Society as a system — страница 3

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and the like, symbolizing the open character of the society, should function according to the existing social norms and rules so that the society be stable and maintain equilibrium. Thus, society is a systematic organization of social interactions and social relationships that ensure meeting of all basic needs of its members, a stable, self-regulated and self-reproductive one. The society as a super-system is viewed as an entity of social systems (individuals, groups, organizations, institutions and communities bound by social ties, interactions and relations) which serve as its structural elements. Typologies of societies There are a lot of typologies of human society which differ from each other by what criterion is used to define its type. For instance, the typology may make

use of availability of a written language. According to this criterion all societies are divided into those without a written language (they can communicate with words but don’t know how to fix them in signs) and those with a written language, or societies that invented the alphabet and can fix words in material signs (letters) on paper, in books etc. Other typologies may be based on the criterion of a dominating religion (Christian society) or language (English speaking society). Social scientists Gerhard and George Lenskis identified four human societies according to their primary means of subsistence: hunter-gatherer societies, nomadic pastoral societies, horticulturalist or simple farming societies, and intensive agricultural societies, also called civilizations. Some

theorists add industrial and post-industrial societies. Marx identified five societies by their mode of production: primitive communal society, slavery, feudalism, capitalism and communism. In social sciences typologies suggested by E. Durkheim and F. Toennis are also often mentioned. Both theorists suggested two types of societies that served a reason to call their typologies “dichotomies”. For instance, E. Durkheim identifies traditional (military) and industrial societies applying the criterion of social solidarity. Mechanical solidarity is typical for traditional or archaic society, because people as members of the society are undeveloped and similar to each other. The society is bound because its members are not differentiated. Organic solidarity is given rise due to the

division of public labour; it is based not on similarity but on differentiation of people as it suggests development of the personality. Due to division of labour an individual realizes his dependence on the society. In his dichotomy suggested in 1887 Ferdinandt Toennis (1855-1936) introduced Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft to differentiate between traditional and modern societies. American researcher Neil Smelser found out five distinctions between the concepts: 1. Gemeinschaft which is based on a feeling of togetherness, stimulates people’s desire to live according to the communal principles, for instance, at harvester peasants help each other free of charge. Gesellschaft is based on people’s rational realization of individual interests, its example is a state where

individuals interact in impersonal situations and pay money for particular goods and services. 2. In the sphere of social control Gemeinschaft gives priority to traditional beliefs, customs and non-written laws while Gesellschaft is a society based on formal law. 3. As for division of labour, Gemeinschaft is characterized by limited specialization based on kinship ties, i.e. husbands, wives and children perform particular jobs in the household. Gesellschaft is characterized by specialization of professional roles and their separation from family roles. 4. In Gemeinschaft culture is formed on religious values while in Gesellschaft – on secular ones. 5. In Gemeinschaft the main institutions are the family, neighborhood and community while in Gesellschaft such are large groupings

and associations, for example business circles, government, political parties etc. Both dichotomies were criticized for their oversimplification. First, societies like Gemeinschaft also differ from each other, for instance, Japanese feudalism differs from German feudalism and they both differ from other non-industrial societies. Besides, in every modern society the elements of Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft are mixed up, it means that the latter cannot disappear to anywhere. Second, such dichotomies consider the society as a stable integrated whole leaving aside a probability of contradictions and conflicts which are to some extent typical of any society. Having made use of all typologies, a contemporary American sociologist Daniel Bell worked out some synthesizing model. He