Elements of Society:
Society possesses a number of elements. Following are the important elements or characteristics of society.
1. Likeness or Similarity
Likeness or similarity is considered as an essential pre-requisite of society. In the words of Mac Iver “society means likeness. It exists among the like-beings, like-bodied and like-minded. It is likeness which provides comfort and it causes various institutions and associations to exist and continue.
The similarity which we find in social relationship of human beings is based upon the identity of interests, objectives, mores, needs, traditions, etc. The characteristics common to human beings include among other things, interests, attitudes, tendencies, anatomy etc.
The sense of similarity found among the people of the modern society was also present in the primitive people whose lives were based upon blood relationship. People cannot form any sort of association, intimacy and friendship without some understanding among themselves.
An understanding of this sort is possible owing to the likeness which every individual finds in other individual. In the words of Mac Iver “Society exists among those who resemble one another in some degree in body and mind and who are near enough or intelligent enough to appreciate that for people establish similar social relationship in a society on account of similar traditions, folkways, mores, needs etc. Thus very foundation of society rests on similarity or likeness.
Society also involves differences. Differences within the society are not excluded. Mere similarity or likeness will brings human society very close to animal society. The essence of society depends as much on difference as on likenesses.
There can be little doubt about the fact that social relationship of the people would be restricted to a great extent in the absence of differences. There are differences everywhere in society. The biological differences of sex account for the existence of family as an institution.
Similarly, people are not alike, they are different from one another in respect of their ability, capacity, interests, tendency etc. These differences are either natural or they can be developed in course of the process of socialisation and specialisation.
Human beings differ from one another in respect of rights and duties, thoughts, ideal etc. Because of this fact the economics of society is based upon the division of labour. The division of labour implies various professions and economic activities which are not similar.
In human society or social life likenesses, as well as differences interplay on the form of co-operation and conflict or agreement and disagreement without which it is difficult to understand what society means. Thus both likenesses and differences are considered to be equally essential for society.
Inter-dependence is yet another essential element of society. It is the basis of society implies inter-dependence. It is not possible for a human being to satisfy his needs in isolation. He needs society because his nature compels him to live in it. He can by no means cut adrift from society.
Society fulfils all the needs of the people. For example the institution of family rests on the biological interdependence of sexes. Man who is incomplete by himself depends on his wife for his fulfillment.
Owing to the rapid advance of society the area of inter-depends rice has been broadened. Not only countries, but also continents have felt the need for inter-dependence these days. In this way interdependence is considered to be an essentials element of society
Like inter-dependence co-operation is the basis of society. Society implies co-operation which is the fourth essential pre-requisite of society. Co-operation may be direct or indirect and it plays a vital role in every human society. People cannot lead a happy and comfortable life without co-operation.
No society can be healthy and prosperous without co-operation these days. It is a difference to mutual destructiveness of groups with opposing interests. Consequently it leads to the protection of resources and results in economy. Not only co-operation but also conflict is necessary for the formation of society.
Both are equally essential in a healthy society. In the words of P.Gisbert co-operation is the most elementary process of social life without which society is impossible.
But conflicts are caused by the clash of human interests. Conflict is ever present in human society. It makes us think of the process of struggle through which all things have come into existence. Mac Iver has rightly said that society is co-operation crossed by conflict.
There is an important factor of society. It-is some kind of organization. In other words every society has its own individual and unique organization. It is the division of some kind or other which marks this organization. Society always requires an organization for its formation.
6. Social Relationship
Society consists of social relations, customs, laws, mores etc. These social relations are intangible and unseen. People only feel or realise these relations. Thus they do not have any concrete form and therefore society is abstract. In this way abstractness is a significant ingredient of society.
Society is based on we-feeling which means a feeling of belonging together. This we-feeling makes society identifiable and distinct people in comparison to other. It is the we-feeling which can distinguish societies from one another.
8. Social group
A society is the social group. It encompasses all other social groups that exist among the people.
9. Society is Dynamic
Society is not static. It is dynamic. Change is ever present in society. Changeability is an inherent quality of human, society. No society can even remain constant for any length of time. Society is like water in a stream or river that for ever flows.
It is-always in a flux. Old men die and new one are born. New associations and institutions and groups may come into being and old ones may dies a natural death. Changes may take place in every society slowly and gradually or suddenly and abruptly.
10. Social Control
Society has its own ways and means of controlling the behavior of its members. Co-operation exists in society. But side by side competitions, conflicts, tensions, revolts and suppressions are also there. They appear and re-appear off and on. They are to be controlled. The behavior or the activities of people are to be controlled. Society has various formal and informal means of social control. It means society has customs, traditions, conventions and folkways, mores, norms and so on. All are the informal means of social control. Society has also law, legislation, constitution, police, court, army and so on. All are the formal means of social control to regulate the behavior of the members of the society.
11. Comprehensive Culture
Each society is distinct from the other. Every society is unique because it has own way of life, called culture. Culture refers to the social heritage of man.
It includes the whole range of our life. It includes our attitudes, judgments, morals, values, beliefs, ideas, ideologies and institutions. Culture is the expression of human nature in our ways of living and thinking, in behaving and acting as members of society.