Sociologists have come up with their own different definitions for contemporary social structures; sociologists James Fulcher and John Scott say they are “Stable and enduring patterns that exist within a social group and shape the behaviour of its members [...] Social structure has to be seen as comprising both institutions and relations.” (Fulcher and Scott, 2007: 868).
The more eminent sociologist Anthony Giddens says “The social contexts of our lives do not consist of random assortments of events or actions; they are structured or patterned in distinct ways. There are regularities in the ways we behave and in the relationships we have with one another [...] but social structure is not like a physical structure, such as a building, which exists independently of human actions. Human societies are always in the process of structuration. They are reconstructed at every moment by the ‘building blocks’ that compose it.” (Giddens, 2009: 9)
Every human being on the planet, without exception and whether they like it or not is born into, defined, shaped and guided by social structures whether they are western city dwellers, Amazonian tribe members or nomadic desert folk. This is a lifelong state of affairs, best summed up by the words “from the cradle to the grave”, which, ironically enough are in reference to the British welfare state which came into being after world war two, which as an event in itself was abounding with social structure clashes and issues. In accordance to these words, I will attempt to paint a picture of the effects of social structures on an individual’s life course from start to finish. Some obvious examples of social structures are those of family, religion, government and national identity. They can be seen to operate independently and interdependently simultaneously, shaping society and influencing people, their actions and options. The process does in fact begin before birth, as the child is growing in its mother, the environment in...
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