Individuals in Societies

The relationship between individuals and societies is very close. Man is a social animal who lives in social groups in communities and in society. Man cannot live without society because man is a biological and psychological being equipped to live in groups. Human life and society almost go together. Society has become an essential condition for human life to arise and continue to live.

The relationship between individuals and societies is ultimately one of the profound of all the problems of social philosophy. It is more philosophical rather than sociological because it involves the question of values. Man depended on societies as a result of the society that is surrounded and encompassed by culture which is a societal force. It is in the society again that he has to conform to the norms, occupy statuses and become members of groups.

The questions of the relationship between the individual and the society is the starting point of many discussions. It is closely connected with the questions of the relationship of man and society. There are two main theories regarding the relationship between individual and society. They are the social contract theory and the organismic theory.

Relationship between individual and society

There would be no society if there were no people talking to one another, acting and interacting, cooperating with one another. But how to behave in one’s society or what is right and what is wrong in the society, all these things, one has to learn in the society. Each society has its own special set of rules, its own customs and traditions, its own set of values and beliefs, and each must teach its members to fit into the society. The idea of the society implies a mutual give -and -take process by the individuals concerned either in the form of mutual glances, waving of hands, greeting, handshake, conversation or the more subtle forms of give -and take such as letter writing, talking on the phone, e-mailing, internet chatting and participating in public affairs.

The relationship between individual and the society can be viewed from three angles

1 functionalist

2 interactionist, and

3 culture and personality

Functionalist view

Functionalist regard the individual as formed by society through the influence of such institutions as the family, school and workplace. Society is a reality, it is the origin and for all individuals. The collective consciousness showed the ways in which social interactions and relationship and ultimately society influence the individual’s attitudes, ideas, sentiments.

Interactionist views

As regards to interactionist view, it is through the interaction of people that society is formed; the main champion of this approach is built up out the interpretations of individuals. The structuralists or functionalist tend to approach the relationship of self-individual and society from the point of the influence of society on the individual. Interactionists on the other hand tend to work on self (individual) outwards, stressing that people create society.

Culture and personality

In reality, it is not society or the individual, but it is society and individual which helps in understanding the total reality. The extreme view of individuals or society has long been abandoned. for sociologist the present have recognized that neither society nor individual can exist without each other and that they are in reality different aspects of the same thing.

To conclude it, it can be stated that the relationship between society and individual is two-sided. Both go hand in hand, each is essentially dependent on the other. Both are interdependent on each other.

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