Sociology Class 11 Notes Chapter 2 Terms, Concepts and their Use in Sociology


Sociology Class 11 Notes Chapter 2 Terms, Concepts and their Use in Sociology

  • As opposed to commonsensical knowledge, Sociology like any other science has its own body of concepts, theories and methods of data collection.
  • Asa social science, Sociology does need to have certain agreed upon meanings of social realities and processes it is studying.
  • Sociological concepts help in defining as well as in understanding social realities.It becomes all the more important to discuss sociological terms so as to distinguish what they mean from commonsensical usage which may have varied meanings and connotations.
  • Some of the basic concepts used in Sociology are:

Social Group:
A social group is a collection of two or more persons who are continuously interacting and share common interests and a sense of loyalty within a given society. It has the following characteristics:

  • Persistent interaction among its members.
  • A shared sense of belonging amongst its members.
  • Shared interests.
  • Acceptance of Common norms and values.
  • Membership of the group may be formal or informal.

Difference between a social group and other forms of collectivities (Quasi-Groups) All forms of human gatherings and collectivities do not constitute a social group. A social group is different from the related concepts of Aggregates and Social Category. Aggregates are collection of people who temporarily share the same physical space but do not see themselves as belonging together and do not have sustained or persistent interaction

For example: A crowd, or a number of commuters stuck in a traffic jam.
Social Category: It refers to a statistical grouping of people or classification of people on the basis of similar characteristics. For example, all men having the same occupation, or all girls having a height of 5 ft. and above.

Unlike a social group, people who make up a social category do not interact with one another. In fact, they may not even know of each other’s existence.

Both Aggregates as well as Social Category are quasi-groups which can sometimes become a social group over time. For example, all domestic workers in a locality may over time form a union and become organized and develop a. common identity as a social group.

Types of Social Group:
Different sociologists have classified social groups differently. In their classifications they take different criterion into account.
Primary Group and Secondary Group on basis of size/type of relationship.

It is the most well known classification given by Cooley on the basis of size and type of relationship shared among its members.

Primary Group Secondary Group
(i) Primary group is small group of people. (i) Secondary group is relatively large in size.
(ii) It is characterized by intimate, face face, and emotional relationships. (ii) It is marked by formal, and impersonal relationships
(iii)  For example, family and peer group (iii) For example, Club, Residents Welfare Association

Primary groups are “primary” because they are central in our lives and they play an important role in influencing our lives. Very often Primary groups are formed within the orbit of secondary groups. For example, a group of friends within an office.

In-Group and Out Group—not on basis of size but sense of belonging/attachment. Classification of In-Group and Out-Group has nothing to do with size.

In Group Out Group
(i) The group with which an individual identifies himself/herself, has a sense of belonging with. (i) A group to which an individual feels individual has no sense of belonging/ identification.
(ii) It is a “we-group”. (ii) It is a “they group”.
(iii) There is a sense of attachment members of In-group. (iii) There is a sense of indifference and at times may be even hostility towards members of out-group

Reference Group: It is that group to which we do not belong but we aspire to be like them and therefore we try to emulate their lifestyles. For example, for many Indian youths, Americans or Bollywood stars are a reference group.

Peer Group: A type of primary group composed of individuals who are either of similar age or who share a common profession. Peer groups have a very strong influence on the life of an individual.

Status And Role:
Status: It is refers to the position an individual occupies in a group or in society. Each status has certain defined rights and duties assigned to it. Examples of status—Doctor, mother, teacher etc.

Status set: Each individual occupies status in the society. The totality of the status occupied by an individual in the society is called a Status Set. For example, the status set of Nimisha is – daughter, friend, student, sister, club member etc.

Prestige: Status has a certain amount of prestige or social value attached to it. Prestige is attached to the status (social position) rather than to the person occupying it. Example, prestige of a doctor may be higher than that of a shopkeeper even if the earning of the doctor is lesser than that of the shopkeeper.

Status is of two types: Ascribed Status and Achieved Status

Achieved Status Ascribed Status
(i) It is achieved by an individual on merit and effort (i) It is assigned to us on the basis of birth, biological inheritance, parents’ status etc.
(ii) It is based on individual’s choice (ii) A person does not choose this status.
(iii) It can change qualifications, income etc. (iii) It is difficult to change status
(v) It plays an important role in modern societies
Eg. Class
(iv) It plays an important role in traditional societies.
Eg. Caste

Status and role are inter-connected because role is the behavioural aspect of status. It is the expected behaviour associated with a status. For example, the status of a student has certain expected behaviour attached to it. However, while a status is occupied, role is played.

