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Social Order

  The concept of social order refers to the stable patterns of social expectations and social structures that exist in any society, and to the maintenance of these patterns. The problem of what makes societies cohere, and how social order is sustained, is a central one in sociology.

Utilitarian approaches to social order locate its origins in individual self-interest and the interdependence that this generates. Thomas Hobbes questioned this position in the 17th century when he raised the question that if everyone pursued their own self-interest would it not end with a state of what he called a ‘war of all against all’? At the beginning of the 19th century, this vision of chaos and anarchy started to acquire an ominous ring and an alternative solution to the problem of social order was sought.

Cultural approaches to social order stress the importance of shared norms and values which create a consensus within society. Approaches of this type can be found in the work of Durkheim and Parsons. Others, however, have emphasized the importance of power and domination in the maintenance of social order, though they do not deny the role of values and norms also. Marx and Weber are exponents of this approach. DA

See also authority; conflict theory; consensus theory; dominant ideology; functionalism; generalized other; hegemony; ideology; internalization; Marxism; power; social control; social integration; socialization; structuralism; structuration; structure.Further reading N. Abercrombie, , S. Hill, , B.S. Turner, The Dominant Ideology Thesis; , P.S. Cohen, Modern Social Theory.



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