Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- 1 System Approach to Macrosociology
- Specifics of Sociological Models
- Basic Structural Components of Social Systems
- Interpretation of the Well-Being Criterion
- Organized Religion and Societal Structure
- 2 Lessons of History
- Hunting and Gathering Society
- Pastoral Societies
- Horticultural Societies
- Agricultural Societies
- Industrial Societies
- Post-Industrial Societies
- 3 Societal Dynamics and Ideology
- Basic Role of Government and Dynamics of the Administrative Unit
- Dynamics of Ideology
- How to Evaluate Societal Progress
- 4 Pyramidal Societal Structures
- Formation of Pyramidal Societal Structures
- Reasons of Evolution of the Pyramidal Societal Structures
- Reasons of Unsuccessful Premature Transformations
- Formation and Destruction of Pseudo Democratic Societal Structures
- Modernized Autocratic Structures
- 5 Democratic Societal Structures
- Capitalist Societal Structure
- Socialism vs Capitalism
- Mixed Democratic Societal Structures
- 6 Globalization and Politics
- Economic Globalization
- Political Globalization
- Cultural Globalization
- Nationalism and Globalism
- Global Labor Organizations
- 7 Human Nature and Politics
- Trade as a Political Tool
- Media as a Political Tool
- Social Control
- 8 Urgent Social Problems
- 9 Difficulties to Keep Being the World’s Superpower
- About the Author
Sociology is the science of society, social institutions and social relationships. It studies the development, structure, interaction, and collective behavior of organized groups of human beings.
Macrosociology is the branch of sociology concerned with the study of human societies on a wide scale, at the level of social structure, considering them as large-scale social systems and analyzing the social processes and related changes in such systems.
By observing and getting knowledge of processes of non-live nature scientists established laws that enable people to develop in the future useful technological processes based on these laws. However, the related experiments at the initial stage of analysis of various natural phenomena required appropriate devices and an appropriate technological base, that is, it became possible only at a certain stage of societal development.
Natural sciences play a dominant role in technological progress of societies and improving living conditions of the population. The same useful role sociology can play if it would establish and prove rigorously the features of progressive societal structures.
Rigorous science includes many principles that are considered to be laws of nature. Many of them were obtained in the analytical form after multiple experiments proving their universal character (for example, Newton’s laws of motion). Sociological theories are not supported by such laws. Similar situation we have in economics. One of the most basic economic laws, the law of supply and demand that ties into almost all economic principles, is not considered by some scientists, who deny its universal nature, as a law. They believe that even the term economic law is misleading since most economic laws are observed regularities in phenomena and human behavior. But regularities are not necessarily universal. As a counterexample, they consider speculative bubbles (rising prices become a causal factor for the increased demand).
Irrational human behavior cannot be described satisfactory in an analytic form. As a result, the absence of rigorous laws presented in analytic form enables researchers to test various hypothesis and build various models to establish the relationship between their parameters based on historic data.
Social analysis has origins of ancient Greek philosopher Plato (3d century B.C.; maybe even earlier) who wrote about justice, wisdom and moderation of the individuals and society. The social theories developed later were focused on separate factors of human activities and served mostly political purposes. Marxist theory, based mostly on the socioeconomic analysis of the initial stage of capitalism, became a favored theoretical framework in the social sciences, influenced societal changes in some countries, and now few societies are still thoroughly Marxist. The simplistic presentation of the society (consisting only of two classes—the proletariat and the bourgeoisie), the consideration only of the market of products and lack of understanding that the same market approach should be applied to the labor force make Marxist theory pseudoscientific. Its conclusions are made based on the observation of only the initial stage of capitalism—the transient period from one to another economic formation. Marx did not see or refused to see the positive changes that can be crystalized in the future. He was in a hurry to predict a proletarian revolution that eventually leads to the establishment of socialism—a socioeconomic system based on social ownership of the means of production (non-human inputs used for the production of economic value, such as facilities, machinery, tools, infrastructural capital and natural capital) and distribution based on one’s contribution. As the productive forces continued to advance, Marx hypothesized that socialism would ultimately transform into a communist society—a classless, stateless, humane society based on common ownership and the underlying principle: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
Several race theories based on pseudoscientific hypotheses have had a serious impact on human history. The conclusions were made, for example, based on ranking the mental abilities of various ethnic groups. The racial hygienists of 19th and 20th century believed that lack of eugenics would lead to rapid social degeneration, the decline of civilization by the spread of inferior characteristics. According to these theories, some races are inferior to others and their authors consequently believed that the differential treatment of races was fully justified. Applying the principles of selective parents who will produce the strongest children, was introduced. However, such a recommendation had not been presented as a racial or genetic theory. Breeding to humans was suggested by Plato, far before the term eugenics, as the study of methods to improve the human race by carefully selecting parents who will produce the strongest children.