Role Conflict: Each individual performs a number of roles in society. Role conflict occurs when performance of one role conflicts with that of another. Eg. Modern working woman very often finds that her role as a professional conflicts with that of a mother and wife.

Role Stereotyping:
It refers to reinforcing of certain roles. For example, the role of breadwinner for the husband and that of homemaker for the wife is often stereotyped in ads and films.

Social roles and status are not fixed. People do make efforts to change the role and status (even ascribed status) assigned to them by society. For example, Dalits have been opposing the low status assigned to them on the basis of caste.

Social Stratification:
According to Giddens, social stratification refers to division of members of a society into different social categories or strata which are ranked into a hierarchy, according to their
relative power, prestige and wealth.
According to Tumin, “Social stratification refers to arrangement of society into hierarchies of strata of social categories that command unequal amounts of property, power and honour.” Social stratification is not an individual fact, it is rather a social fact. It refers to the ranking of a large number of individuals into hierarchically organized strata. It has little to do with individual merit/abilities and more to do with socially patterned inequalities.
Major systems of stratification include:

  • Caste
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Slavery
  • Estate

The privileges or social rewards enjoyed by any individual depends upon his or her caste, class, gender and position in society.

Social stratification and natural differences:
Stratification systems have a social and not a biological bases. They are socially created inequalities. Social inequality occurs when biological differences are culturally assigned and subjected to prejudices.

For example, racism and gender based equalities have little to do with biological differences. Blacks are not “naturally unfit” for high ranking jobs, neither a woman “naturally inferior” in intellectual abilities.

Another example is that of old age. Old age is evaluated differently in different societies. In traditional societies, old age is given power and prestige, but in modern societies old age is not associated with much respect.

Social Mobility:
It refers to the movement of individuals and groups between different socio-economic positions.
Open and closed systems of stratification:

Open System of Stratification Closed system of Stratification
 1. Social mobility is easy. 1. There is limited social mobility,if at all.
 2. Individual position in the society depends on achieved status. 2. Individual position is based on ascribed status.
3. It is prominent in modem societies 3. It is prominent in traditional societies
4. Example – class 4. Example – caste, slavery

Class as a System of Stratification:

  • Class refers to a group based on sharing of similar economic resources, that is, wealth, income or property.
  • Members of the same class share:
    • Similar economic interests so that they may form organizations. For example, Trade Unions are formed by factory workers in an industrial society.
    • They share similar lifestyles.
  • They would also share similar life chances as they have similar kinds of access to health, education etc.

Features of class:

  • As opposed to caste system, class does not have any religious or legal sanction.
  • It is an open system of stratification. Social mobility is relatively easy.
  • Membership of class is primarily based on achieved status.

Caste as a System of Stratification:

  • Caste refers to inequalities in terms of social honour/prestige.
  • Castes are ascriptive groups, membership to which is determined by birth.
  • Each caste is ranked as higher or lower as compared to the others in the social hierarchy.

It is an institutional characteristic of Hindu society, but it has spread to other non-Hindu communities too such as the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. Although it was very important in traditional India it holds its way in modern India too in political as well as social life.

Origin of Caste and Varna Scheme:
There are no authentic historical records to show the exact age of caste system. The caste system stood for different things in different time periods.

In facts, it is believed that the caste system originated in the varna system of the Rig Vedic society. In its earliest phase (the late Vedic period between 900-500 BC), the caste system was actually the Varna system.

Varna system:
Varna literally means “colour”. The Varna system divided the Hindu society into four categories on the basis of occupation and colour.

  • Brahmins-priests
  • Kshatriyas-warriors and kings
  • Vaishyas-traders
  • Shudras-service castes like artisans, peasants etc.

(The so called “untouchables” or the panchamas – the fifth category – were outside the varna scheme). Initially these divisions were not very rigid, they represented mere occupational division. Therefore, mobility across categories was possible. For example, Vishwamitra, a Kshatriya, became a Brahmin through achievements.

It is also believed by historians that the Varna system initially represented the division between the Aryans and the Dravidians.
In the Post Vedic period:

  • The number of sub-divisions within each Varna increased due to growth in trade and increasing specialization of labour. Consequently new sub-groups emerged within the Varna scheme.
  • Caste became rigid, i.e., it came to be defined on birth.
  • Each Varna (and its sub-divisions) was ranked hierarchically, with strict rules governing their life and relations between different castes.
  • The first three Varnas became the “twice born” castes.
  • The rigid and hierarchical division of society got religious justification throughthe ancient religious texts like the Dharmashastras as well as the Manusmritis. These texts set out caste rules, unequal duties of the four Varnas and their sub-divisions. In fact the religious notions of Karma and Dharma strengthened the caste system.

