Social order

The term social order can be used in two senses. In the first sense, it refers to a particular set or system of linked social structures, institutions, relations, customs, values and practices, which conserve, maintain and enforce certain patterns of relating and behaving. Examples are the ancient, the feudal, and the capitalist social order. In the second sense, social order is contrasted to social chaos or disorder and refers to a stable state of society in which the existing social structure is accepted and maintained by its members. The problem of order or Hobbesian problem, which is central to much of sociology, political science and political philosophy, is the question of how and why it is that social orders exist at all.


Thomas Hobbes is recognized as the first to clearly formulate the problem, to answer which he conceived the notion of a social contract. Social theorists (such as Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Jürgen Habermas) have proposed different explanations for what a social order consists of, and what its real basis is. For Marx, it is the relations of production or economic structure which is the basis of a social order. For Durkheim, it is a set of shared social norms. For Parsons, it is a set of social institutions regulating the pattern of action-orientation, which again are based on a frame of cultural values. For Habermas, it is all of these, as well as communicative action.

Principle of extensiveness

Another key factor concerning social order is the principle of extensiveness. This states the more norms and the more important the norms are to a society, the better these norms tie and hold together the group as a whole.

A good example of this is smaller religions based in the U.S., such as the Amish. Many Amish live together in communities and because they share the same religion and values, it is easier for them to succeed in upholding their religion and views because their way of life is the norm for their community.[1]

Groups and networks

In every society, people belong to groups, such as businesses, families, churches, athletic groups, or neighborhoods. The structure inside of these groups mirrors that of the whole society. There are networks and ties between groups, as well as inside of each of the groups, which create social order.

Some people belong to more than one group, and this can sometimes cause conflict. The individual may encounter a situation in which he or she has to choose one group over another. Many who have studied these groups believe that it is necessary to have ties between groups to strengthen the society as a whole, and to promote pride within each group. Others believe that it is best to have stronger ties to a group, enabling social norms and values to be reinforced.

Status groups

"Status groups" can be based on a person's characteristics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, caste, region, occupation, physical attractiveness, gender, education, age, etc. They are defined as "a subculture having a rather specific rank (or status) within the stratification system. That is, societies tend to include a hierarchy of status groups, some enjoying high ranking and some low."[2] One example of this hierarchy is the prestige of a school teacher compared to that of a garbage man.

A certain lifestyle usually distinguishes the members of different status groups. For example, around the holidays a Jewish family may celebrate Hanukkah while a Christian family may celebrate Christmas. Other cultural differences such as language and cultural rituals identify members of different status groups.

Smaller groups exist inside of one status group. For instance, one can belong to a status group based on one's race and a social class based on financial ranking. This may cause strife for the individual in this situation when he or she feels they must choose to side with either their status group or their social class. For example, a wealthy African American man who feels he has to take a side on an issue on which the opinions of poor African Americans and wealthy white Americans are divided and finds his class and status group opposed.

Values and norms

Values can be defined as "internal criteria for evaluation". Values are also split into two categories, there are individual values, which pertains to something that we think has worth and then there are social values. Social values are our desires modified according to ethical principles or according to the group, we associate with: friends, family, or co-workers. Norms tell us what people ought to do in a given situation. Unlike values, norms are enforced externally – or outside of oneself. A society as a whole determines norms, and they can be passed down from generation to generation.

Power and authority

An exception to the idea of values and norms as social order-keepers is deviant behavior. Not everyone in a society abides by a set of personal values or the group's norms all the time. For this reason, it is generally deemed necessary for a society to have authority. The adverse opinion holds that the need for authority stems from social inequality. It is recognized that effective social justice and the need for authoritative social control are inversely related.

In societies, those who hold positions of power and authority are among the upper class. Norms differ for each class because the members of each class were raised differently and hold different sets of values. Tension can form, therefore, between the upper class and lower class when laws and rules are put in place that does not conform to the values of both classes.

Spontaneous order

The order does not necessarily need to be controlled by the government. Individuals pursuing self-interest can make predictable systems. These systems, being planned by more than one person, may actually be preferable to those planned by a single person. This means that predictability may be possible to achieve without a central government's control. These stable expectations do not necessarily lead to individuals behaving in ways that are considered beneficial to group welfare. Considering this, Thomas Schelling studied neighborhood racial segregation. His findings suggest that interaction can produce predictability, but it does not always increase social order. In his researching, he found that "when all individuals pursue their own preferences, the outcome is segregation rather than integration," as stated in "Theories of Social Order", edited by Michael Hechter and Christine Horne.

