Is School a Social System? and What are the Important Elements of a Social System?


A system is basically a concept whether physical or social. The idea of a system is fundamental with environment. The notion of a social system is a general one can be applied to social organization that are carefully and deliberately planned. As a social system school is characterized by an interdependent structure of parts, a clearly defined population, differentiated from its environment, a complex network of social relationships and its own unique culture. As a result school itself is a social system.

Social system is a model of organization that possesses a distinctive total unity beyond its component parts. It is distinguished from its environment by dearly defined boundary. It is composed of sub-units, elements and sub-systems that are interrelated within relatively stable patterns of social order. This can be stated graphically as follows:



Every social system has proper boundary in the same manner the school building has also bounded to separate from the environment. The schools building, as the unit of analysis, coincide with the larger schooling system. It is important to define carefully the boundaries and the unit of analysis.


Outside boundaries there exists another unit of analysis i.e. environment which

(i) Affects the attributes of the internal component.


(ii) It is changed by the social system itself.

Educational policies, administrators, other schools and the community arc some elements of constituting environment.


It is a process in which a group of regulators act to maintain a steady state among the system components.


A biological analogy illustrates the concept when an organism moves from a warm environment to a cold one, homeostatic mechanism trigger reaction to maintain body temperature.

Feedback Loop:

In a social system the triggering mechanism is the feedback loop. This ensures that a portion of the school’s behaviour and the internal and external environment’s reactions to that behaviour are filtered back into the system as input.



When social and biological parts of the system maintain a constant relationship to each- other so that no part changes its position or relation with respect to all other parts.

The major elements of a social system are

(ii) Institutional Elements:

Institution, its role and expectations are the conceptual elements of homothetic or normative dimension. Institutions are agencies established to carry out certain imperative! Functions for the social system as a whole the imperative functions are those which in time have become the established functions of the social system. The school is an institution because it is an agency established to carry out the function of socialization which is an imperative function of the social system ol the school. Thus, school can be described as an institution as well as a social system. Both terms are, however, used in a different sense.


A role exists only within a particular social system and represents a particular position within that system. It involves certain rights and duties. A person is expected to put these into effect. When he does that he is said to be performing his role.

(iii) Individual Element:

Each social system is inhibited by living people. Whenever role is being performed, it is performed by individuals. Each individual stamps the role he occupies with the unique style of his own pattern of expressive behaviour; Personal dimension involves the personality of the role incumbent. The personality may be defined by the component need dispositions. The need dispositions are conceived of as forces within an individual.

A school is thought of as a social system, with its characteristic institutional functions, roles and expectations. As an institution it has the function of socialization. There are various incumbents in it who have to play the roles expected of them. In the social system of a school the goal behaviour is achieved through the intergration various institutions.

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