Nowadays, the study of the class inequality, as well as the studies of race, ethnicity, and gender have been modified; the most popular Marxist terms economic class struggle and surplus product are not used anymore. Marxist views changed to social views—the so-called social justice (universal health care; government support for young, elderly, and impoverished; free education, etc.). Politicians, the main carriers of such views, use them in their own interests. They focus on the less educated part of society, the low cultured part of the population—people who live with a hope of a better life and, as a result, who are more receptive to hear what is in their dreams.
The birth of cybernetics, the science of control and communication in both living and nonliving systems, as an independent science demonstrated the fact that, on the one hand, the scientific results related to the live nature processes can be used to create a new type of more sophisticated control systems for technological processes; on the other hand, the theoretical results of control theory can be applied to the analysis of the live nature processes, and human beings can be considered also as sophisticated complex control systems. The narrower view, common in Western countries, defines cybernetics as the science of the control of complex systems of various types—technical, biological, or social.
It would be naïve to expect any rigorous explanation of the functioning of the societies and their development without the usage of the results of biology, psychology, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience and behavioral genetics. Human beings are the main players in social science and the more precise is their description, the more rigorous are the related theories.
In the book, system and control theories can be used to examine main characteristics of the societal systems and explain the main factors determining their dynamics.
In 16th century, Baruch Spinoza, trying to grasp the laws of nature, constructed the first thoroughly logical, consistent metaphysical system (by using the language of mathematics—definitions, axioms, propositions, and proofs of concepts) and made the first attempt at an objective, scientific study of human behavior. The following extensive period marked by the outstanding scientific achievements did not bring any deserving attention analytical models that can be used to analyze the dynamics of societal systems. It is impossible to expect this from the mathematical tools of system and control theories. Nevertheless, they can be used to examine the dynamics on the qualitative level.
Now when science became the authority and won the trust of people, sociology should play a leading role in societal development similar to in the development of production processes. Observing natural processes and studying mechanisms of these processes scientists created theoretical models, tested them, and applied to control technological processes using them to benefit people. Unfortunately, the current level of macrosociology cannot boast of a rigorous theory of societal development. Even its terminology leaves much to be desired. Many terms with multiple meanings have no rigorous definitions. As to the theories, their number exceeds significantly the number of theories related to natural sciences, and they contradict one another. The latest results in biology, physiology, psychology, and neuroscience enable scientists to better understand social processes and their dynamics. System analysis and control theory present a solid base to consider societal development as a process noncompliant to the laws of nature, where human actions and decision making determine its properties and specifics.
Basic facts about macrosociology and related models are given in Chapter 1. The system and control theory approaches are used to explain specifics of sociological models and structural components of social systems. These models belong to a class of the so-called active systems consisting of diverse members trying to pursue their own goals and the center establishing common goals for all members. The considered humanitarian model serves as the intermediate link between the reality and its mathematical model. However, for macrosociological models, at least now, humanitarian models are the only reliable tool to study complex social processes. The human motivation to reach certain goals is presented by well-being criteria, and the functioning of the whole societal system is viewed as an interconnection between its two main parts: administrative unit and production unit; it is an active system where each component acts to optimize its own well-being criterion. Organized religion is discussed as an independent source of power and one of factors that affects human behavior. Chapter 2 contains the generally accepted classification of societies and the characteristics that are associated with each type. Various existed approaches to the social development theories were discussed. The offered classification reflects societal changes linked to the economic development. Specific features of hunting and gathering, pastoral, horticultural, agricultural, industrial, and post-industrial societies are described. In Chapter 3 the historical examples of societal development enable us to check the validity of the existing social theories. Special attention is paid to a critical analysis of Marx’s theory and its modification. It is shown that ideology is the driving force of the societal changes and the dynamics of the administrative unit reflects the changes in ideology of society. Basic role of government and various existing administrative structures are discussed. Societal progress is evaluated by the improved living conditions of population. The country’s wealth per capita is chosen as a reasonable criterion measuring the living conditions. Based on the available research data it is shown that a larger wealth per capita corresponds to non-autocratic countries and countries with democratic governments. A more detail analysis of various societal structures was given in Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 analyses the so-called pyramidal societal structures characterizing the autocratic societies: their formation and evolution. It explains the errors of Marx’s theory of social development. It is shown that the evolution produced the two types of structures: the so-called pseudo democratic societal structures (e.g., the former Soviet Union) and democratic societal structures (e.g., the United States). The existing modernized autocratic structures are also discussed. Using the language of formal logic, as it first had been done by a Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza in his book Ethics, the theorems were formulated and proved related to the formation of autocratic states and the basic features of societal systems with autocratic ideology: impedance to economic growth and improvement of people’s living standards; the source of social instability and frequent wars. The presented material explains why monarchies and empires had ruled the world for a long period of the human history, why democracies of the remote past had not survived, and why the Soviet Union had ended its existence. Chapter 5 considers various democratic structures depending on the type of control