Social organizations or institutions arise out of social needs and situations of members. These organizations are the means through which individuals adjust their behaviour to environmental conditions.
Lapiere says that “social organization consists of all the ways by which men live and work together, more especially of all the programmed, ordered and coordinated relations of the members of the society.” Social organisations at different levels organize and give expression to collective behaviour. They coordinate and crystallize numerous interests of individuals and groups.
Social organisations are of two broad types, namely, those which grow out of kinship and those that result from the free and voluntary associations of members. A brief analysis of a few such organizations may be given.
It is the earliest and the most universal of all social institutions. It is also the most natural, simplest and permanent form of social organization. In society, individuals are primarily organized into separate families and households.
Family is generally composed of husband, wife and their children. It may be defined as a group of persons, united either by the ties of marriage or blood relationship, having a common household, a common tradition or culture.
The form and features of family may be different from place to place and country to country but family as a social group exists everywhere. It may rightly be described as the keystone of the social arch. It performs a variety of functions like biological, emotional, economic, educational and cultural.
The members of a clan are supposed to be the descendants of common ancestors. They usually bear common surname. They are usually found among primitive people and members act through the guidance of a chieftain.
They are associated through common social, religious and cultural ceremonies. Members practice exogamy; they do not marry a person belonging to the same clan. All members worship a totem or a symbolic object like cow, bull, bird etc.
A tribe is a wider social organization than clan and has been defined as “a social group of a simple kind, and members of which speak a common dialect, have a common government and act together for such common purpose as welfare.” Tribe is usually formed after a stronger clan subordinates a weaker one.
Tribe has a government with a tribal chief as its head. It is organized for military purposes and has a common dialect and language. Though devoid of blood relationship, a tribe maintains solidarity among its members.
One way of organizing individuals on secular lines is through formation of communities and associations. A community is defined as “the total organisation of social life within a limited area.” A community is a self-sufficient group based on common life. The area of a community may range from narrow to very broad (even global) limits.
MacIver defines, “An association as a group organized for the pursuit of an interest or group of interests in common.” Associations may be of various types including kinship, religious, cultural, recreational, philanthropic, vocational, political groups. Primarily political associations like the state and its coercive agency, the government are part of society.