Ideas of purity and pollution—In traditional India, the caste hierarchy was based on ideas of “purity and pollution” derived from the religious texts. It was believed that the “most pure” Brahmins are close to sacred, and therefore are superior to all others. The “Untouchables” are the “most polluting” and therefore the most inferior. Even the mere touch of the Brahmin was considered to be pure while everything related to the so-called untouchables’ touch, shadow, and occupation – was “impure”.

Features of Caste
It is important to note that the above-mentioned features are only the prescribed rules found in ancient texts. We have no firm evidence telling us the way. These rules actually or empirically determined the life of different castes.

  • Caste is ascribed: Caste is determined by birth.
  •  A person is bom into the caste of one’s parents. Caste is not a matter of choice. One can not change one’s caste or leave it.
  • Caste is endogamous, i.e., marriage is restricted to members of the group.
  • Strict rules about food and food sharing: Caste membership involves rules about food and food sharing, what kind of foods may or may not be eaten is prescribed and whom one may share food with is also prescribed.
  • Hierarchy of rank and status: All castes are arranged in a hierarchy of rank and status while the hierarchical position of many castes may vary from region to region.
  • Segmental organization: Caste involves sub-divisions within themselves, that is, caste almost always have sub-castes and sub-castes may have sub-sub castes.7. Traditionally linked to occupation: A person born into a caste could only practice the occupation associated with that caste. So, occupations were hereditary under caste system.

Varna and Jati:
Sociological studies of villages in 1950s-70s revealed that caste as it actually functions at local level is different from the Varna scheme.
Varna Jati, a broad pan-Indian aggregative are actually existing hierarchies at classification and is uniform throughout level, but varies from region to region.
In India there are only four Varnas —a complex division in each area.
There are actually hundreds of castes and sub-castes in contemporary Indian villages. Studies show that the caste system in contemporary India has two main aspects:
1. Ritual aspect: It is based on ideas of purity. It is derived from religious texts.
2. Secular aspect: It takes both the economic and political aspects into account. Therefore, caste position in local hierarchies depends on a number of factors.

  • Rituals and customs of a caste
  • Food habits (vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Pork eating or non-pork eating)
  • Occupation
  • Land holding.
  • Political power etc.

At local level, very often intermediate and lower level castes try to rise up in the caste hierarchy through the process of Sanskritisation.

  • Concept of Sanskritisation was introduced by Mr. M.N. Srinivas.
  • It refers to the process by which a “low” Hindu caste or tribe tries to achieve upward mobility in the local hierarchy by emulating the customs, rituals, and way of life of the “twice born castes”. For example, giving up liquor, taking up vegetarianism etc.

Dominant Caste:
Dominant caste is a term introduced by M.N. Srinivas to understand the process of change in rural India. Dominant castes are those intermediate castes (Dominant castes need not be Brahmins. In parts of Punjab, U.P. and Haryana non-Brahmin castes are dominant castes) that exercise domination at local or regional level is due to the presence of following characteristics:

  • Economic Power: They own large amount of cultivable land. A large number of them managed to get land rights after the Land reforms. They, therefore, dominate the agrarian economy. Also they have greater access to urban sources of income, western education and jobs in govt and administration.
  • Political Power: Dominant castes are numerically preponderant. This leads to dominance in regional politics. Examples of Dominant castes; Yadavs of Bihar and U.P., Reddys of Andhra Pradesh, Jats of Punjab and Haryana.

Social Control:
Society is a harmonious organisation of humans. Individuals are expected to discharge their roles and perform functions accordingly. In order to exist and progress society has to exercise a certain control over its members. Such controls are termed as social control. According to L.Bernard, “Social control is a process by which stimuli are brought to bear effectively upon some person or group of persons thus producing responses that function in adjustment to the group.”

Characteristics Of Social Control:
Social control has the following features:

  • It is an influence: The influence may be excessive through public opinion, question, social suggestion, religion, appeal to reason and any other method found suitable by the group.
  • The influence is exercised by society: It means that the group is better able to exercise influence over the individual than any single individual. The group may be the family, the church, the state, the club, the school, the trade union etc. The effectiveness of influence however depends upon variable factors. However sometimes the influences of the family may be vice-versa —the influence of the clan may be more effective than that of the church. The influence is exercised for promoting the welfare of the group. As a whole social control is exercised with some specific end in view. The end is always the others in the group thus an outing to the welfare of the whole group. The individual is made conscious of the other existence and their interest. Thus it is required to promote the interest of all.

