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Sociology Class 11 Notes Chapter 1 Social Structure, Stratification and Social Processes in Society

  • The term social structure’ points to the fact that society is structured i.e. organised or arranged in particular ways.
  • The structure of anything consists of the relatively stable interrelationship among its parts; moreover the term ‘part’ itself implies a certain degree of stability.
  • There are underlying patterns and regularities, in how people behave in the relationship they have with one another.
  • Social structures are made up of human actions and relationships.
  • What makes the pattern of structure in the society is its repetition across period of time and distance of space. This is the reason, the ideas of social reproduction and social structure are closely related to each other in sociological analysis
    e.g. in a school the admission procedure, code of conduct, annual functions, daily assemblies, school uniform and school anthems are followed and repeated over the years and become institutions.
  • Human beings do bring changes to reproduce the structure by introducing changes.
  • They cooperate as well as compete with each other, often viciously and ruthlessly.
  • Two major themes explain the pattern of human behavior related to cooperation as well as conflict.
  • Emile Durkheim emphasizes that society is primary over the individual person. Society is far more than the sum of individual acts; it has a ‘firmness’ or ‘solidity’ comparable to structures in the material environment.
  • Other social thinkers like Karl Marx emphasizes the constraints of social structure but at the same time emphasizes on human creativity or agency to both reproduce and change social structure.
  • In short, social structure refers to relatively stable social units and patterned relationships. These are special sequence of interrelations of various units.
  • Social structure manifests the external form of society which is visible, comparatively permanent and abstract. .
  • Social structure involves four elements i.e. it is normative system, status system, sanction system and anticipated response system which functions at social relationship level organisation or group level and community level.
  • Social stratification refers to the existence of structured inequalities between groups in society, in terms of their access to material or symbolic rewards.
  • It is a system of society on the basis of which individuals and groups get high or low
  • The concept of stratification refers to the idea that society is divided into a patterned structure of unequal groups, and usually implies that thin structure tends to persist across generalizations.
  • Functions of social stratification are related to various strata. No individual can fulfill all his needs alone.
  • Most evident forms of stratification in modem societies involve class divisions, race and caste, religion and community, tribe and gender.
  • Social stratification is a part of the broader social structure. It is characterized by a certain pattern of inequality.

Caste system is a form of social stratification which have following features:

  • Social and 1 jligious disabilities of different groups.
  • Restrictions on food and coexistence.
  • Restrictions of marital relations.
  • Restriction on choice of occupation.

Basic forms of advantage which privileged groups may enjoy:

  • Life chances: All those material advantages which improve life of the recipients
    e.g.wealth, income, benefits related to health, job security and recreation.
  • Social status: Prestige or high standing in the society.
  • Political influence: Dominance of one group on another on the basis of decision making ability of a particular group.

The opportunities and resources available to individuals and groups to engage in competitions, cooperation and conflict are shaped by social structure and social stratification.

Ways of understanding social processes in sociology:

  • Sociology seeks to explain the processes of cooperation, competition and conflict in terms of the actual social structure of society.

Sociology Class 11 Notes Chapter 1 Social Structure, Stratification and Social Processes in Society 1

  • Both the perspectives presume that human beings have to cooperate to meet their basic needs, and to produce and reproduce themselves and their world.
  • Conflict perspective emphasises, how forms of cooperation changed from one historical society to another.
  • For instance, in simple societies where no surplus was produced, there was cooperation among members of the society. But in capitalist society where product was surplus, the dominant class controlled it and instead of cooperation, conflict and competition emerged on the issue of controlling the surplus.
  • Conflict perspective: The conflict perspective emphasises that groups and individuals are placed differently and unequally within the system of production relations. Thus, the factory owner and the factor worker do cooperate in their every day work but a certain hidden conflict of interests or rested interest can be seen in their relationships.
  • The conflict perspective focuses on division of society on the basis of caste or class or patriarchy. Some groups are disadvantaged and discriminated.
  • Functionalist perspective: It emphasises on the ‘system requirements’ of society- certain functional imperatives, functional requisites and prerequisites. These refer to the fulfilment of the broadest condition which are necessary for a system’s existence e.g.
    • The socialization of new members.
    • Shared system of communication.
    • Methods of assigning roles to individuals.
  • Functional perspective assumes that different parts or organs of society have a function or role to play for the maintenance and functioning of the society.
  • According to functional perspective, cooperation, competition and conflict can be seen as universal features of all societies, and the relationship among them is often complex and not easily separable.
  • Cooperation refers to the continuous and common effort of two or more than two individuals working together equally and willingly towards a goal.
  • Cooperation is an associative process. It is different from conflict because conflict is an dissociative social process.
  • Cooperation may be conscious or an unconscious process while conflict is mostly a conscious process.
  • Cooperation is universal and continuous process. It involves sympathy as well as empathy towards others. It is selfless in nature. Cooperation is psychological as well as social necessity.
  • Cooperation may entail (require) conflict and there is a difference between enforcedand voluntary cooperation. This can be understood through the example of daughters’ property right in Indian society. If they ask for her right then she is looked upon as greedy and if as a compulsion she leaves her right then it is labelled as cooperation. So cooperative behavior can also be seen as a product of deep conflict in society.
  • A functionalist often uses the term accommodation to explain such situations. It is basically an effort to compromise and co-exist despite conflict.
  • Accommodation may be defined as that form of social process in which two or more persons or groups interact in order to prevent, reduce, or eliminate conflict.
  • Cooperation and accommodation are two different processes but both are process of associations. Both lead to formation of group life, conciseness, integration, assimilation and harmony in the society.
  • Assimilation refers to a social process through which two or more persons or groups accept and perform each other’s pattern of behavior.
  • Cooperation deals with relationship among persons or groups to attain a common goal whereas accommodation and assimilation represent different stages in the process of cooperation.

