possible for them to work
at distances from their homes, and, among other things, facilitated crime by making escape
easier. Half a century earlier, families still were structured as they were in the era of the family
farm when young people were under continuous observation and worked right on the homestead.

Culture lag is defined as the time between the appearance of a new material invention and
the making of appropriate adjustments in corresponding area of non-material culture. This time is
often long. It was over fifty years, for example, after the typewriter was invented before it was
used systematically in offices. Even today, we may have a family system better adapted to a farm
economy than to an urban industrial one, and nuclear weapons exist in a diplomatic atmosphere
attuned to the nineteenth century. As the discussion implies, the concept of culture lag is
associated with the definition of social problems. Scholars envision some balance or adjustment
existing between material and non-material cultures. That balance is upset by the appearance of
raw material objects. The resulting imbalance is defined as a social problem until non-material
culture changes in adjustment to the new technology.

Cultural Relativism

This is a method whereby different societies or cultures are analyzed objectively without using
the values of one culture to judge the worth of another. We cannot possibly understand the
actions of other groups if we analyze them in terms of our motives and values. We must interpret
their behavior in the light of their motives, habits and values if we are to understand them.
Cultural relativism means that the function and meaning of a trait are relative to its cultural
setting. A trait is neither good nor bad in itself. It is good or bad only with reference to the culture
in which it is to function. Fur clothing is good in the Arctic but not in the tropics. In some
hunting societies which occasionally face long periods of hunger to be fat is good; it has real
survival value and fat people are admired. In our society to be fat is not only unnecessary but is
known to be unhealthful and fat people are not admired.

The concept of cultural relativism does not mean that all customs are equally valuable,
nor does it imply that no customs are harmful. Some patterns of behavior may be injurious
everywhere, but even such patterns serve some purpose in the culture and the society will suffer
unless a substitute is provided. The central point in cultural relativism is that in a particular
cultural setting certain traits are right because they work well in that setting while other traits are
wrong because they would clash painfully with parts of that culture.


Closely related to the concept of cultural relativity is the concept of ethnocentrism. The world
ethno comes from Greek and refers to a people, nation, or cultural grouping, while centric comes
from Latin and refers, of course to the centre. The term ethnocentrism then refers to the tendency
for each society to place its own culture patterns at the centre of things. Ethnocentrism is the
practice of comparing other cultural practices with those of one's own and automatically finding
those other cultural practices to be inferior. It is the habit of each group taking for granted the
superiority of its culture. It makes our culture into a yardstick with which to measure all other
cultures as good or bad, high or low, right or queer in proportion as they resemble ours.

Ethnocentrism is a universal human reaction found in all known societies, in all groups
and in practically all individuals. Everyone learns ethnocentrism while growing up. The
possessiveness of the small child quickly translates "into my toys are better than your toys"
Parents; unless they are quite crude, outwardly discourage their children from verbalizing such
beliefs. But in private, they may reassure their off springs that their possessions are indeed very
nice. Much of the learning of ethnocentrism is indirect and unintended, but some of it is
deliberate. History for example, is often taught to glorify the achievements of one's own nation,
and religious, civic and other groups disparage their competitors openly. Among adults,
ethnocentrism is simply a fact of life. Once one becomes conscious of ethnocentrism, the
temptation is strong to evaluate it in moral terms; to label it with epithets such as bigoted
chauvinistic, and so on, and to imply that one who has not discovered and compensated for his or
her ethnocentric biases is not worthy.

This incidentally, is another form of ethnocentrism. The important point, however, is that
ethnocentrism is one of the features of culture and , like the rest of culture , it needs to be
evaluated in terms of its contribution to the maintenance of social order and the promotion of
social change. The functions of ethnocentrism in maintaining order are more apparent than those
which promote social change. First, ethnocentrism encourages the solidarity of the group.
Believing that one's own ways are the best encourages a "we" feeling with associates and
strengthens the idea that loyalty to comrades and preservation of the basis for superiority are
important values. Positively, ethnocentrism promotes continuance of the status quo negatively, it
discourages change.

Second, ethnocentrism hinders the under standing of the cooperation with other groups. If
the ways of one's own group are best, there is little incentive to interact with inferior groups. In
fact, attitudes of suspicion, disdain and hostility are likely to be engendered. Extreme
ethnocentrism is likely to promote conflict, as the records of past wars, and religious and racial
conflicts reveal.

Conflict, of course often leads to social change and in that sense ethnocentrism becomes
a vehicle for the promotion of social change. It does so, however, through encouragement of its
peaceful evolution. There is little doubt that most social scientists are biased in favor of peaceful
social change and are opposed to conflict. Consequently, they tend even if subtly, to denigrate
ethnocentrisms and to imply that students must rid themselves of it if they are to learn
effectively. In so doing, sociologists operate implicitly from a combination of evolutionary and
functionalist models. Recent years have seen this stance called into question. The revolutionary
efforts of groups who see themselves as downtrodden blacks, the poor, women, and young
people have included deliberate efforts to foster ethnocentrism as a means of strengthening
themselves. Slogans such as "black power" conflict model of society from which they operate.


The term 'value' has a meaning in sociology that is both similar to and yet distinct from the
meaning assigned to it in everyday speech. In sociological usage, values are group conceptions
of the relative desirability of things. Sometimes 'value' means 'price'. But the sociological
concept of value is far broader than here neither of the objects being compared can be assigned a
price. What is the value, for illustration, of the right of every human being to dignity in
comparison to the need to improve the technical aspects of education?

This issue is directly involved in the desegregation of the public schools and has been
debated bitterly. Some attempts have been made to estimate the dollar costs of the old system of
segregated schools and, more recently, estimates have been made of the costs of using both black
and white children to end segregation. Most of the social costs of the two systems, however, defy

statement in monetary terms and most people take their stand on the issue in terms of deeply held
convictions about what is important in life.

The idea of deeply held convictions is more illustrative of the sociological concept of
value than is the concept of price. In addition, there are four other aspects of the sociological
concept of value. They are: (1) values exist at different levels of generality or abstraction; (2)
values tend to be hierarchically arranged (3) values are explicit and implicit in varying degrees;
and (4) values often are in conflict with one another.

General and Specific Values

Such values as democracy, freedom, and the right to dissent are stated at a very broad level of
generality. Each of them pervades many aspects of life and each is anything but situationally
specific. If a comprehensive list of values were prepared, a large proportion of them would be
found to be very general and abstract. Values are, however, also stated in fairly specific terms.

Thus, we may define values as physical health or affluence. On more specific levels yet, we may
value between symphonies or powerful automobiles. We may also value silk rather than nylon or
the writing of a particular novelist rather than that of another.

Means values, ends values, and ultimate values

Values tend to be hierarchically arranged. This may be shown through use of the concepts of
means values and ends values. As the words themselves imply, means values are instrumental
values in that they are sought as part of the effort to achieve other values. Ends values are both
more general and more important in the eyes of the groups who are doing the valuing.

Thus, if health is an American value, then the maintenance of good nutrition, the securing
of proper rest and the avoidance of carcinogenic and mind-destroying substances all become
means to that end.

The distinction between means values and ends values is a matter of logic and relates to
the context of a particular discussion. When the context shifts, so also may change the definition
of particular values as means values or ends values. To a narcotics agent, the avoidance of
hallucinogenic substances might be defined as an end in itself requiring no further justification.
To a religious person, health might not be an end in itself but only a means to the continued
worship of the deity. One additional distinction may be useful that implied in the concept of
ultimate values. The concept of ultimate value is arrived at by following the same logical
procedures used in distinguishing between means values and end values, and continuing the
process until it can be pursued no further. If good nutrition is sought as a means to health, health
as a means to longevity, and long life to permit one to be of service to God, is there any higher or
more ultimate value than service to the deity? Regardless of which way the question is answered,
it is obvious that one is about to arrive at an ultimate value that can no longer be justified in
terms of other values.

Values conflict with one another

The examples of the right to dissent, conformity, and respect for authority as American values
illustrate the point that values frequently are in conflict with one another. At least in complex
societies, there is generally not just one value system but multiple, overlapping, and sometimes
opposing ones. In America, for example, the problem is not that they value religions working
over personal gratification or vice versa, but that they value them both at the same time; along
with the achievement of status, the accumulation of wealth, and a host of other values. These
potentially conflicting values are so pervasive that it is virtually impossible to pursue some of
them without violating others. Societies probably differ in the extent to which their value systems
are internally consistent and in small homogeneous societies than in large heterogeneous ones.
American society has long had the reputation of embracing many and deep value conflicts.

Social Groups

A social group consists of two or more people who interact with one another and who recognize
themselves as a distinct social unit. The definition is simple enough, but it has significant
implications. Frequent interaction leads people to share values and beliefs. This similarity and
the interaction cause them to identify with one another. Identification and attachment, in turn,
stimulate more frequent and intense interaction. Each group maintains solidarity with all to other
groups and other types of social systems.

Groups are among the most stable and enduring of social units. They are important both
to their members and to the society at large. Through encouraging regular and predictable
behavior, groups form the foundation upon which society rests. Thus, a family, a village, a
political party a trade union is all social groups. These, it should be noted are different from
social classes, status groups or crowds, which not only lack structure but whose members are less
aware or even unaware of the existence of the group. These have been called quasi-groups or
groupings. Nevertheless, the distinction between social groups and quasi-groups is fluid and
variable since quasi-groups very often give rise to social groups, as for example, social classes
give rise to political parties.

Types of Group

Primary Groups

If all groups are important to their members and to society, some groups are more important than
others. Early in the twentieth century, Charles H. Cooley gave the name, primary groups, to those
groups that he said are characterized by intimate face-to-face association and those are
fundamental in the development and continued adjustment of their members. He identified three
basic primary groups, the family, the child's play group, and the neighborhoods or community
among adults.

These groups, he said, are almost universal in all societies; they give to people their
earliest and most complete experiences of social unity; they are instrumental in the development
of the social life; and they promote the integration of their members in the larger society. Since
Cooley wrote, over 65 years ago, life in the United States has become much more urban,
complex, and impersonal, and the family play group and neighborhood have become less
dominant features of the social order.

Secondary groups, characterized by anonymous, impersonal, and instrumental

relationships, have become much more numerous. People move frequently, often from one
section of the country to another and they change from established relationships and promoting
widespread loneliness. Young people, particularly, turn to drugs, seek communal living groups
and adopt deviant lifestyles in attempts to find meaningful primary-group relationships. The

social context has changed so much so that primary group relationship today is not as simple as
they were in Cooley's time.

Secondary groups

An understanding of the modern industrial society requires an understanding of the secondary

groups. The social groups other than those of primary groups may be termed as secondary
groups. They are a residual category. They are often called special interest groups.Maclver and
Page refers to them as great associations. They are of the opinion that secondary groups have
become almost inevitable today. Their appearance is mainly due to the growing cultural
complexity. Primary groups are found predominantly in societies where life is relatively simple.
With the expansion in population and territory of a society however interests become diversified
and other types of relationships which can be called secondary or impersonal become necessary.
Interests become differentiated. The services of experts are required. The new range of the
interests demands a complex organization. Especially selected persons act on behalf of all and
hence arises a hierarchy of officials called bureaucracy.

These features characterize the rise of the modern state, the great corporation, the factory,
the labor union, a university or a nationwide political party and so on. These are secondary
groups. Ogburn and Nimkoff defines secondary groups as groups which provide experience
lacking in intimacy. Frank D. Watson writes that the secondary group is larger and more formal
,is specialized and direct in its contacts and relies more for unity and continuance upon the
stability of its social organization than does the primary group.

Characteristics of secondary group

Dominance of secondary relations: Secondary groups are characterized by indirect, impersonal,

contractual and non-inclusive relations. Relations are indirect because secondary groups are
bigger in size and members may not stay together. Relations are contractual in the sense they are
oriented towards certain interests

Largeness of the size: Secondary groups are relatively larger in size. City, nation, political
parties, trade unions and corporations, international associations are bigger in size. They may

have thousands and lakhs of members. There may not be any limit to the membership in the case
of some secondary groups.

Membership: Membership in the case of secondary groups is mainly voluntary. Individuals are
at liberty to join or to go away from the groups. However there are some secondary groups like
the state whose membership is almost involuntary.

No physical basis: Secondary groups are not characterized by physical proximity. Many
secondary groups are not limited to any definite area. There are some secondary groups like the
Rotary Club and Lions Club which are international in character. The members of such groups
are scattered over a vast area.

Specific ends or interest: Secondary groups are formed for the realization of some specific
interests or ends. They are called special interest groups.

Members are interested in the groups because they have specific ends to aim at. Indirect
communication: Contacts and communications in the case of secondary groups are mostly
indirect. Mass media of communication such as radio, telephone, television, newspaper, movies,
magazines and post and telegraph are resorted to by the members to have communication.

Communication: may not be quick and effective even. Impersonal nature of social relationships
in secondary groups is both the cause and the effect of indirect communication.

Nature of group control: Informal means of social control are less effective in regulating the
relations of members. Moral control is only secondary. Formal means of social control such as
law, legislation, police, court etc are made of to control the behavior of members. The behavior
of the people is largely influenced and controlled by public opinion, propaganda, rule of law and
political ideologies. Group structure: The secondary group has a formal structure. A formal
authority is set up with designated powers and a clear-cut division of labor in which the function
of each is specified in relation to the function of all. Secondary groups are mostly organized
groups. Different statuses and roles that the members assume are specified. Distinctions based on
caste, colour, religion, class, language etc are less rigid and there is greater tolerance towards
other people or groups.

Limited influence on personality: Secondary groups are specialized in character. People
involvement in them is also of limited significance. Members’ attachment to them is also very
much limited. Further people spend most of their time in primary groups than in secondary
groups. Hence secondary groups have very limited influence on the personality of the member.

Reference Groups

According to Merton reference groups are those groups which are the referring points of the
individuals, towards which he is oriented and which influences his opinion, tendency and
behaviour. The individual is surrounded by countless reference groups. Both the memberships
and inner groups and non memberships and outer groups may be reference groups.

Status and Role

The term has two sociological uses:

1. R. Linton (1936) defined status simply as a position in a social system, such as child or parent.
Status refers to what a person is, whereas the closely linked notion of role refers to the behaviour
expected of people in a status.

2. Status is also used as a synonym for honor or prestige, when social status denotes the relative
position of a person on a publicly recognized scale or hierarchy of social worth. (See 'Social

It is the first meaning of the term status, status as position, which we are going to refer to in the
following paragraphs. Status as honour or prestige is a part of the study of social stratification.

A status is simply a rank or position that one holds in a group. One occupies the status of
son or daughter, playmate, pupil, radical, militant and so on. Eventually one occupies the statuses
of husband, mother bread-winner, cricket fan, and so on; one has as many statuses as there are
groups of which one is a member. For analytical purposes, statuses are divided into two basic
types: ascribed and achieved.

Ascribed Status

Ascribed statuses are those which are fixed for an individual at birth. Ascribed statuses that exist
in all societies include those based upon sex, age, race ethnic group and family background.

Similarly, power, prestige, privileges, and obligations always are differentially distributed in
societies by the age of the participants.

This has often been said about the youth culture in the U.S. because of the high value
Americans attach to being young. Pre-modern China, by contrast, attached the highest value to
old age and required extreme subordination of children. The perquisites and obligations
accompany age change over the individual's lifetime, but the individual proceeds inexorably
through these changes with no freedom of choice.

As the discussion implies, the number and rigidity of ascribed statuses vary from one
society to another. Those societies in which many statuses are rigidly prescribed and relatively
unchangeable are called caste societies, or at least, caste like. Among major nations, India is a
caste society. In addition to the ascribed statuses already discussed, occupation and the choice of
marriage partners in traditional India are strongly circumscribed by accident of birth. Such
ascribed statuses stand in contrast to achieved statuses.

Achieved Status

Achieved statuses are those which the individual acquires during his or her lifetime as a result of
the exercise of knowledge, ability, skill and/or perseverance. Occupation provides an example of
status that may be either ascribed or achieved, and which serves to differentiate caste-like
societies from modern ones. Societies vary in both the number of statuses that are ascribed and
achieved and in the rigidity with which such definitions are held. Both ascribed and achieved
statuses exist in all societies. However, an understanding of a specific society requires that the
interplay among these be fully understood. For Weber class is a creation of the market situation.
Class operates in society independently of any valuations. As Weber did not believe in the
economic phenomena determining human ideals, he distinguishes status situation from class

According to Linton, status is associated with distinctive beliefs about the expectations of
those having status, as for example, the status of children. Other common bases for status are
age, sex, birth, genealogy and other biological constitutional characteristics.

However, status, according to Linton, is only a phenomenon, not the intrinsic

characteristic of man but of social organization. What matters is not what you really are, but
what people believe you to be. At times, some confuse the two terms, status and role. Status
defines who a person is, as for example, he is a child or a Negro, or a doctor; whereas, role
defines what such a person is expected to do, as for example, he is too young to work, he should
care about parents etc.

A common method of identifying the statuses in a social system is to discover the list of
status-designators, as for example, kinship status typically begins with a list of kin terms and
their usage. One other characteristic feature of status, as understood today, is that any person can
have more than one status. Generally, no status in any social situation encompasses one person.
Also, it has to be kept in mind those statuses and persons are not only distinct concepts but also
at distinct levels of analysis. Besides, in sociology it is status, rather than person, which is more
useful as a tool of analysis.

Why we should treat these two terms as separate can be argued on various grounds. First,
two persons having quite different characters may possess similar observable conduct if they
have the same status, as for example, very acquisitive and very altruistic doctors may behave in
much the same way. Secondly, two persons having the same character, very often, have different
observable conduct because of having two different statuses. Thirdly, even two persons having
similar characters but having two different statuses show very often different observable conduct,
as for example, a docile son and a kind father.

Thus, in society, which in reality is a social system where interaction occurs between
actors, status but not person in important. If we treat person as the unit of such a system we must
discover a basic personality structure which is an impossible task. On the other hand, it is easy to
comprehend status although it is an abstract concept. Status is the most elementary component of
the social system which is equally abstract.

Interaction between two actors occurs not as persons but as two having statuses. A social
position is always defined in relation to a counter position, as for example, a doctor to a patient,
to a nurse, and to the hospital administrator.

In other words, the basic unit of analysis for social system is not status itself but the
relation of two statuses. The first writer to do considerable work in this field was Merton in 1957.
According to him, there are three aspects of status. To illustrate, Mr. Pandey is a doctor must
have social relations with nurses, patients, other doctors, hospital administrators, and so on, that
is, a role set. If Mr. Pandey is also a husband, a father, a member of Hare-Krishna cult and a
municipal councilor, it is a status set. And the process, by which Mr. Pandey became a doctor,
required that he first be a medical student, then an intern and then a resident, that is, a status
sequence. Since what is known as status is related to other statuses, the interaction of statuses is a
very crucial one. Stable interaction systems depend on the emergence of normative expectations.
Once it emerges, such expectations are not created anew every time. Two new actors encounter
each other. The idea underlying this statement is that every actor is sensitive to the attitudes
others will have towards him. Every actor, therefore, tends to feel tense and upset if he is unable
to define the social situation in such a way that the behaviour of the other is predictable.

A more dynamic feature of this series of social interactions is the idea that each action
implies a status and each status action. Therein each actor reveals how he defines a situation by
the way he behaves, and thus provides other actors with cues to their own statuses in the

Although the interaction of statuses is normally satisfactory, at times, confusion might

arise because of status ambiguity. If, however, an actor has more than one status, the attitudes of
any two statuses may be either compatible or incompatible with their demands on the person. If
two statuses that are activated in the same situation are incompatible it would be difficult for
each status occupant to know how to interact with the other, because it will be difficult for him to
know which status is the basis of their interaction. Such ambiguities are a source of strain and
discomfort and people either get out of such situations or wish that they be changed.

The term social role is borrowed by social scientists originally from the Greek Drama.
The word person comes from the Latin word persona, which originally meant a mask. Greek

actors wore masks when they performed in their drama. This leads us directly to the definition of
the concept of social role.

A social role is a set of social norms that govern a person's behaviour in a group and
determine his relationships with other group members. Put somewhat differently a role is the
expected pattern of behavior associated with a given social status. Status and role are reciprocal
aspects of the same phenomenon. Status, or position, is the static aspect that fixes the individual's
position in a group; role is the dynamic behavioral aspect that defines how the person who
occupies the status should behave in different situations.

Individuals in a society behave according to certain standard patterns of behaviour or

roles. These standard patterns of behaviour are determined by the social position or the status
which the individual occupies in society because it is these social positions which lay down
norms by indicating which individual should observe which norms. In other words, status refers
to a collection of norms; and each society classifies its members into a more or less elaborate
system of statuses. Each of the statuses involves a role, set of behaviour or action-patterns that
people belonging to a given status are expected to perform. One plays as many roles as he has
statuses. A given man may both concurrently and sequentially enact the roles of husband, father
bread-winner, and football fan and so on. Social roles may be linked to blue-prints for behaviour
that are handed to the individual, hypothetically, when he becomes a member of a group. As such
these constitute the group's expectations concerning how one would behave. Thus, whereas the
status of a person tells us what he is, his role will tell us what he does as a member of a status
group. Despite this fundamental difference between the two, statuses and roles are very closely
interlinked. There are no roles without statuses and no statuses without roles. Indeed, there are
some exceptions. Though all statuses imply some role or roles, it is not always possible to infer
people's statuses from what they do, as for example, two persons, who bear the title of
knighthood and thus holding same social positions, might be performing completely different
roles. Also, many statuses are wholly or partly defined with reference to roles which their
occupants are expected to perform. Example policemen, poets, etc.

The importance of role was recognized from 1936 when Linton presented the first
systematic statement identifying role as a segment of culture. He also held the view that role was
related to social status. Much work has been done after Linton in the form of experimental study.
Many studies have shown that lack of clarity and consensus in role conceptions is a contributory
factor in reducing organizational effectiveness and morale.

Since the concept is being extensively used, some differences appear in its usage. Some
writers treat role and actual behavior of an individual to be one and the same. Most of the writers
treat role as expected behavior and role behavior as an enactment. Another interpretation is that
role is a specific behavior or conditioned response. Finally, some treat role as a part to be learnt
and played.

Despite these differences, all sociologists agree to the following characteristics of role. It
is believed that when roles are stabilized, the role structure persists regardless of changes in the
actors. In some families when the parents become disorganized and become childish, a child
suddenly blossoms into responsibility and helps to supply the family leadership. As the roles get
stabilized, an individual adopts a given role; and if he fails to fulfill the role expectation, he will
be regarded as a violator of the terms of interaction.

The above functioning of the role is determined, to some extent, by the organizational
setting which supplies both direction and constraint to the working of the as for said processes. If
the role structure is incorporated in an organizational setting, the latter's goals tend to become the
crucial criteria for role differentiation, legitimacy of expectation, and judgments of adequacy.

Secondly, depending on the level of integration with the organizational setting, roles get
linked with statuses in the organization. Thirdly, depending on the extent to which the roles are
incorporated with an organizational setting, each tends to develop a pattern of adaptation to
incorporate other roles. A teacher in a public school must incorporate within his role pattern, his
role adaptations to pupils, parents, other teachers and the principal. Merton describes several
mechanisms that are employed to minimize conflict in the role-set.

Fourthly, when roles are incorporated with the organisational setting they persist as
tradition and formalization. Finally, the place of role is determined by society itself; for, society
is based on accommodation among many organizations. Society introduces multiple
organisational references for roles, and multiplies roles for the actor. A view from society's
perspective shows that roles in different contexts tend to become merged. One example is our
tendency to speak of male and female roles of heroic and unheroic roles while seeking meaning
and order in simple human interactions. Viewed from the perspective of society, differentiation
of roles gets linked with social values. If the societies and the individuals' assigned roles are
consistent with each other the roles tend to get merged with social values. A glaring example is
our tendency to use age, sex and occupation as qualifying criteria for the allocation of other

In the end we have to say that it is actor who faces the strain; for, the dynamic hinges on
his management of the several roles in his repertoire. This may come about through failure of
role cues, gross lack of consensus and so forth. This situation results in an individual adopting
his own repertoire of role relationship as a framework for his own behaviour, and as a
perspective for the interpretation of the behaviour of others. When the individual forms a self-
conception by selective identification of certain roles as his own to be held in his repertoire, the
individual is said to develop a sense of personal prestige, which is likely to be reflected in his
bearing, his self-assurance and other aspects of his interpersonal relations.

