Who among the following has proposed a model to explain the differentiation of social system, based on an analysis of the way in which a particular system responds to forces for change? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

Social System


Question: Who among the following has proposed a model to explain the differentiation of social system, based on an analysis of the way in which a particular system responds to forces for change?

  1. N.J. Smelser
  2. Daniel Bell
  3. Talcott Parsons  
  4. Ulrich Beck

Answer: (3)

Talcott Parsons: An Overview

Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) was an American sociologist who played a significant role in shaping the field of sociology in the mid-20th century. He is widely recognized for his work on social theory, functionalism, and the development of a comprehensive model of the social system. Parsons’s contributions have had a lasting impact on the study of society and social structures.

The Social System Model:

Talcott Parsons developed the concept of the social system as a fundamental framework for understanding how societies function and how they respond to various forces, including those for change. The social system model is based on the idea that society is a complex, interconnected structure with various components and functions that work together to maintain equilibrium and stability.

Key Components of the Social System Model:

Components and Subsystems: Parsons viewed society as a system composed of various components or subsystems. These subsystems include institutions like the family, education, economy, and religion. Each subsystem has specific functions and roles in maintaining social order and stability.

Functionalism: Parsons’s approach is often associated with functionalism, a sociological perspective that emphasizes the importance of each component’s functions in maintaining the stability and equilibrium of the social system. He believed that society’s components work in harmony to fulfill specific functions, contributing to the overall well-being of the system.

Pattern Maintenance: According to Parsons, social systems have mechanisms for pattern maintenance, which help preserve social norms, values, and cultural patterns. These mechanisms include shared norms, values, and cultural understandings that guide individual and collective behavior.

Adaptation and Change: While emphasizing stability and equilibrium, Parsons also recognized the need for adaptation and change within the social system. He believed that social systems respond to external and internal pressures for change to maintain their functionality. This adaptability is essential for the long-term survival of a society.

Responses to Forces for Change:

In the context of the MA CUET question, Talcott Parsons proposed a model to explain how social systems differentiate in response to forces for change. This aspect of his work is crucial for understanding how societies evolve and adapt to new challenges and circumstances.

  1. Equilibrium and Stability: Parsons argued that social systems tend to maintain equilibrium and stability by preserving existing patterns and values. Stability is essential for the smooth functioning of society. However, when external or internal forces for change emerge, the social system needs to respond to maintain balance.
  2. Differentiation: In response to forces for change, social systems may undergo differentiation. Differentiation involves the development of specialized structures and functions within the system to address new challenges or adapt to changing circumstances. This process allows the social system to continue functioning effectively while accommodating change.
  3. Functional Adaptation: Functional adaptation is a key concept in Parsons’s model. It refers to the way in which social systems adapt by developing new functions or altering existing functions to respond to changing conditions. This adaptation helps the social system continue its operation while addressing emerging issues.
  4. Role Differentiation: Parsons also emphasized the importance of role differentiation within the social system. As the system responds to forces for change, individuals and groups may assume new roles and responsibilities to meet evolving needs. Role differentiation contributes to the overall adaptability of the social system.
  5. Structural Changes: Changes in the structure of the social system may occur as a response to forces for change. This can include the creation of new institutions, the modification of existing ones, and changes in the relationships between subsystems. These structural changes aim to maintain the system’s equilibrium and functionality.
  6. Continuity and Transformation: Parsons recognized that while social systems adapt to change, they also strive to maintain continuity. This duality of continuity and transformation is essential for a society’s long-term survival. It allows societies to navigate challenges and preserve core values and norms.

Significance of Differentiation in Social Systems:

The concept of differentiation in social systems is significant for several reasons:

Adaptive Capacity: Differentiation allows social systems to adapt to new and dynamic environments. It enables societies to address emerging issues, such as technological advancements, cultural shifts, or economic changes.

Specialization: Differentiation fosters specialization within society, where individuals or groups can focus on specific tasks and functions. This specialization enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the social system.

Complexity: As social systems differentiate, they become more complex, with numerous interconnected components and functions. This complexity helps societies meet diverse challenges and fulfill a wide range of needs.

Flexibility: Differentiated social systems have the flexibility to respond to a variety of forces for change. This adaptability ensures that the social system can endure and remain relevant over time.

Resilience: By differentiating and adapting, social systems become more resilient. They can withstand external pressures and internal challenges while continuing to function effectively.


Talcott Parsons’s model of the social system provides a comprehensive framework for understanding how societies function and respond to forces for change. Social systems strive for equilibrium and stability but recognize the need for adaptation and differentiation when confronted with new circumstances. Differentiation allows social systems to evolve, specialize, and address emerging challenges while preserving core values and norms. Understanding this concept is essential for analyzing the dynamics of societies and their ability to navigate the complexities of a changing world.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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