Social structure is a term used in sociology to describe the dividing order of human societies according to their social characteristics , especially their social stratification . The social structure analysis carries out the scientific research and classification of the social structure on the basis of different theories , while the population science ( demography ) records stock figures and numerical changes in a society. Stratified or grouped societies differ from “ segmental societies ” with similar and equal populations. In addition to the sociological classification, the social structure also has dynamic characteristics, both in terms of its development and in terms of social processes .
The term social structure was introduced in 1905 by the German sociologist and philosopher Ferdinand Tönnies ; In general, it refers to the grouping of the social structure of relationships in a society as a whole according to similarities and differences in several dimensions. Structural groups are, for example, social class, class , caste , social situation , social milieu , lifestyle or, historically, the class order . Depending on the sociological perspective and interest in knowledge , these are individually divided into the characteristics that are important for the respective dimension in order to recognize and explain the permanent social interactions between these groups.
Sociodemographic characteristics to describe the social structure
In demographics and statistics, population structure is understood to be the composition of a population from subgroups. Sociodemography is a term used in empirical social research that describes the characteristics of the population at the person level ( micro level ), according to which the members of a sample or a target group are described. From such socio-demographic information, aggregate data can be formed that can be used to describe the population structure.
If information is requested particularly frequently, it is also referred to as standard sociodemography. The most common sociodemographic data (also known as social indicators ) include the following characteristics:
Other scientific studies also collect socio-demographic data. In market research , sociodemographic data are e.g. B. collected in order to better tailor products to the specific target groups or to evaluate in which population group a product is most consumed in order to draw conclusions about the design of the marketing strategy .
Dynamic characteristics of the social structure and its development
In developing the social structure, Friedrich von Hayek differentiates the spontaneous social order , "... a polycentric order, undirected and unplanned, which arises from the interaction of many individuals and given boundary conditions ," from the social organization, which is the result of a conscious social design. He summarizes both processes under the term extended order . According to Hayek, the forms of society and their rules are subject to a cultural evolution in which emergent self-organization and the competitiveness of the form of society play a major role.
These processes and the development of structures in human society are largely self-organized and take place under conditions of complexity . The reason for this is the social feedback within society and the ability of the non-linear building blocks of society, people and their institutions, characterized as limited rationality . The complexity is generated by the non-linear dynamics of the processes in society.
According to Klaus Mainzer , one can structurally distinguish between the micro and macro levels; these influence each other within the framework of social processes and are thus fed back. The resulting social structure is called Mainz socio-configuration and its processes sociodynamics .
Social structure of individual countries
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