Views of Early Sociologists about Social Organisation:
Early sociologists and social philosophers used the term ‘social organisation’ in a broad sense to refer to societies. Auguste Comte defined social organisation as “general social agreement” a “social consensus”.
He agreed that government is powerless without the support of social agreement. ‘Social agreement’ refers to people’s agreement or consensus. Herbert Spencer used ‘social organisation’ to refer to interrelations of the economic, political and other divisions of society, Emile Durkheim used the term to refer mostly to social integration and individual regulation through consensus about morals and values.
Durkheim was of the opinion that social integration or social equilibrium would prevail as long as morals and values maintained their hold over individual behaviour. C.H. Cooley used the term social organisation to refer to the “differentiated unity of mental or social life”. According to Cooley, social organisation is the result of “the shared activities and understandings” of the people.
Current Use of the Term ‘Social Organisation’:
At present, the term “social organisation” is used to refer to the interdependence of parts in groups. These groups may vary in size and nature from small cliques of workers, to hospitals and factories. Today very rarely sociologists use the term “social organisation’ in a-comprehensive way.
Many sociologists prefer to use the term “social system” to refer to the society as such rather than “social organisation”. Talcott Parsons, G.H. Homans, R.K. Merton and others use the term ‘social system’ in place of social organisation to refer to society.
The term is used in sociological studies and researches today to stress the importance of arrangement of parts and their interdependence in groups and in societies. The concept is of help in understanding the way in which the parts of society are related to each other and how each is related to the whole society.
It is now widely recognised that social organisation is required for the survival and the effective functioning of groups and societies. Hence, implicit or explicit reference to the concept is to be found in almost all sociological research and all sociological theory.
Definition of Social Organisation:
1. According to Duncan Mitchell, social organisation means “the interdependence of parts, which is an essential characteristic of all enduring collective entities: groups, communities and societies.
2. Ogburn and Nimkoff. An organisation is an articulation of different parts which perform various functions; it is an active group device for getting something done.
3. Leonard Broom and Philip Selznick have defined social organisation as “the patterned relations of individuals and groups”. (According to them, it is one of the sources of order in social life).
4. Louise Weston and Others have said that “social organisation can be thought of as the pattern and processes of relations among individuals and among groups”.
5. According to H.M. Johnson, “Organisation refers to an aspect of interaction systems”.
6. Elliott and Merrill have said, “Social Organisation is a state of being, a condition in which the various institutions in a society are functioning in accordance with their recognised or implied purposes’.
Organisation – The Need of the Day. Organisation appears in society simply because many of the things we do could not be done without it and many other things we do can be done much better because of it. No game involving more than one player would be possible if it were not for organisation.
There would be no such things as a college, a university, a store, an industry, a church, a court of law, a government or a state without organisation. Organisation makes possible the complex activities in which the members of a complex society participate.
Thus, a football team of eleven members well organised, can defeat an unorganised group of eleven men under any circumstances. A very small body of organised police can control a very large crowd.
A small number of men, constituting themselves as a government, can rule a nation. A small board of trustees can operate the enterprise of a University. All this is possible because of organisation. What then do we mean by an organisation?
The Innumerable Organisations:
Sometimes the word ‘organisation’ is used to refer to the associational groups. It includes corporations, armies, schools, churches, banks, prisons etc. The society consists of many such organisations. A state is frequently called a political organisation.
A factory is called an economic organisation. A church is a religious organisation. A bank is a financial organisation. A school may represent an educational organisation and so on. They are all social organisations i.e., organisations of society. Here Ogburn and Nimkoff do not make a clear distinction between organisation and social organisation as such.
As they say, the entire ‘society’ represents a wider organisation, a social organisation. They write: ‘But society is also quite generally an organised group of interacting individuals.’ Society indeed, consists of innumerable organisations.