What are the main elements of Society?

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(i) A System of social relationship

According to Maclver Society is "a web of social relationship". Social relationship is the basis of Society. The family alone is said to have as many as fifteen relationships based on age, sex and generation. Outside the family there is no limit to the number of possible relationships. Reutor says" Just as life is not a things but a process of living, so society is not a thing but a process of associating". The meaning of social relationship shall be clearer if we draw a distinction between physical and social relation. The relationship between pen and ink, earth and sun, a book and bookshelf, fire and wood is physical relationship because these physical objects do not have any reciprocal awareness what so ever. On the other hand, the social relations exist between the mother and the child, the teacher and the thought are determined by reciprocal awareness. Without this awareness, there can be no social relationship, and therefore no society.

(ii) Likeness

Likeness is an essential prerequisite of society. Maclver Says," Society means likeness". It exists among the like beings, like-bodied and like-minded". It is likeness or similarity, which provides for understanding each by the other. An understanding of this sort lies at the root of our friendship, intimacy, association, institution and any such other type of social relationship. In the primitive society, the sense of likeness was focused on kinship that is real or supposed blood relationships. But the scope of likeness has broadened in modern societies. People establish similar social relationships in a society on account of similar traditions, folkways, mores etc. Thus, similarity or likeness is the basis of society.

(iii) Difference:

Society also implies difference. If individuals are exactly alike, their social relationship would be very much limited. There would be little reciprocity, little give and take Family, for example, rests on biological difference of sexes. People differ from one another in their attitude ability, talent; personality etc. people peruse different activities because of these differences.

(iv) Inter-dependence:

Interdependence is another essential element of society. Family, for example, is based on the biological interdependence of sexes. One depends upon the other for the satisfaction of one's needs. Today not only countries but also continents depend upon one another.

(v) Co-Operation and Conflict:

Society is based on co-operation. It is the very basis of social life. Unless people co­operate with each other they cannot lead a happy and comfortable life. No society can be healthy and prosperous without co-operation. Family rests on co-operation with one another to live happily. In the words of P.Gisbert “co-operation is the most elementary process of social life without which society is impossible”. Co-operation avoids mutual destructiveness and results in economy.

Along with co-operation, there is conflict in society. It is the cause of evolution. It makes us think of the process of struggle through which all things have come into existence. Maclver says that "Society is co-operation crossed by conflict".

(iv) Culture

Every Society is unique because it has its own culture. Culture is a thing which only human beings possess. It refers to the social heritage of man. It includes our attitude, moral values beliefs, ideas, ideologies, our institutions, political, legal economic, our sciences and philosophies. The member of a society shares a common culture.

(vii) Society is abstract

Society is an organization marked by division of labour of some kind or other. It consists of social relations, customs, laws and mores etc. These social relations are abstract and intangible. It cannot be seen or touched. It can only be realized. In this way, abstractness is an element of society.


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