Who saw society as a social organism possessing a harmony of structure and function? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

social organism

Question: Who saw society as a social organism possessing a harmony of structure and function?

  1. Auguste Comte
  2. B. Malinowski
  3. Aristotle
  4. E.Durkheim

Answer: (1)

Society as a Social Organism: Harmony of Structure and Function

The question prompts an exploration of the perspective that envisions society as a social organism characterized by a harmony of structure and function. This viewpoint is attributed to Auguste Comte, often regarded as the father of sociology. To elucidate this concept comprehensively, it is imperative to delve into the philosophical foundations laid by Comte, contrast it with other sociological perspectives, and explore the implications of perceiving society as a harmonious social organism.

  1. Auguste Comte’s :

Auguste Comte (1798–1857) was a French philosopher and sociologist who played a pivotal role in shaping the foundations of sociology. Comte proposed the idea of a social organism, drawing an analogy between society and a living organism. He envisioned society as an integrated whole, comprising different parts that contribute to its functioning. Comte’s positivist approach emphasized the scientific study of society, advocating for the application of empirical methods to understand social phenomena.

In Comte’s view, society exhibited a harmony of structure and function, akin to the harmonious functioning of organs within a living organism. He introduced the concept of social statics, which focused on the equilibrium and order in society, and social dynamics, which examined the processes of social change. Comte’s vision laid the groundwork for a systematic study of society as a complex, organized entity with interrelated components.

  1. Emile Durkheim’s Sociological Realism:

While Auguste Comte initiated the idea of society as a social organism, it was Emile Durkheim who further developed and refined this concept. Durkheim, often considered the founding father of modern sociology, approached society with a sociological realism that treated it as a distinct and objective reality.

Durkheim emphasized the existence of social facts, which are external to individuals yet exert a coercive influence on their behavior. He argued that these social facts, such as norms, values, and institutions, contribute to the cohesion and integration of society. Durkheim’s seminal work, “The Division of Labor in Society” (1893), examined how different parts of society functioned harmoniously to maintain social order.

  1. Talcott Parsons: Society as a Total Complex:

Talcott Parsons, a prominent American sociologist heavily influenced by Durkheim, contributed to the understanding of society as a total complex of human relationships. Parsons expanded on the idea that society is an intricate web of interconnected elements. He introduced the concept of social systems, emphasizing the interdependence of different institutions and their role in maintaining social equilibrium.

Parsons posited that society operates based on a system of means-end relationships, both intrinsic and symbolic. The harmony in society arises from the alignment of individual actions with shared values and norms. His structural-functional approach underscored the stability and order inherent in societal structures.

  1. Contrasting Perspectives:

In contrast to the harmonious perspective presented by Comte, other sociologists offered alternative viewpoints. For instance, thinkers like Karl Marx emphasized conflict and class struggle as driving forces in society. Marx’s perspective diverged from the harmonious model, highlighting tensions and contradictions arising from economic disparities.

Similarly, Max Weber introduced the concept of social action and emphasized the significance of understanding subjective meanings individuals attribute to their actions. Weber’s interpretive sociology added nuance to the notion of societal harmony by recognizing the role of individual agency and subjective experiences.

  1. Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary sociologists have continued to engage with the idea of society as a social organism. Functionalism, a theoretical framework descended from Durkheim and Parsons, emphasizes the interdependence of social institutions and their contributions to societal stability.

However, contemporary sociological theories, such as conflict theory and symbolic interactionism, introduce nuanced perspectives. Conflict theorists, like C. Wright Mills, examine power dynamics and inequalities, challenging the harmonious portrayal of society. Symbolic interactionists, such as Erving Goffman, focus on the micro-level interactions that contribute to the construction of societal realities.

  1. Implications and Critiques:

Perceiving society as a social organism with a harmony of structure and function has both implications and critiques. On the positive side, this perspective provides a holistic framework for understanding the interconnections and dependencies within society. It underscores the importance of order, stability, and shared values in maintaining social cohesion.

However, critiques argue that an overly harmonious view may oversimplify the complexities and conflicts inherent in society. Critics contend that this perspective might downplay issues related to power, inequality, and diverse perspectives. The challenge lies in striking a balance between recognizing the harmonious aspects of societal functioning and acknowledging the existence of tensions and contradictions.

  1. Relevance to the MA CUET Exam:

For MA CUET exam candidates, questions related to Auguste Comte’s vision and the concept of society as a harmonious social organism may assess:

Understanding of Foundational Thinkers: Aspirants may be evaluated on their grasp of Auguste Comte’s contributions to sociological thought and his perspective on society as a social organism.

Comparison with Other Theoretical Frameworks: Questions may require candidates to contrast Comte’s viewpoint with alternative sociological perspectives, such as conflict theory or symbolic interactionism.

Critical Analysis: Aspirants might be prompted to critically analyze the implications and critiques of perceiving society as a harmonious entity, demonstrating their ability to engage with sociological concepts critically.


In conclusion, the idea of society as a social organism possessing a harmony of structure and function, attributed to Auguste Comte, has left an indelible mark on the landscape of sociological thought. While this perspective provides a valuable lens for understanding societal order and integration, it is essential to acknowledge the diverse range of sociological theories that offer alternative insights into the complexities of social life. As candidates prepare for the MA CUET exam, a nuanced exploration of these perspectives will equip them to engage thoughtfully with questions related to sociological theories, foundational thinkers, and the dynamic nature of society.


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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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