Sociology Understanding Society

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  • Topic: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Social structure
  • Pages : 207 (39201 words )
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  • Published : September 16, 2012
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1. Social Structure, Stratification and Social Processes in Society


2. Social Change and Social Order in Rural and Urban Society


3. Environment and Society


4. Introducing Western Sociologists


5. Indian Sociologists



You will recall that the earlier book
Introducing Sociology (NCERT, 2006)
had begun with a discussion on the
relationship between personal
problems and social issues. We also
saw how individuals are located within
collectivities such as groups, classes,
gender, castes and tribes. Indeed each
of you, is a member of not just one
kind of collectivity, but many
overlapping ones. For instance, you are
a member of your own peer group, your
family and kin, your class and gender,
your country and region. Each
individual thus has a specific location
in the social structure and social
stratification system (see pages 28-35
in Introducing Sociology). This also
implies that they have different levels
and types of access to social resources.
In other words the choices an
individual has in life in terms of the
school s/he goes to — or if s/he goes
to school at all — would depend on
the social stratum that s/he belongs
to. Likewise with the clothes s/he gets
to wear, the food s/he consumes, the



leisure opportunities s/he avails, the
health access s/he has, i.e. her/his
lifestyle in general. As in the case of
social structure, social stratification
constrains individual action.
One of the central concerns of the
sociological perspective has been to
understand the dialectical relationship
between the individual and society. You
will recall C.Wright Mill’s elaboration of
the sociological imagination that seeks
to unfold the interplay between an
individual’s biography and society’s
history. It is towards understanding
this dialectical relationship between the
society and individual that we need to
discuss the three central concepts of
structure, stratification and social
processes in this chapter. In the next
few chapters we then move on to how
social structure in rural and urban
societies are different, to broader
relationships between environment and
society. In the last two chapters we look
at western social thinkers and Indian
sociologists and their writings that
would help us further understand the
ideas of social structure, stratification
as well as social processes.



The central question that this
chapter seeks to discuss is to what
extent the individual constrained by,
and to what extent s/he is free of, the
social structure? To what extent does
one’s position in society or location in
the stratification system gover n
individual choice? Do social structure
and social stratification influence the
manner people act? Do they shape the
way individuals cooperate, compete
and conflict with each other?
In this chapter we deal briefly with
the terms social structure and social
stratification. You have already
discussed social stratification in some
detail in Chapter 2 of the earlier book
Introducing Sociology (NCERT, 2006).
We then move on to focus on three
social processes namely; cooperation,
competition and conflict. In dealing
with each of these processes we shall
try and see how social structure and
stratification impinge themselves on
the social processes. In other words
how individuals and groups cooperate,
compete and conflict depending upon
their position within the social
structure and stratification system.




The term social structure points to the
fact that society is structured — i.e.,
organised or arranged — in particular
ways. The social environments in
which we exist do not just consist of
random assortments of events or
actions. There are underlying
regularities, or patterns, in how people...
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