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Social Organization



Social organization refers to how a society is structured and how members of a society organize to facilitate social cooperation. Social organization also involves beliefs and expectations related to social status and social roles. A social status is a position a person occupies in society, while a social role involves a set of behaviors tied to a particular status. Social organization and cooperation occur through both primary groups (defined by family and other close relationships) and secondary groups (groups that form for a particular purpose). People's primary and secondary groups make up their social network, a web of relationships that plays a key role in the employment opportunities available to individuals and groups. Social organization is related to the social divisions of a society, which often create structured inequalities between different social groups. Sociologists also look at three major frameworks for organizing cooperation in a society: kinship, bureaucracy, and markets.

At A Glance

  • Social structures are the social patterns that organize society; individuals use these social structures to make sense of their lived experiences.
  • A status is the social position a person occupies; social roles are duties and behaviors tied to a status, often influencing how a person acts in a particular situation.
  • Primary groups are composed of individuals who share personal, lasting relationships; secondary groups are composed of individuals who interact for a specific purpose.
  • Social networks are webs of social ties among individuals and groups; they play a crucial role in employment opportunities for individuals.
  • Organizations are groups with an identifiable membership that engages in collective action in order to achieve a desired goal.
  • Social divisions often result in structured inequalities between groups in society in terms of their access to material or symbolic rewards.
  • Stratification refers to the hierarchical organization of a society, with different social groups occupying different positions within the broad structure of a society.
  • Social organization based on kinship allows family-based networks to share resources and divide labor.
  • Bureaucracy is a solution to the weaknesses of kinship-based structures.
  • Market-based structures organize cooperation based on economic relationships.