Man is a social animal; there is absolutely no denying this. He/she has to depend upon other individuals to survive and in doing so he/she has to make sure that the rules and regulations of the society are followed in order to maintain decorum and avoid an unpleasant situation. In order to accomplish this goal, every individual should first know, what society exactly is? This requires a comprehensive understanding of the social systems which exist in the society. This paper will focus upon, what social systems are all about and why is it important to have a good understanding of the social systems.
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Human beings are interdependent on other people for their survival and if an individual is cut off from society, he/she will not be able to develop and prosper because there would not be any opportunities for that individual, the society provides numerous opportunities to individuals, not only does it provide with opportunities but also enhanced technology which all the people have access to.
This is because of the society, the development which has taken place in the human beings is present in the society and the individuals learn from it, the past information is overwritten with the updated information as we progress in the society and isolating an individual from society will take away access to the updated technology and would leave that individual helpless. So any individual no matter how intelligent he/she is at no cost can afford to be isolated from society.
“A social system can be defined as any enduring arrangement in which relationships among the parts are relatively close and are ordered in ways that are somewhat unique to that particular system — thus different in key respects from relations that can be found in other social systems.” (Sociology as an Individual Pastime, 19 September 2008)
The social system is a web of relations; the interdependence of the individuals should be understood under this topic. The most important point which should be focused upon is that there are many social systems that exist in society and each adheres to its own rules and regulations.
For each social system, there are different rules and regulations which must be stuck to by the people working in those particular social systems. “Political systems are different from economic systems, for example. Each functions according to its own rules, and although these two types of systems overlap, legislatures and presidents obviously have closer ties to one another than to banks or stock exchanges. Similarly, the US political system is separate from that of Canada or Mexico. There are systems within systems, also. Colorado’s state government has more in common with the US Congress than with the European Parliament.” (Sociology as an Individual Pastime, 19 September 2008).
There are certain key components that are required in the understanding of the social system better. There are four main components; each will be taken up separately for a better understanding of the topic. First is Statuses also known as status. When a person occupies a status in society, many expectations rise up for the same and the person who has occupied the status should meet the expectations successfully. A person achieves his/her status by his/her efforts and hard work.
For instance, Ronaldinho was awarded the FIFA player of the year; this became his status for the hard work which he had put in the field of football, also known as soccer in some countries. With this status the expectations of the fans rise, they would surely want Ronaldinho to perform consistently. So there is a direct relation between status and expectations. Expectations rise up because of the status on which a person is placed in society.
There are two subdivisions under status, namely achieved status and ascribed status. Achieved status is something which an individual attains because of his/her efforts, on the other hand, ascribed status is something which the individual has not got because of his/her efforts and under which the individual has to keep up with social implications. Next under the social system is role. “A role is a set of behaviors that are seen as being appropriate to a particular status, or to a cluster of statuses.
There is a “young father” role that can be distinguished clearly from a “middle-aged grandmother” role. “Older sisters” and “young brothers” play quite different roles, some of the time — as each of you knows well if you are one! Students perform different roles from trial lawyers, and success in one can ultimately lead to prominence in the other.” (Sociology as an Individual Pastime, 19 September 2008). A role is something that is practiced, for instance, a mother’s role in her child’s life will determine the fate of the child.
The next concept under social systems is Institutions. “An institution is a complex and enduring social structure whose rules and rewards make the pattern of relations relatively stable. To describe a social structure is to specify in what way roles and statuses are interrelated in a particular area of human activity, and to describe an institution is to add an explanation for why these relationships are maintained.” (Sociology as an Individual Pastime, 19 September 2008).
A classic example of an institution is an educational institution, where certain rules are followed and there is a system of reward for the employees who show results. The last concept under social systems is social structures. “A social structure is something like the layout of a building. When we are inside an office complex we have no choice but to follow the paths that were designed by the architect. The plan of every building was created with particular activities in mind.
Churches and mosques have layouts that are different from the houses where people live or the offices where we work. The features of each design help ensure that when people are inside, their activities will fit the building’s purpose. You are not likely to cook a full dinner in your office, but living in a house with an inviting and well-equipped kitchen sometimes brings on an urge to grill steaks or broil some swordfish.” (Sociology as an Individual Pastime, 19 September 2008). Social structure has individuals in it, who have been assigned certain roles and statuses and all this is done in order to achieve goals set by the organization.
It is extremely important to study them sociologically in order to come to terms with reality, in the sense that following social system will inculcate certain values in an individual, and once those values are inculcated in an individual, he/she will have a good understanding of the society and automatically develop ethics or moral values. When this whole process is completed, the end result is an individual who perfectly understands society and is very certainly aware of the rules of the same.
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This is how responsible people come up in society. In order to make sure that an individual lives in harmony with the other people in the society, it is highly important that the whole chain of the social system is followed. In ordinary life situations, controversies are a part and parcel. In order to avoid those controversies and in order to avoid being in unpleasant situations, it becomes imperative that an individual understands the social system sociologically.
A classic example which will prove the same is as follows, a social system includes status, expectations rise because of a person’s status and if a person underperforms, he/she puts herself/himself in an unpleasant situation because the people who expect from that person become disappointed, in order to avoid the same that individual has to understand that his status demands performance and if this is understood, the person will never be in an unpleasant situation.
Chapter 1: “Sociology as an Individual Pastime.”
Anthony Giddens, “Runaway World” (BBC, Reith Lectures, 1999). A series of five lectures about globalization by one of the world’s most eminent sociologists.