Social honor

Social honor can also be referred to as social status. It is considered the distribution of prestige or "the approval, respect, admiration, or deference a person or group is able to command by virtue of his or its imputed qualities or performances". The case most often is that people associate social honor with the place a person occupies with material systems of wealth and power. Since most of the society finds wealth and power desirable, they respect or envy people that have more than they do. When social honor is referred to as social status, it deals with the rank of a person within the stratification system. Status can be achieved, which is when a person position is gained on the basis of merit or in other words by achievement and hard work or it can be ascribed, which is when a person position is assigned to individuals or groups without regard for merit but because of certain traits beyond their control, such as race, sex, or parental social standing. An example of ascribed status is Kate Middleton who married a prince. An example of achieved status is Oprah Winfrey, an African American woman from poverty who worked her way to being a billionaire.[3]


Two different theories exist that explain and attempt to account for social order. The first theory is "order results from a large number of independent decisions to transfer individual rights and liberties to a coercive state in return for its guarantee of security for persons and their property, as well as its establishment of mechanisms to resolve disputes," as stated in Theories of Social Order by Hechter and Horne. The next theory is that "the ultimate source of social order as residing not in external controls but in a concordance of specific values and norms that individuals somehow have managed to internalize." also stated in Theories of Social Order by Hechter and Horne. Both arguments for how social order is attained are very different. One argues that it is achieved through outside influence and control, and the other argues that it can only be attained when the individual willingly follows norms and values that they have grown accustomed to and internalized. Weber's insistence on the importance of domination and symbolic systems in social life was retained by Pierre Bourdieu, who developed the idea of social orders, ultimately transforming it into a theory of fields.

See also


  1. ^ Deji, Olanike F. (2011). Gender and Rural Development: Introduction. LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 978-3643901033 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Sociology: Tenth Edition by Rodney Stark, 114
  3. ^ Joseph R. Gusfield (1986). Symbolic crusade: status politics and the American temperance movement. University of Illinois Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0252013126 – via Google Books.

Further reading

Character (arts)

A character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, play, television series, film, or video game). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "fictional" versus "real" character may be made. Derived from the ancient Greek word χαρακτήρ, the English word dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person". In literature, characters guide readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practiced by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.A character who stands as a representative of a particular class or group of people is known as a type. Types include both stock characters and those that are more fully individualised. The characters in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1891) and August Strindberg's Miss Julie (1888), for example, are representative of specific positions in the social relations of class and gender, such that the conflicts between the characters reveal ideological conflicts.The study of a character requires an analysis of its relations with all of the other characters in the work. The individual status of a character is defined through the network of oppositions (proairetic, pragmatic, linguistic, proxemic) that it forms with the other characters. The relation between characters and the action of the story shifts historically, often miming shifts in society and its ideas about human individuality, self-determination, and the social order.


Ethnomethodology is the study of methods people use for understanding and producing the social order in which they live. It generally seeks to provide an alternative to mainstream sociological approaches. In its most radical form, it poses a challenge to the social sciences as a whole. On the other hand, its early investigations led to the founding of conversation analysis, which has found its own place as an accepted discipline within the academy. According to Psathas, it is possible to distinguish five major approaches within the ethnomethodological family of disciplines (see § Varieties).Ethnomethodology provides methods which have been used in ethnographic studies to produce accounts of people's methods for negotiating everyday situations. It is a fundamentally descriptive discipline which does not engage in the explanation or evaluation of the particular social order undertaken as a topic of study. However, applications have been found within many applied disciplines, such as software design and management studies.