In general, the concept of role is crucial in all sociological analyses which attempt to link
the functioning of the social orders with the characteristics and behaviour of the individuals who
belong to that order. A study of roles provides a comprehensive pattern of social behaviour and
attitudes. It constitutes a strategy for coping with a recurrent type of situation. It is socially
identified as an entity. It can be played recognizably by different individuals, and it supplies a
major basis for identifying and placing persons in a society.


In everyday language to deviate means to stray from an accepted path. Many sociological
definitions of deviance simply elaborate upon this idea. Thus deviance consists of those areas
which do not follow the norms and expectations of a particular social group. Deviance may be
positively sanctioned (rewarded), negatively sanctioned (punished), or simply accepted without
reward or punishment. In terms of the above definition of deviance, the soldier on the battlefield
who risks his life above and beyond the normal call of duty may be termed deviant, as the
physicist who breaks the rules of his discipline and develops a new theory. Their deviance may
be positively sanctioned; the soldier might be rewarded with a medal, the physicist with a Noble

prize. In one sense, though, neither is deviant since both conform to the values of society, the
soldier to the value of courage; the physicist to the value of academic progress.

By comparison, a murderer deviates not only from society's norms and expectations but
also from its values, in particular the value placed on human life. His deviance generally results
in widespread disapproval and punishment. A third form of deviance consists of acts which
depart from the norms and expectations of a particular society but are generally tolerated and
accepted. The little old lady with a house full of cats or the old gentleman with an obsession for
collecting clocks would fall into this category. Usually their eccentricities are neither rewarded
nor punished by others. They are simply defined as a 'bit odd' but harmless, and therefore
tolerated. Deviance is relative. This means that there is no absolute way of defining a deviant act.
Deviance can only be defined in relation to a particular standard, but no standards are fixed or
absolute. As such deviance varies from time to time and place to place. In a particular society an
act which is considered deviant today may be defined as normal in the future. An act defined as
deviant in one society may be seen as perfectly normal in another. Put another way, deviance is
culturally determined and cultures change over time and vary from society to society. The
following examples will serve to illustrate the above points. Sometimes ago in Western society it
had been considered deviant for women to smoke, use make-up and consume alcoholic drinks in
public. Today this is no longer the case. In the same way, definitions of crime change over time.
Homosexuality was formerly a criminal offence in Britain. Since 1969, however, homosexual
acts conducted between consenting adults in private are no longer illegal.

A comparison of modern Western culture with the traditional culture of the Teton Sioux
Indians of the USA illustrates how deviance varies from society to society. As part of their
religions rituals during the annual Sun Dance Ceremony Sioux Warriors mutilated their bodies,
leather thongs were inserted through strips of flesh on the chest and attached to a central pole,
and warriors had to break free by tearing their flesh and in return they were granted favors by the
supernatural powers. Similar actions by members of Western society may well be viewed as
masochism or madness. In the same way behaviour accepted as normal in Western society may
be defined as deviant within primitive society. In the West the private ownership of property is an
established norm; members of society strive to accumulate wealth and substantial property
holding brings power and prestige. Such behaviour would have incurred strong disapproval

amongst the Sioux and those who acted in terms of the above norms would be regarded as
deviant. Generosity was a major value of Sioux culture and the distributed rather than
accumulation of wealth was the route to power and prestige. Chiefs were expected to distribute
gifts of horses, beadwork and weapons to their followers. The norms of Sioux culture prevented
the accumulation of Wealth. The Sioux had no conception of the individual ownership of land;
the produce of the hunt was automatically shared by all members of the group. Emile Durkheim
developed his view on deviance in his discussion of crime in The Rules of Sociological Method.
He argues that crime is an inevitable and normal aspect of social life; it is an integral part of all
healthy societies. It is inevitable because not every member of society can be equally committed
to the 'collective sentiments, the shared values and beliefs of society. Since individuals are
exposed to different influences and circumstances, it is impossible for all to be alike. Therefore,
not everybody shares the same restraints about breaking the law.

Crime is not only inevitable, it can also be functional. Durkheim argues that it only
becomes dysfunctional when its rate is unusually high. He argues that all social change begins
with some form of deviance. In order for change to occur, Yesterday's deviance must become
today's normality. Since a certain amount of change is healthy for society, so it can progress
rather than stagnate.

So for change to occur, the collective sentiments must not be too strong, or too hostile. In
fact, they must have only moderate energy' because if they were to strong they would crush all
originality both of the criminal and of the genius. Thus the collective sentiments must not be
sufficiently powerful to block the expression of people like Jesus, William Wilberforce, Martin
Luther King and Mother Teresa. Durkheim regarded some crime as and anticipation of the
morality of the future. Thus heretics who were denounced by both the state and the established
church may represent the collective sentiments of the future. In the same way terrorists of
freedom fighters may represent a future established order .If crime is inevitable, what is the
function of punishment. Durkheim argues that its function is not to remove crime in society.
Rather it is to maintain the collective sentiments at their necessary level of strength. In
Durkheim's words, punishment 'serves to heal the wounds done to the collective sentiments'.
Without punishment the collective sentiments would lose their force to control behaviour and the

crime rate would reach the point where it becomes dysfunctional. Thus in Durkheim's view, a
healthy society requires both crime and punishment, both are inevitable, both are functional.

Following Durkheim, Merton argues that deviance results not from pathological
personalities but from the culture and structure of society itself. He begins from the standard
functionalist position of value consensus, that is, all members of society share the same values.
However, since members of society are placed in different positions in the social structure, for
example, they differ in terms of class position; they do not have the same opportunity of realizing
the shared value. This situation can generate deviance. In Merton's words: 'The social and
cultural structure generate pressure for socially deviant behaviour upon people variously located
in that structure.

Using USA as an example, Merton outlines his theory as follows. Members of American
Society share the major values of American culture. In particular they share the goal of success
for which they all strive and which is largely measured in terms of wealth and material
possessions. The 'American Dream' states that all members of society have an equal opportunity
of achieving success, of owning a Cadillac, a Beverley Hills mansion and a substantial bank
balance. In all societies there are institutionalized means of reaching culturally defined goals.

In America the accepted ways of achieving success are through educational

qualifications, talent, hard work, drive, determination and ambition. In a balanced society an
equal emphasis is placed upon both cultural goals and institutionalized means, and members are
satisfied with both. But in America great importance is attached to success and relatively less
importance is given to the accepted ways of achieving success. As such, American society is
unstable, unbalanced. There is a tendency to reject the 'rules of the game' and to strive for
success by all available means. The situation becomes like a game of cards in which winning
becomes so important that the rules are abandoned by some of the players. When rules cease to
operate a situation of normlessness or 'anomie' results. In this situation of anything norms no
longer direct behavior and deviance is encouraged. However, individuals will respond to a
situation of anomie in different ways. In particular, their reaction will be shaped by their position
in the social structure. Merton outlines five possible ways in which members of American
society can respond to success goals. The first and most common response is conformity.
Members of society conform both to success goals and the normative means of reaching them. A
second response is 'innovation'. This response rejects normative means of achieving success and
turns to deviant means, crime in particular. Merton argues that members of the lower social strata
are most likely to select this route to success.

Merton uses the term 'ritualism' to describe the third possible response. Those who select
this alternative are deviant because they have largely abandoned the commonly held success
goals. The pressure to adopt this alternative is greatest on members of the lower middle class.
Their occupations provide less opportunity for success than those of other members of the
middle class. However, compared o members of the working class, they have been strongly
socialized to conform to social norms. This prevents them from turning to crime. Unable to
innovate and with jobs that offer little opportunity for advancement, their only solution is to scale
down or abandon their success goals. Merton terms the fourth and least common response,
'retreatism'. It applies to psychotics, artists, pariahs, drug addicts. They have strongly internalized
both the cultural goals and the institutionalized means but is unable to achieve success.

They resolve the conflict of their situation by abandoning both the goals and the means of
reaching them. They are unable to cope with challenges and drop out of society defeated and
resigned to their failure. They are deviant in two ways: they have rejected both the cultural goals
and the institutionalized means. Merton does not relate retreatism to social class position.
Rebellion forms the fifth and final response. It is a rejection of both the success goals and the
institutionalized means and their replacement by different goals and means. Those who adopt
this alternative want to create a new society. Thus urban guerillas in Western European capitalist
societies adopt deviant means- terrorism- to reach deviant goals such as a communist society.
Merton argues that it is typically members of a rising class rather than the most depressed strata
who organize the resentful and rebellious into a revolutionary group.

To summarize, Merton claims that his analysis shows how the culture and structure of society
generates deviance.


In our times state is the sole upholder of social control and conformity, and the principal means
at its disposal is law. Since law is enforced by State, force is present. Roscoe Pound explains law
as social control through systematic application of the force of a politically organized society. In
a lighter vein Bertrand Russell remarks that the good behaviour of even the most exemplary
citizen owes much to the existence of a police force. Much earlier, Durkheim was the first
sociologist to show that law is the means to enforce the collective conscience or collectivity
which makes society an entity by itself, almost God.

Law is closely associated with morality and religion. Legislation always rests on social
doctrines and ideals which have been derived from religion and morality, and judicial decisions
always rely on the fundamental moral ideas of society expressed as reason, natural law, natural
justice, and equality and, in more recent times, as public policy or public interest litigation as in

Law, therefore, rests upon moral sentiments derived from religion and is influenced by
institutional arrangements of society; and it brings about, by its precision and sanction, such a
degree of certainty in human behaviour that cannot be attained through other types of social
control. On occasions, law enforces social attitudes and contracts which initially were those of a
small minority of reformers. In Russia, law has established new morals of behaviour which were
originally the aspirations of small group of revolutionaries. In democratic societies, too, social
reformers played an important part in influencing social behaviour, later on approved by law.

One more characteristic of law is the changed outlook towards punishment. As societies
are becoming more confident of their powers to maintain order as a result of rising material
standards, declining class differences and spread of education and extension of rights, more and
more stress is being laid on the willing cooperation of people with state and its law. This
development has been further augmented by studies in sociology and psychology which have
shown that crimes are projection of society rather than the results of individual violation. That is
why the new discipline, called criminology, has developed as an applied branch of sociology.

Lastly, law as it is today, does not primarily deal with individuals alone. Very often it
regulates conflicts between individuals and groups as well as between individuals and large
organisations whether public or private. The role of property in social life has been modified by
the changes that have accrued in the relations between the employer and the worker through the
abolition of the crime of conspiracy, the recognition of collective bargaining, social security and
direct limitations on the use of private property, all through legislation.

The law as it exists today partly contributes to social change. As already remarked above,
the change in the role of property has led to a great social change in man's social behavior.
Secondly, individual initiative is no longer on the premium in modern societies. Mammoth
organizations and corporations undertake the vast socio-economic activities of modern times.
Taking into account these changes, American sociologists have introduced expressions such as
the 'Other-directed man' and the organization man. As the social complex of modern
communities is transforming itself, law, too, is keeping pace with them in making the interaction
between the other direct man and the mammoth organizations or the corporations to be smooth
and efficient.

In developing societies the role of law in contributing to social change is much more. In
all countries there is a continuous rationalization of the existing law by modification,
introduction of foreign codes, and systematic legislation in relation to customary and traditional
law. The Indian Constitution is an embodiment of such monumental change. The philosophy
governing social changes, implied as well as explicitly stated in the Constitution, is governed by
the principles stated in the Preamble which are entirely secular and which bear the imprint of the
leading minds of the world like the 18th century French philosophers, liberal thinkers of the 19th
century, the Fabian socialists of the 20th century, and individual thinkers like Thoreau, Tolstoy
and Mahatma Gandhi.

Although law has an important role in maintaining social order or conformity, there are a
few weaknesses in the existing law. It no longer has charismatic qualities which it earlier had,
although our courts resound with expressions like the Majesty and the sanctity of law, your
Lordships and so on. Second, people do not feel collectively and directly involved when any law
is violated. It is more in the form of keeping each individual in his limits. Lastly, law does not
enable the criminal to be finally reconciled to society. Modern Law, as it has developed, is
increasingly being separated from custom and religion. It is only when legislation and litigation,
the two processes concerned with law, are harmonized that they take their appropriate place in
social control.


Once a habit is established, it becomes a role or norm of action. Customs often involve binding
reciprocal obligations. Also, custom supports law, without which it becomes meaningless. In the
words of Maciver and Page, custom establishes a social order of its own so that conflict arising
between custom and law is not a conflict between law and lawlessness, but between the orders of
reflection (law) and the order of spontaneity (custom).

In general, customs regulate the whole social life of man. Law itself cannot cover the
whole gamut of social behavior. It is the customary practices that contribute to the harmonious
social interactions in a society which normal times of peace and tranquility. The influence of
custom, at times, extends beyond one's own community. In certain communities custom
determines the relations between two communities at war. The Bedouins of the African desert
will never destroy a water-well of the enemy.

Some of the customs do not play any role in social control. They just exist because of
their ancient nature just as all people bathing in an unhygienic tank or a lake just because of an
established religious custom. Even the custom of performing Shradha in India has no meaning if
people do not know how to respect what the past has given us as well as accept our moral
obligation to the future generations. However, in most of the traditional societies the customary
practices are all emptied of their meaning.

In brief, although custom is regarded as one of the less formal types of control like public
opinion, its influence on social life is very significant as it alone contributes to the textual part of
social behavior

UNIT 4: Basic Social Institutions (58 pgs)

Marriage Types and Norms

Marriage is one of the universal social institutions established to control and regulate the life of
mankind. It is closely associated with the institution of family. Infact both the institutions are
complementary to each other. It is an institution with different implications in different cultures.
Its purposes, functions and forms may differ from society to society but it is present everywhere
as an institution. Westermarck in 'History of Human marriage' defines marriage as the more or
less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till
after the birth of offspring. According to Malinowski marriage is a contract for the production
and maintenance of children. Robert Lowie describes marriage as a relatively permanent bond
between permissible mates. For Horton and Hunt marriage is the approved social pattern
whereby two or more persons establish a family.

Types of marriages

Polygyny: It is a form of marriage in which one man marries more than one woman at a given
time. It is of two types – Sororal polygyny and non sororal polygyny

Sororal polygyny: It is a type of marriage in which the wives are invariably the sisters. It is
often called sororate.

Non-sororal polygyny: It is a type of marriage in which the wives are not related as sisters.


It is the marriage of one woman with more than one man. It is less common than polygyny. It is
of two types—Fraternal Polyandry and non fraternal polyandry.

Fraternal polyandry: When several brothers share the same wife the practice can be called
alelphic or fraternal polyandry. This practice of being mate, actual or potential to one's husband's
brothers is called levirate. It is prevalent among Todas.

Non - fraternal polyandry: In this type the husband need not have any close relationship prior
to the marriage. The wife goes to spend some time with each husband. So long as a woman lives
with one of her husbands; the others have no claim over her.


It is a form of marriage in which one man marries one woman .It is the most common and
acceptable form of marriage.

Serial monogamy: In many societies individuals are permitted to marry again often on the death
of the first spouse or after divorce but they cannot have more than one spouse at one and the
same time.

Straight monogamy: In this marriage, remarriage is not allowed.

Group Marriage

It means the marriage of two or more women with two or more men. Here the husbands are
common husbands and wives are common wives. Children are regarded as the children of the
entire group as a whole.

Rules of Marriage

No society gives absolute freedom to its members to select their partners. Endogamy and
exogamy are the two main rules that condition marital choice.


It is a rule of marriage in which the life-partners are to be selected within the group. It is
marriage within the group and the group may be caste, class, tribe, race, village, religious group
etc. We have caste endogamy, class endogamy, sub caste endogamy, race endogamy and tribal
endogamy etc. In caste endogamy marriage has to take place within the caste. Brahmin has to
marry a Brahmin. In sub caste endogamy it is limited to the sub caste groups.


It is a rule of marriage in which an individual has to marry outside his own group. It prohibits
marrying within the group. The so-called blood relatives shall neither have marital connections
nor sexual contacts among themselves.

Forms of exogamy

 Gotra Exogamy: The Hindu practice of one marrying outside one's own gotra.

 Pravara Exogamy: Those who belong to the same pravara cannot marry among

 Village Exogamy: Many Indian tribes like Naga, Garo, Munda etc have the practice of
marrying outside their village.

 Pinda Exogamy: Those who belong to the same panda or sapinda ( common parentage)
cannot marry within themselves.

 Isogamy: It is the marriage between two equals (status)

 Anisogamy: It is an asymmetric marriage alliance between two individuals belonging to

different social statuses. It is of two forms - Hypergamy and Hypogamy.

 Hypergamy: It is the marriage of a woman with a man of higher Varna or superior caste
or family.

 Hypogamy: It is the marriage of high caste man with a low caste woman.

 Cerogamy: It is two or more men get married to two or more women.

Anuloma marriage: It is a marriage under which a man can marry from his own caste or from
those below, but a woman can marry only in her caste or above.

Pratiloma marriage: It is a marriage of a woman to a man from a lower caste which is not

Hindu Marriage

The Hindu community has been giving great importance for marriage since time immemorial.
There are different forms of marriage

Brahma Vivaha is where a father marries his daughter to a learned man of good moral character.

Asura Vivaha is marriage by paying bride price.

Rakshasa Vivaha is by capture or abduction without obtaining the consent of a girl or her parents.

Gandharva Vivaha is based on mutual love.

Prajapatya Vivaha is where no ceremony is performed but the groom is honoured.

Arsh Vivaha is where the groom gives a pair of cattle or bull to the bride's father before the

Daiva Vivaha is where the girl is given in marriage to a priest instead of dakshina or a gift

Muslim Marriage

In the Muslim community marriage is universal for it discourages celibacy. Muslims call their
marriage Nikah. Marriage is regarded not as a religious sacrament but as a secular bond. The
bridegroom makes a proposal to the bride just before the wedding ceremony in the presence of
two witnesses and a maulavi or kazi. The proposal is called ijab and its acceptance is called
qubul. It is necessary that both the proposal and its acceptance must take place at the same
meeting to make it a sahi Nikah. It is a matter of tradition among the Muslims to have marriage
among equals. Though there is no legal prohibition to contract marriage with a person of low
status, such marriages are looked down upon. The run-away marriages called kifa when the girls
run away with boys and marry them on their own choice are not recognized.

Marrying idolaters and slaves is also not approved. There is also provision of preferential
system in mate selection. The parallel cousins and cross cousins are allowed to get married.
Marriage that is held contrary to the Islamic rules is called batil or invalid marriage. Meher or
dower is a practice associated with Muslim marriage. It is a sum of money or other property
which a wife is entitled to get from her husband in consideration of the marriage. Muta is a
special type of marriage for pleasure which is for a specified period only. Iddat is the period of
seclusion for three menstrual periods for a woman after the death /divorce by her husband to
ascertain whether she is pregnant or not. Only after this period she can remarry. Muslim marriage
can be dissolved in the following ways: Divorce as per the Muslim law but without the
intervention of the court: They are of two types-Kula where divorce is initiated at the instance of
the wife and Mubarat where initiative may come either from the wife or from the husband. Talaq
represents one of the ways according to which a Muslim husband can give divorce to his wife as
per the Muslim law by repeating the dismissal formula thrice. The talaq may be affected either

orally by making some pronouncements or in writing by presenting talaqnama.Divorce as
recognized by Shariah Act 1937 provides for three forms of divorce: Illa,Zihar and Lian. There is
also provision of divorce as per the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939.

Tribal Marriage

 Marriage by exchange.

 Marriage by capture is where a man forcibly marries a woman.

 Marriage by intrusion is where a woman forcibly marries a man.

 Marriage by probation allow a man to stay at woman place for weeks together after
which if they decide to get married.

 Marriage by purchase or giving b ride price. A man is required to give an agreed amount
of cash/kind to the parents of the bride as price which usually varies according to the
physical beauty and utility of the bride.

 Marriage by service is where the man serves at his father-in-law's house before marriage.

 Marriage by trial.

 Marriage by mutual consent.

 Marriage by elopement.


The family forms the basic unit of social organization and it is difficult to imagine how human
society could function without it. The family has been seen as a universal social institution an
inevitable part of human society. According to Burgess and Lock the family is a group of persons
united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption constituting a single household interacting with
each other in their respective social role of husband and wife, mother and father, brother and
sister creating a common culture. G.P Murdock defines the family as a social group characterized
by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction.

It includes adults of both sexes at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual
relationship and one or more children own or adopted of the sexually co-habiting adults.

Nimkoff says that family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or
without child or of a man or woman alone with children. According to Maciver, family is a group
defined by sex relationships sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and
upbringing of children. Kingsley Davis describes family as a group of persons whose relations to
one another are based upon consanguinity and who are therefore kin to one another. Malinowski
opined that the family is the institution within which the cultural traditions of a society is handed
over to a newer generation. This indispensable function could not be filled unless the relations to
parents and children were relations reciprocally of authority and respect. According to Talcott
Parsons families are factories which produce human personalities.

Main characteristics of family

Universality: There is no human society in which some form of the family does not appear.
Malinowski writes the typical family a group consisting of mother, father and their progeny is
found in all communities, savage, barbarians and civilized. The irresistible sex need, the urge for
reproduction and the common economic needs have contributed to this universality.

Emotional basis: The family is grounded in emotions and sentiments. It is based on our
impulses of mating, procreation, maternal devotion, fraternal love and parental care. It is built
upon sentiments of love, affection, sympathy, cooperation and friendship.

Limited size: The family is smaller in size. As a primary group its size is necessarily limited. It
is a smallest social unit.

Formative influence: The family welds an environment which surrounds trains and educates the
child. It shapes the personality and moulds the character of its members. It emotionally
conditions the child.

Nuclear position in the social structure: The family is the nucleus of all other social
organizations. The whole social structure is built of family units.

Responsibility of the members: The members of the family have certain responsibilities, duties
and obligations. Maciver points out that in times of crisis men may work and fight and die for
their country but they toil for their families all their lives.

Social regulation: The family is guarded both by social taboos and by legal regulations. The
society takes precaution to safeguard this organization from any possible breakdown

Types and forms of the family

On the basis of marriage: Family has been classified into three major types:

 Polygamous or polygynous family

 Polyandrous family

 Monogamous family
On the basis of the nature of residence family can be classified into three main forms

Family of matrilocal residence

Family of patrilocal residence

Family of changing residence

On the basis of ancestry or descent family can be classified into two main types

Matrilineal family

Patrilineal family

On the basis of size or structure and the depth of generations family can be classified into
two main types.

Nuclear or the single unit family

Joint family

On the basis of the nature of relations among the family members the family can be
classified into two main types.

The conjugal family which consists of adult members among there exists sex relationship.

Consanguine family which consists of members among whom there exists blood relationship-
brother and sister, father and son etc.


Kinship is the relation by the bond of blood, marriage and includes kindered ones. It represents
one of the basic social institutions. Kinship is universal and in most societies plays a significant
role in the socialization of individuals and the maintenance of group solidarity. It is very
important in primitive societies and extends its influence on almost all their activities. A.R
Radcliffe Brown defines kinship as a system of dynamic relations between person and person in
a community, the behavior of any two persons in any of these relations being regulated in some
way and to a greater or less extent by social usage.

Affinal and Consanguineous kinship

Relation by the bond of blood is called consanguineous kinship such as parents and their children
and between children of same parents. Thus son, daughter, brother, sister, paternal uncle etc are
consanguineous kin. Each of these is related through blood. Kinship due to marriage is affinal
kinship. New relations are created when marriage takes place. Not only man establishes
relationship with the girl and the members of her but also family members of both the man and
the woman get bound among themselves. Kinship includes Agnates (sapindas, sagotras);
cognates (from mother's side) and bandhus (atamabandhus, pitrubandhus, and matrubandhus).


