Complete information on Herbert Spencer's Organic Analogy

Herbert Spencer is regarded as the second founding father of Sociology. He was born on April 27, 1820, in Derby in England. He is famous for his 'Organic Analogy'. In Organic Analogy, he identifies society with a biological organism. He says, society and organisms are similar in various ways.

Similarities:

(1) Both society and organisms grow in size. A baby grows up to be a man. A small community becomes a metropolis, a small state becomes an empire.

(2) As they grow in size their structure becomes complicated,

(3) In both, the differentiation of structure is followed by a similar differentiation of functions.

(4) There are three main systems in both individual organism and society. They are the sustaining system, the distributor or the circulatory system and the regulatory system. The organs of alimentation are vital in an organism so are in the society. The second is the distributory system in organism. Similarly the means of transport and communications like roadways, railways, etc. constitute the circulatory system in the society. The third the regulatory system, is the nervous system in organism and the society is the government.

(5) Both societies and organisms face environmental problems and make adaptations to these problems.

(6) Even though, the whole unity may be destroyed the individual parts in both may continue to live for sometime. The parts of both possess a certain independence and continuity. For example if an individual loses its hand, it is not necessary that this may result in his death. Similarly, in society, loss of a particular group does not necessarily mean death of the society.

(7) In societies and organisms there is an interdependence of parts.

Criticisms:

The modern sociologists have criticized the organic analogy of Spencer.

(1) In the words of E.S. Bogardus, Spencer's conclusion contains contradictory elements.

(2) If a society is an organism, it undergoes a cycle of birth, maturity, and death. But according to the principle of progress, the death of a society is not inevitable, but depend on the vision, plans, courage, and activities of that society's members. A society need never die.

(3)Timasheff is of the view that merely on the ground of systematic similarity, society cannot be considered as an organism.