Islamic religious police

Islamic religious police is an official vice squad which enforces religious observance and public morality on behalf of national or regional authorities based on its interpretation of sharia. The practice is generally justified with reference to the doctrine of hisba, which is based on the Quranic injunction of enjoining good and forbidding wrong, and refers to the duty of Muslims to promote moral rectitude and intervene when another Muslim is acting wrongly. In pre-modern Islam, its legal implementation was entrusted to a public official called muhtasib (market inspector), who was charged with preventing fraud, disturbance of public order and infractions against public morality. The office was revived in Saudi Arabia, and latter instituted as a committee, aided by a volunteer force focused on enforcing religious observance. Similar institutions later appeared in several other countries and regions. Powers and responsibilities of Islamic religious police have varied from country to country, with the latter commonly including enforcing Islamic dress code and prayer attendance, as well as preventing consumption of alcohol and public interactions seen as infringing on Islamic sexual norms.

Islamic religious police organizations have been controversial both locally and internationally. Although these institutions tend to have support from conservative currents of public opinion, their activities are often disliked by other segments of the population, especially liberals, urban women, and younger people. Reforms made by Saudi rulers in 2016 sharply curtailed the authority of the Saudi religious police. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has criticized Iran's religious police, but he does not have control over it under the constitution. In the Nigerian state of Kano, the religious police has had a contentious relationship with the civil police force. Some incidents where the religious police were widely viewed as overstepping their mandate have received broad public condemnation.

Law enforcement agency

A law enforcement agency (LEA), in North American English, is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.

Outside North America, such organizations are usually called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police, others are known as sheriff's offices/departments, while investigative police services in the United States are often called bureaus, for example the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Libertarian theories of law

Libertarian theories of law build upon classical liberal and individualist doctrines.

The defining characteristics of libertarian legal theory are its insistence that the amount of governmental intervention should be kept to a minimum and the primary functions of law should be enforcement of contracts and social order, though social order is often seen as a desirable side effect of a free market rather than a philosophical necessity.

Historically, the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek is the most important libertarian legal theorist. Another important predecessor was Lysander Spooner, a 19th-century American individualist anarchist and lawyer. John Locke was also an influence on libertarian legal theory (see Two Treatises of Government).

Ideas range from anarcho-capitalism to a minimal state providing physical protection and enforcement of contracts. Some advocate regulation, including the existence of a police force, military, public land and public infrastructure. Geolibertarians oppose absolute ownership of land on Georgist grounds.

Medieval commune

Medieval communes in the European Middle Ages had sworn allegiances of mutual defense (both physical defense and of traditional freedoms) among the citizens of a town or city. These took many forms and varied widely in organization and makeup.

Communes are first recorded in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, thereafter becoming a widespread phenomenon. They had greater development in central-northern Italy, where they became city-states based on partial democracy. At the same time in Germany they became free cities, independent from local nobility.

Quadragesimo anno

Quadragesimo anno (Latin for "In the 40th Year") is an encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum. Unlike Leo XIII, who addressed the condition of workers, Pius XI discusses the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He describes the major dangers for human freedom and dignity arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian socialism/communism. He also calls for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Essential contributors to the formulation of the encyclical Quadragesimo anno were the German Jesuits, Roman Catholic theologians and social philosophers Gustav Gundlach and the Königswinter Circle through one of its main authors Oswald von Nell-Breuning.

Republican Party of the Social Order

The Republican Party of the Social Order (Portuguese: Partido Republicano da Ordem Social, PROS) is a political party in Brazil, founded in 2010, and officially recognized in 2013.In the 2018 Brazilian general election, PROS allied with the Workers Party and the Communist Party of Brazil to support the Presidential pre-candidacy of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and former Mayor of São Paulo Fernando Haddad. After Lula was declared ineligible to contest the election, PROS supported Haddad and his running mate Manuela d'Ávila as part of the alliance "The People Happy Again," remaining allied with PT and PCdoB.


A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized but not defined by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.Rituals are a feature of all known human societies. They include not only the worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but also rites of passage, atonement and purification rites, oaths of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, coming of age ceremony or rites, coronations and presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals, school "rush" traditions and graduations, club meetings, sporting events, Halloween parties, veterans parades, Christmas shopping and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for concrete purposes, such as jury trials, execution of criminals, and scientific symposia, are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or tradition, and thus partly ritualistic in nature. Even common actions like hand-shaking and saying "hello" may be termed rituals.

The field of ritual studies has seen a number of conflicting definitions of the term. One given by Kyriakidis is that a ritual is an outsider's or "etic" category for a set activity (or set of actions) that, to the outsider, seems irrational, non-contiguous, or illogical. The term can be used also by the insider or "emic" performer as an acknowledgement that this activity can be seen as such by the uninitiated onlooker.