A descent group is any social group in which membership depends on common descent from a
real or mythical ancestor. Thus a lineage is a unilineal descent group in which membership may
rest either on matrilineal descent (patrilineage) or on matrilineal descent (matrilineage). In a
cognatic descent, all descendants of an ancestor\ancestress enjoy membership of a common
descent group by virtue of any combination of male or female linkages. However, cognatic
descent is sometimes used synonymously with either 'bilateral' or 'consanguine descent. A clan is
a unilineal descent groups the members of which may claim either partilineal (Patriclan) or

matrilineal descent (Matriclan) from a founder, but do not know the genealogical ties with the

A phratry is a grouping of clans which are related by traditions of common descent.

Mythical ancestors are thus common in clans and phratries. Totemic clans, in which membership
is periodically reinforced by common rituals such as sacred meals, have been of special interest
to social anthropologists and sociologists of religion. Where the descent groups of a society are
organized into two main divisions, these are known as moieties (halves). The analysis of descent
groups is crucial for any anthropological study of pre-industrial society, but in most Western
industrial societies the principle of descent is not prominent and descent groups are uncommon.

Primary, secondary and tertiary kins

Primary kins: Every individual who belong to a nuclear family finds his primary kins within the
family. There are 8 primary kins- husband-wife, father-son, mother-son, father-daughter, mother-
daughter, younger brother-elder brother, younger sister-elder sister and brother-sister.

Secondary kins: Outside the nuclear family the individual can have 33 types of secondary
relatives. For example mother's brother, brother's wife, sister's husband, father's brother.

Tertiary kins: Tertiary kins refer to the secondary kins of our primary kins.For example wife's
brother's son, sister's husband's brother and so on. There are 151 types of tertiary kins.

Kinship Usages

Kinship usages or the rules of kinship are significant in understanding kinship system. They
serve two main purposes:

They create groups or special groupings or kin. For example- family extended family, clan etc.

Kinship rules govern the role of relationships among the kins.

Kinship usage provides guidelines for interaction among persons in these social groupings. It
defines proper and acceptable role relationships. Thus it acts as a regulator of social life. Some of
these relationships are: avoidance, teknonymy, avunculate, amitate, couvades and joking

Avoidance: It means that two kins normally of opposite sex should avoid each other. In almost
all societies avoidance rules prescribe that men and women must maintain certain amount of
modesty in speech, dress and gesture in a mixed company. Thus a father-in-law should avoid
daughter-in-law. The purdah system in Hindu family in the north illustrates the usage of

Teknonymy: According to the usage of this usage a kin is not referred directly but is referred to
through another kin. In a traditional Hindu family wife does not directly utter the name of her
husband but refers to her husband as the father of so and so.

Avunculate: It refers to the special relationship that persists in some societies between a man
and his mother's brother. This usage is found in a matriarchal system in which prominence is
given to the maternal uncle in the life of his nephews and nieces.

Amitate: The usage of amitate gives special role to the father's sister. Here father's sister is given
more respect than the mother. Among Todas the child gets the name not through its parents but
through the father's sister. Naming the child is her privilege.

Couvade: The usage of couvades prevalent among the Khasi and the Todas tribes makes the
husband to lead the life of an invalid along with his wife whenever she gives birth to a child. He
refrains from the active work, takes diet and observes some taboos which are observed by his
wife. According to Malinowski the usage of couvade contributes to a strong marital bond
between the husband and wife.

Joking relationship: A joking relationship involves a particular combination of friendliness and

antagonism between individuals and groups in certain social situations. In these situations one
individual or group is allowed to mock or ridicule the other without offence being taken. The
usage of the joking relationship permits to tease and make fun of the other.

Points to Remember
 A person referred to as the parent of his or her child indicates the practice of Teknonymy.

 Rivers has given the explanation of kinship terms referring to social usages which are
antecedent to their use.

 The residence rule which gives choice to the newly -weds to live with the parents of
either the groom or the bride is known as biolocal.

 When both patrilineal and matrilineal rules apply jointly it is called double descent.

 Rivers has defined the clan as an exogamous division of tribe.

 Social recognition is important in determining consanguineous kinship.

 In double descent system one inherits fathers' patrilineal relatives and mother's
matrilineal relatives.

 Maclver said that kinship creates society and society creates the state.

 Weiser stressed that clan is usually associated with totemism.

 Levi Strauss has regarded preferential mating as a device for strengthening group

 Westermarck has written the history of human marriage.

 Westermarck has listed various causes of polygyny including variety of women.

 Murdock has distinguished between the family of orientation and the family of

 Morgan suggested historical evolution of the form of marriage and family.

 Tribes such as Mundas and Nagas do not permit marriage between persons from the same

 According to Westermarck marriage is itself rooted in the family rather than family in

 According to D.N Majumdar the Hindu society presently recognizes only two forms of
marriage the Brahma and Asura.

 A Tarawad splits into smaller units called Tavazhis.

 When one becomes the member of the consanguineal relatives of both father and mother,
it is known as bilateral descent.

 The rule of residence generally followed in India is patrilocal.

 When not mutual, a joking relationship assumes the form of social control.

 Where father's sister is given more respect than the mother the relationship is called

 Neolocal rule of residence is generally followed in western countries.

 People bond together in groups based on reproduction refers to kinship.

 Experimental marriage is known as privileged relationship.

 Marriage of one man with a woman and her several sisters are called sororal polygamy.

 The marriage of a Hindu is illegal if his or her spouse is alive.This restriction is according
to Hindu Marriage Act.

 Marriage of a man of high caste with a woman of lower caste is called Anuloma

 Levi Strauss believed that no society was perfectly unilineal.

 Radcliff Brown introduced the term lineage group to designate the living members of a

 Morgan believed the earliest form of kin group to be the clan.

 Rivers has listed belief in common descent and possession of a common totem as
characterizing a clan.
 Murdock has called the clan a compromise kin group.

 Radcliffe Brown defines sib as a consanguineous group not sharing a common residence.

 Horton and Hunt described the marriage as the approved social pattern whereby two or
more persons establish a family.

 A nomenclature of the family function is symbolic of system to reckoning descent


At the simplest level religion is the belief in the power of supernatural. These beliefs are present
in all the societies and variations seem endless. A belief in the supernatural almost always
incorporates the idea that supernatural forces have some influence or control upon the world. The
first indication of a possible belief in the supernatural dates from about 60,000 years ago.
Archaeological evidences reveal that Neanderthal man buried his dead with stone tools and
jewellery. Religion is often defined as people’s organized response to the supernatural although
several movements which deny or ignore supernatural concerns have belief and ritual systems
which resemble those based on the supernatural. However these theories about the origin of
religion can only be based on speculation and debate.

Though religion is a universal phenomenon it is understood differently by different

people. On religion, opinions differ from the great religious leader down to an ordinary man.
There is no consensus about the nature of religion. Sociologists are yet to find a satisfactory
explanation of religion.

Durkheim in his The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life defines religion as a unified
system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things that is to say things set apart and
forbidden. James G Frazer in his The Golden Bough considered religion a belief in powers
superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life.
Maclver and Page have defined religion as we understand the term, implies a relationship not
merely between man and man but also between man and some higher power. According to

Ogburn religion is an attitude towards superhuman powers. Max Muller defines religion as a
mental faculty or disposition which enables man to apprehend the infinite.

To answer the question how did religion begin – two main theories animism and naturism
were advanced. The early sociologists, adhering to evolutionary framework, advocated that
societies passed through different stages of development and from simplicity to complexity is the
nature of social progress. The scholars who have contributed to the field of magic, religion and
science can broadly be divided into four different types such as evolutionary, functionalist,
symbolic and analytical functionalists.


Animism means the belief in spirits, E.B. Taylor in his famous book Primitive Culture developed
the thesis of animism and subsequently he developed the distinction between magic, religion and
science. In his thesis of animism he advocated that anima means spirit. Animism refers to a given
form of religion in which man finds the presence of spirit in every object that surrounds him.

According to him, any type of spiritual phenomenon-- May that is souls, divinities--
which are animated and interpreted by man, explain the stage of animism. Man's ideas of spirits
primarily originated from his dreams. In his dreams man, for the first time, encountered with his
double. He realized that his double or duplicate is more dynamic and elastic than his own self.
He further considered that his double, though resembled his body, it is far more superior in terms
of quality from his body. He generalized further that the presence of soul in human body is
responsible for the elasticity of images in dreams.

Taking this fact into consideration primitive mind considered that when man sleeps the
soul moves out of the body of man temporarily and when he is dead it leaves out the body
permanently. Thereafter man generalized that every embodiment, which is subjected to birth,
growth and decay, is obviously associated with spirit. Hence, trees, rivers, mountains, which are
greatly subjected to decay and expansion, were considered as the embodiments in which soul is
present. Realizing this, man started worshipping and these embodiments and that is how animism
as a specific form of religions came into being. According to Taylor, the most ancient form of
animistic practice is manifested in terms of ancestor worship.

Man realized that his ancestors after their death convert into spirits who may be
benevolent or malevolent. Realizing this, in order to convert these souls as protecting spirits,
man made them periodic offerings. In primitive communities this is known as Ancestor cult and
Ghost Worship. According Taylor, the primitive man was not in a condition to distinguish
between animate and inanimate objects. Therefore, he conceived that like life and soul associated
with human body, they should be associated with every object both animate and inanimate.
Realizing this he started worshipping rocks, trees, streams, everything surrounding him
extending the notion of soul and spirit to all of them. Taylor argues that religion in the form of
animism originated to satisfy man’s intellectual nature to meet his need to make sense of death,
dreams and vision


Naturism means the belief that the forces of nature have supernatural power. Andrew Lang and
Max Muller develop the theory of naturism. Max Muller, a great Sanskrit scholar, strongly
advocates that the most ancient form of religious practice is naturism. Naturism, according to
him, is primarily based on man's sensory experience out of which logical deductions are
primarily made.

It is through sensory organism that man obtains the surfaced experience of reality on the
basis of which he makes logical deductions. The sensory experience further helps man to
distinguish animate from the inanimate objects. Therefore, religion is primarily a derivative of
sensory experience. To them religious embodiments are seen yet unseen, observable yet

For example, rain is visible but the caution of rain is not; sun is visible but its creation is
greatly unknown to man. Therefore, out of reverence and dependency man greatly worshipped
all the greatest powers of nature: sun, moon, air water without which man's life and living will is
exclusively impossible. Therefore, man worships them out of fear, Out of dependency and as a
token of respect. They further advocated that the first religious conception is derived from the
personification of the natural phenomenon.

For primitive man nature was a vast domain of surprise, horror, miracle and unknown.
But the great powers definitely hold the key to human survival and continuity. Man was so
moved by the great powers of nature that he started personifying all these abstract forces and
started worshipping them. Finally, they advocate that Ancestor Cult is a derived version of
Nature Cult. Likewise, man was being apprehensive about his dead ancestors, started
worshipping them thinking that their spirits, if worshipped, instead of being destructive can
primarily be protective ones. So Ancestor Worship is a derived version of Nature Worship,
according to scholars belonging to this school. Naturism is man’s response to the effect of the
power and wonder of nature upon his emotions.

There was some criticism of the evolutionary approach of religion. Though Taylor and
Max Mullar came up with plausible reasons for certain beliefs being held by members of
particular societies they do not necessarily explain why those beliefs originated at all. Nor can it
be argued that all religions necessarily originated in the same way. Furthermore the precise
stages for the evolution of religion do not fit the facts. As Andrew Lang points out many of the
simplest societies have religions based on monotheism which Taylor claimed was limited to
modern societies.

Theories of Religion

Sociological approaches to religion are still strongly influenced by the ideas of the three classical
sociological theorists Marx, Durkheim and Weber.

Marx and Religion

In spite of his influence on the subject, Karl Marx never studied religion in any detail. His ideas
were mostly derived from the writings of several early 19th century theologists and philosophers.
One of these was Ludwig Feuerbach who wrote The Essence of Christianity. According to
Feuerbach, religion consists of ideas and values produced by human beings in the course of their
cultural development but mistakenly projected on to divine forces or gods. Feuerbach uses the
term alienation to refer to the establishment of Gods or divine forces as distinct from human

Marx accepts the view that religion represents human self-alienation. He declared in a
famous phrase that religion has been the opium of the people. Religion defers happiness and
rewards to the after life, teaching the resigned acceptance of existing conditions in this life.

Attention is thus diverted from inequalities and injustices in this world by the promise of what is
to come in the next.

Religion has a strong ideological element, religious beliefs and values often provide
justifications for inequalities of wealth and power. In Marx’s view religion in its traditional form
will and should disappear.

Durkheim and Religion

In contrast to Marx, Durkheim spent a good part of his intellectual effort in studying religion
concentrating particularly on religion in small scale traditional societies. His Elementary Forms
of Religious Life first published in 1912 is perhaps the single most influential study in the
sociology of religion. He based his work upon a study of totemism as practiced by Australian
aboriginal societies and urged that totemism represents religion in its most elementary or simple
form. A totem was originally an animal or plant considered to have a particular symbolic
significance for a group. It is a sacred object regarded with veneration and surrounded by various
ritual activities. Durkheim defines religion in terms of a distinction between the sacred and the

Sacred: According to Durkheim sacred is ideal and transcends everyday existence; it is extra-
ordinary potentially dangerous, awe-inspiring, fear inducing. The sacred refers to things set apart
by man including religious beliefs, rites, duties or anything socially defined as requiring special
religious treatment. The sacred has extra-ordinary, supernatural and often dangerous qualities and
can usually be approached only through some form of ritual such as prayer, incantation or
ceremonial cleansing. Almost anything can be sacred: a god, a rock, a cross, the moon, the earth,
a king, a tree, an animal or bird. These are sacred only because some community has marked
them a sacred. Once established as sacred however they become symbols of religious beliefs,
sentiments and pratices. Sacred objects are symbols and are treated apart from the routine aspects
if existence or the realm of profane.

Eating the totemic animal or plant is usually forbidden and as a sacred object the totem is
believed to have divine properties which separate it completely from other animals that might be
hunted or those crops that can be gathered and consumed.

Profane: The profane is the realm of routine experience which coincides greatly with what
Pareto called logico-experimental experience. The profane or ordinary or unholy embraces those
ideas, persons, practices and things that are regarded with an everyday attitude of commonness,
utility and familiarity. It is that which is not supposed to come into contact with or take
precedence over the sacred. The unholy or the profane is also believed to contaminate the holy or
sacred. It is the denial or subordination of the holy in some way. The attitudes and behavior
toward it are charged with negative emotions and hedged about by strong taboos.

The sacred and profane are closely related because of the highly emotional attitude
towards them. The distinction between the two is not very clear but ambiguous. As Durkheim
pointed out the circle of sacred objects cannot be determined then once and for all. Its extent
varies indefinitely according to different religions. The significance of the sacred lies in the fact
of its distinction from the profane. The sacred thing is par excellence that which profane should
not touch and cannot touch with impurity. Man always draws this distinction of two orders in
different times and places. According to Durkheim totem is sacred because it is the symbol of the
group itself, it stands for the values central to the group or community. The reverence which
people feel for the totem actually derives from the respect they hold for central social values. In
religion the object of worship is the society itself.

Durkheim strongly emphasizes the fact that religions are never just a matter of belief. All
religions involve regular ceremonial and ritual activities in which a group of believers meet
together. Ceremony and ritual in Durkheim’s view are essential to binding the members or
groups together.

Durkheim believes that scientific thinking increasingly replaces religious explanation and
ceremonial and ritual activities gradually come to occupy only a small part of an individual’s
lives. Yet he says there is a sense in which religion in an altered from is likely to continue. Even
modern societies depend for their cohesion upon rituals that reaffirm their values; new
ceremonial activities thus may be expected to emerge to replace the old.

Max Weber and World Religion

Durkheim based his arguments on a very small range of examples even though he claimed that
his ideas apply to religion in general. Max Weber by contrast embarked on a massive study of
religions world wide. Weber made detailed studies of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and ancient
Judaism and in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism wrote extensively about the
impact of Christianity on the history of the west. Weber concentrated on a connection between
religion and social change something to which Durkheim gave little attention. Unlike Marx
Weber argues that religion is not necessarily a conservative force on the contrary religiously
inspired movements have produced dramatic social transformation. Protestantism particularly
Puritanism was the source of capitalist outlook found in the modern west.

The early entrepreneurs were mostly Calvinists. Their drive to succeed which helped
initiate western economic development was originally prompted by a desire to serve God.
Material success was for them a sign of divine favour. Analyzing the eastern religions Weber
concludes that they provided inseparable barriers to the development of industrial capitalism of
the kind that took place in the west. For example Hinduism is what Weber calls an ‘other-
worldly’ religion that is its highest value stress escape from the toils of the material world to a
higher plane of spiritual existence.

Social functions and dysfunctions of religion

Social scientists have analyzed religion in terms of what it does for the individual, community or
society through its functions and dysfunctions. Many of these social scientists are known to
belong to the tradition of functionalist thought. A famous social anthropologist of early twentieth
century, Malinowski, saw religion and magic as assisting the individual to cope with situations of
stress or anxiety. Religious ritual, according to him, may enable the bereaved to reassert their
collective solidarity, to express their common norms and values upon which the proper
functioning of the community depends. Religion can also supplement practical, empirical
knowledge, offering some sense of understanding and control in areas to which such knowledge
does not extent.

A more influential tradition of functionalist thought on religion derives from Durkheim,

whose Elementary Forms of the Religious Life presents a theory of religion identifying religion
with social cohesion: religious beliefs and rituals are understood in terms of the role they play in
promoting and maintaining social solidarity. Radcliffe-Brown argues that religious ceremonies,
for example in the form of communal dancing, promoted unity and harmony and functioned to
enhance social solidarity and the survival of the society. Religious beliefs contained in myths and
legends, he observes, express the social values of the different objects which have a major
influence on social life such as food, weapons, day and night etc. They form the value consensus
around which society is integrated.

Recent functionalism while retaining his notion that religion has a central role in
maintaining social solidarity has rejected Durkheim’s view that religious beliefs are merely
symbolic representations of society. Kingsley Davis argues that religious beliefs form the basis
for socially valued goals and a justification of them. Religion provides a common focus for
identity and an unlimited source of rewards and punishments for behaviour. Functionalist
theories of religion face a problem in the apparent decline in religious belief and participation.
What is viewed as secularization in other theories is seen as simply religious change in
functionalist terms.

Functionalist theorists argue that religion takes different forms in apparently secular
societies: it is more individualized, less tied to religious institutions. The character of modern
industrial capitalist society, particularly its rampant individualism, is thus seen to be expressed in
the differentiated character of religion in a society like the USA. Although seemingly having
little basis for integration, the celebration of individualism is itself an integrating feature of such
diverse religious forms. Moreover, new and distinctive forms of religion may perform latent
functions for the system by deflecting adherents from critical appraisal of their society and its
distribution of rewards.

In anti-religious societies such as some communist States this argument cannot hold, but
here it is claimed that functional alternatives to traditional religion operate. Other systems of
belief such as communism itself fulfill the same role as religion elsewhere. National ceremonial,
ritual celebration of communist victories, heroes, etc., meets the same need for collective rites,
which reaffirm common sentiments and promote enhanced commitment to common goals.
Finally, even in highly secularized Western societies civil religion exists. This consists in abstract
beliefs and rituals, which relate society to ultimate things and provide a rationale for national
history, a transcendental basis for national goals and purposes. Robert King Merton, a twentieth
century functionalist, introduced the concept of dysfunction. Talking about religion, for instance,
he pointed out the dysfunctional features of religion in a multi-religious society. In such a society
religion, instead of bringing about solidarity, could become the cause of disorganization and

Apart from Merton, many other social thinkers have highlighted the dysfunctions of
religion. Marx regarded religion as a source of false consciousness among the proletariat, which
prevents the ‘class for itself’ from developing. It prevents them from developing their real
powers and potentialities.

Sect and Cult

The classification of churches or religious groups into cults, sects, denominations and ecclesias
indicates different methods of relating to the society. The chief feature of a religious sect is that it
is a voluntary association. A sect is a small religious group that has branched off of a larger
established religion. Sects have many beliefs and practices in common with the religion that they
have broken off from, but are differentiated by a number of doctrinal differences.

The word sect comes from the latin secta, meaning an organized religious body or
organization, from Latin, meaning a course of action or way of life. Sociologists use the word
sect to refer to a religious group with a high degree of tension with the surrounding society, but
whose beliefs are (within the context of that society) largely traditional. A sect seeks to impose a
rigid pattern of ideal conduct on its members but seeks toleration rather than change from the
larger society.

Sects are concerned with purity of doctrine and with the depth of genuineness of religions
feeling. As a result, demands are made upon the member to be an active participant, even a
leader or missionary, as a warrant of his faith. The emphasis on purity of belief tends to create
intolerance toward other groups and moves the sect toward critical assessment of the secular
world in accordance with the ideals of the gospel. A cult, by contrast, also has a high degree of
tension with the surrounding society, but its beliefs are (within the context of that society) new
and innovative. It may seek to transform society but more often concentrate upon creating
satisfying group experience.
The denomination is a major religious group which hopes that a separation of church and
state will enable it to be influential even though not dominant. The ecclesia is a church claiming
to be the spiritual expression of the total society.

Pluralistic Religion

Religious pluralism is the belief that one can overcome religious differences between different
religions and denominational conflicts within the same religion. For most religious traditions,
religious pluralism is essentially based on a non-literal view of one's religious traditions, hence
allowing for respect to be engendered between different traditions on core principles rather than
more marginal issues. It is perhaps summarized as an attitude, which rejects focus on immaterial
differences, and instead gives respect to those beliefs held in common.

The existence of religious pluralism depends on the existence of freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion is when different religions of a particular region possess the same rights of
worship and public expression. Freedom of religion is consequently weakened when one religion
is given rights or privileges denied to others, as in certain European countries where Roman
Catholicism or regional forms of Protestantism have special status. Religious freedom has not
existed at all in some communist countries where the state restricts or prevents the public
expression of religious belief and may even actively persecute individual religions.

Religious pluralism has existed in the Indian Subcontinent

Monistic Religion

Monism is the metaphysical view that all is of one essential essence, substance or energy.
Monism is to be distinguished from dualism, which holds that ultimately there are two kinds of
substance, and from pluralism, which holds that ultimately there are many kinds of substance.
Monism is often seen in relation to pantheism, panentheism, and an immanent God. Monism is
often seen as partitioned into three different kinds:

Physicalism or materialism, which holds that only the physical is real, and that the mental can be
reduced to the physical.

Functionalism, like materialism, holds that the mental can ultimately be reduced to the
physical, but also holds that all critical aspects of the mind are also reducible to some substrate-
neutral "functional" level. Thus something need not be made out of neurons to have mental
states. This is a popular stance in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Eliminativism,
which holds that talk of the mental will eventually be proved as unscientific and completely

Just as we no longer follow the ancient Greeks in saying that all matter is composed of
earth, air, water, and fire, people of the future will no longer speak of "beliefs", "desires", and
other mental states. A subcategory of eliminativism is radical behaviourism, a view held by B. F.
Skinner.) Anomalous monism, a position proposed by Donald Davidson in the 1970s as a way to
resolve the Mind-body problem. It could be considered (by the above definitions) either
physicalism or neutral monism.

This monism was widely considered an advance over previous identity theories of mind
and body, because it does not entail that one must be able to provide an actual method for
redescribing any particular kind of mental entity in purely physical terms.

For some, monism may also have religious/spiritual implications. Recognizing this, some
inveigh against the 'dangers of monism,' asserting that in order to resolve all things to a single
substrate, one dissolves God in the process.Others say that the "single substrate is God.
Theological arguments can be made for this within Christianity for example the Roman Catholic
doctrine of "divine simplicity", as well as in many other religions (Hinduism, Ayyavazhi and
Judaism in particular).Historically, monism has been promoted in spiritual terms on several
occasions, notably by Ernst Haeckel. To the dismay of most modern observers, Haeckel's various
ideas often had components of social darwinism and scientific racism.

