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Social Institution

By amazer2u Apr 15, 2014 7786 Words
Social Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior. The term "institution" is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society, as well as to particular formal organizations of government and public service. As structures and mechanisms of social order among humans, institutions are one of the principal objects of study in the social sciences, such as political science, anthropology, economics, and sociology (the latter being described by Durkheim as the "science of institutions, their genesis and their functioning"). Institutions are also a central concern for law, the formal mechanism for political rule-making and enforcement. Types of institution

Marriage and Family
Education i.e. preschool, secondary, and higher.
Scientific institutions
Legal systems
Penal systems
Psychiatric hospitals and Asylums
Mass media and News media
Factories and Corporations
(Also in an extended context)
Art and Culture

Marriage and Family
The Sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution and a unit of socialization, through various sociological perspectives, particularly with regard to the relationship between the nuclear family and industrial capitalism, and the distinct gender roles and concepts of childhood which arose with it. The sociology of the family is a common component on introductory and pre-university academic curricula, as it is perhaps the simplest institution to which one may apply many fundamental sociological approaches.

The Sociology of Religion
The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that it does not set out to assess the validity of religious beliefs, though the process of comparing multiple conflicting dogmas may require what Peter L. Berger has described as inherent "methodological atheism". Whereas the sociology of religion broadly differs from theology in assuming indifference to the supernatural, theorists tend to acknowledge socio-cultural reification of religious practice. Modern academic sociology began with the analysis of religion in Émile Durkheim's 1897 study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations, a foundational work of social research which served to distinguish sociology from other disciplines, such as psychology. The works of Karl Marx and Max Weber emphasized the relationship between religion and the economic or social structure of society. Contemporary debates have centered on issues such as secularization, civil religion, and the cohesiveness of religion in the context of globalization and multiculturalism. The contemporary sociology of religion may also encompass the sociology of irreligion (for instance, in the analysis of Secular Humanist belief systems). Sociology of Education

The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education. Education has often been seen as a fundamentally optimistic human endeavor characterized by aspirations for progress and betterment. It is understood by many to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and social status. Education is perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potential. It is also perceived as one of the best means of achieving greater social equality. Many would say that the purpose of education should be to develop every individual to their full potential and give them a chance to achieve as much in life as their natural abilities allow (meritocracy). Few would argue that any education system accomplishes this goal perfectly. Some take a particularly negative view, arguing that the education system is designed with the intention of causing the social reproduction of inequality. Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

The sociology of scientific knowledge is the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity." The sociology of knowledge, by contrast, focuses on the production of non-scientific ideas and social constructions. Sociologists of scientific knowledge study the development of a scientific field and attempt to identify points of contingency or interpretative flexibility where ambiguities are present. Such variations may be linked to variety of political, historical, cultural or economic factors. Crucially, the field does not set out to promote relativism or to attack the scientific project; the aim of the researcher is to explain why one interpretation rather than another succeeds due to external social and historical circumstances. The field emerged in the 1970s and early 1980s, and at that time was an almost exclusively British practice. Major theorists include Barry Barnes, David Bloor, Gaston Bachelard, Paul Feyerabend, Thomas Kuhn, Martin Kusch, Bruno Latour, Anselm Strauss, Lucy Suchman, Harry Collins, Mike Mulkay and Steve Fuller. Sociology of Health and Illness

