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  • In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society

  • that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. On the

  • macro scale, social structure is the system of socioeconomic stratification, social institutions,

  • or, other patterned relations between large social groups. On the meso scale, it is the

  • structure of social network ties between individuals or organizations. On the micro scale, it can

  • be the way norms shape the behavior of actors within the social system.

  • These scales are not always kept separate. For example, recent scholarship by John Levi

  • Martin has theorized that certain macro-scale structures are the emergent properties of

  • micro-scale cultural institutions. Marxist sociology also has a history of mixing different

  • meanings of social structure, though it has done so by simply treating the cultural aspects

  • of social structure as epiphenomena of its economic ones.

  • Since the 1920s, the term has been in general use in social science, especially as a variable

  • whose sub-components needed to be distinguished in relationship to other sociological variables.

  • Overview The notion of social structure as relationship

  • between different entities or groups or as enduring and relatively stable patterns of

  • relationship emphasises the idea that society is grouped into structurally related groups

  • or sets of roles, with different functions, meanings or purposes. One example of social

  • structure is the idea of "social stratification", which refers to the idea that society is separated

  • into different strata, guided by the underlying structures in the social system. This approach

  • has been important in the academic literature with the rise of various forms of structuralism.

  • It is important in the modern study of organizations, because an organization's structure may determine

  • its flexibility, capacity to change, and many other factors. Therefore, structure is an

  • important issue for management. Social structure may be seen to influence

  • important social systems including the economic system, legal system, political system, cultural

  • system, and others. Family, religion, law, economy and class are all social structures.

  • The "social system" is the parent system of those various systems that are embedded in

  • it. History

  • The early study of social structures has informed the study of institutions, culture and agency,

  • social interaction, and history. Alexis de Tocqueville was apparently the first to use

  • the term social structure; later, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Max Weber, Ferdinandnnies,

  • and Émile Durkheim all contributed to structural concepts in sociology. Weber investigated

  • and analyzed the institutions of modern society: market, bureaucracy, and politics.

  • One of the earliest and most comprehensive accounts of social structure was provided

  • by Karl Marx, who related political, cultural, and religious life to the mode of production.

  • Marx argued that the economic base substantially determined the cultural and political superstructure

  • of a society. Subsequent Marxist accounts, such as that by Louis Althusser, proposed

  • a more complex relationship that asserted the relative autonomy of cultural and political

  • institutions, and a general determination by economic factors only "in the last instance".

  • In 1905, the German sociologist Ferdinandnnies first published his study The Present

  • Problems of Social Structure in the U.S.A, arguing that only the constitution of a multitude

  • into a unity creates a "social structure". Émile Durkheim introduced the idea that diverse

  • social institutions and practices played a role in assuring the functional integration

  • of society through assimilation of diverse parts into a unified and self-reproducing

  • whole. In this context, Durkheim distinguished two forms of structural relationship: mechanical

  • solidarity and organic solidarity. The former describes structures that unite similar parts

  • through a shared culture; the latter describes differentiated parts united through social

  • exchange and material interdependence. As did Marx and Weber, more generally, Georg

  • Simmel developed a wide-ranging approach that provided observations and insights into domination

  • and subordination, competition, division of labor, formation of parties, representation,

  • inner solidarity coupled with exclusiveness toward the outside, and many similar features

  • in the state, in a religious community, in an economic association, in an art school,

  • and in family and kinship networks). The notion of social structure was extensively

  • developed in the 20th century, with key contributions from structuralist perspectives drawing on

  • the theories of Claudevi-Strauss, Feminist or Marxist perspectives, from functionalist

  • perspectives such as those developed by Talcott Parsons and his followers, or from a variety

  • of analytic perspectives. Some follow Marx in trying to identify the basic dimensions

  • of society that explain the other dimensions, most emphasizing either economic production

  • or political power. Others followvi-Strauss in seeking logical order in cultural structures.

  • Still others, notably Peter Blau, follow Simmel in attempting to base a formal theory of social

  • structure on numerical patterns in relationshipsanalyzing, for example, the ways in which factors like

  • group size shape intergroup relations. The notion of social structure is intimately

  • related to a variety of central topics in social science, including the relation of

  • structure and agency. The most influential attempts to combine the concept of social

  • structure with agency are Anthony Giddens' theory of structuration and Pierre Bourdieu's

  • practice theory. Giddens emphasizes the duality of structure and agency, in the sense that

  • structures and agency cannot be conceived apart from one another. This permits him to

  • argue that structures are neither independent of actors nor determining of their behavior,

  • but rather sets of rules and competencies on which actors draw, and which, in the aggregate,

  • they reproduce. Giddens's analysis, in this respect, closely parallels Jacques Derrida's

  • deconstruction of the binaries that underlie classic sociological and anthropological reasoning.