Religion and Science

There are two major opinions regarding the relationship between science and religion. Religion
and science are mutually conflicting and Religion and science are not mutually opposing-
The view that Religion and Science are mutually conflicting. Religion is based on faith and
rituals whereas science depends on observations experiments, verifications, proofs and facts.
Ritualism, religious fundamentalism and fanaticism rooted in religion are very much opposed to
science. According to Kingsley Davis there are two important causes for the conflict between
religion and science. Science deals with the known or the empirical world. Religion is concerned
with the unknown or supernatural world.

Science could not give an account of the origin of man earlier so religion filled in the gap
by giving its own account of that. Later with its progress science too could give a satisfactory
explanation of that. Here a conflict rose between the two as the scientist could not accept the
religious account as true even though he lived among the people who believed in religious
explanation. This situation created tension between him and the ordinary people or the religious

The second cause of conflict is that science believes in empirical truth whereas religion
pursues the nonempirical truth: Davis writes the scientific pursuit of empirical truth as the
highest goal is exactly the opposite of religious pursuit of nonempirical truth. Thus the scientist
develops his scepticism about religious beliefs and explanations concerning creation of heaven
and hell, life after death, miracles etc.

The view that Religion and science are not mutually opposing. Viewed analytically science and
religion need not be at conflict. Science deals with what is known. It is potential knowledge
based on sensory evidences. Religious beliefs refer to the world beyond the senses. If they
cannot be proved by the methods of science they cannot be disproved also. It is wrong to say that
religion is based on emotion and science on thought. In fact both are based on thought though
this is applied to different types of reality.

According to K. Davis it is possible for a scientist to have belief in God and still work as
a good biologist or a physicist. His and his behaviour in church appropriate to religious situation
with no feeling of incongruity. Even the attitude of scientist towards religion has not been that of
a hostile one. Scientific truth is that which is known by the evidence of the senses. Religious
truth is that which is known by revelations, by faith. An attempt to reconcile the two can promote
mutual respect across the barrier. Any reconciliation which attempts to combine them can only
undermine both. Religion is a social reality.

The persistence of religion throughout the ages proofs its survival value. It is rendering
services to the humanity. Scientific investigators agree that religion like other institutions has its
roots in certain human needs. Hence it was felt to be a necessity and continues to be a necessary

The phenomenon of magic is closely associated with religion. Magic is often regarded as a form
of religion. However they are different. They represent two aspects of the same –empirical
power. Max Weber used the term magic to refer to religious action believed to be automatically
effective, whether the goal is empirical or non-empirical. Malinowski defines magic as the use of
supernatural means to try to obtain empirical ends. He however distinguished magic and religion.

British anthropologist James Frazer in his Golden Bough has spoken of two aspects of
magic: Magic by imitation and Magic by contagion. In magic by imitation an individual imitates
what he wants or expects to happen. If an individual wants rainfall to take place he may fill his
mouth with water and squirt it around in different directions. Magic by contagion is based on the
belief that whatever would come into contact with the supernatural power will be swayed by it.
Thus the forehead of a person may be rubbed off with some ashes so that he may be free from

Magic and Science

Magic is often called a type of primitive science. This view is based on some analogies. Magic
like science pursues pratical ends, conceives that certain effects follow certain causes takes an
impersonal attitude towards causation and has little to do with morality. In spite of this magic is
in many ways opposite of science. Magic relies on supernatural causation. It unscientifically
believes that some effect is produced because of the mystical power associated with the spell, rite
or object.

In magic the facts are not used to test the theory as in science. On the other hand the
theory that is the magical procedure is always assumed to be right. Here the elements of faith and
wishful thinking enter. A failure in magical performances is therefore attributed to a failure to
carry out the procedures correctly and not to the procedure itself. The function of magic is to
give confidence and a sense of security. For this reason the individual must have a non-rational
faith in its adequacy.

Hence it can exist side by side with perfectly good scientific and technological practices.
Magic deals in absolutes whereas science deals in probabilities. Science is tentative and K. Davis
says magic may become less important but it is not going to disappear as technology and science

Economy and Society

Economic system of simple societies

Herbert Spencer has defined simple society as one which forms a simple working whole
unsubjected to any other and of which the parts cooperate for certain public ends. Simple
societies have low division of labour. The occupational differentiation being limited primarily to
birth, sex and age. These societies have no specialized economic organization.

The productive skills are simple and productivity is low therefore these societies cannot sustain
large population size. Most of the adult members are engaged in food gathering activities.

There is little or no surplus so the social inequalities are not significant and economic interaction
takes place within egalitarian frame-work.

The production system is simple but exchange of goods and services assume a complex form.
The forms of exchange are reciprocal and redistributive type.

Some of the simple societies inhabiting regions having abundant food and other resources
indulge in conspicuous consumption.

The members lack high degree of achievement motivation as there is neither any intense
preoccupation on generation and accumulation of economic surplus.Infact most economic
activities emphasize on giving rather than storing or accumulation. Private ownership of means
of production is non-existent.

There is no clear separation between domestic economy and community economy as they
overlap to varying degrees.

The economic system is dominated by sacred consisting of magic-religious ideas.

The innovation is rare and change is slow. The customary practices and norms regulate
production and exchange of goods and services.

Some forms of Simple Economic Exchange

Barter system- It is direct form of exchange whether in return for services or goods.

Silent trade- It was an exchange system where the exchanging parties do not know each other

Jajmani system- It is system of economic and social relationship existing between various
castes in villages. The patron is known as jajman and the service castes are known as kamin.It is
still prevalent in villages.

Ceremonial exchange- It is a type of social system in which goods are given to relatives and
friends on various social occasions. The main idea is to establish cordial relations between the
various social groups.

Potlatch- This term means gift. It is meant as a public distribution of goods made to establish
certain claims of the giver and the recipients. It is based on the principle of reciprocity. Through
this system the host declares his status to others.

Multicentric economy

It is an economy using several media of exchange.


According to Malinowski it is a ceremonial exchange participated by the inhabitants of a closed

circle of Trobriand Island. It has no practical or commercial value. The system of exchange is
regulated in a kind of ring with two directional movements. In clockwise direction, the red shell
necklaces called Soulava circulate and in anticlockwise circulation the white arm shells known
as Mwali circulate among the members of the Kula. Objects given and taken in Kula are never
subjected any bargaining.

Economic system of complex societies

The complex societies have high degree of division of labor and consequently structural
differentiation. Thus economic activity constitutes a specialized activity taking place in special
institution framework and distinguishable from other types of social activity e.g. factories, banks
and markets are some of the distinct economic activities.

High division of labor implies advanced skills which help in high productivity. The economic
organization can easily sustain a large population.

Complex societies due to their high productivity generate huge surplus. They can support
conspicuous consumption.

Market exchange is the pivotal form of exchange and money is the universal medium of

The members of the complex societies have high achievement motivation and the economic
behavior is characterized by an intense preoccupation with generation and accumulation of

There exist a clear distinction between domestic economy and community economy. The
domestic units are the units of consumption and supply the manpower to the community
economy. The production of goods and services takes place in the larger units which form part of
the community economy.

These societies are characterized by the high level of scientific and technological advancements.
Economic activity is perceived in secular terms and is based on practical rationality.

High degree of specialization, rapidity of change, predominance of practical and excessive

mechanization of production leads to a state of anomie in society and alienate the worker from
the Social determinants of Economic Development

Economic development implies two things: Economic growth which leads to increase in
production and generation of income and equitable distribution of this income among the
population to improve the quality of life. Although economic development does not necessarily
imply industrialization there is no historical precedent for substantial increase in percapita
income without diversion of both capital and labour from agriculture. Economic development is

synonymous with industrialization. Economic development is very much influenced by various
social factors. Nation states are created with common language and culture. Economic
development of any country hinges on the efficient employment of factors of production such as
labour, land, capital and organization. There is commercialization of production with
monetization of economy. The employment of factors of production is conditioned by cultural
and social factors. The people must have the required ability, experience and knowledge to make
the best use of the facilities that are made available. There is decline of the proportion of the
working population engaged in agriculture. The technology plays very important role when
appropriate social conditions are present.

There is trend towards urbanization of society with growth of scientific knowledge. A

new value system emerges which emphasis individual initiative and responsibility and enables
the individual to function without any control.

The exclusiveness of clan, kin or caste breaks down and provides norms of behavior
suited to the secondary group type of relationship characteristic of an industrial society. There is
widespread spread of education. The social stratification emerges based on achievement criteria
and permitting occupational mobility of his labour.

Some Theoretical Concepts

Karl Marx

Karl Marx has distinguished between different types of societies on basis of economic system.
These are primitive communism, ancient slave production, feudalism and capitalism, socialism
and communism. A man is both the producer and product of society. Marx's analysis of history is
based on his distinction between the means/forces of production literally those things, such as
land, natural resources, and technology, that are necessary for the production of material goods,
and the relations of production in other words, the social and technical relationships people enter
into as they acquire and use the means of production. Together these comprise the mode of
production. Marx observed that within any given society the mode of production changes, and
that European societies had progressed from a feudal mode of production to a capitalist mode of
production. Marx did not understand classes as purely subjective. He sought to define classes in
terms of objective criteria, such as their access to resources. For Marx, different classes have
divergent interests, which is another source of social disruption and conflict. Marx was especially
concerned with how people relate to that most fundamental resource of all, their own labour
power. Marx wrote extensively about this in terms of the problem of alienation. For Marx, the
possibility that one may give up ownership of one's own labour - one's capacity to transform the
world - is tantamount to being alienated from one's own nature; it is a spiritual loss.

Marx described this loss in terms of commodity fetchism, in which the things that people
produce, commodities, appear to have a life and movement of their own to which humans and
their behavior merely adapt. This disguises the fact that the exchange and circulation of
commodities really are the product and reflection of social relationships among people. Under
capitalism, social relationships of production, such as among workers or between workers and
capitalists, are mediated through commodities, including labor, that are bought and sold on the
market. According to Marx, a capitalist mode of production developed in Europe when labor
itself became a commodity - when peasants became free to sell their own labor-power, and
needed to do so because they no longer possessed their own land or tools necessary to produce.
People sell their labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work they
do in a given period of time (in other words, they are not selling the product of their labor, but
their capacity to work). In return for selling their labor power they receive money, which allows
them to survive. Those who must sell their labor power to live are "proletariat. The person who
buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a
"capitalist" or "bourgeoisie. The capitalist mode of production is capable of tremendous growth
because the capitalist can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits in new technologies. Marx
considered the capitalist class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly
revolutionized the means of production.

Max Weber

Max Weber formulated a three component theory of social stratification with social class, status
class and party class (or political class) as conceptually distinct elements. Social class is based on
economically determined relationship to the market (owner, employee etc.). Status class is based
on non-economical qualities like honour, prestige and religion. Party class refers to affiliations in
the political domain. All three dimensions have consequences for what Weber called "life
chances”. According to Weber there are two sources of power. One is derived from constellation
of interests that develop in a free market and the other is from an established system of authority
that allocates the right to command and the duty to obey.

Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim sees division of labour in terms of social process. He has tried to determine the
social consequences of the division of labour in the modern societies. He has made a
fundamental difference between pre-industrial and industrial societies and also made difference
between two types of solidarity- mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. Mechanical
solidarity prevails in simple folk societies where division of labour is restricted to family, village
or small region. Here individuals do not differ much from one other and follow the same set of
norms, beliefs etc. Organic solidarity holds the modern societies together with a bond. Here
societies are large and people are engaged in variety of economic activities. They hold different
values and socialize their children in varying patterns. The conditions of the modern society
compel division of labour to reach the extreme level. This extreme form of division of labour
leads to feeling of individualism or anomie. Anomie according to Durkheim refers to a state of
normlessness in both the society and the individual. It is a social condition characterised by the
breakdown of norms governing social interaction. People feel detached from their fellows having
little commitment to shared norms people lack social guidelines for personal conduct. They are
inclined to pursue their private interests without regard for the interests of society as a whole.

Karl Polyani

According to economist Karl Polanyi, the three principles of exchange are market principle,
redistribution, and reciprocity. The market principle describes the buying and selling of goods
and services based on the laws of supply and demand (things cost more the scarcer they are and
the more people want them), and often involves bargaining. It is associated with industrial
societies and involves a complex division of labor and central government. In redistribution,
products move from the local level to a hierarchical center, are reorganized, and sent back down
to the local level. Redistribution is the main form of exchange in chiefdoms and some industrial
states, and works with the market system. Polyani identifies reciprocity of three kinds:
generalized, balanced, or negative.

Generalized reciprocity involves an exchange between closely related people in which
the giver expects nothing concrete or immediate in return. It is not necessarily classified as
altruism, but resembles sharing by social contract. Generalized reciprocity is demonstrated by
most egalitarian forager groups including the !Kung people, who do not say thank you upon
receiving gifts because it is expected that at a later time, the act of goodwill will be reciprocated.
It is also shown in most cases between parents and children. Another form of reciprocity is
balanced reciprocity, in which the social distance between giver and recipient increases relative
to generalized reciprocity. It involves an exchange outside the immediate family, and the giver
expects something in return in the future, but not immediately. If there is no reciprocation, the
relationship between the two parties will be strained. The third kind of reciprocity is negative
reciprocity, which is an exchange relationship in which parties do not trust each other and are
strangers. The giving must be reciprocated immediately and there is very little communication, if
any, between groups. Each group is trying to maximize its economic benefit, but eventually
friendly relationships between the groups may develop. An example of negative reciprocity is the
Mbuti Pygmy foragers of Africa, who exchange with villagers in neighboring groups in silent
trade in which they place the items for exchange on the ground, then hide at a distance and wait
for the other group to make an offer of their goods. Bartering may continue back and forth, but
no direct contact is made between groups. Potlatching among the Kwakitul of Washington and
British Columbia can be classified in the category of redistribution.

Elite Theory

Elite theory developed in part as a reaction to Marxism. It rejected the Marxian idea that a
classless society having an egalitarian structure could be realized after class struggle in every

It regards Marxism as an ideology rather than an objective analysis of social systems.

According to Elite theory man can never be liberated from the subjugation of an elite structure.
The term Elite refers to those who excel. The classical elite theorists identify the governing elite
in terms of superior personal qualities of those who exercise power. However later versions of
elite theory places less emphasis on the personal qualities of the powerful and more on the
institutional framework of the society.

They argued that the hierarchical organization of social institutions allows a minority to
monopolize power. Another criticism of the elite theories against the Marxian view of
distribution of power is that the ruling class too large and amorphous a group to be able to
effectively wield power. In their view power is always exercised by a small cohesive group of the
elite. Elite theory argues that all societies are divided into two main groups a ruling minority and
the ruled. This situation is inevitable. If the proletarian revolution occurs it will merely result in
the replacement of one ruling elite by another. Classical elite theory was propounded by Pareto
and Mosca.

The Classical Elite Theory

Pareto places particular emphasis on psychological characteristics as the basis of the elite rule.
He argues that there are two main types of governing elite which he calls Lions and Foxes. Lion
achieve power because of their ability to take direct and decisive action and as their name
suggests they tend to rule by cunning and guile by diplomatic manipulation.Pareto believed that
European democracies provide an example of this type of elite. Members of governing elite own
their position primarily to their personal qualities either to their Lion like or Fox like

Major change in society occurs when one elite replaces another a process Pareto calls
circulation of elites. All elites tend to become decadent. They may become soft and ineffective
with the pleasures of easy living and the privilege of power or set in their ways and too flexible
to respond to changing circumstances.

In addition each type of the elite lacks the imagination and guile necessary to maintain its
rule and will have to admit the foxes from the masses to make up for this deficiency. Gradually
foxes infiltrate the entire elite and so transform its character. Foxes however lack the ability to
take forceful and decisive action which is essential at various times to retain power. Thus an
organized minority of Lions committed to the restoration of strong government develops
overthrowing the elite of foxes.

Like Pareto, Mosca believed that rule by a minority of elite would be an inevitable
feature of social life and societies in history were divided into two classes- A class that rules and
a class that is ruled. The first class always the less numerous performs all political functions,
monopolies power and enjoys the advantages that power brings whereas the second the more
numerous class is directed and controlled by the first. Like Pareto Mosca believed that the ruling
minority is superior to the most of the population because they possess certain qualities that give
them material, intellectual and moral superiority. The content of these qualities may vary from
society to society in some society’s courage and bravery in battle provided access to the elite. In
others the skills and capacity needed to acquire wealth were valued. For both Pareto and Mosca
democracies are merely another form of elite rule.

Power Elite

C Wright Mills has presented a new version of the elite theory. Mills limits his analysis to the
American society only. He does not believe that elite rule is inevitable. In fact he sees it as fairly
recent development. He rejects the view that the members of the elite have superior qualities or
psychological characteristics which distinguish them from the rest of the population. Instead he
argues that the structure of institutions is such that those at the top of the institutional hierarchy
largely monopolized power.

Certain institutions can be pivotal positions in societies and the elite comprise those who
hold command posts in those institutions. Mills identifies three key institutions: The major
corporations, the Military and the Federal government.

Those who occupy the command posts in those institutions form three elites. In practice
however the interest and activities of the elite are sufficiently similar and inter connected to form
a single ruling minority which Mills terms the Power Elite. The cohesiveness and unity of the
power elite is strengthened by the similarity of the backgrounds of its members and another
change and overlapping of personnel between the three elites. Members are largely drawn from
the upper strata of the society. They share similar educational backgrounds and mix socially in
the high prestige clubs. Within the power elite there is frequent interchange of personnel between
the elites. Mills has also rejected the Marxian view that political power automatically follows
economic power. He has shown a preference for power elite rather than ruling class.

According to him class is an economic term and rule is a political one. The ruling class in
its political connotations does not allow enough autonomy to the political order and its agents
and it says nothing about the military. Thus power elite is a more suitable term than ruling
class.R.K Merton has further supported Mills view that the power elite are recruited from the
same social class and are educated in similar prestigious colleges and schools and have similar

Community power structure

Community power structure refers to the distribution of power at the local community level.
There are numerous empirical studies to discover the nature of the distribution of power at
community level. Among these community studies two categories can be clearly identified one
supporting the major contention of the elite thesis and the other refuting the elitist argument and
replacing it by what is known as the Pluralist Thesis.

Lloyd Hunter's Community Power Structure based on the study of distribution of power
in Atlantic is a prominent study in the elitist tradition. Hunter's study was based on reputational

He made a preliminary list of 175 leaders who held formal important positions in politics,
business and civic organizations and have reputation for leadership. Then he selected the panel of
14 judges representing religious, business and professional interest and asked them to select
those who in their eyes are the top leaders. The result showed that half of these leaders were
upper-class businessmen. The empirical study confirms the elitist thesis that a clear defined
group of decision makers can be identified who are highly organized and who decisively
dominate the public life of the organized and who decisively dominate the public life of the city.

Pluralists led by Robert Dahl have challenged the main elitist contention that a society is
marked by the existence of a single centre of political power. They argued that in a society there
are multiple centers of political power none of which are completely sovereign. The decision
making maybe done by few but then this decision making cannot be understood except within
the context of a continuous bargaining process among the elites and also of a general consensus
established only through the mass approval which is hard to secure.

Further continuing his criticism of the elite model he argued that the elite theory confuses
potential control with actual control. He agrees that it is quite possible that a group in the society
has a very high potential for control. But that does not automatically make this group very

powerful since the actual power of a group is established not only by a high potential for control
but also by a high potential for nuclearity. Next according to Dahl the elite theories disregarded
the fact that there may be different scopes of power and that a group having a high degree of
influence over one scope may not necessarily have the same degree of influence over another
scope within the same system.

Dahl selected three distinct decisions -areas covering urban development, public schools
and political nominations. Within each area he studied a number of decisions thus he picks up
three categories of political leaders which are political notables ,social notables and economic
notables and enquires whether each of these groups participate in decision-making only in one or
in all of the three issue areas.

He takes as the sign of power the ability to successfully initiate or veto the proposals for
policies. After examining all the available data Dahl admits that the in The New Haven a tiny
group the leaders exert great influence on individuals who are influential in one sector of public
activity are found not to be influential in another sector and further leaders exerting influence in
different issue areas do not come to be drawn from a single homogenous stratum of the

Dahl's pluralist model has been subjected to severe criticisms. Firstly the model wrongly
locates power in concrete decisions or in activities having direct bearing on decision making. He
ignores the fact that power is also exercised in creating and reinforcing social and political values
and institutional practices that limit the scope of the political process to public consideration of
only those issues that are comparatively harmless to the interest of the powerful. Thus the
powerful groups may never let these issues which affect their vital interests come to the stage of
public decision making. Thus Dahl's model fails to differentiate the unimportant issues arising in
the political arena

Power of the unorganized Masses

Power refers to the ability of an individual or a group to attain its objectives in spite of the
opposition from other individuals or groups. According to Weber Party is the basis of access to
power. Party is an associative type of organizational structure built around a common interest. It
may be a class based interest, a status based interest or ethnicity based interest, or any other type
of interest. The ability of the individuals acting to attain their interest is very limited. Quite often
they might act at cross purposes and reduce each other's chances of attaining their goals. On the
other hand the organizational structure of the party helps in channelizing their energies towards
the common goal. Thus enhancing their ability to attain that goal or in other words in enhancing
their power.

Karl Marx had stated that class-in-itself will not be successful in bringing out change in
capitalist system.

Only when it is transformed into class for itself it shall be able to fight for the interest of
the proletariat and capture power for the proletariat class. The members of the working class
should acquire an awareness of common interest and also an organizational structure should
come into existence to pursue those interests. Thus according to Marx unorganized masses would
remain powerless.

In modern industrial societies with the increasing fragmentation of the working class the
possibility of the workers becoming a class for itself has disappeared and accordingly have
disappeared the chances of workers being able to capture power for themselves through
revolution. Thus so long as the masses remain unorganized either due to the lack of awareness of
common interests or due to the diversity of interests they will not be able to exercise power.
However sometimes under special circumstances the masses may come to share a sense of
deprivation and leadership and ideology and an organizational structure may also come into

In such situations mass movements may develop and the masses may acquire power. The
various backward class movements like Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, Mahar movement
illustrate as how the growth of organization enables masses to exercise power. On the other hand
most of the agricultural labour in India remains unorganized and are therefore unable to achieve
their legitimate interests. The barriers of caste, ethnicity, language and religion continue to act as
hindrances to the growth of any viable organization. However being deprived of legitimate
access to power sometimes the unorganized masses may acquire short lived power through
illegitimate means. In case of mob violence based on common grievance the unorganized masses

may develop a short-lived spontaneous organizational structure of a mob and may give
expression to their sense of frustration through violent and destructive activities.

Political Parties

A political party is essentially a social group having associative type of social relationship
activity and inters personal relationship. Membership rests on formally free recruitment. It is a
social group because firstly it embodies the system of interdependent activity and inter- personal
relationships. Secondly it operates in terms of goal oriented coordinated actions. In so far it
demands from its members of rational direction of their behavior towards commonly
acknowledged goal.

The goal of a political party is to secure political power and hold it either singly or in
cooperation with the other political parties. A political party is very much a clientele-oriented
organization that is a party has always been on gaining as much clientele as possible and hence it
tries to remain as open as possible to its potential members. The party is a mutually exploitative
relationship as it is joined by those who would use it. Gabriel Almond defined political party as
the socialized aggregation structure of modern societies.

Functions of a Political Party

A political party performs a wide range of functions an important one among them is the
aggregation of interests. A political party is multi-interested group that represent diverse interests
of the society. It tries to harmonize these interests with each other; bridges antagonism between
different groups of the society and thereby seeks to produce different groups of the society and
thereby seeks to produce a consensus among as many groups as possible. Political parties act as
very effective mediator in setting disagreements in society in a peaceful and institutionalized

A political party ensures a two way communication process between the government and
the people as it is mainly through the parties that the government is constantly kept informed
about the general demands of the society.