In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder.

Social change

Social change involves alteration of the social order of a society. It may include changes in social institutions, social behaviours or social relations.

Social revolution

Social revolutions are sudden changes in the structure and nature of society. These revolutions are usually recognized as having transformed in society, culture, philosophy, and technology much more than political systems.Theda Skocpol in her article "France, Russia, China: A Structural Analysis of Social Revolutions" states that social revolution is a "combination of thoroughgoing structural transformation and massive class upheavals". She comes to this definition by combining Samuel P. Huntington's definition that it "is a rapid, fundamental, and violent domestic change in the dominant values and myths of society, in its political institutions, social structure, leadership, and government activities and policies" and Vladimir Lenin's, which is that revolutions are "the festivals of the oppressed...[who act] as creators of a new social order". She also states that this definition excludes many revolutions, because they fail to meet either or both of the two parts of this definition.Academics have identified certain factors that have mitigated the rise of revolutions. Many historians have held that the rise and spread of Methodism in Great Britain prevented the development of a revolution there. In addition to preaching the Christian Gospel, John Wesley and his Methodist followers visited those imprisoned, as well as the poor and aged, building hospitals and dispensaries which provided free healthcare for the masses. The sociologist William H. Swatos stated that "Methodist enthusiasm transformed men, summoning them to assert rational control over their own lives, while providing in its system of mutual discipline the psychological security necessary for autonomous conscience and liberal ideals to become internalized, an integrated part of the 'new men' ... regenerated by Wesleyan preaching." The practice of temperance among Methodists, as well as their rejection of gambling, allowed them to eliminate secondary poverty and accumulate capital. Individuals who attended Methodist chapels and Sunday schools "took into industrial and political life the qualities and talents they had developed within Methodism and used them on behalf of the working classes in non-revolutionary ways." The spread of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, author and professor Michael Hill states, "filled both a social and an ideological vacuum" in English society, thus "opening up the channels of social and ideological mobility ... which worked against the polarization of English society into rigid social classes." The historian Bernard Semmel argues that "Methodism was an antirevolutionary movement that succeeded (to the extent that it did) because it was a revolution of a radically different kind" that was capable of effecting social change on a large scale.

Social threefolding

Social threefolding is a sociological theory suggesting the progressive independence of society's economic, political and cultural institutions. It aims to foster human rights and equality in political life, freedom in cultural life (art, science, religion, education, the media), and associative cooperation in economic life. The idea was first proposed by Rudolf Steiner in the great cultural ferment immediately following the end of the First World War.

Steiner suggested the cooperative independence of these three societal realms could either be achieved through a gradual transformation of existing societal structures, or through a "clean sweep" at a "big scale." Steiner believed that the three social spheres had very gradually, over thousands of years, been growing independent of each other, and would naturally tend to continue to do so, and that consciously furthering aspects of this independence thus works in accordance with society's natural evolution.

Steiner held it to be socially destructive when one of the three spheres attempts to dominate the others; for example, theocracy means a cultural impulse dominates economy and politics; unregulated and socially irresponsible varieties of capitalism allow economic interests to dominate politics, culture and media; and state socialism means political agendas dominate culture and economic life. A more specific example: Arthur Salter, 1st Baron Salter suggests governments frequently fail when they begin to give "discretionary, particularly preferential privileges to competitive industry." The goal is for this independence to arise in such a way that those three realms can provide mutual balance.

Many concrete reform proposals to advance a "threefold social order" at various scales have been advanced since 1919. Some intentionally cooperative businesses and organizations, mostly in Europe, have attempted to realize a balance between the three spheres, within local structures. Waldorf schools deserve special mention in this regard. Another application has been the creation of various socially responsible banks and foundations. Bernard Lievegoed incorporated significant aspects of social threefolding in his work on organizational development.

