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Social Structure

Social structure is the patterned and relatively stable arrangement of role and social status found within societies and social institutions. The idea of social structure points out the way in which societies, and institutions within them, exhibit predictable patterns of social organization, activity and social interaction. Stability of organization and behavior provides the quality of predictability that people rely on in every day social interaction.

Social structures are inseparable from cultural norms and values that also shape social status and social interaction. One of society's major functions of social structure is to facilitate the assimilation of its constituents. Social structure is the system of socioeconomic stratification, social institutions, or other patterned relations between large social groups. Social structure may be seen to influence important social systems including the economic system, legal system, political system, and also cultural system.

In 1905, the German sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies first published his study The Present Problems of Social Structure in the US. Ferdinand Tonnies argued that only the constitution of a multitude into a unity creates a "social structure." The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 10, 1905.

Successful assimilation serves two goals: it encourages the maintenance and growth of the social system, and it gives each person a sense of his or her location within the social structure. In consequence, it is to the advantage of both society and the individual that the latter comes to adopt an understanding of the social system and one's place in it that is shared by all its members; this understanding not only includes a sense of personal identity, but also an appreciation of the roles one will take as a participating member of society. - Professor Gregory Elliott. Social Institutions, Social Norms, Social Roles, Social Statuses and Social Values are intrinsic to social structure. 

Social Norms

Norms are culturally established rules which prescribe appropriate social behavior.

Social Roles

Role is a position within a social structure that is shaped by precise behavioural expectations or norms. The individual who is placed within a status in a social structure performs his role in a way shaped by normative expectations.

Social Statuses

A position in a social structure which is regulated by norms and very often ranked according to power and prestige held. It differs from class. It is a measure of a person's social standing or social honour in a community. Sociologists use the concepts of social class and and social status to describe the systems of social stratification.

Social Structure - Abstracts

Social structure and ethnicity - Sociologie Romaneasca, 2001, 1-4. Abstract: The paper attempts a theoretical and empirical evidence analysis of the relationship between ethnic affiliation, social stratification and ethnic attitudes in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Romania in particular.

Kin Groups and Social Structure - by Roger M., Keesing
Abstract - This text examines the evolution of kinship and social structure. Keesing considers the importance of patrilineal descent and the permutations of descent systems, matrilineal and double descent, alliance systems, cognate descent and bilateral kinship as organizing principles. Relevant analogies and examples are used throughout.

History, social structure and individualism: a cross-cultural perspective on Japan. International Journal of Comparative Sociology; 2/1/1998; Schooler, Carmi.
This paper explores how history and social structure affect individualism in Japan. It integrates a variety of cross-cultural studies comparing Japan with the West whose methodological approaches vary considerably. Its historical comparisons point to many parallels between Japan and the West and reveal similar links between economic development and individualism.

Social structure, political institutions, and mobilization potential.
Social Forces; 12/1/1995; McVeigh, Rory.
Social movement theorists in the U.S. have focused considerable attention on the question of how a collectivity, given a common interest, organizes in pursuit of a collective good. Meanwhile, their European counterparts have primarily focused on group grievances and on the way in which structural change generates new mobilization potentials, that is, on groups of individuals sharing common interests that could be potentially activated by social movement organizers (see Cohen 1985; Klandermans 1984). I explore the role of social structure in the promotion of interest distributions, which refer to how political preferences on various issues are distributed within a given community.

Social Structure Journals

The Journal of Social Structure (JoSS) is an electronic journal of the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA). It is designed to facilitate timely dissemination of state-of-the-art results in the interdisciplinary research area of social structure.

Social Structure - Syllabus

SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT - Professor Gregory Elliott. This is a course which investigates the relationship between one's place in the social structure and one's own, individual personal growth. The basic premise of this course is that people must learn how to be members of society. Successful assimilation serves two goals: it encourages the maintenance and growth of the social system, and it gives each person a sense of his or her location within the social structure. Part of our analysis will focus on this socialization process. We will examine the development of the individual from infancy through adulthood, the impact of family, school, occupation, and social class on personal growth and social opportunities for advancement. We will study the social antecedents to alienation.

Books On Social Structure

Social Structures - John Levi Martin closely examines social structures.

Social Structure & Mobility in Economic Development Neil J. Smelser, Seymour Martin Lipset.

Transition from School to Work: Individual Life Courses Within Social Structures (Issues In Education) - Chew Siew Ghee.

Marginality, Power and Social Structure : Issues in Race, Class, and Gender Analysis (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations) - Rutledge Dennis.

Change And Stability: Cross-national Analysis Of Social Structure And Personality Melvin L. Kohn.

The Social Structure of Postindustrial Societies : From Classes and Strata to Social Milieus and Lifestyles Book by Stefan Hradil.

Social Structure and Party Choice in Western Europe : A Comparative Longitudinal Study - Oddbjorn Knutsen.

Drug And Alcohol Consumption As Functions Of Social Structures: A Cross-cultural Sociology (Mellen Studies in Sociology) - James E. Hawdon, James Hawdon.

The Stag Hunt and the Evolution of Social Structure Brian Skyrms' study of ideas of cooperation and collective action.