Sunday, May 20, 2012

Simmel and Society

What is Society?

Unlike the natural sciences, society is studied by elements from within it and emphasizes the significance of human interactions, not observable objects. Simmel argues that sociation, the creation of society, is revolves around human interaction. These interactions are motivated by both Freudian and moral objectives। A society is created when at least two individuals experience an interaction and is an association of free individuals. These interactions can be temporary or long term. Sociology's role is to study the forces, forms and development of sociation. As geometry is used to offer structure and insights into the physical science, sociology is to provide similar scientific structure to psychology, political science and other specialized fields that delve into the specialized topics by focusing on the forms of society.

Simmel notes that individuals are the elements of society and as more humans are introduced into a society, the dynamics of interactions between individuals change. He has clearly defined individual interaction within small societies by dyads and triads. Within a dyad, two individuals are able to maintain their identity as they interact with one another. There is not formal social structure and the individuals are able to dissolve this society by simply opting out of the relationship. Within triads, the group dynamic takes on a social structure that is independent of the individuals within it. Unlike dyads, members of triads inevitably experience competition, mediation or alliance.

As the size of a society increases, individuals gain more autonomy and are more independent of the society's structure. This is due to what Georg Simmel, David Frisby and Mike Featherstone describe as "the group's direct, inner unity loosens, and the rigidity of the original demarcation against others is softened through mutual relations and connections.” When society becomes large enough that individuals do not ascribe to the social structure established by society due to its elusive and undefined nature, smaller societal structures offer individuals connections, such as family, religious groups, sports teams, or political parties. Despite feelings of disconnectedness felt by some humans within large societies, large societies can offer its members more freedom of movement and action because these individuals are less tied to regimented demarcations of identity or obligated to fulfill specific roles within the society's division of labour.

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