About the interests and attitudes of the people in relation to the governing process.
Similarly it is through the parties organize and articulate public opinion in order to bring this
opinion to bear on governmental decisions. They educate and instruct the people on public

These activities of the party are not confined to election time alone but they go on
simultaneously. Political recruitment is another function of the political party. In a democracy
political elite are recruited mainly through political parties. Leaders of governments are normally
leaders of the political parties. The party plays a very significant role in the process of political
socialization in a country. Party is a very important instrument for political participation of the
people; it is in course of extending the opportunities of this political participation to the people
that the party socializes them. The political socialization performed by political parties may
however assumes two distinct forms the party may either reinforce the existing political culture
or it may try to alter the established political cultural pattern by generating new attitudes and

Voting Behaviour

Elections and voting are an indispensable part of the democratic political system. One of the
major tasks of the political parties is to contest elections. They select such candidates who have
greater chances of winning. Candidates who have greater influence on voters and who have
greater vote-catching capacity are an asset to any political party.

Voting like a party system is the means to select the representatives of people who
perform the functions of a government in a democracy. Through the process of voting an
unpopular government can removed from the power by the people. The opposition can also bring
down a party in power through a vote of no confidence in the Assembly or Parliament. The
voting has its own pattern. Generally educated and educated electorate feels more involved. The
rural and illiterate lower classes are somewhat apathetic to it.

Some people follow the tradition and vote for the same party. Election system,
campaigning and voting depends upon the political culture. Modern democracies have
introduced universal adult franchise. The right to vote has been conferred on all the citizens
without any kind of discrimination. In India also all the citizens irrespective of their caste, color,
creed, religion, region or sex are given the right to vote. The right to vote is a fundamental right
guaranteed by the constitutional law of the country.
Democracy and Authoritarian Government

A democratic society makes a clear distinction between state and society and there is a
constitutional limitation on the power of the state. This consists of demarcation of activities as
those, which the state is well adapted to perform, and those, which it cannot perform and hence
should not interfere, in such activities.

There exist a number of institutions, which keep an eye on the functioning of state to
ensure that the state does not overstep its limits. The Fundamental rights in the Indian
Constitution, Judiciary and Press are an example of the limits imposed on the activities of the
state. Authoritarian government represents a fusion of state and society an entire social system in
which politics profoundly affects the whole range of human activities and associations. Thus an
authoritarian government accepts no limitation on the amount or kind of coercion it may use to
achieve its ends. It can execute exile or place people in the labor of prison camps without any

Hence authoritarian power is unlimited in scope. It is all embracing. The government

asserts the right to control and regiment every phase of life. In a democratic society power is
distributed among plurality of groups. There exist professional associations, trade unions,
business organizations and religious institutions like Churches, Mosques and political parties.
These institutions keep each other in check thus protecting political freedom.

The democratic society encourages competition among political parties and they inhibit
monopolies of power. In authoritarian societies there tends to be near total centralization of
power in the hands of few.

It does not permit plurality of parties in state. There exists one official political party
organization. It plays an important role in strengthening the top leaders. The party is a training
ground for future leaders and administrators. The state has an army of volunteers who observe
the population and report subversive activities. In democratic societies means of mass
communication like T.V, radio and press etc tend to be independent of government and there
exists freedom to criticize. Dissent is permitted. In authoritarian set-up government takes over
the entire public communication system and means of media like T.V, radio, cinema and

publication of books and magazines. The prohibition of media stifles any opposition. The
government filters out anything that might create unfavorable attitudes to their power.

Democratic government is characterized by emphasis on autonomy of individuals and

subsystems. There is a greater tolerance for individual and organizational opposition. The right to
participate in and to oppose the government is a hallmark of democratic society. Cultural
organizations, pressure groups, political parties, trade union actively seek to influence the
government. The development of autonomy threatens the authoritarian regime. They try to
establish control over organized groups. They do not permit organizations like trade unions,
youth clubs and political parties to become powerful. The loyalty to state is above loyalty to
family and friends. Government controlled youth leagues; trade unions and other organizations
have multiplied under communism and fascism.

They are instituted and controlled from above to mobilize people in courses of action
desired by the ruling elite and to prevent the development of independent groups and opinion. An
important feature of democratic government is rule of law and Equality before law. Thus the
leaders and the officials are not permitted to take arbitrary decisions and the law of land equally
governs all the individuals irrespective of their status. However authoritarian regime is
characterized by arbitrary exercise of powers especially by police and Para military forces
because authoritarian regimes depend on the extensive use of arbitrary police power. They are
often referred to as police state. In a democracy political leaders rely more on persuasion and less
on coercion.

The legitimacy of government depends on the popular support. Thus any attempt at
coercion would mean antagonizing the public opinion and loss of power in the next elections.
However authoritarian regimes rely on coercive methods to root out opposition and dissent. The
Nazi concentration camps and Siberian labor camps in Stalin's Russia are classic examples of
repressive control in an authoritarian regime. The nature of control in a democracy is reciprocal
while the government controls the public through bureaucracy but the government's policies are
not unilaterally decided. Often there are discussions, negotiations and bargaining of policy issue
between the government and various pressure groups. This is because the survival of the
government itself depends on popular control.

In authoritarian regime the control is unilateral and the government relies on techniques
of mass indoctrination and wins support among the people. There is hardly any effort towards
accommodation of various interest groups. The freedom of speech and expression in expressing
the grievances leads to lesser violent conflicts in the democratic set-up. While in authoritarian
regimes the absence of legitimate means of expressing dissent leads to violent revolutions and

Political Participation

Political participation is necessary ingredient of every political system. All political systems
encouraged political participation through varying degrees. By involving the people in the
matters of state, political participation fosters stability and order by reinforcing the legitimacy of
political authority. People living in a particular society participate in the political system, which
they develop. There are many forms of participation and democracy in the form of government
that encourages maximum participation in governmental processes. Participation does not mean
more exercise of political rights like franchise, by the people.

It means their active involvement, which in a real manner influences the decision-making
activity of the government. Democratic theory considers citizens as rational, independent, and
interested political persons capable of expressing their opinion regarding the persons aspiring for
holding offices and also competent in electing some persons who deal with the policies of
government in a way conducive to the interest of the mass. "Perhaps the most pervasive
participation is simply living in a democratic community and where all government action and
policy are publicized in press, radio, and television. In this situation those in position of authority
must conduct themselves in such a fashion as to as appear to the sensible people.

Thus the great public in a democracy serves a sort of sounding board for public policy
deliberations and discussion. Thus even a passive participation is a constructive part of
democratic process." The most obvious way of political participation in democracy is voting.
Other ways include such behaviors as reading or listening or watching the mass media of
communications, taking part in political discussions, listening to political speeches, attending
party meetings, giving contribution to political parties, writing petitions or letters to public
officials or newspaper editors, trying to influence the voters, contesting the election for office

etc. Lipset has pointed out that high-level participation cannot always be treated as good for
democracy. It may indicate the decline of social cohesion and breakdown of democratic process.
"A principle problem for a theory of democratic system is under what conditions a society can
have sufficient participation to maintain the democratic system without introducing sources of
cleavage which will determine cohesion".

Some other political theorists are of the opinion that when majority of the people in a
society are contended, participation is small. This should be taken as a favorable rather than
unfavorable sign because it indicates stability and consensus within the society and also absence
of broad cleavages.

Depending on the intensity and degree of participation Lester Milbraith has categorized
political participation in three forms: Gladiators represent that small number of party activists,
whose active association with political parties keeps them engaged in series of direct party
activities like holding party offices, fighting the election as candidates.

Transitional activities include attending party meetings party spectators or party

sympathizers making contributions to the party fund and maintaining contacts with public
officials or party personnel. Spectator activities on the other hand include voting, influencing
others to vote in a particular way, joining political discussions or exposing oneself to the political

Nation Community

There are different terms to define 'nation'. Some writers simply equate it with statehood and
opine that the people of a state are a nation. Other more prominent writers who see nation as a
distinct historical phenomenon are Hans Kohn, Fedreick Hertz, F L Schuman, Karl Marx, and
Lenin. According to these thinkers and writers nation is an historical and sociological
phenomenon and the nation evolved out of the amalgam of various racial and kinship groups
after the break-up of the slavery and feudal societies. Nation is a territorial community as distinct
from a racial, tribal or religious group of people.

Factors responsible for emergence of nation:

The important factors responsible are community of language, geographical contiguity, common
economic ties and common history and traditions. Maclver has pointed out that there are scarcely
any two nations which find their positive support in the same factors.

Race and Kinship:

While it may be readily conceded that a belief in the unity of race and kinship helps in cementing
people together to argue that such unity is an indispensable objective factor is another matter.
Frederick L Schuman points if pure races ever existed they have long since disappeared as a
result of migration, wars, conquests, travels, intermarriages on the grandest scale over thousands
of years. All modern nations have been formed out of people of diverse racial and tribal groups.

Community of religion:

While unity of religion has been and can be a great cementing force and has played a significant
role in the past in consolidating nations it cannot be regarded as an indispensable objective
factor. A modern nation is a territorial community and it includes and embraces all persons of
ethnic and religious faith residing on a permanent basis on the same territory and therefore also
participants in the history and traditions of the land.

Community of language:

The existence of a common language is considered by many writers and thinkers to be

indispensable for the existence of a nation.Federick Schuman points out how language is the best
index of an individual's cultural environment and significantly adds that most of the nations of
the earth are nations not because they are politically independent and socially unified but because
their people use a common speech which differs from that of other nations. Those who disagree
with this view often cite the examples of UK and Switzerland and assert that despite the
existence of several languages the people of these nations are united.

In spite of a common language the people speaking a common language may not
constitute a nation. A nation is formed as a result of a fairly lengthy and systematic intercourse
for generations which would not be possible without the possession of a common territory.

Geographical contiguity:

Contiguous geographical area has been assumed to be indispensable for the rise and existence of
nation. Living together on the same geographically contiguous area conversing in the same
language having same historical experiences people are apt to develop common sentiments and
outlook as well as strong attachment to the common soil.

Community of economic ties:

This factor was emphasized by Karl Marx. Since then its existence has been realized. When it
was conceded that the nation was a historical and sociological phenomenon attention began to be
paid to conditions under which nations arise.

The nation arises out of the fusion of clans, tribes and ethnic groups. According to Lenin
it is the growth of exchange between regions and the creation of a home market which leads to
the creation of nationalities. People do not become fully consolidated into a nation so long they
are not united by common economic ties which the developing capitalist mode of production

Common history or traditions:

The possession of a common language, geographical contiguity and common economic ties are
bonds which make the people living together share same experiences and develop a certain
amount of common outlook and also have common aspirations. They are people who have lived
together suffered together, worked together and this creates among them what may be called a
common psychological make-up or character. The character of people is a reflection of the
conditions of life they have lived and led together. Therefore it may be and usually is modified in
course of time as the conditions of life undergo change. Secondly the reference to national
character does not negate the existence of individual variations. It underlines a tendency among a
certain people.

Nationality is in fact a psychological or sentiment.

A.E Zimmern writes nationality like religion is subjective; psychological a condition of mind a
spiritual possession a way of feeling, thinking and living. Nationality is an instinct. Renon and
Mill write there must be a consciousness of a heroic past, true glory experiences and sacrifices,
feelings of pride and shame, joy and grief connected with the past. Maclver defines nationality as
a type of community sentiment created by historical circumstances and supported by common
psychological factors to such an extent and so strong that those who feel it desire to have a
common government peculiarly or exclusively their own.

Nation and State:

Nationality is a group of people who feel their uniqueness and oneness which they are keen to
maintain; if this group of people happens to organize themselves on a particular territory and
desire independence or are independent they form a nation state.

The members of a state may belong to different nationalities. Nationality is subjective

and statehood is objective. Nationality is psychological statehood is political. Nationality is a
condition of mind whereas statehood is a condition in law. Nationality is a spiritual possession,
statehood is an enforceable obligation. Sovereignty is an essential element of state but not of
nation. Nation signifies consciousness of unity prompted by psychological and spiritual feelings
which may or may not be sovereign. The physical element of sovereignty is not as important as
the psychological element of the feeling of oneness.

The Growth of Nation State

The nation state was born of competition and conflict. The Hundred Years War gave rise to two
rival groups across the English Channel each feeling a consciousness of kind the English and the
French. The War of Roses gave rise to a united English nation under the Tudor dictatorship.
Rivalry in discovery and piracy on the high seas cemented national solidarity among the
participants-the English and the French, the Portuguese, the Spanish. The American nation was
born out of long civil wars. The kingdom of Prussia was one of the important products of
Napoleonic Wars. The German Nation was born of conflict of war with France (1870-71).The
Italian Nation under Mazzini and Garibaldi came into being as a resurgent movement in protest
against Austrian domination (1859-70).Either competition or conflict or possibly a combination
of both has given rise to political nationalism. The idea of democratic nation state is of recent
growth. The unification of all authority in the hands of powerful centralized independent
monarchies took the place of ineffective and petty feudal authorities. After innumerable conflicts
the principle of state absolutism became supreme in Europe. All the great reformers of Protestant
Reformation enjoined on their followers passive obedience to the state and taught that the powers
that be are ordained of God. They held that the rulers to whom obedience was due ruled by
divine right. In England their teaching paved the way for Tudor and Stuart despotism. In France
Louis XIV said 'I am the State'. The general tendency of Reformation was to strengthen
despotism in the political sovereign. It was both a nationalistic and a religious movement.

Such despotism did not remain unchallenged. People with the growth of enlightenment
and realization of their power obtained certain rights from the ruler. They realized the fact that
government existed not for its own sake but for the good of the governed. Royal absolutism at
one time necessary to wield people together and to bring order and unity out of feudal disorder
was no longer necessary once that object was fulfilled. Political parties grew stronger and
developed into open organizations representing liberal attitudes on various questions of interest
to the constitutional group. In some countries the monarchs willingly yielded to the popular will
and were content to remain as figureheads under a democratic government. The sovereignty of
the people became recognized and the democratic nation s state came to be established.

Patriotism is love for one's country. It is an altruistic devotion to the country a deep communal
feeling capable of inspiring and uniting people together for common cause. But sometimes
patriotism unwittingly contributes to national egotism. Sometimes it denies the full obligation of
the nation to other nations. Sometimes it creates chauvinism, hate against other nations.

It is a state of mind that seeks to make the nation an effective unity and the object of man's
supreme loyalty. It has developed in the western world and is today growing all over again. It has
prepared the way for modern democratic national states. It has extended the area of national
liberty and individual freedom. Nationalism no doubts serves as a source of integration within
the state but it is dangerous when it denies the common interest that binds nation to nation. Then
it becomes ethnocentrism or chauvinism which is intolerance or imperialism seeking territorial
expansion and political domination. When nationalism divides people from others it impedes the
development of harmonious inter group or international relations and sows the seeds of
international rivalry and wars. In its pure form nationalism may be an ideal but it can cause
serious division between man and man. In the words of Hayes,' Nationalism when it becomes
synonymous with the purest patriotism will prove a unique blessing to humanity and to the
world.' Internationalism and chauvinism are mutually contradictory sentiments but healthy
nationalism and internationalism are mutually complementary.


The term education is derived from the Latin educare which literally means to bring up and is
connected with the verb ‘educare’ which means to bring forth. The idea of education is not
merely to impart knowledge to the pupil in some subjects but to develop in him those habits and
attitudes with which he can successfully face the future. Peter Worsely says a large part of our
social and technical skills are acquired through deliberate instruction which we call education. It
is the main waking activity of children from the ages of five to fifteen and often beyond. In the
recent years education has become the major interest of some sociologists. As a result a new
branch of sociology called Sociology of Education has become established.

Durkheim conceives education as the socialization of the younger generation. He further states
that it is a continuous effort to impose on the child ways of seeing, feeling and acting which he
could not have arrived at spontaneously.

Sumner defined education as the attempt to transmit to the child the mores of the group so that he
can learn what conduct is approved and what disapproved. How he ought to behave in all kind of
cases: what he ought to believe and reject.

A.W Green writes: Historically education has meant the conscious training of the young for the
later adoption of adult roles. By modern convention however education has come to mean formal
training by specialists within the formal organization of the school.

The concepts of socialization and learning are related to in fact often inseparable from the
concept of education. The main function of the educative process is to pass down knowledge
from generation to generation- a process that is essential to the development of culture. Formal
education is primarily designed to inculcate crucial skills and values central to the survival of the
society or to those who hold effective power. Inherent in education, in all period of man’s history
is a stimulus to creative thinking and action which accounts in part for culture change, culture
change itself being a powerful stimulus to further innovation.

Equality of Educational Opportunity

The equalization of educational opportunities is essentially linked with the equality notions in the
social system. The social system which intends to provide equal opportunities for the
advancement of all has to make provisions for equal educational opportunities also. In modern
industrial society education has become the main agency for socializing new born into law
abiding citizens and productive members of the society. Formal education has become almost
indispensable because to participate in economic production one needs to learn specialized skills
which cannot be acquired through family or any other agency. Due to the indispensability of
formal education in advanced industrial societies education is provided by the state as a matter of
right for all its citizens. Formal institutions – schools, colleges and universities are organized for
this purpose.

In most societies today legislations exist guaranteeing equality of the right of education.
In fact to realize this ideal of equality of educational opportunities special efforts are made by the
welfare states in industrial societies to provide compulsory education to the socially deprived. In
developing countries like India state has assumed the responsibility to provide universal free
education at the school level. Special policy measures have been developed to spread modern
scientific secular education to rural areas and policy of protective discriminating has been
adopted to encourage the traditionally deprived section like SC and ST to take to modern
education. However in spite of the creation of a legal framework in most societies to ensure
quality of educational opportunity such an ideal continues to be elusive in reality even in the
industrially advanced societies.

Raymond Bourdon has investigated the problem of equality of educational opportunities.

Bourdon has tried to analyze the relationship between social structure and educational
attainment. Bourdon maintain that even if there were no sub cultural difference between classes
the very fact that people start at different positions in the class system will produce inequality of
educational opportunity. For example the costs involved and the benefits to be gained for a
working class boy and an upper middle class boy in choosing the same educational course are
very different simply because their starting positions in the class-system are different.

Bourdon also relates the costs and benefits of course selection to family and peer group
solidarity. His work has important implications for practical solutions to the problem of
inequality of education opportunity. Even if positive discrimination worked and schools were
able to compensate for the primary effects of stratification considerable inequality of educational
opportunity would remain.

Bourdon argues that there are two ways of removing the secondary effects of
stratification. The first involves the educational system. If it provides a single compulsory
curriculum for all students the element of choice in the selection of course and duration of stay in
the system would be removed. The individual would no longer be influenced by his courses and
remain in full time education for the same period of time. He argues that more the branching
points there are in the educational system point at which the student can leave or choose between
alternative courses the more likely working class students are to leave or choose lower level
courses. The gradual raising of the school leaving age in all advanced industrial societies has
reduced inequality of educational opportunity but the present trend indicate that his reduction
will at best proceed at a much slower rate. Bourdon’s second solution to the problem of
inequality of educational opportunity is the abolition of social stratification. He sees moves in the
direction of economic equality as the most effective way of reducing inequality or educational
opportunity. As a result he argues that the key to equality of opportunity lies outside rather than
inside the schools. Bourdon concludes: for inequality or educational opportunity to be eliminated
either a society must be unstratified or its school system must be completely undifferentiated.

Problems concerning equality of opportunities in education

Education helps in establishing equality and ensuring social justice but the system of education
itself can add to the existing inequalities or at least perpetuate the same. Inequalities of
educational opportunities arise due to Poverty as the poor cannot afford to meet the expenses of
education. Children studying in the rural schools have to compete with the children in urban
areas where there are well-equipped schools. In the places where no primary, secondary or
collegiate educational institutions exist children do not get the same opportunity as those who
have all these in their neighborhood.

Wide inequalities also arise from differences in home environments. A child from a rural
household or slum does not have the same opportunity as a child from an upper class home with
educated parents. There is wide sex disparity in India. Here girl’s education is not given the same
encouragement as boys. Education of backward classes including SC and ST and economically
backward sections is not at par with that of other communities or classes.

Education and Social Change

The role of education as an agent or instrument of social change and social development is
widely recognized today. Social change may take place – when humans need changeWhen the
existing social system or network of social institutions fails to meet the existing human needs
and when new materials suggest better ways of meeting human needs.

According to Maclver social change takes place as a response to many types of changes
that take place in the social and nonsocial environment. Education can initiate social changes by
bringing about a change in outlook and attitude of man. It can bring about a change in the pattern
of social relationships and thereby it may cause social changes.

Earlier educational institutions and teachers used to show a specific way of life to the
students and education was more a means of social control than an instrument of social change.
Modern educational institutions do not place much emphasis upon transmitting a way of life to
the students. The traditional education was meant for an unchanging static society not marked by
any change. But today education aims at imparting knowledge. Education was associated with

It has become secular today. It is an independent institution now. Education has been
chiefly instrumental in preparing the way for the development of science and technology.
Education has brought about phenomenal changes in every aspect of men’s life. Francis J.Brown
remarks that education is a process which brings about changes in the behavior of society. It is a
process which enables every individual to effectively participate in the activities of society and to
make positive contribution to the progress of society.

Education and Modernization

Modernization is a process of socio-cultural transformation. It is a thorough going process of
change involving values, norms, institutions and structures. Political dimensions of
modernization involves creation of a modern nation state and the development of key institutions
–political parties, bureaucratic structures, legislative bodies and a system of elections based on
universal franchise and secret ballot. Cultural modernization involves adherence to nationalistic
ideology, belief in equality, freedom and humanism, a rational and scientific outlook. Economic
modernization involves industrialization accompanied with monetization of economy, increasing
division of labor, use of management techniques and improved technology and the expansion of
service sector. Social modernization involves universalistic values, achievement motivation,
increasing mobility both social and geographic increasing literacy and urbanization and the
decline of traditional authority.

The secular and scientific education act as an important means of modernization. It helps
in the diffusion of modern values of equality, freedom and humanism. The modern school system
can inculcate achievement motivation. These values can form the basis of new relations in the
society and growth of rationality can enable the development of administrative system. Diffusion
of values of equality, freedom and humanism can lay the foundations of a democratic political
system. The spread of modern education in the second half of the 19th century led to the
emergence of modern political elite in India who provided leadership in the freedom struggle.
The diffusion of scientific and technical knowledge by modern educational institutions can help
in the creation of skilled manpower to play the occupational roles demanded by the industrial
economy. Other values like individualism and universalistic ethics etc can also be inculcated
through education. Thus education can be an important means of modernization. The importance
of education can be realized from the fact that all modernizing societies tend to emphasize on
universalization of education and the modernized societies have already attained it.

Education and Culture

Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills and also something less tangible but
more profound: the imparting of knowledge good judgement and wisdom. Durkheim sees
education as the socialization of the younger generation .It is a continuous effort to impose on the
child ways of seeing, feeling and acting which he could not have arrived at spontaneously.

Education has as one of its fundamental goals the imparting of culture from generation to
generation. Culture is a growing whole. There can be no break in the continuity of culture. The
cultural elements are passed on through the agents like family, school and other associations.
All societies maintain themselves through their culture. Culture here refers to a set of
beliefs, skills, art, literature, philosophy, religion, music etc which must be learned. This social
heritage must be transmitted through social organizations.

Education has this function of cultural transmission in all societies. The curriculum of a school,
its extra-curricular activities and the informal relationships among students and teachers
communicate social skills and values. Through various activities school imparts values such as
co-operation, team spirit, obedience, discipline etc. Education acts an integrative force in the
society by communicating values that unites different sections of society. The schools teach skills
to the children who help them later to integrate within the culture of the society. Education in its
formal or informal pattern has been performing this role since time immemorial. Education can
be looked upon as process from this point of view also. Education has brought phenomenal
changes in every aspect of man’s life.

Education and Social control

Helvetius referring to education in 18th century France observed that men are born ignorant not
stupid; they are made stupid by education. This is not the modern view. There may be still be
societies in which men’s minds are stupefied by dogmatic instruction which inclines them to
accept uncritically the views of political or religious authorities but the general character of
formal education has been profoundly changed by modern science and technology. The great
difference between primitive and early societies and modern industrial societies is that in the
former education is largely concerned with transmitting a way of life while in the latter because
of the mass of available knowledge the application of science to production and the elaborate
division of labour formal education not only preponderates in the process of education as a
whole but is largely devoted to the communication of empirical knowledge.