Need for social control:
Social control is essential for the existence of society. Every individual has a separate personality. No two persons are
alike in their nature, ideas, interests, habits and attitudes. There is so much difference in the ways of living of the people
that at every moment there is a possibility of clash between them. Therefore, social control is necessary to protect the interests of all the people living in society.

To develop cooperative views:
With the help of social control individuals are able to come in contact with each other according to their interests, habits,
position and status. Thus they develop the cooperative nature which is the basic element for the development of society.

To provide social sanction:
Social control provides social sanction and social ways of behaviour. There are many norms and customs in every society. Every individual has to follow them. If an individual violates the social norms, he is compelled by the social control to observe them.

The above reasons show the need for social control. In modem society the need is greater.

Means and agencies of social control:
The means by which individuals are compelled to conform to the usages and life values of the group are numerous. The most important ones are custom, law, public opinion, religion, morality, social suggestion and norms.

Custom and Laws:
Custom, law and fashion play an important role in bringing about social control, out of them custom is an important means of controlling social behaviour and its importance in society cannot be minimised. They are very powerful and regulate social life. They are essential to the life of a society and are very dominant specially among illiterate people. They preserve our culture and transmit it to the succeeding generation. They bring people together and develop social relations among them. According to Bogardes, “Customs and traditions are group accepted techniques of control that have become well established, that are taken for granted and that are passed along from generation to generation.”
Characteristics of custom

  • Custom is a social phenomena.
  • Custom is socially recognized.
  • Custom is normative.
  • Custom has great social significance.
  • Custom maintains social order.
  • Custom is inherited.
  • Custom has an external sanction.

In primitive society, the norms and customs were sufficient to control the individual behaviour since there was an almost unquestioned compliance with them but in modern civilized societies custom tends to lose their hold with the result that laws are enacted by the state to control the individual. Sommer stated that laws’are actually codified customs and mores.

According to Macaiver and Page, “Law is the body of rules which are recognised, interpreted and applied to a particular situation by the courts of the state.”
Characteristics of Law

  • Laws are the general conditions of human activity prescribed by the state for its members.
  • It is a product of conscious and thorough planning and a deliberate formulation.
  • Law is definite, clear and precise.
  • They are equal to all without exception in identical circumstances.
  • The violation of law is followed by penalties determined by the authorities of the state .

Factors of social change:
There are numerous factors that bring about social change.
Sociology Class 11 Notes Chapter 1 Sociology and Society 1
Ecological factors:
Man has stepped into space but his control over geographical phenomena is negligible. Nature as if to prove its might has jnany a time shown its devastating power. Human history is full of examples where flourishing civilizations were wiped out by natural calamities e.g. Civilization of Mohen-jo-daro and Harappa are said to have been lost as a result of an earthquake. To a large extent the geographic conditions include the kind of clothes the people wear, food they eat, the language they speak etc. However, earthquakes, floods, storms and other natural events are known to change the social structure suddenly.

important terms:

  • Social groups: A number of individuals, defined by formal or informal criteria of membership, who share a feeling of unity or are bound together in relatively stable patterns of interaction are called social groups.
  • Social system: A system in any structured or patterned relationship between any number of elements, where the system forms a whole or unity.
  • Social trend: A notable pattern of change displayed by a social indicator or index.
  • Social work: A generic term applied to the various organised methods for promoting human welfare through the prevention and relief of suffering.
  • Socialization: A process by which we learn to become members of society, by internalizing the norms and values of society also by learning to perform our social roles.
  • Social problems: A generic term applied to the range of conditions and aberrant behaviors which are held to be manifestations of social disorganization and to warrant changing we mean social engineering.
  • Social order: Explanation of social order, of how and why societies where, are the control concern of sociology.
  • Social fact: Ways of thinking, feeling and acting that are experienced by individuals as external and constraining, and that are general throughout a social group.
  • Social control: It refers to the social processes by which the behavior of individuals or groups is regulated.
  • Social role: Social expectations attached to particular social positions and analyses the working of such expectations.
  • Ritual: An often repeated pattern of behavior which is performed at appropriate time.
  • Social status: It refers to the position that a person occupies in the social structure. It may be ascribed or achieved.
  • Identity: Distinctive characteristics of a person or character of a group which relate to why they are and what is meaningful to them.
  • Sanctions: A mode of reward or punishment that reinforces socially expected forms of behavior.
  • Norms: Written or unwritten rules of behavior which reflects cultural values.

Sociology Class 11 Notes


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