The Sociology of Health and Illness examines the interaction between society and health. The objective of this topic is to see how social life has an impact on morbidity and mortality rate, and vice versa. This aspect of sociology differs from medical sociology in that this branch of sociology discusses health and illness in relation to social institutions such as family, employment, and school. The sociology of medicine limits its concern to the patient-practitioner relationship and the role of health professionals in society. The sociology of health and illness covers sociological pathology (causes of disease and illness), reasons for seeking particular types of medical aid, and patient compliance or noncompliance with medical regimes. Health, or lack of health, was once merely attributed to biological or natural conditions. Sociologists have demonstrated that the spread of diseases is heavily influenced by the socioeconomic status of individuals, ethnic traditions or beliefs, and other cultural factors. Where medical research might gather statistics on a disease, a sociological perspective on an illness would provide insight on what external factors caused the demographics that contracted the disease to become ill. This topic requires a global approach of analysis because the influence of societal factors varies throughout the world. This will be demonstrated through discussion of the major diseases of each continent. These diseases are sociologically examined and compared based on the traditional medicine, economics, religion, and culture that are specific to each region. HIV/AIDS serves as a common basis of comparison among regions. While it is extremely problematic in certain areas, in others it has affected a relatively small percentage of the population. Sociological factors can help to explain why these discrepancies exist. There are obvious differences in patterns of health and illness across societies, over time, and within particular society types. There has historically been a long-term decline in mortality within industrialized societies, and on average, life-expectancies are considerably higher in developed, rather than developing or undeveloped, societies. Patterns of global change in health care systems make it more imperative than ever to research and comprehend the sociology of health and illness. Continuous changes in economy, therapy, technology and insurance can affect the way individual communities view and respond to the medical care available. These rapid fluctuations cause the issue of health and illness within social life to be very dynamic in definition. Advancing information is vital because as patterns evolve, the study of the sociology of health and illness constantly needs to be updated. Medical sociology

Medical sociology is the sociological analysis of medical organizations and institutions; the production of knowledge and selection of methods, the actions and interactions of healthcare professionals, and the social or cultural (rather than clinical or bodily) effects of medical practice. The field commonly interacts with the sociology of knowledge, science and technology studies, and social epistemology. Medical sociologists are also interested in the qualitative experiences of patients, often working at the boundaries of public health, social work, demography and gerontology to explore phenomena at the intersection of the social and clinical sciences. Health disparities commonly relate to typical categories such as class and race. Objective sociological research findings quickly become a normative and political issue. Students of medical sociology are not required, or encouraged, to know anything about the details of medical care. Theoretical discussions are encouraged, and quantitative investigations are frowned upon. Early work in medical sociology was conducted by Lawrence J Henderson whose theoretical interests in the work of Vilfredo Pareto inspired Talcott Parsons interests in sociological systems theory. Parsons is one of the founding fathers of medical sociology, and applied social role theory to interactional relations between sick people and others. Key contributors to medical sociology since the 1950s include Howard S. Becker, Mike Bury, Peter Conrad, Jack Douglas, David Silverman, Phil Strong, Bernice Pescosolido, Carl May, Joseph W Schnieder, Anne Rogers, Anselm Strauss, Renee Fox, and Joseph W. Schneider. The field of medical sociology is usually taught as part of a wider sociology, clinical psychology or health studies degree course, or on dedicated Master's degree courses where it is sometimes combined with the study of medical ethics/bioethics. In Britain, sociology was introduced into the medical curriculum following the Good enough report in 1944: "In medicine, ‘social explanations’ of the a etiology of disease meant for some doctors a redirection of medical thought from the purely clinical and psychological criteria of illness. The introduction of ‘social’ factors into medical explanation was most strongly evidenced in branches of medicine closely related to the community — Social Medicine and, later, General Practice" (Reid 1976). Media studies

A Media study is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. The subject varies greatly in theoretical and methodological focus, but may be broadly divided into three interrelated areas: the critique of artistic styles and aesthetic forms (genre, narrative, and so on), the study of the production process (e.g. technologies and markets), and sociological analysis (of ideological effects, reception and consumption, etc.). Media studies draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, and overlap in interests with related disciplines like mass communication, communication, communication sciences and communication studies. Researchers develop and employ theories and methods from disciplines including cultural studies, rhetoric, philosophy, literary theory, psychology, political science, political economy, economics, sociology, anthropology, social theory, art history and criticism, film theory, feminist theory, and information theory. Social classes

Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'. In the modern Western context, stratification typically comprises three layers: upper class, middle class, and lower class. Each class may be further subdivided into smaller classes (e.g. occupational). The most basic class distinction is between the powerful and the powerless. Social classes with a great deal of power are usually viewed as "the elites" within their own societies. Various social and political theories propose that social classes with greater power attempt to cement their own ranking above the lower classes in the hierarchy to the detriment of the society overall. By contrast, conservatives and structural functionalists have presented class difference as intrinsic to the structure of any society and to that extent ineradicable. In Marxist theory, two basic class divisions owe to the fundamental economic structure of work and property: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The capitalists own the means of production, but this effectively includes the proletariat as they are only able to sell their own labor power (See also: wage labor). These inequalities are normalized and reproduced through cultural ideology. Max Weber critiqued historical materialism (or economic determinism), positing that stratification is not based purely on economic inequalities, but on other status and power differentials. Social class pertaining broadly to material wealth may be distinguished from status class based on honor, prestige, religious affiliation, and so on. Theorists such as Ralf Dahrendorf have noted the tendency toward an enlarged middle class in modern Western societies, particularly in relation to the necessity of an educated work force in technological economies. Perspectives concerning globalization and neocolonialism, such as dependency theory, suggest this owes to the shift of low-level laborers to developing nations and the Third World. Developed nations have thereby become less directly active in primary industry (e.g. basic manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, mining, etc.) and increasingly involved with "virtual" goods and services. The national concept of "social class" has therefore become increasingly complex and confused. Industrial sociology

Industrial sociology, until recently a crucial research area within the field of sociology of work, examines "the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization, labor markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations to the extent to which these trends are intimately related to changing patterns of inequality in modern societies and to the changing experiences of individuals and families the ways in which workers challenge, resist and make their own contributions to the patterning of work and shaping of work institutions." Sociology of Culture

The sociology of culture concerns culture—usually understood as sets of cognitive meanings—as it is manifested in society. For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Cultural sociology first emerged in Weimar Germany, where sociologists such as Alfred Weber used the term Kultursoziologie (cultural sociology). Cultural sociology was then "reinvented" in the English speaking world as a product of the "cultural turn" of the 1960s, which ushered in structuralist and so-called "postmodern" approaches to social science. This type of cultural sociology may loosely be regarded as an approach incorporating cultural analysis and critical theory. Cultural sociologists tend to reject scientific methods, instead hermeneutically focusing on words, artifacts and symbols. "Culture" has since become an important concept across many branches of sociology, including resolutely scientific fields like social stratification and social network analysis. As a result, there has been a recent influx of quantitative sociologists to the field. Thus there is now a growing group of sociologists of culture who are, confusingly, not cultural sociologists. These scholars reject the abstracted postmodern aspects of cultural sociology, and instead look for a theoretical backing in the more scientific vein of social psychology and cognitive science. "Cultural sociology" is one of the largest sections of the American Sociological Association. The British establishment of cultural studies means the latter is often taught as a loosely-distinct discipline in the UK. Sociology of language

Sociology of language focuses on the language's effect on the society. It is closely related to the field of sociolinguistics, which focuses on the effect of the society on the language. Sociology of language would seek to understand the way that social dynamics are affected by individual and group language use. It would have to do with who is 'authorized' to use what language, with whom and under what conditions. It would have to do with how an individual or group identity is established by the language that they have available for them to use. It would seek to understand individual expression, one's (libidinal) investment in the linguistic tools that one has access to in order to bring oneself to other people. sociology of law

The sociology of law (or legal sociology) is often described as a sub-discipline of sociology or an interdisciplinary approach within legal studies. While some socio-legal scholars see the sociology of law as "necessarily" belonging to the discipline of sociology, others see it as a field of research caught up in the disciplinary tensions and competitions between the two established disciplines of law and sociology. Yet, others regard it neither as a sub-discipline of sociology nor as a branch of legal studies and, instead, present it as a field of research on its own right within a broader social science tradition. For example, Roger Cotterrell describes the sociology of law without reference to mainstream sociology as "the systematic, theoretically grounded, empirical study of law as a set of social practices or as an aspect or field of social experience". Irrespective of whether the sociology of law is defined as a sub-discipline of sociology, an approach within legal studies, or a field of research in its own right, it remains intellectually dependent mainly on mainstream sociology, and to lesser extent on other social sciences such as social anthropology, political science, social policy, criminology and psychology, i.e. it draws on social theories and employs social scientific methods to study law, legal institutions and legal behavior. More specifically, the sociology of law consists of various sociological approaches to the study of law in societies, which empirically examine and theorize the interaction between law and legal institutions, on the one hand, and other (non-legal) social institutions and social factors, on the other. Areas of socio-legal inquiry include the social development of legal institutions, forms of social control, legal regulation, the interaction between legal cultures, the social construction of legal issues, legal profession, and the relation between law and social change. The sociology of law also benefits from and occasionally draws on research conducted within other fields such as comparative law, critical legal studies, jurisprudence, legal theory, law and economics and law and literature. Military Sociology

