| John Spacey, November 13, 2020 updated on April 13, 2023
Social structures are the elements of a society and the relationships between them. This is a limited type of view that is used to understand the parts of a society and how they fit together. This is analogous to the structural design of a building that shows you the floors and shape of the building but tells you nothing about what goes on inside. The following are common types of social structure with examples of each.
PoliticalThe structures that are used to make decisions as a society or group of societies. For example:
EconomicThe entities that play a role in economic production and distribution.
Regulatory & Tax Agencies
CulturalShared institutions that are potentially freely formed without state interference.
SocialThe structure of social groups.
Relational StructureListing out the entities as above can be considered a structure. It is also common to draw relationships between entities. This is often a simple hierarchy such as upper class → bourgeoisie → middle class → working class → lumpenproletariat.
MacrostructureThe top level structure of a society. These include very large entities such as "government."
MicrostructureIn practice, it is possible to view the structure of societies at many different levels. Where these list relatively small entities they are described as microstructure. For example, family structures such as grandparents, parents and children could be viewed as microstructure.
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