One aspect of this change is indicated by the observation that in modern societies the
content of education is less literary and more scientific. A second major difference is that
whereas in earlier societies a relatively unchanging way of life and sum of knowledge were

transmitted the scientific knowledge communicated by modern education is expected to change
moreover education is increasingly required to prepare individuals for a changing rather than a
static world.

Formal education in modern societies communicates independently ideas which play a

part in regulating behaviour. Malinowski rightly mentioned this feature in its rudimentary form
in primitive societies when he included the rules of craftsmanship as an element in social control.
Modern science and technology are not only the basis of infinitely more complex rules of
craftsmanship but also of a general rational approach to nature and social life which has an
increasingly important role in establishing and maintaining social cooperation. The scientific
thought implicitly or explicitly criticized the idea propounded in religious and moral doctrines
and has largely been responsible for the changes which the latter have undergone. The whole
rationalization of the modern world with which Max Weber was pre-occupied is connected with
the development of science. Since the chief vehicle of this development has been the educational
system we can speak of formal education as a type of social control.

Education has contributed to the regulation of conduct that is the early socialization of the
child. The work of educational reformers such as Montessori and Froebel has brought about great
changes in the education of young children. So far the reforms were connected with scientific
studies of the development of children such as those of Piaget they arose from the development
of the social sciences. Moreover being based upon this observation and analysis of the actual
development of children’s activities, needs and problems they can be regarded as having arisen
very largely within the educational sphere itself as independent discoveries.

The changes in the formal education system have themselves brought about changes in
the family socialization aided by the spread of social science knowledge. In this sense the formal
education of children has originated new forms of regulation of behavior. Education in a broad
sense from infancy to adulthood is thus a vital means of social control and its significance has
been greatly enhanced in recent years by the rpaid expansion of education at all levels in the
developing countries and by the equally rapid growth of secondary and higher education in the
industrial countries.

Through education new generations learn the social norms and the penalties for
infringing them; they are instructed also in their station and its duties within the system of social
differentiation and stratification. In modern societies where formal education becomes
predominant and where an important occupational group of teachers comes into existence,
education is also a major type of social control as the source of scientific knowledge which is in
competition and sometimes in conflict with other types of control. This conflict may become
particularly acute with the extension of higher education to a much larger proportion of the
population as the experience of Europe and USA show and the educational system may
increasingly provide one of the main sources of change and innovation in the social norms.


In our times state is the sole upholder of social control and conformity, and the principal means
at its disposal is law. Since law is enforced by State, force is present. Roscoe Pound explains law
as social control through systematic application of the force of a politically organized society. In
a lighter vein Bertrand Russell remarks that the good behaviour of even the most exemplary
citizen owes much to the existence of a police force. Much earlier, Durkheim was the first
sociologist to show that law is the means to enforce the collective conscience or collectivity
which makes society an entity by itself, almost God.

Law is closely associated with morality and religion. Legislation always rests on social
doctrines and ideals which have been derived from religion and morality, and judicial decisions
always rely on the fundamental moral ideas of society expressed as reason, natural law, natural
justice, and equality and, in more recent times, as public policy or public interest litigation as in
India. Law, therefore, rests upon moral sentiments derived from religion and is influenced by
institutional arrangements of society; and it brings about, by its precision and sanction, such a
degree of certainty in human behaviour that cannot be attained through other types of social
control. On occasions, law enforces social attitudes and contracts which initially were those of a
small minority of reformers. In Russia, law has established new morals of behaviour which were
originally the aspirations of small group of revolutionaries. In democratic societies, too, social
reformers played an important part in influencing social behaviour, later on approved by law.

One more characteristic of law is the changed outlook towards punishment. As societies
are becoming more confident of their powers to maintain order as a result of rising material
standards, declining class differences and spread of education and extension of rights, more and
more stress is being laid on the willing cooperation of people with state and its law. This
development has been further augmented by studies in sociology and psychology which have
shown that crimes are projection of society rather than the results of individual violation. That is
why the new discipline, called criminology, has developed as an applied branch of sociology.

Lastly, law as it is today, does not primarily deal with individuals alone. Very often it
regulates conflicts between individuals and groups as well as between individuals and large
organisations whether public or private. The role of property in social life has been modified by
the changes that have accrued in the relations between the employer and the worker through the
abolition of the crime of conspiracy, the recognition of collective bargaining, social security and
direct limitations on the use of private property, all through legislation.

The law as it exists today partly contributes to social change. As already remarked above,
the change in the role of property has led to a great social change in man's social behavior.
Secondly, individual initiative is no longer on the premium in modern societies. Mammoth
organizations and corporations undertake the vast socio-economic activities of modern times.
Taking into account these changes, American sociologists have introduced expressions such as
the 'Other-directed man' and the organization man. As the social complex of modern
communities is transforming itself, law, too, is keeping pace with them in making the interaction
between the other direct man and the mammoth organizations or the corporations to be smooth
and efficient.

In developing societies the role of law in contributing to social change is much more. In
all countries there is a continuous rationalization of the existing law by modification,
introduction of foreign codes, and systematic legislation in relation to customary and traditional
law. The Indian Constitution is an embodiment of such monumental change. The philosophy
governing social changes, implied as well as explicitly stated in the Constitution, is governed by
the principles stated in the Preamble which are entirely secular and which bear the imprint of the
leading minds of the world like the 18th century French philosophers, liberal thinkers of the 19th

century, the Fabian socialists of the 20th century, and individual thinkers like Thoreau, Tolstoy
and Mahatma Gandhi.

Although law has an important role in maintaining social order or conformity, there are a
few weaknesses in the existing law. It no longer has charismatic qualities which it earlier had,
although our courts resound with expressions like the Majesty and the sanctity of law, your
Lordships and so on. Second, people do not feel collectively and directly involved when any law
is violated. It is more in the form of keeping each individual in his limits.

Lastly, law does not enable the criminal to be finally reconciled to society. Modern Law,
as it has developed, is increasingly being separated from custom and religion. It is only when
legislation and litigation, the two processes concerned with law, are harmonized that they take
their appropriate place in social control.

UNIT 5: Socialization and Social Control (11 pgs)


Socialization is predominately an unconscious process by which a newborn child learns the

values, beliefs, rules and regulations of society or internalizes the culture in which it is born.
Socialization, in fact, includes learning of three important processes: (1) cognitive; (2) affective,
and (3) evaluative. In other words, socialization includes the knowledge of how things are caused
and the establishment of emotional links with the rest of the members of the society.
Socialization, therefore, equips an individual in such a way that he can perform his duties in his
society. Who are the agents of socialization? The agents of socialization vary from society to
society. However, in most of the cases, it is the family which is a major socializing agent, that is,
the nearest kinsmen are the first and the most important agents of socialization. The other groups
which are socializing units in a society vary according to the complexity. Thus, in modern
complex society, the important socializing agents are educational institutions, while in primitive
societies, clans and lineages play a more important role. Socialization is a slow process.

There is no fixed time regarding the beginning and the end of this process. However,
some sociologists formulated different stages of socialization. These are (1) oral stage, (2) anal
stage (3) oedipal stage, and (4) adolescence. In all these stages, especially in the first three, the
main socializing agent is the family. The first stage is that of a new-born child when he is not
involved in the family as a whole but only with his mother. He does not recognize anyone except
his mother. The time at which the second stage begins is generally after first year and ends when
the infant is around three.

At this stage, the child separates the role of his mother and his own. Also during this time
force is used on the child, that is, he is made to learn a few basic things. The third stage extends
from about fourth year to 12th to 13th year, that is, till puberty. During this time, the child
becomes a member of the family as a whole and identifies himself with the social role ascribed
to him. The fourth stage begins at puberty when a child wants freedom from parental control. He
has to choose a job and a partner for himself. He also learns about incest taboo.

G. H Mead

Mind, Self and Society belonged to the Chicago school and founders of symbolic interactionism.
Mead's thought was even categorized as social behaviourism. In his work he firstly laid
foundation for social psychology. He emphasized the importance of language, symbols and
communication in human life, the ways in which our gestures and words bring reciprocal
responses in others through a process of role taking. He noted the reflected and reflexive
behavior and nature of self and the importance of act. The importance of self was realized only
during social interaction. The self function in the society were to analyze the situation identify
and communicate and also practice self-control.

Mead also refers to the objective reality of perspectives. In simpler terms there could be
different explanation of the reality depending on the stand or the view point taken for a given
time e.g. history is always an account of the past from some persons present.

C.H Cooley

Cooley gives recognition to the interrelation between self and society and considers them to be
born together. He defines social self as a product on one's self as reflected in the perceptions of

others. Hence the image of self can only be concretized in relation to the society. This
recognition is placed in human imagination i.e.mind, Looking Glass itself. The three important
dimensions of this theory are the imaginations of one's own appearance to others, secondly
imagination of others judgment of that appearance and thirdly to have personal feeling regarding
that image.

Organic theory

Following Durkheim tradition Cooley considers that society is basically analogous to organic
evolution and it is progressive and democratic society which is an integrated whole of
individuals. They both are indispensable for each other's continuation and existence. Therefore
he regards that isolated person and non individual society are myth. He does not undermine the
individual's importance since he considers that each individual has an importance analogous to
each organ of an organism.

Primary Group

The concept pioneered by Cooley is characterized by face to face relations cooperation and
coherence. The presence of We feeling where the self is strongly integrated in the group e.g.
family etc. This group is contrasted with larger and more disparate nucleated group or secondary
group e.g. Trade Unions etc.

Types of Socialisation

Primary socialization

Primary socialization occurs when a child learns the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to
individuals as members of a particular culture. For example if a child saw his/her mother
expressing a discriminatory opinion about a minority group, then that child may think this
behavior is acceptable and could continue to have this opinion about minority groups.

Secondary socialization

Secondary socialization refers to the process of learning what is appropriate behavior as a
member of a smaller group within the larger society. It is usually associated with teenagers and
adults, and involves smaller changes than those occurring in primary socialization. E.g. entering
a new profession, relocating to a new environment or society.

Developmental socialization

Developmental socialization is the process of learning behavior in a social institution or

developing your social skills.

Anticipatory socialization

Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person "rehearses"

for future positions, occupations, and social relationships.


Resocialization refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns and accepting new
ones as part of a transition in one's life. This occurs throughout the human life cycle (Schaefer &
Lamm, 1992: 113). Resocialization can be an intense experience, with the individual
experiencing a sharp break with their past, and needing to learn and be exposed to radically
different norms and values. An example might be the experience of a young man or woman
leaving home to join the military, or a religious convert internalizing the beliefs and rituals of a
new faith. An extreme example would be the process by which a transsexual learns to function
socially in a dramatically altered gender role.

Resocialization is a sociological concept dealing with the process of mentally and

emotionally "re-training" a person so that he or she can operate in an environment other than that
which he or she is accustomed to. Resocialization into a total institution involves a complete
change of personality. Key examples include the process of resocializing new recruits into the
military so that they can operate as soldiers (or, in other words, as members of a cohesive unit)
and the reverse process, in which those who have become accustomed to such roles return to
society after military discharge.

Agents of Socialization

Agents of socialization are the people and groups that influence our self-concept, emotions,
attitudes, and behavior. The first agent of socialisation is family. Family is responsible for,
among other things, determining one's attitudes toward religion and establishing career goals.
Second agent is the education. It is the agency responsible for socializing groups of young people
in particular skills and values in society. Third, Peers refer to people who are roughly the same
age and/or who share other social characteristics (e.g., students in a college class). In addition to
other agents of socialisation are the mass media, religion, work place and state.

Social Control

Signs warning of prohibited activities; an example of social control

Social control includes social mechanisms that regulate individual and group behavior, leading to
conformity and compliances to the rules of a given society or social group. Many mechanisms of
social control are cross-cultural, if only in the control mechanisms used to prevent the
establishment of chaos or anomie. Some theorists, such as Emile Durkheim, refer to this form of
control as regulation. Sociologists identify two basic forms of social controls. Internalization of
norms and values, and The use of sanctions, which can be either positive (rewards) or negative

Social control theory began to be studied as a separate field in the early 20th century.
Sociologist Edward A. Ross argued that belief systems exert a greater control on human behavior
than specific laws, no matter what form the beliefs take. The means to enforce social control can
thus be either formal or informal.
Informal social control

The social values that are present in individuals are products of informal social control. It is
exercised by a society without explicitly stating these rules and is expressed through customs,
norms, and mores. Individuals are socialized whether consciously or subconsciously. During
informal sanctions, ridicule or ostracization can cause a straying towards norms.

Through this form of socialization, the person will internalize these mores and norms.
Traditional society uses mostly informal social control embedded in its customary culture relying
on the socialization of its members to establish social order. Religion is thought of by some as a
common and historically established form of informal social control. More rigidly-structured
societies may place increased reliance on formal mechanisms.

Informal sanctions may include shame, ridicule, sarcasm, criticism and disapproval. In
extreme cases sanctions may include social discrimination and exclusion. This implied social
control usually has more effect on individuals because they become internalized and thus an
aspect of personality.

As with formal controls, informal controls reward or punish acceptable or unacceptable

behaviour (i.e., deviance). Informal controls are varied and differ from individual to individual,
group to group and society to society. For example, at a women's institute meeting, a
disapproving look might convey the message that it is inappropriate to flirt with the minister. In a
criminal gang, on the other hand, a stronger sanction would be applied in the case of someone
threatening to inform to the police.

Formal social control

Formal social control is expressed through law as statutes, rules, and regulations against deviant
behavior. It is conducted by government and organizations using law enforcement mechanisms
and other formal sanctions such as fines and imprisonment. In democratic societies the goals and
mechanisms of formal social control are determined through legislation by elected
representatives and thus enjoy a measure of support from the population and voluntary

Concepts of Anomie and Deviance

Anomie, in contemporary English language, is a sociological term primarily attributed to Émile
Durkheim, but about which there is significant confusion between his early work on the
collective division of labor in society in which anomie was posited as a mismatch of labor
productivity to needs, and his later work on the topic of suicide. Most sociologists today relate to
the later work, published in 1897, identified with a conception of anomie as having to do with
societal norms, in which: anomie is a personal condition in which one either has a lack of norms
or of norms that are too rigid. To both of these causes suicide has been attributed.

Anomie in common parlance is thought to mean something like "at loose ends." The
Oxford English Dictionary lists a range of definitions, beginning with a disregard of divine law,
through the 19th and 20th century sociological terms meaning an absence of accepted social
standards or values. Most sociologists associate the term with Durkheim, who used the concept
to speak of the ways in which an individual's actions are matched, or integrated, with a system of
social norms and practices.

Durkheim also formally posited anomie as a mismatch, not simply as the absence of
norms. Thus, a society with too much rigidity and little individual discretion could also produce a
kind of anomie, a mismatch between individual circumstances and larger social mores. Thus,
fatalistic suicide arises when a person is too rule-governed, when there is … no free horizon of


In 1893 Durkheim introduced the concept of anomie to describe the mismatch of collective guild
labor to evolving societal needs when the guild was homogeneous in its constituency. He equated
homogeneous (redundant) skills to mechanical solidarity whose inertia retarded adaptation. He
contrasted this with the self-regulating behavior of a division of labor based on differences in
constituency, equated to organic solidarity, whose lack of inertia made it differentially sensitive
to need changes.

Durkheim observed that these two labor forms could not co-exist. The conflict between
the evolved organic division of labor and the homogeneous mechanical type was such that one
could not long exist in the presence of the other:“This social type rests on principles so different
from the preceding that it can develop only in proportion to the effacement of that preceding
type.” and “The history of these two types shows, in effect, that one has progressed only as the
other has retrogressed.”

When solidarity is organic, anomie is “impossible whenever solidary organs are

sufficiently in contact or sufficiently prolonged. In effect, being contiguous, they are quickly
warned, in each circumstance, of the need they have of one another, and, consequently, they have
a lively and continuous sentiment of their mutual dependence. For the same reason that
exchanges take place among them easily, they take place frequently, and in time the work of
consolidation is achieved.”[4] Their sensitivity to mutual needs promotes the evolution in the
division of labor “because the smallest reaction can be felt from one part to another. ... they
foresee and fix, in detail, the conditions of equilibrium." "Producers, being near consumers,
can easily reckon the extent of the needs to be satisfied. Equilibrium is established without any
trouble and production regulates itself.”

Durkheim contrasted the condition of anomie as being the result of mechanical solidarity:
"But on the contrary, if some opaque environment is interposed, then only stimuli of certain
intensity can be communicated from one organ to another. Relations being rare, are not repeated
enough to be determined; each time there ensues new groping. The lines of passage taken by the
streams of movement cannot deepen because the streams themselves are too intermittent.” [6]
“Contact is no longer sufficient. The producer can no longer embrace the market at a glance, nor
even in thought. He can no longer see its limits, since it is, so to speak limitless. Accordingly,
production becomes unbridled and unregulated.”

Durkheim's use of the term anomie was about a phenomenon of industrialization—mass-

regimentation that could not adapt due to its own inertia—its resistance to change, which causes
disruptive cycles of collective behavior (e.g. economics) due to the necessity of a prolonged
buildup of sufficient force or momentum to overcome the inertia.

Later in 1897, in his studies of suicide, Durkheim associated anomie to the influence of a
lack of norms or norms that were too rigid. But such normlessness or norm-rigidity was a
symptom of anomie, caused by the lack of differential adaptation that would enable norms to
evolve naturally due to self regulation, either to develop norms where none existed or to change
norms that had become rigid and obsolete.

The importance of Durkheim's earlier definition is its specificity of the direct cause of a
collective social disorder that has great relevance in the understanding of economic imbalance,
labor obsolescence, mass movements, and many great themes in history and literature, such as
those of H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.

As social disorder

The nineteenth century French pioneer sociologist Émile Durkheim borrowed the word from
French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau and used it in his influential book Suicide (1897),
outlining the social (and not individual) causes of suicide, characterized by an absence or
diminution of standards or values (referred to as normlessness), and an associated feeling of
alienation and purposelessness. He believed that anomie is common when the surrounding
society has undergone significant changes in its economic fortunes, whether for good or for
worse and, more generally, when there is a significant discrepancy between the ideological
theories and values commonly professed and what was actually achievable in everyday life. This
is contrary to previous theories on suicide which generally maintained that suicide was
precipitated by negative events in a person's life and their subsequent depression.

In Durkheim’s view, traditional religions often provided the basis for the shared values
which the anomic individual lacks. Furthermore, he argued that the division of labor that had
been prevalent in economic life since the Industrial Revolution led individuals to pursue egoistic
ends rather than seeking the good of a larger community. Robert King Merton also adopted the
idea of anomie to develop Strain Theory, defining it as the discrepancy between common social
goals and the legitimate means to attain those goals. In other words, an individual suffering from
anomie would strive to attain the common goals of a specific society yet would not be able to
reach these goals legitimately because of the structural limitations in society. As a result the
individual would exhibit deviant behavior. Friedrich Hayek notably uses the word anomie with
this meaning.

Anomie as a social disorder is not to be confused with anarchy. Anarchy denotes lack of
rulers, hierarchy, and command, whereas anomie denotes lack of rules, structure, and
organization. Many proponents of anarchism claim that anarchy does not necessarily lead to
anomie and that hierarchical command actually increases lawlessness (see e.g. the Law of Eristic

Escalation). As an older variant, the Webster 1913 dictionary reports use of the word anomie as
meaning “disregard or violation of the law”.


Robert Merton was a functionalist and he fundamentally agreed with Parsons’ theory. However,
he acknowledged that it was problematic, believing that it was too generalised [Holmwood,
2005:100]. Merton tended to emphasise middle-range theory rather than a grand theory, meaning
that he was able to deal specifically with some of the limitations in Parsons’ theory. He identified
three main limitations: functional unity, universal functionalism and indispensability [Ritzer in
Gingrich, 1999]. He also developed the concept of deviance and made the distinction between
manifest and latent functions.

Merton criticised functional unity, saying that not all parts of a modern, complex society
work for the functional unity of society. Some institutions and structures may have other
functions, and some may even be generally dysfunctional, or be functional for some while being
dysfunctional for others. This is because not all structures are functional for society as a whole.
Some practices are only functional for a dominant individual or a group [Holmwood, 2005:91].
Here Merton introduces the concepts of power and coercion into functionalism and identifies the
sites of tension which may lead to struggle or conflict. Merton states that by recognising and
examining the dysfunctional aspects of society we can explain the development and persistence
of alternatives. Thus, as Hollywood states, “Merton explicitly made power and conflict central
issues for research within a functionalist paradigm” [2005:91].

Merton also noted that there may be functional alternatives to the institutions and
structures currently fulfilling the functions of society. This means that the institutions that
currently exist are not indispensable to society. Merton states that “just as the same item may
have multiple functions, so may the same function be diversely fulfilled by alternative items”
[cited in Holmwood, 2005:91]. This notion of functional alternatives is important because it
reduces the tendency of functionalism to imply approval of the status quo.

Merton’s theory of deviance is derived from Durkheim’s idea of anomie. It is central in

explaining how internal changes can occur in a system. For Merton, anomie means a
discontinuity between cultural goals and the accepted methods available for reaching them.
Merton believes that there are 5 situations facing an actor

Conformity occurs when an individual has the means and desire to achieve the cultural goals
socialised into him.

Innovation occurs when an individual strives to attain the accepted cultural goals but chooses to
do so in novel or unaccepted method.

Ritualism occurs when an individual continues to do things as proscribed by society but forfeits
the achievement of the goals.

Retreatism is the rejection of both the means and the goals of society.

Rebellion is a combination of the rejection of societal goals and means and a substitution of other
goals and means.

Thus it can be seen that change can occur internally in society through either innovation or
rebellion. It is true that society will attempt to control these individuals and negate the changes,
but as the innovation or rebellion builds momentum, society will eventually adapt or face

The last of Merton’s important contributions to functionalism was his distinction between
manifest and latent functions. Manifest functions refer to the conscious intentions of actors;
latent functions are the objective consequences of their actions, which are often unintended
[Holmwood, 2005:90]. Merton used the example of the Hopi rain dance to show that sometimes
an individual’s understanding of their motive for an action may not fully explain why that action
continues to be performed. Sometimes actions fulfill a function of which the actor is unaware,
and this is the latent function of an action.

Unit 6- Social Stratification (16 pgs)

Social inequality is a universal phenomenon in all societies. It can exist either in form of a
hierarchy of groups or individuals or it may exist without the creation of a hierarchy. In the
former case it is called social hierarchy. While in the latter case it is known as social
differentiation for in almost all societies men and women are treated unequally. If social
inequality manifests itself in the form of a hierarchy involving ranking of groups then it is known
as social stratification, thus social stratification is a particular case of the social inequality. Social
stratification is essentially a group phenomena.According to Ogburn and Nimkoff the process by
which individuals and groups are ranked in a more or less enduring hierarchy of status is known
as stratification. Melvin Tumin defines social stratification as an arrangement of any social group
or society into a hierarchy of positions that are unequal with regard to power, property, social
evaluation and psychic gratification. According to Lundberg a stratified society is one marked by
inequality by differences among people that are evaluated by them as being lower and higher.

Social stratification refers to the unequal distribution around the world of the three
Ps: property, power, and prestige. This stratification forms the basis of the divisions of
society and categorizations of people. In the case of the latter, social classes of people
develop, and moving from one stratum to another becomes difficult.

Normally property (wealth), power (influence), and prestige (status) occur together.
That is, people who are wealthy tend also to be powerful and appear prestigious to others.
Yet this is not always the case. Plumbers may make more money than do college professors,
but holding a professorship is more prestigious than being a “blue collar worker.”

The three “Ps” form the basis of social stratification in the United States and around the
world, so a detailed discussion of these social “rewards” is in order.


