Social Systems Essay, Research Paper
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF THE CONCEPT OF A SOCIAL SYSTEM?
A societal system as a construct in sociological theory is one of great importance and so necessary. As a theoretical construct and constituent of theoretical account, it highlights the intricate nature of the society we live in. ( Craib 1992 ) Talcott Parsons, a dominant functionalist theoretician, focused much of his work on the construct of a societal system. ( Water 1994 ) Such a construct is so synonymous with his work. Whilst there is no cosmopolitan sociological definition of the construct, Parsons defined a societal system as:
& # 8220 ; a plurality of single histrions interacting with each other in a state of affairs which has at least a physical or environmental facet, histrions who are motivated in footings of the inclination to the & # 8220 ; optimisation of satisfaction & # 8221 ; and whose relation to their state of affairss, including each other, is defined and mediated in footings of a system of culturally structured symbols. & # 8221 ; ( cited in Wallace & A ; Wolf 1999 )
In order to to the full hold on the characteristics of Parsons & # 8217 ; societal system it is necessary to analyze such a construct in the context of his across-the-board system theory, or more in peculiar his theory of action. However, theoretical frailties become evident, therefore it is imperative to briefly address the construct from an alternate position, such as Dahrendorf & # 8217 ; s theory, in order to foreground changing characteristics of the construct of a societal system, but besides the interpretive nature such a construct entails. Therefore this essay chiefly will cover merely with those high spots or & # 8216 ; features & # 8217 ; .
From a functionalist position, society is viewed as a system in so far as it is made up of parts, which mesh together. The basic unit of analysis is society, and its assorted parts are understood chiefly in footings of their relationship to the whole. ( Craib 1992 ) The early functionalists frequently drew an analogy between society and beings, such as the human organic structure. Such an analogy involves the apprehension of any organ of the organic structure and its relationship to other bodily variety meats, and in peculiar its part to the care of the organic structure being as a whole. ( Haralambos & A ; van Krieken & A ; Smith & A ; Holborn 1996 P, 673 ) ) In the same manner, an apprehension of any portion of society requires an analysis of its relationship to other parts, and most significantly, of its part to the care of society. ( Haralambos et al 1996 P, 673 ) As can be deduced from the above definition, Parsons takes a similar attack to the construct of a societal system.
Sociological positions are good known for their penetrating comprehensiveness, but besides for their high degree of abstractness, which may frequently hold led to more confusion than elucidation in discoursing their relevancy. ( Deflem 1998 ) This is in fact a foundational characteristic of the construct of a societal system, every bit good as most theoretical constructs, whereby the intricateness and complexness of the construct instantly becomes evident. The abstractness hence accentuates the inability to hold on its characteristics at face value without diging farther in to Parsons & # 8217 ; system theory. ( Craib 1992 )
Parsons postulates that the most through empirical observation important sociological theory must be concerned with complex systems, that is systems composed of many subsystems. The primary empirical type mention is to society, which is extremely complex. ( Craib 1992 ) He understands a modern societal system to be a distinguishable entity, different from but interdependent with three other action systems or subsystems. Those of the civilization system, personality system and the behavioral being system. ( Waters 1994 )
Each system contributes specialized maps to any other subsystem every bit good as to the full societal system. Parsons & # 8217 ; functional mentions diverge from the structural constituents in a dynamic way and serve the intent of integration, interceding between the system & # 8217 ; s construction and that imposed by surrounding systems. ( Collins 1988 ) Parsons attributes the maps of version ( A ) to the behavioral being, end attainment ( G ) to the personality system ; integrating ( I ) to the societal system ; and latency ( L ) to the cultural system. ( Collins 1988 ) The structural elements of societal system are treated as invariables over certain scopes of fluctuation. These four types of independently variable constituents include function ( A ) , collectivity ( G ) , norms ( I ) and value ( L ) . ( Waters 1994 ) These approximately cover the societal construction from single to societal system and organize the cardinal integration rule in society. ( Deflem 1998 )
Put merely, if members of society are committed to the same values, they portion a common individuality, which provides a footing for integrity and cooperation, and common ends. Values provide a general construct of what is desirable and worthwhile. ( Wallace et al 1999 ) Goals provide the way in specific state of affairss, while a common end provides an inducement for cooperation. Role provides a agencies whereby values and ends are translated into action. The content of functions is structured in footings of norms which define the rights and duties. ( Wallace et al 1999 ) Norms are so seen as specific looks of values which tend to guarantee that function behavior is standardised. These are referred to as & # 8217 ; system needs & # 8217 ; and are indispensable to the operation of the societal system. ( Wallace et al 1999 ) It is here that one can place Parsons & # 8217 ; usage of many constructs. A characteristic of his theory is so the conceptual relationships he establishes. ( Craib 1992 )
