Thursday, May 30, 2013



Social Institutions:
Social institutions are the functional groups that get established in any society from time to time in keeping with the various activities that are required to be done for satisfying individual as well as common group needs. The following are examples of several institutions: (1) Cultural institutions; (2) Recreational institutions; (3) Economic institutions; (4) Commercial institutions; (5) Communication and transport institutions; (6) Political institutions.

Though the community comprises a number of institutions, it has a pattern of interdependence amongst its units and groups. Strictly speaking the smallest unit in community is the individual. But from sociological point of view the smallest unit of the community is the family. Of course this concept has come into common understanding only after man started living as husband and wife and rearing children as belonging to a couple. The family is a cohesive unit marked by a man and woman bound together by physical or emotional union resulting in a multiplication of the size of the unit and also an understanding of living together till death.

Next to the family we have the kinship groups which are bonded together by relationship of marriage. Depending on the locations community is referred to as village community or an urban community. There are many criteria which are used for deciding whether a geographical location is rural or urban. The main consideration are the size of the population, stage of development in different spheres, occupation, literacy, socio-economic conditions, etc. village as well as a town as a unit of social structure is composed of an entire community which will however be broken down into smaller groups according to occupation, caste, religion, etc.

Caste is probably the most important single classifying factor in the Indian context. It governs to a considerable extent the organization of kinship groups.

Villages can be classified as a single settlement village—in which the community shares a compact settlement; and nucleated village—with central settlement as nucleus around which there are small satellite settlements; disbursed village—consisting of disbursed or scattered houses.

Social stratification. We have considered the bondage existing in a family and among the kinship group. The society however consists of a number of families which apart from closeness, or remoteness, depending on the affinal and con sanguine relationship will have a number of other characteristics. Within the family itself the different individuals have different positions and statuses. Similarly the individuals in society differ from one another with regard to their economic status, literacy status, political status and social status and so on. Such differentiation in characteristic in society gives rise to a grading and group of individuals and families. This is known as social stratification.

Stratification  denotes the process of placing any set of items along a continuum according to grades or magnitude and grouping them. Stratification is a very important process in statistics in connection with sampling. In sociology stratification means the process by which families or individuals in a society get arranged in graded strata with varying degrees of power, prestige, property, political standing, educational standing, caste, etc.

Social Ranking:
Where many forces prevail, the standard shape of the stratification structure has been more pyramidal, the majority of the people ranking very low in their position, status, occupation, wealth, power, etc.

In the modern world a number of fundamental social and cultural changes are resulting in what seems to be a general trend in all societies towards an increasingly diamond shape distribution of roles along many of the dimensions of their social stratification system.
Power groups or power structure in a community refer to the stratification of the  community according to the dimension of power or influence or authority.

The social stratification is of great importance in sociology because it influences to a large extent the behavioral pattern in the society. It is common knowledge that people with superiority either by means of money, political status, education, etc. have a dominating influence on those lower down. Conversely people of a lower strata generally have a moral dependence on the people of higher strata and look up to them for any decision or change of behavior and approval. The opinion of the people in power has generally a binding influence on people of lower strata. This phenomenon is known as social influence.

In addition social influence has another dimension to it. People of higher strata not  only function as opinion givers but also has decision makers for the whole society. Therefore, if people of lower strata differ from any decision taken by the people of higher strata they do not feel bold enough to carry out the decision.  Any new idea or innovation generally catches up with the higher strata in society and the families of lower strata follow suit. It is rare that decisions are first taken in the lower strata and later accepted by the higher strata. This applies to decisions which have something common for the whole society. For example, contraception.
Within each stratum there may be customs and habits in practice which may be the result of decisions taken by themselves. 

Arising out of social stratification there is a variation in the degree of distance or social relationship and sympathetic understanding between individuals or families or groups belonging to different strata in society. This degree or intimacy or aloofness can be observed in the type of social relationship that are manifested. The social distance is a result of attitude and values, prejudice and customs. Prejudice is widening the social distances. Social distance is usually vertical, like castes, color difference, etc., but it can also be horizontal among peers due to personal likes sand dislikes.

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