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Types of Social Structure

Talcott Parsons has described 4 principal types of social structure. His classifications is based on four social values – universalistic social values, particularistic social values, achieved social values and ascribed social values. Universalistic social values are those which are found almost in every society and are applicable to everybody. Particularistic social values are the features of particular societies and these differ from society to society. When the statuses are achieved on the basis of efforts it means that such societies attach importance to achieved social values. When the statuses are hereditary even the society gives importance to ascribed social statuses.

Universalistic –achievement pattern-This is the combination of the value patterns which sometimes opposed to the values of a social structure built mostly around kinship,community,class and race. Under this type of social structure, the choice of goal by the individual must be in accord with the universalistic values. His pursuits are defined by universalistic moral norms. Such a system is dynamically developing norms. Such a system is dynamically developing system with an encouragement for initiative.

Universalistic ascriptions pattern-under this type of social structure the elements of value-orientation are dominated by the elements of ascription. Therefore in such a social structure strong emphasis is laid on the status of the individual rather than on his specific achievements. The emphasis is on what an individual is rather than on what he has done. Status is ascribed to the group rather than to the individuals. The individual derives his status from his group. In this type of social structure all resources are mobilized in the interest of the collective ideal.

Particularistic-Achievement Pattern-This type combines achievement values with particularim.The primary criterion of valued achievement is found not in universalistic terms such as conformity to a generalized ideal or efficiency but these are focussed on certain points of reference within the relational system itself or are inherent in the situation. The emphasis on achievement leads to the conception of a proper pattern of adaption which is a product of human achievement and which are maintained by continuous efforts.

Particularistic-ascriptive pattern- In this type also the social structure is organized around the relational reference points notably those of kinship and local community but it differs from the particularistic achievement type in as much as the relational values are taken as given and passively adapted to rather than make for an actively organized system. The structure tends to be traditionalistic and emphasis is laid on its stability.