Essay on Social Bonds — the Factors of Group Life

In 1920, two Hindu children were traced out in a wolf den, one at the age of eight and the other under two. The younger child died within a few months of discovery. But the elder one called Kamala survived until 1929. Kamala had developed no human qualities when she was discovered.

She could walk only on ‘fours’, possessed no language and was shy to meet or face people. After some sympathetic training she was taught basic social habits. Before her death she had slowly learned some simple speech, human eating and dressing habits and the like.

This wolf child had no ‘sense of human selfhood’, when she was discovered, but it emerged gradually. The emergence of individuality was altogether dependent upon her membership in hu­man group or society.

(ii) The Case of Anna:

Another such example is that of Anna, an illegitimate American child who had been placed in a room at the age of six months. She was isolated there until her discovery five years later in 1938.

During her confinement Anna was fed but received no training and had no contacts with other human beings. After five years of this cruel social isolation Anna was allowed to go out. But she could not walk or speak. She was completely indifferent to people around her. As in the case of Kamala, Anna was given some training to which she responded.

She became ‘humanised’ much more rapidly before she died in 1942. Here improvement showed that socialisation could do a great deal towards making her a ‘person’. Not only these two, but many other instances have convincingly proved that man becomes social only in social groups.

Various forces are at work to make man social. Particularly, the psychological, biological, kinship and physical factors have enforced man to lead group life. These factors can be called social bonds.

1. Psychological Factors:

The psychological bond that promotes group life is what Prof. Giddings calls “the consciousness of kind”. It means the recognition of similarities. It compels men to come together and live in groups. Further, man is psychologically equipped to live together.

Solitary life is unbearable for him. Groups provide opportunities not only for the development of man’s personality but also for the expression of his individuality. It is in an environment of groups only that man discovers his capacities, learns new ideas and new habits and new attitudes.

Reaction to fear is another psychological force that drives man to lead a group life. Solitary life brings man not only boredom but also fear. As Herbert Spencer has pointed out, the fear of the living produced the state [a political group], and the fear of the dead created religion.

2. Biological Factor:

Unlike other animals, human beings are susceptible to sexual pressures throughout their life. Sex desires on the one hand, and the desire for progeny on the other, have drawn nearer men and women into group called family.

Thus, strong sexual impulse, the natural biological processes of procreation and upbringing of children have made family almost universal and inevitable. The prolonged human infancy coupled with the helplessness of the newborn baby have further added to this inevitability. Human beings at birth possess the ‘biological potentiality’ of being con­verted into social animals.

3. Kinship Bond. Kinship is popularly known as ‘blood relationship’:

Kinsmen are regarded as people who are related by ‘blood’ through descent from some human or mythical ancestor. Kins­men are better united and have a sense of identity. In primitive societies the element of kinship is more effective in bringing people together than in the civilised societies.

But still, the social bond of racial kinship also promotes group life. However, in modern times, the influence and the hold of the kinship factor are declining due to urbanisation, industrialisation and other processes.

4. Geographic Factor:

The geographic factors such as climate, soil, natural resources, rivers, mountains, play their role in helping people to have social relations with others. The fact of living in a particular physical area has made possible for people to have regular contacts. These contacts are the basic requirements of social group.

Good and conducive geographic environment attracts people to live together than the unfavourable one. Ancient civilisations, for example, flourished on the banks of the rivers while dense forests, barren lands, dry deserts are uninhabited by the people even today. Groups are rarely found in such places.

5. Cultural Factors:

A common cultural outlook and group interests together have long con­stituted a significant element in promoting group life. Common language, common historic tradi­tions, common literature, common faith, beliefs, values, attitudes, customs, traditional and educa­tional heritage have all served to bring people together and cement them into groups.

6. Economic Factors:

Experience has taught man that his basic economic needs – the need for food, clothing and shelter-can better be fulfilled by being in groups than alone. The major economic processes of production, distribution and exchange take place primarily in groups. Economic group­ings have become more prominent especially after Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.

7. Religious Factors:

Man is a religious or spiritual being also. His soul craves for religious experience. Worshipping, meditation, prayer, singing songs in praise of God, etc., are the essence of religious experience. These are commonly observed. Religion brings people together into religious groups in the name of God or some supernatural force. A sense of belonging to a religion holds people together into groups.

8. Political Factors:

The need for safety, security of life, liberty and property and pursuit of happiness has brought people together into political groups. Particularly, the modern democratic set up encourages people to have their own political groups. State, the basic political group, has become today the most powerful of all the groups.

Other Factors:

In addition to the above, other factors such as common occupations or profes­sions, common language, common historic traditions, common educational heritage, common faith, belief, values, attitudes and outlook etc., also have made people to form groups or to join groups.