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 h as 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 inter actions and interrelations of individuals and groups.
Definitions of Society
1. August Comte the father of sociology- saw society as a social organism possessing a harmony of structure and function.
2. Emile Durkheim the founding father of the modern sociology- treated society as a reality in its own right.
3. 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. 4. G.H Mead - an exchange of gestures which involves the use of symbols. 5. Morris Ginsberg - 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.
6. Cole - the complex of organized associations and institutions with a community. 7. Maclver 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 relationship
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 class ification 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 nonliterate 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.
The family forms the basic unit of soc ial 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.
Burgess and Lock- the family is a group of persons unit ed 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 - 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....