Survival film

The survival film is a film genre in which one or more characters make an effort at physical survival. It often overlaps with other film genres. It is a subgenre of the adventure film, along with swashbuckler films, war films, and safari films. Survival films are darker than most other adventure films which usually focus their storyline on a single character, usually the protagonist. The films tend to be "located primarily in a contemporary context" so film audiences are familiar with the setting, meaning the characters' activities are less romanticized.In a 1988 book, Thomas Sobchack compared the survival film to romance: "They both emphasize the heroic triumph over obstacles which threaten social order and the reaffirmation of predominant social values such as fair play and respect for merit and cooperation." The author said survival films "identify and isolate a microcosm of society", such as the surviving group from the plane crash in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) or those on the overturned ocean liner in The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Sobchack explained, "Most of the time in a survival film is spent depicting the process whereby the group, cut off from the securities and certainties of the ordinary support networks of civilized life, forms itself into a functioning, effective unit." The group often varies in types of characters, sometimes to the point of caricature. While women have historically been stereotyped in such films, they "often play a decisive role in the success or failure of the group".

Tamil honorifics

In Tamil, honorifics (Tamil: முறை, muṟai) governs daily speech and register of both written and spoken communication. Traditionally, Tamil has been classified into two registers viz செந்தமிழ் (Centamiḻ) meaning 'classical' or 'pure ' Tamil and கொடுந்தமிழ் (Koṭuntamiḻ) meaning 'corrupt' Tamil. A huge feature of this difference is honorifics. Tamil honorifics usually are suffixes, although prefixes are not uncommon.


Themis (; Ancient Greek: Θέμις) is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "[the Lady] of good counsel", and is the personification of divine order, fairness, law, natural law, and custom. Her symbols are the Scales of Justice, tools used to remain balanced and pragmatic. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the Greek verb títhēmi (τίθημι), meaning "to put".

To the ancient Greeks she was originally the organizer of the "communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies". Moses Finley remarked of themis, as the word was used by Homer in the 8th century BCE, to evoke the social order of the 10th- and 9th-century Greek Dark Ages:

Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, for example) with little of the idea of right.

Finley adds, "There was themis—custom, tradition, folk-ways, mores, whatever we may call it, the enormous power of 'it is (or is not) done'. The world of Odysseus had a highly developed sense of what was fitting and proper."


A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved throughout history. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase "God, King, and Country". Tories generally advocate monarchism, and were historically of a high church Anglican religious heritage, opposed to the liberalism of the Whig faction.

The philosophy originates from the Cavalier faction, a royalist group during the English Civil War. The Tories political faction that emerged in 1681 was a reaction to the Whig-controlled Parliaments that succeeded the Cavalier Parliament. It also has exponents in other parts of the former British Empire, such as the Loyalists of British America, who opposed American secession during the American War of Independence. The loyalists that fled to the Canadas at the end of the American Revolution, the United Empire Loyalists, formed the support base for political cliques in Upper and Lower Canada. Toryism remains prominent in Canada and the United Kingdom. The British Conservative Party and Conservative Party of Canada, and their members, continue to be referred to as Tories.

The term Tory is used regardless of whether they are traditionalists or not. Adherents to traditional Toryism in contemporary times are referred to as High Tories. The terms Blue Tory and Red Tory have been used to describe the two different factions of the federal and provincial Conservative/Progressive Conservative parties in Canada. In addition, Pink Tory is used in Canadian politics as a pejorative term to describe a member of the Conservative/Progressive Conservative party who is perceived as liberal.


Vaishya is one of the four varnas of the Hindu social order in the Indian subcontinent. Vaishyas are third in distinction of the four Hindu castes, comprising mainly the merchants, business or trade professions.

Vietnam People's Public Security

The People's Public Security of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Công an Nhân dân Việt Nam) is the main police and security force of Vietnam, under control of the Ministry of Public Security. It is a part of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces and under the de facto control of Communist Party of Vietnam. This force was created on 19 August 1945. It is composed of 2 service branches, the Vietnam People's Security Force and the Vietnam People's Police Force.

William Temple (bishop)

William Temple (15 October 1881 – 26 October 1944) was a bishop in the Church of England. He served as Bishop of Manchester (1921–29), Archbishop of York (1929–42) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1942–44).

A renowned teacher and preacher, Temple is perhaps best known for his 1942 book Christianity and Social Order, which set out an Anglican social theology and a vision for what would constitute a just post-war society. He is also noted for being one of the founders of the Council of Christians and Jews in 1942. He is the last Archbishop of Canterbury to have died while in office.

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