of their economic systems (control of the production unit): the capitalist societal structure corresponds to a pure market economy; a pure socialist system corresponds to a commanded economy; a real mixed democratic societal structure corresponds to a mixed economy (with elements of both capitalism and socialism). It is shown that democratic societal structures with properly balanced market and government channels are viable and efficient systems with a high standard of living. International organizations and their activity to accelerate cooperation between nations are described in Chapter 6, which contains the material related to the globalization process presented by its three components—economic globalization, political globalization, and cultural globalization. The role of information technology and the Internet as the means to speed up globalization is discussed. Globalism and nationalism are analyzed as the two currently competing political ideologies. The influence of global labor organizations on economic globalization and the related problem of free trade in the globalization era are discussed. The material of Chapter 7 deals with the most efficient contemporary political tools and the unhealthy political climate that can be created by the political elite violating ethical norms of society. The trade policy, discussed in the Chapter 6 as a part of economic globalization, is considered in this chapter in more details. Special consideration is given to media, which became a powerful political tool and the leaders of the influential media organizations became political players controlling the flow of information or misinformation. Since social control is a means to support the existing ethical norms and laws, which, unfortunately, some politicians violate, Chapter 7 considers this subject. Historical examples of cultural vandalism are chosen to demonstrate how politicians use social control to strengthen their positions. They violate the existing norms by encouraging such acts which reflect the worst aspects of human nature. The role of education as a means of social control is discussed. It is shown that democratic norms and beliefs are embedded in various types of ideologies (social democracy, liberal democracy, democratic socialism, and capitalist democracy) and are shared within groups represented by certain members of the political elite. The description of these types is accompanied with examples of American politics. Chapter 8 deals with health care, education, immigration, and environmental problems, the political issues that Americans rate as the most important. Some approaches to resolve them are discussed. Since recently articles in the media indicate that the U.S. is repeating the decline and fall of Rome, the last Chapter 9 analyzes main reasons of the fall of the Roman Empire comparing them with the existing destructive forces in the U.S. society, especially the government bureaucracy and corruption. It considers also the urgent problems related to national debt, health care, immigration, education, and environment requiring the government intervention. Special attention is paid to what should be done to prolong the United States’ status as the world’s only superpower.
The U.S. is undergoing a period of a certain political instability. Its political elite split up into two hostile camps. Congressional approval is inadmissibly low. The U.S. media that take sides in the conflict is responsible for the unhealthy political climate in the country. In a torrent of information and misinformation it is difficult for ordinary people to separate truth from lies and, as a result, to make the right choice participating in the future elections. Partially, this can be explained by the absence of books concerning sociology and related problems for persons without any special knowledge in this area. The book pursues the goal—to enrich readers’ knowledge about human societies, their development and moving forces, to be able to filter and understand better social media information and to be the true patriots.
“… everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”
The term society comes from a Latin word socious, which means companionship or friendship. Society consists of social relationships and has values and norms that guide these relationships. Society is groups of people who live in a certain domain and behave according to existing culture and morality. The process of development of human beings as a society is characterized by the form and patterns of human interactions that enable the society to maintain its existence. Since individuals of the society occupy a common territory, have common customs and traditions, common values, common history, and common cultures, interdependence on each other causes oneness, and they develop feeling of unity and solidarity among themselves. Sense of belonging and cooperation is the basic characteristic of society. Interdependence is its another important characteristic. The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 B.C.–322 B.C.) remarked that ←1 | 2→“Man is a social animal.” As a social animal he is dependent on others. The survival and well-being of each member are very much dependent on this interdependence.
Each society has its own culture and the individual relationships are organized and structured by the culture. Culture includes many social aspects: language, customs, values, norms, rules, tools, technologies, products, organizations and institutions. Common institutions include family, education, religion, work and health care. Culture is the way of life of the members of a society. It consists of values, beliefs, morals, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. Each and every society transmits its cultural pattern to the succeeding generations.
The widely used term ideology refers to the beliefs and ideas shared by individuals applying to the society as a whole that form the basis of a social system. Ideology is linked to the societal structure, economic system of production, and political system. It emerges out of them and shapes them. Karl Marx (1818–1883) exploited this concept and used the term dominant ideology, which he interpreted as a system of morals and values established by those in power to control the working class. As a mechanism of social control, the dominant ideology characterizes how the majority of the population thinks about the nature of society, their place in society, and their connection to a social class.
The individuals in human society perform different activities and functions depending upon their sex, age, interest, abilities, skills and other qualifications. There exists division of labor depending upon sex and age. The division of labor among the individuals and the functions they perform create a system of social relationships among the members of the society. During these social relationships people gather and interact with others to exchange ideas, offer support and receive a sense of belonging. Collaborative relationships between a society’s members can enable them to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis.
- XVI, 306
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- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2021 (April)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XVI, 306 pp., 1 b/w ill.