Introduction Sociologyis the scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships,social interaction, and culture (Gordon, 1998 and Collins English Dictionary, 2012).
It attempts to explain and understand the behaviours of human beings in thesociety (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008). More importantly, Sociology is a socialscience that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysisto develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change(Ashley and Orenstein, 2005). The term Sociologywas coined by Frenchman Auguste Compte in the 1830s when he proposed asynthetic science uniting all knowledge about human activity (Craig and Calhun,2002).
The discipline emerged at this time as the science of society, toexplain the prevailing chaotic situation in Europe as a result of the Frenchand Industrial revolutions. Arguably,social order is a core theoretical issue in sociology (Hechter and Horne, 2001).This is because human beings are both individual and social, and as such, forsocial order to arise and be maintained, human beings must be able to coordinatetheir actions and cooperate to attain common goals. Social order can be viewedfrom the perception of people being able to coerce others into obedience, someform of general agreement among the members of the society and a form of bargainswith each other for both individual and collective advantage (Kurawa, 2011). Socialorder also refers to the ways in which societies remain sufficiently stable toenable co-ordinated productive and cultural activity. This is because; thehuman society consists of a large variety of personalities and identities andas such, social order helps to conserve, maintain and enforce the normal waysof relating and behaving in the society. Accordingto Irwin, McGrimmo and Simpson (2006), social order can only be possible ifindividuals forgo the narrow pursuit of self-interest for the greater good ofall thus, explanations of social order, of how and why societies cohere, arethe central concern of sociology.
Crossman (2013) for example viewed socialorder from different sociological approaches. For example, Thomas Hobbes isrecognized as the first to clearly formulate the problem, to answer which heconceived the notion of a social contract. Other social theorists as Karl Marx,Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Jurgen Habermas have also proposeddifferent explanations for what social order is. This paper therefore wouldtoll this path, as it tends to explore these sociological approaches with aview to unravelling how social order exists in the society. Thomas Hobbes Social ContractThomasHobbes (1588–1679) in his book commonly referred to as Leviathan published in1651 Newey (2008) and Brown (2012) on social contract, originated during theage of enlightenment, which typically addresses the questions of the origin ofsociety and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual (Gough,1936). The central focus of social contract arguments is that individuals haveconsented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedomsand submit to the authority of the ruler in exchange for protection of theirremaining rights.
This means that social order is maintained in the society asa result of the symbiotic relationship between individuals and the government.In this case, an exchange of individual right is given for protection by thegovernment to maintain social order.Accordingto the social contract theory, human condition is absent in any political order,this, Thomas Hobbes termed as the stateof nature (Ross, 2003). In this condition, individuals’ actions are boundonly by their personal power and conscience. Therefore, from this sharedstarting point, social contract seek to demonstrate, in different ways, whyrational individuals would voluntarily consent to give up their natural freedomto obtain the benefits of political order.Karl Marx ClassConflictKarlMarx (1818–1883), a German born philosopher in his Communist Manifesto, arguedthat a class is formed when its members achieve class consciousness andsolidarity. Marx viewed the structure of society in relation to its majorclasses, and the struggle between them as the engine of change in thisstructure (Rummel, 1977). Marx saw class divisions as the most important sourceof social conflict.
The theory asserts that an individual’s position within aclass hierarchy is determined by his or her role in the production process, andargues that political and ideological consciousness is determined by classposition (Parkin, 1979).WithinMarxian class theory, the structure of the production process forms the basisof class construction. Marxdistinguishes one class from another on the basis of two criteria: ownership ofthe means of production and control of the labour power of others. However, given the maturation ofcapitalism, the life conditions of bourgeoisie and proletariat began to growmore disparate.
This increased polarization and homogenization within classesfostered an environment for individual struggles to become more generalized.When increasing class conflict is manifested at the societal level, classconsciousness and common interests are also increased. Marxbelieved that this class conflict would result in the overthrow of thebourgeoisie and that the private property would be communally owned. Durkheim’s Mechanicaland Organic SolidarityEmileDurkheim (1858-1917) in his Mechanical and organic solidarity focused on thesocial cohesiveness of small, undifferentiated societies (mechanical) and ofsocieties differentiated by a relatively complex division of labour (organic).According to Durkheim, mechanical solidarity is the social integration ofmembers of a society who have common values and beliefs.
