Socrates said, man is a social animal and being social
for man is both natural as well as necessary. There are
other animals, who also have an organised life, but the
social life of man is different from, them. Behaviour
among animals is instinctive and dies with the animal
but among men, behaviour is learned and, passed on
from one generation to another. This aspect is distinctive
of man and distinguishes him from other animals. This
characteristic binds all men together to behave in a
similar manner. They form an aggregate of people who
lead a similar way of life and there is also a similarity
in their behaviour and other activities. It is from this
aspect that Herskovits has defined society: “Society is
an organised, interacting aggregate of individuals who
follow a given way of life.” In simple words it can be
said that society is composed of people. Man studies
himself as a member of this aggregate of people that
we call society.
Comte characterizes society in terms of “social statics”
and “social dynamics”. referring to social stability as
well as social change. ‘Social statics” deals with
relatively stable and orderly aspects of social life,
e.g.,family life, marriage and kinship and social
institutions. Similarly ‘social dynamics’ focuses on the
changing aspects of social life, e.g., social changes, social
processes etc. In the context of social dynamics and
the changes that took place in society, Comte
emphasized that evolution of society passed’through
three stages, i.e. savagery, barbarism and civilization;
evolution of marriage and-family has passed through
proniiscuity, group marriage, polygamy and finally
monogamy. Likewise the evolution of religion .has
passed through the stages of animism, polytheism and
The question may arise why is it necessary for a man
to live in society or why is society necessary for man?
The answer to these queries can briefly be given as
1) Man has his needs and he chooses to meet or fulfill
these needs by himself; He can meet them while
being a member of society or while living in society.
The meeting of those needs is conditioned by the.
patterns of requirements and behaviour that we can
call culture. There. is a wide variety of variation in
meeting human needs from one society to another.
This variation makes one society different and unique
from other societies.
2) From the very beginning, i.e., from birth itself, man
needs the support of others. Initially he is dependent
upon others who provide who provide him help in
social and physical upbringing. His overall growth
and development is provided within and by the
organised social life. This is where the society has
its basic relevance. Though the society extends and
plays this role throughout the life of man, in the
initial phase of his life he needs it the most.
3) The society provides the understanding knowledge
and exposure to a man about his milieu and
environment. It is in society that man learn to
behave, to act, to respond and to play his requisite
tole for his environment and for the society of which
he is a member.
All these factors do not work independent of each other.
They have a cumulative effect. However, each factor
has its own significance. Further, there are some basic
elements of social organisation and ideology. These
elements contribute towards continuity and change and
proper functioning of the society.