What is Social System Definition and its Seven Elements of Social System

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 02:32 -- Umar Farooq

What is Social System

A social system emphasizes the interdependence of social phenomena. Single facts are studied as parts of the whole. The system functions when its component elements are in operation. One element out of the system cannot function properly. For example, family is a social system. The members have very close social interaction with one another. They are interdependent. The family functions as a unit. Its members can neither survive nor function alone.

A social system expresses the bonds of relationship among its members. If the relationship is significant the system is stable and. the insignificant relations are found in unstable system. The significance of interaction can be judged from its frequency, duration, focus and intensity already discussed in the chapter of Social Interaction.

Social systems which are concrete and on co-operative basis are visible in society. A family, a football team, a college, a mosque, a youth club, a union council, a union committee, a municipal corporation, a district council, a teacher's association, are its examples. The members in these systems participate for the attainment of their objectives. The students and the teachers in a college make a system. The doctors, patients, nursing staff and the administration make a system for the hospital. The relations between' father and mother, brother and brother, sister and sister, brother and Sister, son and father, son and mother, daughter and father, and daughter and mother create family with nice examples of social system.

A system operates according to certain norms. These norms determine the mode of relationship among its members. Absence and weakness of these, norms weakens the system and makes it unstable. The forces of norms if effective and strong the system is stable and strong.

Social System Definitions

  1. Ogburn has simplified definition of Talcott Parsons: "A social system may be defined as a plurality of individuals interacting with each other according to shared cultural norms and meanings.
  2. David Popnoe: "A social system is a set of persons or a groups who interact with one another, the set-is conceived of as a social unit distinct from the particular persons who compose it.
  3. Chapple and Coon define a system is, "a group of individuals interacting with each other at a higher frequency than with non-members when the system is in operation."
  4. According to these definition, a system is a group of people in which social interaction is more effective and intense than in the people outside this group. It means this group becomes a center of activity for its members. This system binds its members tightly together that they become closely associated with one another. A degree of intimacy and frankness develops among them and they function as a unit.

7 Elements of Social System

There are seven elements of social system, according to Loomis and Beegle: roles, status, authority, rights, ends and objectives, norms and territoriality.

  1. Roles. A system performs certain roles as the players of cricket perform their respective roles in their positions.
  2. Status. At the performance of role, there is status for the members of the system. The players of hockey have their respective status as captain, goalkeeper, center forward, halfback and full back. They all play different roles hence have different status at the match.
  3. Authority: Without authority no system can function. In cricket team, the authority rests with the captain. In family with head of the household, in college with the Principal and similarly in all systems the authority is given to an individual of the body.
  4. Rights: Those who perform roles and obey to an authority have certain rights also. In family, the members have rights of food, clothing, living, protection, recreation and education. Similarly, the players of cricket team have their rights of profession with the administrative organization of the game.
  5. Ends and Objective. A system has certain ends, and objectives to achieve. Family continues and socializes human race. A hockey team aims at securing goals on the rival team.
  6. Norms. Without norms no role can be performed. In a system, the members play their roles according to the norms given to them. The players of cricket match have the norms of fair and foul and victory and defeat. Similarly, all social systems operate in presence of their respective social norms. The norms in a family are different from the norms of a cricket match: It means every system has its own norms.
  7. Territoriality. A space is required for the system to operate its function. A family lives in a house. A college has its building, laboratory, library and playgrounds. Similarly, a cricket match requires a playground of specific area.

Social System and Society

A society is composed of a huge network of social institutions. These institutions are social systems and by interrelationship of institutions big social systems appear. A family, a school, a masjid, market, a party office, a court are main organs of society and they all have social systems. It means a society is full of social systems by which it fulfils its needs. A social system develops by social. Interaction among a group of people who become dependent upon one another. All the social institutions have social systems.

Social System and Community

A community also has a large number of social systems for the fulfilment of its various needs. For a community, families, school, mosque, union council office, patwar khana, agriculture office, shops, bus stand, dispensary are the famous social systems, together and make them as a unit. A family, a college, a union council are the examples of a system.

Social System and Group

Social system itself is a social group which appears as a result of interaction among the members.

Social System and Norms

Norms are one of the elements of social system. Without norms no member in a system can play its roles.