Karl Marx assigned industrial society two major and one minor classifications: the
bourgeoisie (capitalist class), petite bourgeoisie (small capitalist class), and proletariat
(worker class). Marx made these divisions based on whether the “means of production” such
as factories, machines, and tools are owned, and whether workers are hired. Capitalists are
those who own the methods of production and employ others to work for them.

Workers are those who do not own the means of production, do not hire others, and
thus are forced to work for the capitalists. Small capitalists are those who own the means of
production but do not employ others. These include self-employed persons, like doctors,

lawyers, and tradesmen. According to Marx, the small capitalists are only a transitional,
minor class that is ultimately doomed to becoming members of the proletariat.

Marx held that exploitation is the inevitable outcome of the two major classes
attempting to coexist within the same society. In order to survive, workers are coerced into
working long, hard hours under less-than-ideal circumstances to maximize the profits of the
capitalists. Marx also held that given enough discontent with their exploitation, workers
would subsequently organize to revolt against their “employers” to form a “classless”
society of economic equals. Marx's predictions of mass revolution never materialized in any
highly advanced capitalist society. Instead, the extreme exploitation of workers that Marx
saw in the 1860s eventually eased, which resulted in the formation of a large and prosperous
white collar population.

Despite Marx's failed predictions, substantial economic inequalities exist today in the
United States. Wealth refers to the assets and income-producing things that people own:
real estate, savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Income refers to the money
that people receive over a certain period of time, including salaries and wages. Current
social statistics indicate the poorest 20 percent of Americans earn less than 5 percent of the
total national income, while the wealthiest 20 percent earn nearly 50 percent of the total.
Further, the poorest 20 percent hold far less than 1 percent of the total national wealth, while
the wealthiest 20 percent own over 75 percent of the total.


The second basis of social stratification is power, or the capacity to influence people and
events to obtain wealth and prestige. That is, having power is positively correlated with
being rich, as evidenced by the domination of wealthy males in high-ranking governmental

Wealthier Americans are also more likely to be politically active as way of ensuring
their continued power and wealth. In contrast, poorer Americans are less likely to be
politically active, given their sense of powerlessness to influence the process.

Because wealth is distributed unequally, the same is clearly true of power. Elite
theorists argue that a few hundred individuals hold all of the power in the United States.
These power elite, who may come from similar backgrounds and have similar interests and
values, hold key positions in the highest branches of the government, military, and business
world. Conflict theorists hold that only a small number of Americans—the capitalists—
hold the vast majority of power in the United States. They may not actually hold political
office, but they nonetheless influence politics and governmental policies for their own
benefit and to protect their interests. An example is the large corporation that tries to limit
the amount of fees it must pay through political contributions that ultimately put certain
people into office who then sway policy decisions.

On the other hand, pluralist theorists hold that power is not in the hands of the elite
or a few, but rather it is widely distributed among assorted competing and diverse groups. In
other words, unlike elitists and Marxists, pluralists note little if any inequality in the
distribution of power. For instance, citizens can influence political outcomes by voting
candidates into or out of office. And the power of labor groups is balanced by the power of
businesses, which is balanced by the power of the government. In a democracy, no one is
completely powerless.


A final basis of social stratification is the unequal distribution of prestige, or an individual's

status among his or her peers and in society. Although property and power are objective,
prestige is subjective, for it depends on other people's perceptions and attitudes. And while
prestige is not as tangible as money and influence, most Americans want to increase their
status and honor as seen by others.

Occupation is one means by which prestige can be obtained. In studies of

occupational prestige, Americans tend to answer consistently—even across the 1970s,
1980s, and 1990s. For example, being a physician ranks among the highest on the scale,
whereas being a shoe shiner ranks near the bottom.

The way people rank professions appears to have much to do with the level of
education and income of the respective professions. To become a physician requires much
more extensive training than is required to become a cashier. Physicians also make a great
deal more money than cashiers, ensuring their higher prestige ranking.

To occupation must be added social statuses based on race, gender, and age. Even
though being a professor is highly ranked, also being a racial minority and a female may
negatively affect prestige. As a result, individuals who experience such status inconsistency
may suffer from significant anxiety, depression, and resentment.

There are two approaches to the study of stratification

Conflict Theories

According to Karl Marx in all stratified societies there are two major social groups: a ruling class
and a subject class. The ruling class derives its power from its ownership and control of the
forces of production. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class. As a result there is
a basic conflict of interest between the two classes. The various institutions of society such as the
legal and political system are instruments of ruling class domination and serve to further its
interests. Marx believed that western society developed through four main epochs-primitive
communism, ancient society, feudal society and capitalist society.

Primitive communism is represented by the societies of pre-history and provides the only
example of the classless society. From then all societies are divided into two major classes -
master and slaves in ancient society, lords and serfs in feudal society and capitalist and wage
labourers in capitalist society. Weber sees class in economic terms. He argues that classes
develop in market economies in which individuals compete for economic gain. He defines a
class as a group of individuals who share a similar position in market economy and by virtue of
that fact receive similar economic rewards. Thus a person's class situation is basically his market
situation. Those who share a similar class situation also share similar life chances. Their
economic position will directly affect their chances of obtaining those things defined as desirable
in their society. Weber argues that the major class division is between those who own the forces
of production and those who do not. He distinguished the following class grouping in capitalist

1. The propertied upper class

2. The property less white collar workers

3. The petty bourgeoisie

4. The manual working class

Functionalist theories

Talcott Parsons believe that order, stability and cooperation in society are based on value
consensus that is a general agreement by members of society concerning what is good and
worthwhile. Stratification system derives from common values it follows from the existence of
values that individuals will be evaluated and therefore placed in some form of rank order.
Stratification is the ranking of units in a social system in accordance with the common value
system. Those who perform successfully in terms of society's values will be ranked highly and
they will be likely to receive a variety of rewards and will be accorded high prestige since they
exemplify and personify common values. According to Kingsley Davis and Moore stratification
exists in every known human society.

All social system shares certain functional prerequisites which must be met if the system
is to survive and operate efficiently. One such prerequisite is role allocation and performance.
This means that all roles must be filled. They will be filled by those best able to perform them.
The necessary training for them is undertaken and that the roles are performed conscientiously.
Davis and Moore argue that all societies need some mechanism for insuring effective role
allocation and performance. This mechanism is social stratification which they see as a system
which attaches unequal rewards and privileges to the positions in society. They concluded that
social stratification is a device by which societies insure that the most important positions are
conscientiously filled by the most qualified persons.

Forms and functions

Social stratification can be classified into four forms - slavery, estates, caste and class.

It is an extreme form of inequality in which some individuals are owned by others as their
property. The slave owner has full control including using violence over the slave. L.T Hobhouse
defined slave as a man whom law and custom regard as the property of another. In extreme cases

he is wholly without rights. He is in lower condition as compared with freemen. The slaves have
no political rights he does not choose his government, he does not attend the public councils.
Socially he is despised. He is compelled to work. The slavery system has existed sporadically at
many times and places but there are two major examples of slavery - societies of the ancient
world based upon slavery (Greek and Roman) and southern states of USA in the 18th and 19th
centuries. According to H.J Nieboer the basis of slavery is always economic because with it
emerged a kind of aristocracy which lived upon slave labour.

The estate system

The estate system is synonymous with Feudalism. The feudal estates had three important
characteristics .In the first place they were legally defined; each estate had a status with legal
rights and duties, privileges and obligations. Secondly the estates represented a broad division of
labor and were regarded as having definite functions. The nobility were ordained to defend all,
the clergy to pray for all and the commons to provide food for all. Thirdly the feudal estates were
political groups. An assembly of estates possessed political power. From this point of view the
serfs did not constitute an estate until 12th century. This period saw the emergence of third estate
-burghers who were a distinctive group within the system. Thus the three estates -clergy, nobility
and commoners functioned like three political groups.

The Caste System

Caste is closely connected with the Hindu philosophy and religion, custom and tradition .It is
believed to have had a divine origin and sanction. It is deeply rooted social institution in India.
There are more than 2800 castes and sub-castes with all their peculiarities. The term caste is
derived from the Spanish word caste meaning breed or lineage. The word caste also signifies
race or kind. The Sanskrit word for caste is varna which means colour. The caste stratification of
the Indian society had its origin in the chaturvarna system. According to this doctrine the Hindu
society was divided into four main varnas - Brahmins, Kashtriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.The
Varna system prevalent during the Vedic period was mainly based on division of labour and
occupation. The caste system owns its origin to the Varna system. Ghurye says any attempt to
define caste is bound to fail because of the complexity of the phenomenon.

According to Risely caste is a collection of families bearing a common name claiming a
common descent from a mythical ancestor professing to follow the same hereditary calling and
regarded by those who are competent to give an opinion as forming a single homogeneous
community. According to Maclver and Page when status is wholly predetermined so that men are
born to their lot without any hope of changing it, then the class takes the extreme form of caste.
Cooley says that when a class is somewhat strictly hereditary we may call it caste. M.N Srinivas
sees caste as a segmentary system. Every caste for him divided into sub castes which are the
units of endogamy whose members follow a common occupation, social and ritual life and
common culture and whose members are governed by the same authoritative body viz the
panchayat. According to Bailey caste groups are united into a system through two principles of
segregation and hierarchy. For Dumont caste is not a form of stratification but as a special form
of inequality. The major attributes of caste are the hierarchy, the separation and the division of
labour. Weber sees caste as the enhancement and transformation of social distance into religious
or strictly a magical principle. For Adrian Mayer caste hierarchy is not just determined by
economic and political factors although these are important.

Main features of caste system

Caste system hierarchically divides the society. A sense of highness and lowness or superiority
and inferiority is associated with this gradation or ranking. The Brahmins are placed at the top of
the hierarchy and are regarded as pure or supreme. The degraded caste or the untouchables have
occupied the other end of the hierarchy. The status of an individual is determined by his birth and
not by selection nor by accomplishments. Each caste has its own customs, traditions practices
and rituals.It has its own informal rules, regulations and procedures. The caste panchayats or the
caste councils regulate the conduct of members. The caste system has imposed certain
restrictions on the food habitats of the members these differ from caste to caste. In North India
Brahmin would accept pakka food only from some castes lower than his own.

But he would not accept kachcha food prepared with the use of water at the hands of no
other caste except his own. As a matter of rule and practice no individual would accept kachcha
food prepared by an inferior casteman. The caste system put restriction on the range of social
relations also. The idea of pollution means a touch of lower caste man would pollute or defile a
man of higher caste. Even his shadow is considered enough to pollute a higher caste man. The
lower caste people suffered from certain socio-religious disabilities. The impure castes are made
to live on the outskirts of the city and they are not allowed to draw water from the public wells.

In earlier times entrance to temples and other places of religious importance were
forbidden to them. Educational facilities, legal rights and political representation were denied to
them for a very long time. If the lower castes suffer from certain disabilities some higher caste
like the Brahmins enjoy certain privileges like conducting prayers in the temples etc.There is
gradation of occupations also. Some occupations are considered superior and sacred while
certain others degrading and inferior. For a long time occupations were very much associated
with the caste system. Each caste had its own specific occupations which were almost hereditary.
There was no scope for individual talent, aptitude, enterprise or abilities. The caste system
imposes restrictions on marriage also. Caste is an endogamous group. Each caste is subdivided
into certain sub castes which are again endogamous. Intercaste marriages are still looked down
upon in the traditional Indian society.

Functions of the caste system

The caste system is credited to ensure the continuity of the traditional social organization of
India. It has accommodated multiple communities including invading tribes in the Indian society.
The knowledge and skills of the occupations have passed down from one generation to the next.
Through subsystems like Jajmani system the caste system promoted interdependent interaction
between various castes and communities with in a village. The rituals and traditions promoted
cooperation and unity between members of the different castes.

The dysfunctions

Caste system promoted untouchability and discrimination against certain members of the society.
It hindered both horizontal and vertical social mobility forcing an individual to carry on the
traditional occupation against his or her will and capacity. The status of women was affected and
they were relegated to the background. The caste system divided the society into mutually hostile
and conflicting groups and subgroups.

Dominant caste

This concept given by M.N Srinivas holds that a caste is dominant when it is numerically higher
than the other castes. In the Mysore village he described the peasant Okkalinga composed of
nearly half of the population made up of nineteenth jati group. The Okkalinga were the biggest
land owner. The chief criteria of domination of a caste are economic strength, political power,
ritual purity and numerical strength.

The dominant caste also wields economic and political power over the other caste groups.
It also enjoys a high ritual status in the local caste hierarchy. The dominant caste may not be
ritually high but enjoy high status because of wealth, political power and numerical strength. The
presence of educated persons and high occupation rate also play an important role in deciding its
dominance over other caste groupings. Sometimes a single clan of dominant caste controls a
number of villages in areas. The dominant caste settle dispute between persons belonging to their
own and other jati.The power of the dominant caste is supported by a norm discouraging village
from seeking justice from area,govt official, court or police located outside the village. The
members of the dominant caste particularly those from the wealthy and powerful families are
representative of this village in dealing with the officials.

Purity and Pollution

The notions of purity and pollution are critical for defining and understanding caste hierarchy.
According to these concepts, Brahmins hold the highest rank and Shudras the lowest in the caste
hierarchy. The Varna System represents a social stratification which includes four varnas namely-
Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras. The Shudras were allocated the lowest rank of
social ladder and their responsibilities included service of the three Varnas.

The superior castes tried to maintain their ceremonial purity. Dumont holds the notion of
purity and pollution interlinked with the caste system and untouchability.The hierarchy of caste
is decided according to the degree of purity and pollution. It plays a very crucial role in
maintaining the required distance between different castes. But the pollution distance varies from
caste to caste and from place to place.

Dipankar Gupta observes that the notion of purity and pollution as Dumont observed is
integrally linked with the institution of untouchability .But unlike untouchability the notion of
purity and pollution is also a historical accretion. Over time this notion freed itself from its
specific and original task of separating untouchables from the others and began to be operative at
different planes of the caste system.The concept of purity and pollution plays a very crucial role
in maintaining the required distance between different castes. But the pollution distance varies
from caste to caste and from place to place.


Prof M.N Srinivas introduced the term sanskritization to Indian Sociology. The term refers to a
process whereby people of lower castes collectively try to adopt upper caste practices and beliefs
to acquire higher status. It indicates a process of cultural mobility that is taking place in the
traditional social system of India. M.N Srinivas in his study of the Coorg in Karnataka found that
lower castes in order to raise their position in the caste hierarchy adopted some customs and
practices of the Brahmins and gave up some of their own which were considered to be impure by
the higher castes. For example they gave up meat eating, drinking liquor and animal sacrifice to
their deities. They imitiated Brahmins in matters of dress, food and rituals. By this they could
claim higher positions in the hierarchy of castes within a generation. The reference group in this
process is not always Brahmins but may be the dominant caste of the locality. Sanskritization has
occurred usually in groups who have enjoyed political and economic power but were not ranked
high in ritual ranking.

According to Yogendra Singh, the process of sanskritization is an endogenous source of social

change. Mackim Marriot observes that sanskritic rites are often added on to non-sanskritic rites
without replacing them. Harold Gould writes, often the motive force behind sanskritisation is not
of cultural imitation per se but an expression of challenge and revolt against the socioeconomic

Class System

The class system is universal phenomenon denoting a category or group of persons having a
definite status in society which permanently determines their relation to other groups. The social
classes are de facto groups (not legally or religiously defined and sanctioned) they are relatively
open not closed. Their basis is indisputably economic but they are more than economic groups.
They are characteristic groups of the industrial societies which have developed since 17th
century. The relative importance and definition of membership in a particular class differs greatly
over time and between societies, particularly in societies that have a legal differentiation of
groups of people by birth or occupation. In the well-known example of socioeconomic class,
many scholars view societies as stratifying into a hierarchical system based on occupation,
economic status, wealth, or income.

According to Ogburn and Nimkoff, a social class is the aggregate of persons having
essentially the same social status in a given society. Marx defined class in terms of the extent to
which an individual or social group has control over the means of production. In Marxist terms a
class is a group of people defined by their relationship to the means of production. Classes are
seen to have their origin in the division of the social product into a necessary product and a
surplus product. Marxists explain history in terms of a war of classes between those who control
production and those who actually produce the goods or services in society (and also
developments in technology and the like). In the Marxist view of capitalism this is a conflict
between capitalists (bourgeoisie) and wage workers (proletariat).

Class antagonism is rooted in the situation that control over social production necessarily
entails control over the class which produces goods -- in capitalism this is the exploitation of
workers by the bourgeoisie. Marx saw class categories as defined by continuing historical
processes. Classes, in Marxism, are not static entities, but are regenerated daily through the
productive process. Marxism views classes as human social relationships which change over
time, with historical commonality created through shared productive processes.

A 17th-century farm labourer who worked for day wages shares a similar relationship to
production as an average office worker of the 21st century. In this example it is the shared
structure of wage labour that makes both of these individuals "working class."Maclver and Page
defines social class as any portion of the community marked off from the rest by social
status.Max Weber suggest that social classes are aggregates of individuals who have the same
opportunities of acquiring goods, the same exhibited standard of living. He formulated a three
component theory of stratification with social, status and party classes (or politics) as
conceptually distinct elements.

Social class is based on economic relationship to the market (owner, renter, employee, etc.)

Status class has to do with non-economic qualities such as education, honour and prestige
Party class refers to factors having to do with affiliations in the political domain

According to Weber, a more complex division of labour made the class more
heterogeneous. In contrast to simple income--property hierarchies, and to structural class
schemes like Weber's or Marx's, there are theories of class based on other distinctions, such as
culture or educational attainment. At times, social class can be related to elitism and those in the
higher class are usually known as the "social elite". For example, Bourdieu seems to have a
notion of high and low classes comparable to that of Marxism, insofar as their conditions are
defined by different habitus, which is in turn defined by different objectively classifiable
conditions of existence.

In fact, one of the principal distinctions Bourdieu makes is a distinction between

bourgeoisie taste and the working class taste. Social class is a segment of society with all the
members of all ages and both the sexes who share the same general status.Maclver says
whenever social intercourse is limited by the consideration of social status by distinctions
between higher and lower there exists a social class.

Characteristics of Social Class

A social class is essentially a status group. Class is related to status. Different statuses arise in a
society as people do different things, engage in different activities and pursue different vocations.
Status in the case of class system is achieved and not ascribed. Birth is not the criterion of status.
Achievements of an individual mostly decide his status. Class is almost universal phenomenon.
It occurs in all the modern complex societies of the world. Each social class has its own status in
the society. Status is associated with prestige. The relative position of the class in the social set
up arises from the degree of prestige attached to the status. A social class is relatively a stable
group. A social class is distinguished from other classes by its customary modes of behaviour.

This is often referred to as the life-styles of a particular class. It includes mode of dress,
kind of living the means of recreation and cultural products one is able to enjoy, the relationship
between parent and children. Life-styles reflect the specialty in preferences, tastes and values of
a class. Social classes are open- groups. They represent an open social system. An open class
system is one in which vertical social mobility is possible. The basis of social classes is mostly
economic but they are not mere economic groups or divisions. Subjective criteria such as class-
consciousness, class solidarity and class identification on the on hand and the objective criteria
such as wealth, property, income, education and occupation on the other hand are equally
important in the class system. Class system is associated with class consciousness. It is a
sentiment that characterizes the relations of men towards the members of their own and other
classes. It consists in the realization of a similarity of attitude and behavior with members of
other classes.

Sociologists have given three-fold classification of classes which consists of - upper

class, middle class and lower class. Sorokin has spoken of three major types of class
stratification -they are economic, political and occupational classes. Lloyd Warner shows how
class distinctions contribute to social stability. Veblen analyzed the consumption pattern of the
rich class by the concept of conspicuous consumption. Warner has classified classes into six
types- upper-upper class, upper-middle class, upper-lower class, lower-upper class, the lower
middle class and lower class. Anthony Giddens's three class model is the upper, middle and
lower (working) class

Jajmani system

William H Wiser introduced the term Jajmani system in the vocabulary of Indian sociology
through his book The Hindu Jajmani system where he described in detail how different caste
group interact with each other in the production and exchange of goods and services. In different
parts of India different terms are used to describe this economic interaction among the castes for
example in Maharashtra the term Balutadar is used. However in sociological literature jajmani
system has come to be accepted as a general term to describe the economic interaction between
the castes at the village level. This system is also a ritual system concerned with the aspects of
purity and pollution as with economic aspects. It functions so that the highest caste remains pure
while the lowest castes absorb pollution from them. Villages are composed of number of jatis
each having its occupational speciality. Jajmani system is essentially an agriculture based system
of production and distribution of goods and services. Through jajmani relations these
occupational jatis get linked with the land owning dominant caste. The jajmani system operates
around the families belonging to the land owning dominant caste the numbers of which are
called jajmans. The land owning caste occupy a privileged position in the jajmani relations. The
interaction between occupational castes and the land owning castes take place within the
framework of non-reciprocal and asymmetrical type of relations. The land owning castes
maintain a paternalistic attitude of superiority towards their occupational castes that are called
Kamins in North India. The term Kamin means one who works for somebody or serves him.

In terms of Karl Polanyi's classification of exchange system—Jajmani exchange can be

termed as redistributive system of exchange. The Functionalist view of jajmani system regards it
as the basis of self-sufficiency, unity, harmony and stability in the village community. However
the Marxist scholars hold a very different opinion. They regard the jajmani system as essentially
exploitative, characterized by a latent conflict of interest which could not crystallize due to the
prevalent social setup. Thus if in future the conditions of the lower caste improve an open
conflict between the lower and upper caste is inevitable. Oscar Lewis who studied Rampur
village near Delhi and Biedelmn has been critical of the Jajmani system which they regard as
exploitative. According to them the members of occupational jatis are largely landless labourers
and have no resources to wage a struggle against the dominant caste out of the compulsion of the
need for survival. They succumb to all injustice perpetuated by the landowning dominant caste
who enjoy both economic and political power. Scholars like Berreman, Harold Gould and
Pauline Kolenda etc accept that there is an element of truth in both the functionalist and Marxist
views of the jajmani system. They believe that consensus and harmony as well as conflict and
exploitation are prevalent in the village society. According to Dumont jajmani system makes use
of hereditary personal relationships to express the division of labour.This system is a ritual
expression rather than just an economic arrangement. S.C Dube refers to the system as
corresponding to the presentation and counter presentation by which castes as a whole are bound
together in a village which is more or less universal in nature. Leach believes that the system
maintains and regulates the division of labour and economic interdependence of castes.

Points to Remember

 Peculium: An institution in the estate system where a sum of money or some property
was given to a slave by his master.

 Cartel: A group of industrialists who together monopolize or gain complete control over
the market.

 Differential mobilization: A process takes place when the changes that caste has and
undergoing carries it beyond the traditional ascriptive definition.

 Dahrendorf held that the differential distribution of authority leads to class formation and
class conflict.

 Hiller observed that when a class system becomes closed to vertical mobility, it becomes
a caste.

 Marx was the first one to introduce the concept of alienation into sociological theory.

 Srinivas termed independence among castes as vertical unity.

 It was Hutton who pointed out that the exclusivity and range of the caste panchayat led to
an arrangement in which the members of the caste ceased to be members of the
community as a whole.

 Aristotle classified the society into three strata- guardians, auxiliaries and workers.

 Max Weber characterized caste as a closed status group.

 Davis and Moore stressed that stratification served to ensure effective role allocation and

 Senart advocated the religious theory of the origin of caste.

 Parsons held that society would rank highly and reward those who perform successfully
in terms of society's values.

 According to Tawney in estate system inequality is not primarily economic but judicial.

 Nesfield gave the concept of occupational theory of caste.

 Marx categorized India under the Asiatic Mode of Production.

 Pelham stated that the higher the class one belongs the lessen is the pretence because
there is less to pretend to. This is chief reason why our manners are better than other

 Proudhon stated property is theft.

 Durkheim advocated a form of guild socialism.

 Utilitarianism is a theoretical outlook associated with the name of J Benthem.

