The idea of human society presupposes social order. The interactions among persons and groups in the society are reciprocal and interdependent. When those interactions are repeated and persist in our period of time, there is obviously an order in the social relations, The term social order refers to the existence of restraint, the inhibition of impulse, control of violence in social life and maintenance of peace and tranquility.
Social order also refers to an element of reciprocity and mutuality in social life. Thus, it can be said that there is an element of predictability in social life. Fulfilment of expectations of persons in roles is possible when there is some consistency in their interactions, Social order implies persistence. Meanings of social order are logically and empirically related, therefore, a society is an organisation of the human relationships which constitute social structure.
The ordering of human lives in terms a matrix of social expectations comprises all of the distinctively human qualities of social behaviour. Social order is based on learning i.e. individuals learn to internalise their restraints during the process of enculturation in early childhood. Behaviour of the people in a society is custom – bound and custom is that phenomenon which restrains behaviours. This implies the existence of behavioural rules and norms in a society which holds together persons and groups.
It is obvious that without norms, social relations would be halfhazard, chaotic and dangerous. It is the norms which render order and stability to social life. Norms are the basis of social structure. As Durkheim has pointed out a situation of complete normlessness or anomie would be intolerable. No normless society would endure, Thus, norms constitute one source and locus of the order that the society exhibits.
According to Durkheim, that social solidarity of mankind in the past was nearly mechanical one i.e. based on kinship, friendship where division of labour was age and gender – based. There is no much divergence in role-performance excepting those based on age and sex. In the modern world social solidarity is increasingly organic which is based on greater division of labour and differentiation. He showed that division of labour sometimes creates very negation of solidarity. It is because the relations of an organism are not regulated since they are in a state of anomie.
According Robert Merton, conformity represents the adaptation in which both the cultural goals and the normative institutional means are accepted by most people in a given society occupying any position are conformists. He says that because behaviours is typically oriented towards basic values of society that we may speak of the human aggregates as comprising a society.
Mutualism is a mode of adaptation by which the cultural goals are rejected while the institutional norms are accepted. He looks upon such deviation as a private escape from the dangers and frustrations which seem to be inherent in the competition for major cultural goals by abandoning these goals and clinging closely to the safe routines and institutionalised norms. The ritualist slavishly follows the rules not because of over identification with them but from a lack of security in important social relationships in the organisation.
Rebellion is the rejection of the prevailing goals and substituting them with new goals and also the rejection of prevailing norms and substituting in their place new norms. This presupposes alienation from the generally accepted goals and standards and an attempt to bring about a new social structure. The rebelion involves genuine transvaluation where the direct or vicarious experience of frustration leads to full denunciation of previous deprived values. There are two factors, which contribute adaptation by rebelion one is the pressure for achievement coupled with realisation of the existing restriction of opportunity. The other is ambivalent or conflicting norms resulting from an admittance of open class and casteless norms in a society.
Innovation, mutualism, retreatism and rebelion are individual valuations of various aspects of goal norms complex. Merton looks upon them as typical to the society as while though occurring with sufficient frequence in significant number of individuals. This categorisation and analysis help to understand the phenomena of anomie as discussed by Durkheim. He further notes that those non-conforming adaptations are not rationally calculated and utilitarian; and on the contrary, since they were out of pressure and frustration, a degree of irrationality might be expected.
The terms, namely social order, social stability and persistence are in vogue in the study of social change. It is true that the opposite of social order and social stability is social disorder and social in stability. Therefore, all societies are, at the outset, again innovation and rebellion because they envisage such movements which may lead to social disorder and social instability and the society may face the consequence of normlessness and violence associated with them.
Social change takes place when there is a structural change in societies. With technological and institutional innovations there are changes in economy and aspiration of people. When cultural changes and changes in social norms take place in response to new situations, social change may take place smoothly.
Talcott Parsons has said that social systems have to be conceived as open systems engaged in complicated processes of interchanges with the environing systems. Parsons conceptualise social system as dynamic. In other words, dynamism is inherent in social system. He says that internally the social system has to be conceived as differentiated and segmented with a plurality of subsistence, each of which must be treated analytically as an open system interchanging with the environing subsistence within the larger system.
Thus, there is a ‘strain’ within the system. If the strain becomes too intense, the mechanisms of control and restraint will not be able to ensure conformity, as a result there may be the break-down of the structure. He defines structural change as alteration in the normative culture defining the expectation governing that relation. As regards the problem of identity of the changing social systems he asserts that the crucial forms of the problem of change lies in the stability of value system. A change in structure of a social system is a change in its normative culture. The most important factors favouring structural change are adequate mechanism to overcome institutionalised structural patterns.