Introduction to Social Processes
In the organized social relationship of human groups, social processes take place. Social processes are repetitive forms of actions, patterns of social behaviors.
Social processes manifest themselves through various modes such as competition, conflict, cooperation, accommodation and assimilation. These processes take place on continuous basis at micro and macro levels. These modes of social processes are interrelated and each may yield the other, and they take place in cyclic manner. Social stratification, social mobility and social change are the three important aspects of social processes.
Social stratification refers to the classification of society into different social strata that involve inequalities or differences in lifestyle and living standards of people. They refer to power imbalance and unequal distribution of resources among people. The word stratification is
originally used in geology to differentiate one rock type from the other. By the same token, that is, society in general is segmented. There are two forms of social stratification. These are social class and caste system.
The former refers to a category of people belonging to the same stratum- having more or less similar socioeconomic standards. The latter is a closed and rigid kind of social stratification. The position or ranks of individuals in the stratum or groups is determined by age-old, traditional, religious values, norms and principles, which are strong and difficult to change.
Social mobility refers to the movement of individuals and groups in the social space. Physical mobility is not social mobility but may contribute to social mobility. Social mobility may be vertical or horizontal and intragenerational or intergenerational.
The other aspect of social processes is social change. The study of social change has been a major concern in the discipline of sociology. Sociologists are particularly interested in this dynamic aspect of social system. Social change refers to large-scale (significant) alterations in the organization and institution of a population (a society). A change which is limited to individuals or certain groups, families, etc, is not a social change although it is important. However, we cannot
dissociate social and cultural changes for they are interdependent; social change may bring with it cultural change, and vice versa.
There are many theoretical explanations of social change. Of this, structural-functionalist theory focuses on social order, consensus and stability. It states that social change occurs due to growth, complexity in social structure-due to growth in social differentiation.
Modernization theory focuses on the idea of modernization/Modernization is increasing ability to
master environment. According to this theory, change occurs in Third World societies when they make effort to imitate advanced western societies in various respects. The conflict school of thought stands against the school of structural functionalism. According to the latter, conflict is the main factor behind social change and is useful and necessary for change.