Military sociology aims toward the systematic study of the military as a social group rather than as an organization. It is a highly specialized subfield which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action based on shared interests linked to survival in vocation and combat, with purposes and values that are more defined and narrow than within civil society. Military sociology also concerns civilian-military relations and interactions between other groups or governmental agencies. Sociology of Punishment

The sociology of punishment seeks to understand why and how we punish; the general justifying aim of punishment and the principle of distribution. Punishment involves the intentional infliction of pain and/or the deprivation of rights and liberties. Sociologists of punishment usually examine state-sanctioned acts in relation to law-breaking; why, for instance, citizens give consent to the legitimation of acts of violence. Two of the most common political and ethical motivations for formal punishment are utilitarianism and retributivism. Both these concepts have been articulated by law-makers and law-enforcers, but may be seen as descriptive rather than explanative. Sociologists note that although attempts of justification are made in terms of these principles, this does not fully explain why violent punitive acts occur. Social psychology and symbolic interactionism often inform theory and method in this area. Political sociology

Political sociology is the study of the relations between state and society. The discipline draws on comparative history to analyze socio-political trends. A typical research question in this area might be: "Why do so few American citizens choose to vote?" The field developed from the work of Max Weber, Barrington Moore, Jr., and Moisey Ostrogorsky. Theory:

There are four main areas of research focus in contemporary political sociology: The socio-political formation of the modern state.
"Who rules"? How social inequality between groups (class, race, gender, etc.) influences politics. How public personalities, social movements and trends outside of the formal institutions of political power affect politics, and Power relationships within and between social groups (e.g. families, workplaces, bureaucracy, media, etc.). Contemporary theorists include Robert A. Dahl, Seymour Martin Lipset, Theda Skocpol, Luc Boltanski and Nicos Poulantzas. Political sociology looks at how major social trends can affect the political process, as well as exploring how various social forces work together to change political policies. Political sociologists apply several theories to substantive issues. Three major theoretical frameworks are pluralism, elite or managerial theory and class analysis which overlaps with Marxist analysis. Pluralism sees politics primarily as a contest among competing interest groups. Elite or managerial theory is sometimes called a state-centered approach. It explains what the state does by looking at constraints from organizational structure, semiautonomous state managers, and interests that arise from the state as a unique, power concentrating organization. A leading representative is Theda Skocpol. Social class theory analysis emphasizes the political power of capitalist elites. The theory emerged from Marxism in the 1850s based primarily on the premise of economic exploitation of one class by another. It split into two parts: one is the power structure or instrumentalist approach, another is the structuralist approach. The power structure approach focuses on Who Rules? And its most well-known representative is G. William Domhoff. The structuralist approach emphasizes how the very way a capitalist economy operates only allows and encourages the state to do some things but not others. Its best known representative was Nicos Poulantzas. Important innovations in the field come from the French Pragmatism and particularly from the Political and Moral Sociology elaborated by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot. Political sociology also concerns the play of power and personality, for instance, the impact of globalization upon identity: "The fragmentation and pluralization of values and life-styles, with the growth of mass media and consumerism and decline of stable occupations and communities, all means that previously taken for granted social identities have become politicized."

Political Institution
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 society. 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 characteristics. 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 orientation. 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 approach. 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 center 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 community. 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 existence. 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 labor 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 inters- 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 manner. 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 issues. 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 beliefs. Voting Behaviors

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 restraint. 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 society’s 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 movements. 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 stimuli. Political Socialization

Political socialization can be defined as a process of socializing in a political system through information on political symbols, institutions and procedures and internalizing the value system and ideology supporting the system. It is also a process of acquisition of political culture. This process works at individual as well as at community level through cultural transmission. It is one of the most important functions of the political system. It is also part of the general socialization which starts at the later life. The two important components are .Inculcation of general values and norms regarding political behavior and political matters and. The induction of an individual or some people into a particular party and learning its ideology and action programmes.The role played by mass-media is equally important in educating the masses and clearing their views for making informed decisions regarding political affairs. It plays a very crucial role during elections.

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