The interpenetrating and mutuality of the subsystems are imperative to Parsons & # 8217 ; societal system and obviously organize an of import characteristic of his usage of the construct. ( Waters 1994 ) He conceived a societal system to be & # 8216 ; unfastened & # 8217 ; in that it engaged in continual interchange of inputs and ou
tputs with their environments. Furthermore, another characteristic becomes evident. The networking of each subsystem of the complex societal system, as discussed above, can be seen at the appropriate degree of mention as a societal system in its ain right. ( Craib 1992 )
Furthermore, it is indispensable to set up Parsons & # 8217 ; societal system as one which is self- equilibrating. ( Wallace et al 1999 P, 41 ) Whist this has been criticised as a functionalist frailty, it is nevertheless, a characteristic of Parsons & # 8217 ; societal system. He asserts that the structured elements, ( Internet Explorer. function, collectivity, norms and values ) from the most general degree & # 8211 ; the cardinal value system & # 8211 ; to the most specific & # 8211 ; normative behavior & # 8211 ; the societal system is infused with common values, therefore supplying the footing for societal order. ( Haralambos et al 1996 ) When values become institutionalized and behaviour structured in footings of them, the consequence is a stable system, a province of & # 8217 ; societal equilibrium & # 8217 ; when the assorted parts of the system are in a province of balance. ( Collins 1988 ) However, the care of such a stable province is through socialization and mechanisms of societal control which discourage aberrance and so maintain order in the system. ( Collins 1988 )
How so, does Parsons history for societal alteration? Indeed society is of all time altering. Parsons & # 8217 ; approached this job by reasoning that although a certain grade of equilibrium is indispensable for the endurance of societies, & # 8220 ; no system is in a perfect province of equilibrium. & # 8221 ; ( Haralambos et al 1996 P, 676 ) Although systems ne’er attain complete equilibrium, they do nevertheless, move toward this province whereby a societal systems reaction to a perturbation will take to some grade of alteration, nevertheless little, in the system as a whole. He regarded alteration as a procedure of & # 8217 ; societal development & # 8217 ; . ( Craib 1992 ) Parsons & # 8217 ; belief ( nevertheless limited due to teleology ) that the parts of the system will reorganize to convey back to normal is a characteristic of his societal system every bit good as the functionalist position in general. ( Wallace et al 1999 )
It is necessary to set up a variable position of the & # 8217 ; societal system & # 8217 ; or society and the manner in which an option theory offers different characteristics of the same subject. Contrary to the functionalist position, struggle theoreticians, such as Darendorf, seek to analyze the impression of society in footings of a calm of groups that have basically different and conflicting involvements. ( Ritzer 1988 ) However, both positions portion the usage of a theoretical account of society as a whole and hence follow a structural attack. Despite theoretical arguments within the struggle position, an of import characteristic of their & # 8217 ; societal system & # 8217 ; is the averment that struggle does be. Parsons & # 8217 ; and functionalists in general, more or less saw society as harmonious incorporate wholes. ( Wallace et al 1999 )
Darendorf, besides refers to the construct of a & # 8217 ; system & # 8217 ; . However, he does non see such a system to be in & # 8216 ; equilibrium & # 8217 ; . ( Ritzer 1988 ) From an integrative position, that is, stemming from Marx and Webber, Darendorf argued that struggles were no longer based on economic division. Alternatively, he saw struggle as being concerned with power and authorization. ( Ritzer 1988 ) While Parsons & # 8217 ; saw society as being manifested by value consensus, Dahrendorf saw society & # 8217 ; s involvements as divided. Such a division highlights a characteristic of Dahrendorf & # 8217 ; s societal system. ( Haralambos et al 1996 )
Dahrendorf suggested that the being of dominant and low-level places within & # 8216 ; associations & # 8217 ; or administrations, produces a state of affairs in which persons have different involvements. ( Craib 1992 ) , those persons in places of laterality will seek to keep the societal construction that gives them more authorization than others. On the other manus, those in the places of subordination will seek to alter those facets of the societal construction that deprive them of authorization. Such a struggle of involvements is apparent in all facets of society. ( Collins 1988 ) Therefore there are many possible groups or & # 8216 ; quasi-groups & # 8217 ; which could be in struggle with each other, while other groups may fall in together to prosecute their common involvement. Dahrendorf steadfastly believed that while struggles may be & # 8220 ; channelled, institutionalised, and shorn of their more violent manifestations, they can ne’er be eradicated from the human scene & # 8221 ; . ( Coser 1977 P, 581 )
It is hence obvious that the construct of a societal system has many characteristics. This has become apparent through the scrutiny of a functionalist position of the societal system and more in peculiar through Parsons expansive theory of action. Parsons established characteristics that included the high degree of abstraction of the construct and its relationship with many others. By turn toing the construct in the context of Parsons & # 8217 ; theory, characteristics such as an interpenetrating, interdependent and self-equilibrating societal system becomes evident. Such a system, and all its parts, will ever reorganize to convey back to normal. Dahrendorf, on the other manus, highlighted a societal system with a conflictual nature. One in which has its involvements divided.
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