  • Bourdieu's practice theory also seeks a more supple account of social structure as embedded

  • in, rather than determinative of, individual behavior.

  • Other recent work by Margaret Archer, Tom R. Burns and collaborators, and Immanuel Wallerstein

  • provided elaborations and applications of the sociological classics in structural sociology.

  • Definitions and concepts As noted above, social structure has been

  • identified as the relationship of definite entities or groups

  • to each other, enduring patterns of behaviour by participants

  • in a social system in relation to each other, and

  • institutionalised norms or cognitive frameworks that structure the actions of actors in the

  • social system. Lopez and Scott distinguish between institutional

  • structure and relational structure, where in the former:

  • whereas in the latter: Social structure can also be divided into

  • microstructure and macrostructure. Microstructure is the pattern of relations between most basic

  • elements of social life, that cannot be further divided and have no social structure of their

  • own. Macrostructure is thus a kind of 'second level' structure, a pattern of relations between

  • objects that have their own structure. Some types of social structures that modern sociologist

  • differentiate are relation structures, communication structures and sociometric structures.

  • Social rule system theory reduces the structures of to particular rule system arrangements,

  • that is, the types of basic structures of. It shares with role theory, organizational

  • and institutional sociology, and network analysis the concern with structural properties and

  • developments and at the same time provides detailed conceptual tools needed to generate

  • interesting, fruitful propositions and models and analyses.

  • Sociologists also distinguish between: normative structurepattern of relations

  • in given structure between norms and modes of operations of people of varying social

  • positions ideal structurepattern of relations between

  • beliefs and views of people of varying social positions

  • interest structurepattern of relations between goals and desires of people of varying

  • social positions interaction structureforms of communications

  • of people of varying social positions Origins and development

  • Some believe that social structure is naturally developed. It may be caused by larger system

  • needs, such as the need for labour, management, professional and military classes, or by conflicts

  • between groups, such as competition among political parties or among elites and masses.

  • Others believe that this structuring is not a result of natural processes, but is socially

  • constructed. It may be created by the power of elites who seek to retain their power,

  • or by economic systems that place emphasis upon competition or cooperation.

  • The most thorough account of the evolution of social structure is perhaps provided by

  • structure and agency accounts that allow for a sophisticated analysis of the co-evolution

  • of social structure and human agency, where socialised agents with a degree of autonomy

  • take action in social systems where their action is on the one hand mediated by existing

  • institutional structure and expectations but may, on the other hand, influence or transform

  • that institutional structure. Critical implications

  • The notion of social structure may mask systematic biases, as it involves many identifiable subvariables,

  • for example, gender. Some argue that men and women who have otherwise equal qualifications

  • receive different treatment in the workplace because of their gender, which would be termed

  • a "social structural" bias, but other variables might be masked. Modern social structural

  • analysis takes this into account through multivariate analysis and other techniques, but the analytic

  • problem of how to combine various aspects of social life into a whole remains.

  • See also

  • References

  • Further reading Abercrombie, N., S. Hill and B. S. Turner,

  • 'Social structure' in The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 4th edition, London: Penguin,

  • pp. 326–327. Archer, M.S. 1995. Realist Social Theory:

  • The Morphogenetic Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Blau, P. M.. Approaches to the Study of Social Structure, New York: The Free Press A Division

  • of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. Burns, T. R. and H. Flam The Shaping of Social

  • Organization: Social Rule System Theory with Applications London: Sage.

  • Calhoun, Craig, Dictionary of the Social Sciences Oxford University Press

  • Crothers, Charles, Social Structure, London: Routledge

  • Flam, H. and M. Carson Rule System Theory: Applications and Explorations Peter Lang Publishers,

  • Berlin/New York, 2008 Jary, D. and J. Jary.. 'Social structure',

  • in The Harper Collins Dictionary of Sociology, New York: Harper Collins.

  • Lopez, J. and J. Scott, Social Structure, Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University

  • Press. Murdock, George. Social Structure. New York:

  • MacMillan. Porpora, D. V., The Concept of Social Structure,

  • New York, Wetport and London: Greenwood Press. Porpora, D. V.. 'Four Concepts of Social Structure',

  • Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 19, pp. 195–211.

  • Smeeser, N. J.. 'Social structure', in N. J. Smeeser, The Handbook of Sociology, London:

  • Sage, pp. 103–209. Tönnies, Ferdinand. The Present Problems

  • of Social Structure, American Journal of Sociology, 10, p. 569–588

  • Wallerstein, I. World-Systems Analysis:An Introduction. Durham/London: Duke University

  • Press Template:Link GA'de

In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society

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社會結構 (Social structure)

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