Cooperation and Division of labour:

  • Concept of cooperation rests on certain assumptions of human behaviour.
  • Cooperation helps in human survival. It makes goal attainment easy. It unites people, enhances opportunities to attain knowledge as very helpful in economic domain.
  • Durkheim’s solidarity is fundamental for understanding of cooperation.
  • The role of division of labour—which implies cooperation—is precisely to fulfill certain needs of society.
  • Durkheim distinguished between Mechanical and Organic solidarity. Both are forms of cooperation in society.
  • Humans are cooperative. Thus they do not passively adjust and accommodate but also change the natural or social world to which they adjust.
  • Although Durkheim and Karl Marx both emphasis cooperation but they also differ.
  • For Marx, cooperation is not voluntary in a society where class exists since their cooperation is not voluntary but has come about naturally. In other words, workers lose control over how to organise their own work and they lose control over the rewards of their labour. This is very different to a weaver or potter or iron smith who derives feeling of fulfillment and pleasure of creativity with that of a worker involved in a factory whose sole task may be to press a button through out the day. Cooperation in such a situation is enforced.
Mechanical Solidarity Organic Solidarity
1. Form of cohesion (togetherness) in lifestyle, specialization or division of labour, age and sex. 1.Form of social cohesion based on division of labour and resulting into inter-dependence
2. They have togetherness due to similar beliefs, sentiments, and consciousness e.g. family engaged m farming. 2.As they become more specialized, they become more dependent upon each other e.g. garment or car manufacturing company.

Competition as an idea and practice:

  • Like cooperation, competition is also universal and natural dissociative social processes. However, the sociological explanation is different from naturalistic ones.
  • In the contemporary period competition is a predominant idea and one cannot imagine a society where competition is not a guiding force.
  • Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx have noted the growth of individualism and competition respectively in modem societies. Both developments are intrinsic (internal) to the way modem capitalist society functions. In capitalist society, the stress is on greater efficiency and greater profit maximization.
  • The ideology of competition is the dominant ideology in capitalism. The logic of this ideology is that the market operates in a manner that ensures greatest efficiency e.g. competitions ensure that the students with higher marks or best studies get admission in prestigious colleges and get best jobs.
  • This ideology assumes that individuals compete on an equal basis i.e. all individuals are positioned equally in the competition for education, jobs or resources, but as stratification and inequality show, individuals are placed differently in society which ultimately leads to conflict.
  • Conflict: Conflict is a dissociative social process. The term ‘conflict’ implies clash of interest. Conflict is the dissociative social process in which individuals or groups seek their ends by directly challenging the antagonist by violence or the threat of violence. It includes all activities in which people contend against one another for any objective.
  • Scarcity of resources in society produces conflict as groups struggle to access to and control over those resources.
  • The bases of conflict vary. It could be class or caste, tribe or gender, ethnicity or religious community.
  • Sociologists have drawn attention to fhe fact that conflict changes in nature and form at different stages of development. But conflict has always been part of any society.
  • Social change and greater assertion of democratic rights by disadvantaged and discriminated groups make the conflict more visible.
  • Conflicts are different from competition. Competition may be an unconscious process while conflict is mostly a conscious process. The main motive of competition is to achieve the goals while conflicts are mostly for personal goals.
  • Conflict appears as a discord or overt clash only when expressed openly but the absence of movement does not imply the absence of a conflict.
  • Since, conflict is often not overtly expressed, the subordinate sections e.g. women or peasants develop different strategies to cope with conflicts and ensure cooperation. In this context, sociological research funding that covert conflict and overt cooperation is very true and quite common in the societies.

Important terms:

  • Altruism: The principle of acting to benefit others without any selfishness or self-interest.
  • Alienation: It refers to the loss of control on the part of workers over the nature of the labour task, and over the
  • products of their labour.
  • Anomie: For Durkheim, a social condition where the names guiding conduct break down, leaving individuals without social restraints or guidance.
  • Accommodation: Form of social process in which two or more persons or groups interact in order to prevent, reduce or eliminate.
  • Assimilation: Social process through which two or more persons or groups accept and perform on another pattern of behavior.
  • Conflict: A dissociative social process in which individuals or groups seek their ends by directly challenging the antagonist by violence or the threat of violence.
  • Capitalism: A system of wage-labour and commodity production for sale, exchange and profit, rather than for the immediate need of the producers.
  • Cooperation: Associative social process where individuals interact among themselves and work together to attain a common objective.
  • Competition: Dissociative social process of daring effort to achieve something which is not in abundance to fulfil everybody’s demand.
  • Structure: It refers to constructed frameworks and patterns of organisation, which in some way constrain or direct human behavior.
  • Culture: The way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation.
  • Cultural traits: The smallest units of culture are cultural traits.
  • Stratification: System of society on the base of which individuals and groups get high or low positions.
  • Race: Biologically inherited group having a distinctive combinations of physical traits and tend to breed them from generation to generation.
  • Modernity: The distinctiveness, complexity and dynamism of social processes unleashed during the 18th and 19th centuries which mark a distinct break from traditional ways of living.
  • Social constraints: Groups and societies of which we are past exert a conditioning influence on our behavior.  According to Durkheim, this is distinctive property of ‘social facts’.

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