UNIT-7: Social Interaction and Processes (9 pgs)


Cooperation involves individuals or groups working together for the achievement of their
individual or collective goals. In its simplest form, cooperation may involve only two people
who work together towards a common goal. Two college students working together to complete
a laboratory experiment, or two inter-city youths working together to protect their 'turf' from
violation by outsiders are examples. In these cases, solidarity between the collaborators is
encouraged and they share jointly the reward of their cooperation. Again at the level of two-
person interactions, the goals towards which the cooperation parties work may be consistent with
each other, but they may not be identical or shared. From the college experience again, student
and professor may cooperate towards the student's mastery of professor's discipline, but the
student may be working to make a good grade while the professor is working to establish or
reinforce his/her reputation as a good teacher.

If some of their rewards are shared, some also are individual but attainable only through
joint effort. The cooperating parties in this case may be either neutral or kindly disposed towards
one another but their relationship is not likely to have lasting solidarity. Man can't associate

without cooperating, without working together in the pursuit of like to common interests. It can
be divided into five principal types.

1. Direct Cooperation:

Those activities in which people do like things together play together, worship together, labor
together in myriad ways. The essential character is that people do in company, the things which
they can also do separately or in isolation. They do them together because it brings social

2. Indirect Cooperation:

Those activities in which people do definitely unlike tasks toward a single end. Here the famous
principle of the 'division of labour' is introduced, a principle that is imbedded in the nature of
social revealed wherever people combine their difference for mutual satisfaction or for a
common end.

3. Primary Cooperation:

It is found in primary groups such as family, neighborhood, friends and so on. Here, there is an
identity end. The rewards for which everyone works are shared or meant to be shared, with every
other member in the group. Means and goals become one, for cooperation itself is a highly prized

4. Secondary Cooperation:

It is the characteristic feature of the modern civilized society and is found mainly in social
groups. It is highly formalized and specialized. Each performs his/her task, and thus helps others
to perform their tasks, so that he/she can separately enjoy the fruits of his/her cooperation.

5. Tertiary Cooperation:

It may be found between 2 or more political parties, castes, tribes, religions groups etc. It is often
called accommodation. The two groups may cooperate and work together for antagonistic goals.
Cooperation is important in the life of an individual that it is difficult for man to survive without
it. C.H. Cooley says that Cooperation arises only when men realize that they have a common

interest. They have sufficient theme, intelligence and self control, to seek this interest through
united action.


Just as cooperation exists as a universal form of social interaction, so is competition found in all
societies. Competition grows out of the fact that human needs and desires appears to be
insatiable and the goods, prestige, and perquisites that are the rewards for successful competition
always are in short supply. People everywhere compete for dwelling space, for mates, for
elaborate clothing and other bodily ornaments, and for wealth whether defined in terms of land,
animals, money or even cockle shells.

Although all societies acknowledge and support the value of competition in some areas of
life, they differ in the relative emphasis that they place on competition and cooperation,
cooperation and competition always exist as reciprocal aspects of the same general experience.
European capitalist society, generally, has accepted the view that the collective interest further by
individual and group competition spurs people on to accomplish more than can be managed
under other circumstances. This stands in marked contrast to the beliefs of some other societies;
to that of the Zuni Indians of the American South west. The Zunis discouraged the accumulation
of wealth and they minimize status differences among themselves. They also regard overt
competitiveness as a matter of taste in their children. There is some justification for this reaction
to competition. Competition, however, is an ideal type. An ideal type is a form of concept that is
constructed by taking one or more characteristics of a phenomenon and accentuating those
characteristics to their logical maximum or reducing them to their logical minimum. The type
thus constructed does not represent reality because the very process of its construction involves
exaggeration. Ideal types, nevertheless, are very useful as logical standards by which reality can
be measured.

This often is done by making a pair of ideal types and letting them represent the ends of a
continuum or scale. Because the ends of the scale are defined in terms of logical extremes, no
existing case falls at either end of the continuum, but all cases may be ranged somewhere along
the continuum between the two end points.

Nature and characteristics of Competition

1. Scarcity as a condition of competition: Wherever there are commonly desired goods and
services, there is competition. In fact economics starts with its fundamental proposition that
while human wants are unlimited the resources that can satisfy these wants are strictly limited.
Hence people compete for the possession of these limited resources. As Hamilton has pointed out
competition is necessitated by a population of insatiable wants and a world of stubborn and
inadequate resources.

2. Competition is continuous: it is found virtually in every area of social activity and social
interaction- particularly, competition for status, wealth and fame is always present in almost all

3. Competition is a cause of social change: Competition is a cause of social change in that; it

causes persons to adopt new forms of behavior in order to attain desired ends. New forms of
behavior involve inventions and innovations which naturally bring about social change.

4. Competition may be personal or impersonal: Competition is normally directed towards a goal

and not against any individual. Some times, it takes place without the actual knowledge of other's
existence. It is impersonal as in the case of civil service examination in which the contestants are
not even aware of one another's identity. Competition may also be personal as when two
individuals contest for election to an office. As competition becomes more personal it leads to
rivalry and shades into conflict. Competition in the social world is largely impersonal.

5. Competition is always governed by norms: Competition is not limitless nor is it un- regulated.
There is no such thing as unrestricted competition. Such a phrase is contradiction in terms. Moral
norms or legal rules always govern and control competition. Competitors are expected to use fair
tactics and not cut throat devices.

Some sociologists have also spoken of cultural competition. It may take place between
two or more cultural groups. Human history provides examples of such a competition for
example; there has always been a keen competition between the culture of the native and that of
the invaders. Like cooperation, competition occurs at personal, group, and organizational levels.
People competing for affection, a promotion, or public office all are examples of personal
competition. The competitors are likely to know one another and to regard others defeat as
essential to the attainment of their own goals.

Conflict is goal-oriented, just as cooperation and competition are, but, there is a difference, in
conflict, one seeks deliberately to harm and/ or destroy one's antagonists. The rules of
competition always include restrictions upon the injury that may be done to a foe. But in conflict
these rules break down; one seeks to win at any cost. In talking about conflict, the notion of a
continuum or scale is again useful. It is useful in at least two ways: in differentiating conflict
from competition; and in differentiating personal form group and organizational conflict. If we
have the data with which to do it, all rival situations probably could be ranged along a continuum
defined at one end by pure competition and at the other end by pure conflict. There might be a
few situations that would be located near to each end of the continuum, but many would prove to
be mixed types and would cluster near the centre. Conflict also tends to be more or less personal,
just as is the case with cooperation and competition. First, fights and 'shoot-out' illustrate highly
personal conflicts. The conflicts within football games generally are a little less personal, and the
conflict between students and campus police at a sit-in or rally is personal. Yet, when two labor
unions or two corporations set out to destroy each other, personal conflict may be almost
completely submerged in organizational struggle.

Perhaps the most impersonal of all conflicts is war between nations, where the enemy is
perceived to be almost faceless. Again, rather than being discrete types of personal and
impersonal conflicts, conflicts probably range almost imperceptibly along a continuum from the
purely personal to the completely impersonal.

Probably the most striking thing about conflict is its destructive potential. The word
'conflict' itself often conjures up images of heads being broken, of buildings burning, and of
deaths and destruction. Moreover, the destructiveness that accompanies conflicts quickly
cumulates. In a confrontation between police and students, for example, things may be orderly
until the first blow is struck. Once that happens, however, a frenzy of skull cracking, shootings,
burning, and destroying may follow. Because the immediate results of conflict often are so
horrible, there is a tendency to see it, not as a normal and universal process of social interaction,
but as pathological process. It is very difficult for the unsophisticated not to imply value
judgments in discussing these social processes because our society as a whole tends to do so.

Cooperation and competition are more often perceived to be socially useful; but conflict, to be

The situation, however, it is not that simple. Few would defend the cooperation of a
group of men in the rape of a woman. And the school drop-out problem is hardly a beneficial
effect of competition.

Thus, competition and cooperation, which otherwise receive a good deal of social
approval, also have untoward effects. So it is, also with conflict. Conflict is an abnormal and
universal form of social interaction as are any of the others. Analysis of conflict needs to
describe both the ways in which it is harmful and destructive and the way in which it is useful
and socially integrative.

Harmful Effects of Conflict

The harmful effects probably are easier to see. We have already indicated that conflict tends to
cumulate rapidly. This snowballing tendency may lead to complete breakdown before the self-
limiting features of most inter-personal exchanges have a chance to operate. Before people can
decide that the pain is not worth it, people may have been killed and property destroyed.
Establishments may be closed or they may find themselves in chaos. Similarly, a company of
soldiers may shoot down women and children in an orgy of destruction. A second negative
feature of conflict, closely related to the first, is that it is often extremely costly. War probably
provides the best example, for nothing else in human experience exacts such a toll.

The third negative feature has to do with social costs. Conflict is inherently divisive. It
sets person against person and group against group in ways that threaten to destroy organized
social life. United States has seen conflict so widespread as to raise questions whether anarchy
might prevail. Youth against the establishment, blacks against whites, the poor against the
affluent, and Jews against Arabs represent something of the range of conflicts. In such situations,
the question becomes not simply how many people will be killed, how much property destroyed,
or who will win; it becomes one of the societal survival. Can race wars be avoided? Can the
police maintain order? Can universities operate? And can presidents keep the support of the
populace? Whatever else they may be, these are real questions. And the answers are by no means
obvious. Conflict threatens the existence of society itself.
Useful Functions of Conflict

The explosiveness, the outward costs, and the divisiveness of conflict are so great that it is often
difficult to see the ways in which conflict fulfils socially useful functions. Yet it does at least the
following three things. First, it promotes loyalty within the group. Second, it signals the needs
for and helps promote short-run social change. And third, it appears intimately involved in
moving societies towards new levels of social integration.

If conflict pits groups and organizations against one another, it also tends to promote
unity within each of the conflicting groups. The necessity to work together against a common foe
submerges rivalries within the group and people, who otherwise are competitors, to work
together in harmony. Competing football halfbacks flock for each other, rival student leaders
work together to win concessions from the administration, and union leaders join forces against
management. Nations that are torn by dissent in peacetime rally together when they are attacked
by other countries. Thus, conflict is not simply divisive, it works to unify groups.

A second positive function of conflict is that it serves to notify the society that serious
problems exist that is not being handled by the traditional social organization. It forces the
recognition of those problems and encourages the development of new solutions to them.

The third general positive function of conflict is closely related to the second. And it is
much more problematic. One view of human history tends to focus upon conflict particularly
upon war - as a primary mechanism through which nations have developed. In other words, war
was the mechanism that permitted the consolidation of scattered, weak societies into large,
powerful ones. Similar arguments have been advanced that war was necessary during the early
modern period in Europe to permit the formation of nations as we know them.


The term 'accommodation' refers to several sorts of working agreements between rival groups
that permit at least limited cooperation between them even though the issues dividing them
remain unsettled. It does not technically end the conflict, but holds it in abeyance. The
accommodation may last for only a short time and may be for the purpose of allowing the
conflicting parties to consolidate their positions and to prepare for further conflict. Or, as is more

often the case, the initial accommodation agreed upon by the parties may be part of the process
of seeking solutions to the issues that divide them. If those solutions are not found, the
accommodation itself may become permanent.

The famous psychologist J.M. Baldwin was the first to use the concept of
accommodation. According to him, the term denotes acquired changes in the behaviour of
individuals which help them to adjust to their environment. Maciver says that the term
accommodation refers particularly to the process in which man attains a sense of harmony with
his environment.

Lundberg is of the opinion that the word accommodation has been used to designate the
adjustments which people in groups make to relieve the fatigue and tensions of competition and

According to Ogburn and Nimkoff Accommodation is a term used by the sociologists to

describe the adjustment of hostile individuals or groups.

It is clear from the above that accommodation assumes various forms. Without
accommodation social life could hardly go on. Accommodation checks conflicts and helps
persons and groups to maintain cooperation. It enables person and groups to adjust themselves to
changes functions and status which is brought about by changed conditions. The only way in
which conflicts between groups may be eliminated permanently is through assimilation.
Formally, assimilation is the process whereby group differences gradually disappear. Issues are
based upon differences. When the differences disappear so do the issue and the conflict.


The term 'assimilation' again is in general use, being applied most often to the process whereby
large numbers of migrants from Europe were absorbed into the American population during the
19th and the early part of the 20th century. The assimilation of immigrants was a dramatic and
highly visible set of events and illustrates the process well.

There are other types of assimilation, however, and there are aspects of the assimilation
of European migrants that might be put in propositional form. First, assimilation is a two-way
process. Second, assimilation of groups as well as individuals takes place. Third some
assimilation probably occurs in all lasting interpersonal situations. Fourth, assimilation is often
incomplete and creates adjustment problems for individuals. And, fifth, assimilation does not
proceed equally rapidly and equally effectively in all inter-group situations.

According to Young and Mack, Assimilation is the fusion or blending of two previously
distinct groups into one.

For Bogardus Assimilation is the social process whereby attitudes of many persons are united
and thus develop into a united group.

Biesanz describes Assimilation is the social process whereby individuals or groups come to share
the same sentiments and goals.

For Ogburh and Nimkoff; Assimilation is the process whereby individuals or groups once
dissimilar become similar and identified in their interest and outlook.

Assimilation is a slow and a gradual process. It takes time. For example, immigrants take time to
get assimilated with majority group. Assimilation is concerned with the absorption and
incorporation of the culture by another.

Unit-8: Sociology of Law (6 pgs)

Sociology of law refers to both a sub-discipline of sociology and an approach within the field of
legal studies. Sociology of law is a diverse field of study which examines the interaction of law
with other aspects of society, such as the effect of legal institutions, doctrines, and practices on
other social phenomena and vice versa. Some of its areas of inquiry include the social
development of legal institutions, the social construction of legal issues, and the relation of law
to social change. Sociology of law also intersects with the fields of jurisprudence, economic
analysis of law and more specialized subjects such as criminology.


Max Weber in 1917 - Weber who began as a lawyer and economic historian is regarded as one of
the founders of sociology and sociology of law. Initially, legal theorists were suspicious of the
sociology of law.

The influential Austrian jurist Hans Kelsen attacked one of its founders, Kelsen's
compatriot Eugen Ehrlich, who wanted to emphasise the difference between positive law, which
lawyers learn and apply, and other forms of 'law' or social norms that regulate everyday life,
generally preventing conflicts from reaching lawyers and courts. Around 1900 Max Weber
defined his "scientific" approach to law, identifying the "legal rational form" as a type of
domination, not attributable to people but to abstract norms.

Legal rationalism was his term for a body of coherent and calculable law which formed a
precondition for modern political developments and the modern bureaucratic state and developed
in parallel with the growth of capitalism. Another classic sociologist, Émile Durkheim, wrote in
The Division of Labour in Society that as society becomes more complex, the body of civil law
concerned primarily with restitution and compensation grows at the expense of criminal laws and
penal sanctions. Durkheim also argued that a sociology of law should be developed alongside,
and in close connection with, a sociology of morals, studying the development of value systems
reflected in law. Other notable early legal sociologists included Hugo Sinzheimer, Theodor
Geiger, Georges Gurvitch and Leon Petrażycki in Europe, and William Graham Sumner and
Nicholas Timasheff in the U.S.

Classical sociology

The place of law in society was sociologically explored in the seminal works of both Max Weber
and Émile Durkheim. The writings on law by these scholars are foundational to the entire
sociology of law today.

Max Weber was trained in the law and wrote about it extensively in his sociological
writings. Weber formulated the sociology of law as an external approach to law that studies the
empirical characteristics of law, as opposed to the internal perspective of the legal sciences and
the moral approach of the philosophy of law.

Central to the development of modern law for Weber was the formal rationalization of
law on the basis of general procedures that are applied equally and fairly to all. Modern
rationalized law is also codified and impersonal in its application to specific cases.

Emile Durkheim

Émile Durkheim wrote about law extensively in his important book on the social division of
labour. Law is an indicator of the mode of integration of a society, which can be mechanical,
among identical parts, or organic, among differentiated parts such as in industrialized societies.
Over the course of history, law undergoes a transformation from repressive law to restitutive law.
Restitutive law operates in societies in which there is a high degree of individual variation and
emphasis on personal rights and responsibilities. Though Durkheim is best known in socio-legal
scholarship for the theses of his first book The Division of Labour in Society his later works
contain much other, often differently oriented but no less significant, writing about law.

Modern sociology of law

After World War II, the study of law was not central in sociology, although some well-known
sociologists did write about the role of law in society. In the work of the Talcott Parsons, for
instance, law is conceived as an essential mechanism of social control. In response to the
criticisms that were developed against functionalism, other sociological perspectives of law
emerged. Critical sociologists developed a perspective of law as an instrument of power.
However, other theorists in the sociology of law, such as Philip Selznick, argued that modern law
became increasingly responsive to a society's needs and had to be approached morally as well.
Still other scholars, most notably the American sociologist Donald Black, developed a resolutely
scientific theory of law on the basis of a paradigm of pure sociology.

Equally broad in orientation, but again different, is the autopoietic systems theory of the
German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, who sees law as unable to communicate with other social
institutions because of the rigidity of its binary code of guilty/innocent. Social philosopher
Jurgen Habermas disagrees with Luhmann and argues that the law can do a better job as a
'system' institution' by representing more faithfully the interests of everyday people in the
'lifeworld'. Perhaps the most sophisticated and critical sociological theory of law and lawyers is
that of Pierre Bourdieu, who sees law as a social field in which actors struggle for cultural,
symbolic and economic capital and in so doing develop the reproductive professional habitus of
the lawyer.

In more recent years, a very wide range of theories has emerged in the sociology of law
as a result of the proliferation of theories in sociology at large. Among the recent influences can

be mentioned the work of the French philosopher Michel Foucault, the German social theorist
Jürgen Habermas, feminism, postmodernism and deconstruction, neo-Marxism, and
behaviorism. The variety of theoretical influences in the sociology of law has also marked the
broader law and society field. However, although the multi-disciplinary law and society field
remains very popular, the disciplinary speciality field of the sociology of law is today also "better
organized than ever in institutional and professional respects."

Law and society

In legal studies, the sociology of law is part of a more broadly conceived law and society
approach or socio-legal studies. Its focus is on theoretically guided empirical studies. As such it
draws on and contributes to social theory. The sociology of law is not to be confused with
sociological jurisprudence. The latter is a juristic perspective, developed in the United States by
Roscoe Pound and by earlier jurists in various European countries, that seeks to base legal
arguments on sociological insights

Social habits, rules, and laws

Hart draws a distinction between a social habit (which people follow habitually but where
breaking the habit does not bring about opprobrium - going to the cinema on Thursday for
example) and a social rule (where breaking the rule is seen as wrong). We feel in some sense
bound by social rules and laws frequently appear to be types of social rule.

There are two perspectives to this: the external aspect, which is the independently
observable fact that people do tend to obey the rule with regularity, and the internal aspect which
is the feeling by an individual of being in some sense obligated to follow the rule, otherwise
known as the critical reflective attitude. It is from this internal sense that the law acquires its
normative quality. The obedience by the populace of a rule is called efficacy. No law can be said
to be efficacious unless followed by the majority of the populace. Though an average citizen in a
modern state with a developed legal system may feel the internal aspect and be compelled to
follow the laws, it is more important for the officials of the society/peoples to have the internal
aspect since it is up to them to follow the constitutional provisions which, if they wish, could
ignore without accountability. Yet, the officials must use the internal aspect and accept the
standards as guiding their behavior in addition to also guiding the behavior of other officials.But
laws are more than rules of conduct. Laws can be divided up into two sorts: primary rules (rules
of conduct) and secondary rules (rules addressed to officials and which set out to affect the
operation of primary rules). Secondary rules deal with three problems: first the problem of
uncertainty about what the law is (the secondary rule for this dilemma is called the rule of
recognition and states the criteria of validity of a law), second the problem of rigidity of rules
(which requires rules of change allowing laws to be varied), and third the problem of how to
resolve legal disputes (from which rules of adjudication arise). A legal system is "the union of
primary and secondary rules."

Lastly, Hart lets us know that laws are much broader in scope than coercive orders,
contrary to the "command theory" of Austin. Frequently laws are enabling and so allow citizens
to carry out authoritative acts such as the making of wills or contracts which have legal effect.

The Social Basis of Law

To many people law seems separate from the other aspects of life. It appears as an arcane worl of
professionalism centred on a body of esoteric knowledge which is intimidating to the uninitiated
in its bulk and obscurity. Laymen seek to avoid it. Few actually want to be involved in litagation.
Legal experience is thought to existing a different realm from social experience. The concern is
to outline some basic sociological assumptions involved in these typical conceptions of law and
to suggest some of the important sociological questions to which they give rise but which they do
not answer.

Cultural Norms

Norms are the agreed-upon expectations and rules by which a culture guides the behavior of
its members in any given situation. Of course, norms vary widely across cultural groups.
Americans, for instance, maintain fairly direct eye contact when conversing with others.
Asians, on the other hand, may avert their eyes as a sign of politeness and respect

Folkways and mores

He learned behaviour, shared by a social group that provides a traditional mode of conduct.
According to the American sociologist William Graham Sumner, who coined the term, folkways
are social conventions that are not considered to be of moral significance by members of the
group (e.g., customary behaviour for use of the telephone). The folkways of groups, like the
habits of individuals, originate in the frequent repetition of acts that prove successful for
satisfying basic human needs.

These acts become uniform and are widely accepted. Folkways operate primarily at an
unconscious level and persist because they are expedient. They tend to group themselves around
major social concerns, such as sex, forming social institutions (e.g., the family). Sumner believed
that folkways from diverse areas of life tended to become consistent with each other, creating
definite patterns.

Sociologists speak of at least four types of norms: folkways, mores, taboos, and laws.
Folkways, sometimes known as “conventions” or “customs,” are standards of behavior that
are socially approved but not morally significant. For example, belching loudly after eating
dinner at someone else's home breaks an American folkway. Mores are norms of morality.
Breaking mores, like attending church in the nude, will offend most people of a culture.
Certain behaviors are considered taboo, meaning a culture absolutely forbids them, like
incest in U.S. culture. Finally, laws are a formal body of rules enacted by the state and
backed by the power of the state. Virtually all taboos, like child abuse, are enacted into law,
although not all mores are. For example, wearing a bikini to church may be offensive, but it
is not against the law. Members of a culture must conform to its norms for the culture to
exist and function. Hence, members must want to conform and obey rules. They first must
internalize the social norms and values that dictate what is “normal” for the culture; then
they must socialize, or teach norms and values to, their children. If internalization and
socialization fail to produce conformity, some form of “social control” is eventually needed.
Social control may take the form of ostracism, fines, punishments, and even imprisonment.

Selected References
Bottomore, T. B. Sociology: A Guide to Problems and Literature, Blackie & Son (India) Ltd., / S. Chand
& and Co. Ltd., New Delhi.

Haralmbos, M. with R. M. Heald. Sociology: Themes & Perspectives, Oxford University Press, Delhi.

Jayaram, N. Introductory Sociology, Macmilan India Limited.

Inkeles, Alex : What is Sociology? Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi.

Aron, Reymond (1965 – 67). Main Currents in Sociological Thought, Vol. I and II, Penguin.

Giddens, Anthony (1971): Capitalism and Modern Social Theory – An analysis of the writings of Marx,
Durkheim and Weber, Cambridge University Press.

Hughes, John A., Martin, Peter J. and Sharrock, W. W. (1995): Understanding Classical Sociology - Marx,
Durkheim and Weber, Sage, London.

Coser, Lewis A. (1977): Masters of Sociological Thought, Harcourt Base, New York.

Choudhary, Sujit Kumar (2006). Thinkers and Theories in Sociology: From Comte to Giddens.
Gagandeep Publications, New Delhi.

Giddens, Anthony (2006). Sociology. Willey India, New Delhi.

Gupta, Dipankar (1991). Social Stratification. Oxford India, New Delhi.

Beteille, Andre (2002). Sociology: Essays on Approach & Method. Oxford India, New Delhi.

Cotterrell, Roger (1992). The Sociology of Law. Oxford University Press, New York.

Deva, Indra (ed.) (2005). Sociology of Law. Oxford India, New Delhi.

Important Links
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3- The Social Science information gateway from sociology
4- The British Sociological Association