Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nadel's Contribution to Structural Functionalism

Nadel developed the theory of social structure in his book entitled Theory of Social Structure  in 1957.In his book Nadel pointed out that the concept of society may be viewed from two angles -action such as kinship and economics  and groupings such as family,clans.He also says that there are some social and cultural facts which fall outside the social and cultural scheme.These refer to an action autonomous.

Nadel held view that the concept of social structure is still in a sense on trial.The variety of definitions lead us to fear that it is a concept the width of whose usages renders it analytically fruitless.There are two choices open to us.We may remove the concept of structure from the vocabulary of anthropology on account of its lack of precision or we can attempt to narrowly define it by giving a specific and limited connotation.


According to Nadel structure is the formal relation of parts such that a set of data may be said to exhibit structure in as much as they exhibit a definable articulation,an ordered arrangements of parts.The difficulties begin when we attempt to extrapolate this minimal definition from its purely formal sense to its supposed applications to sociological data.It is not difficult to see that technical problems which confront especially Radcliffe-Brown and Levi Strauss occur at this point in their analysis.There are three dichotomies to resolve which are aspects of structure- structure as opposed to function.Structure as opposed to qualitative character and structure as opposed to process.Unless we resolve these dicotomies we are unable to give a satisfactory account of social structure.

Social behaviour involves stereo-typed or relatively determinate ways of action within groups between groups and over periods of time hence the continuity of group.Social behaviour in other words is institutionalised.The institutionalised behaviour is characterized by the consistency of the relationships of which it is composed.It varies in detail according to occasions and circumstances but its general character which allows it to be subsumed in an identical category of relationship for example friendship,joking relationship etc or within specific cultures or sub-cultures for example the child -parent relationship or avuncular relationships which are clearly bound by the convention of particular society.Thus we cannot ignore the qualitative aspects of such relationship or their content in favour of their formal aspects.This is fact we cannot do for distinguishing for example love or loyalty or respect form servility.It is precisely this effective element which is the criteria by which we distinguish between the categories even when we express these criteria in behavioural terms.

According to Nadel we arrive at the structure of society through abstracting from the concrete population and its behaviour that pattern or network of relationships obtaining between actors in their capacity of playing roles relative to each other.He has tried to explain that structure refers to a definable articulation an ordered arrangement of parts.It is related to outer aspect of society and is totally unconcerned with the functional aspect of society.He has emphasized that social structure refers to the network of social relationships which is created among the human beings when they interact with each other according to their status in accordance with the patterns of society.Nadel therefore says that structure indicates an transportable being relatively invariants while the parts themselves are variable.According to him there are three elements of society- a group of people,institutionalized rules according to which members of the group interact and an institutionalized pattern or expression of these interactions.The institutionalized rules or patterns donot change easily and this creates an orderliness in society.These rules determine the status and roles of the individuals.There is an order among these rules and status also which provide an ordered arrangement of human beings.

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