These common valuesand beliefs constitute a “collective conscience” that works internally inindividual members to cause them to cooperate. Incontrast, organic solidarity is social integration that arises out of the needof individuals for one another’s services. In a society characterized byorganic solidarity, there is relatively greater division of labour, withindividuals functioning much like the interdependent but differentiated organsof a living body. Society relies less on imposing uniform rules on everyone andmore on regulating the relations between different groups and persons, oftenthrough the greater use of contracts and laws. Durkheim theorized thatmechanical integration and organic integration were key factors in themanagement and glue holding society together. Hisfunctionalist views identified harmony as necessary for a society to exist. Mechanical integration consists of thecommon beliefs, mores, practices, and systems that a society shares. Kinshipand relationships among the people are considered mechanical integration.
Whena person attempts to shift mores, the social practices and opinions of thosearound the person play a role in preventing the shift by holding steadfast tothe established mores. Engaging in a deviant behaviour leads to punishment. Asa society enlarges and expands, there is a need for organized labour divisionto assist members in developing and maintaining the needs of society.Therefore, society creates an interdependence in which one person must rely onthe skills of another person to function. For example, the legal system becomesthe determinant of the outcome of acts of deviance in the society and isstructured around restitution and principles of exchange. Emile Durkheim wasconcerned with the question of how certain societies maintain internalstability and survive over time. He proposed that such societies tend to besegmented, with equivalent parts held together by shared values, common symbols,systems of exchanges.
Durkheimused the term mechanical solidarity torefer to these types of social bondsbased on common sentiments & shared moral values, which are strong amongmembers of pre-industrial societies. In modern, complex societies, membersperform very different tasks, resulting in a strong interdependence. Based onthe metaphor above of an organism in which many parts function together tosustain the whole, Durkheim argued that complex societies are held together byorganic solidarity, i.e. social bonds,based on specialization and interdependence, that are strong among members ofindustrial societies (Macionis, 2011).
Parsons’ StructuralFunctionalismTalcottParsons (1951) functionalism based on the ideas of cause and effect, part–wholeand necessary condition, marks the beginning of functionalism as a formaltheory and method in sociology (Toshiki, 2011). Structural functionalism is abroad perspective in sociology which sets out to interpret society as astructure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a wholein terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs,traditions and institutions. A common analogy, popularized by Herbert Spencer,presents these parts of society as organsthat work toward the proper functioning of the body as a whole (Urry, 2000). In the most basic terms, it simplyemphasises the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature,custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable,cohesive system (Bourricaud, 1984).Parsons’structural functionalism is a framework for building theory that sees societyas a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity andstability (Macionis, 2010).
This approach looks at society through amacro-level orientation, which is a broad focus on the social structures thatshape society as a whole and believes that society has evolved like organisms (DeRosso, 2003). Taking a cue from acommon analogy, popularized by Herbert Spencer, Parson presents these parts ofsociety as organs that work towardthe proper functioning of the body as a whole (Urry,2000). In the most basicterms, it simply emphasizes the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, toeach feature, custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of asupposedly stable, cohesive system.Habermas’sCommunicative ActionThetheory of Communicative Action was developed by German philosopher-sociologistJurgen Habermas. The theory proposes that, communicative action is cooperativeaction undertaken by individuals based upon mutual deliberation andargumentation. Communicativeaction for Habermas is possible given human capacity for rationality. Thisrationality, however, is no longer tied to, and limited by, the subjectivityand individualistic premises of modern philosophy and social theory (Habermas,1984); instead, Habermas proposes rationality as a capacity inherent withinlanguage, especially in the form of argumentation.
Argumentationin this context refers to the type of speech in which participants thematizecontested validity claims and attempt to vindicate or criticize them throughargumentation. According toHabermas, the structures of argumentative speech, which Habermas identifies asthe absence of coercive force, the mutual search for understanding, and thecompelling power of the better argument, forms the key features from whichintersubjective rationality can make communication possible. Action undertakenby participants through a process of such argumentative communication can beassessed as to their rationality to the extent which they fulfil thosecriteria. Communicative actionis action based upon this deliberative process, where two or more individualsinteract and coordinate their action based upon agreed interpretations of thesituation