In the society, there are various patterns and ways, methods and means that make it to function. The functionalist sociologists believe that there are interrelated parts that make the society function such as social institutions/social organizations/social systems.

Social structures are networks of interrelated status and roles that guides human interactions. A status is a socially defined position in a group or in society e.g. rich/poor, educated/illiterate, doctor/patient.

Roles of behavior (the right and the obligations) expected of some on occupying a particular status. Status can be ascribed or acquired i.e. inherited or achieved. In the society, structures lead or result into stratification what determines the social stratum of a person are power, riches and wealth, education or assets accumulated social stratification comes about as a result of differential social structures determined by power, riches, wealth, education, assets etc such that the society can be grouped in different strata.

  • Upper class
  • Middle class
  • Lower class

Upper class

  • High power
  • High wealth/riches
  • High assets
  • High level of education

Middle class

  • Moderate power
  • Moderate riches/wealth
  • Moderate assets
  • Moderate level of education

Lower class

  • Less power
  • Low level of education
  • Less assets
  • Less riches/wealth

NOTE: It can be said that the basis of social stratification are:-

  1. Ascription or acquisition
  2. Power
  3. Wealth/riches
  4. Accumulation of assets

Types of Social stratification

  1. Social class

This is the grouping of the society based on community identifying social features like education, housing, profession or accumulation of assets.

In the society, classes are broadly defined as, upper, middle and lower.

  1. Caste

A form of social stratification based on religion or belief system whereby some members of the society are seen to be religiously of higher grouping (caste), high grouping (middle caste) or lower grouping (lower caste). This is evident in Buddhism and Hinduism.

  1. Traditional stratification

The traditional also stratified people (members as either hunters, house keepers etc. e.g. Maasai morans.

In the English leadership (monarchy) where the queen is considered a noble leader below them at the description of a monarchy (king/queen).


This a spontaneous and the conscience movement of the members of the society n the social plains and the spatial plains e.g. job position, status, geographic space etc

Types of Social mobility

  1. Vertical mobility i.e. the movement of an individual or the change of status and role of the individual on the downward or the upward e.g. promotion versus demotion, employment versus retrenched or retired It results into change of power, wealth etc.
  1. Horizontal mobility; it is the movement of members of the society from one position to the other without affecting the status and the role e.g. a transfer.
  2. Geographic mobility; this is the movement of members of the society from one geographic area to the other e.g. moving from one town to the other.

Geographic mobility may or may not necessarily affect the horizontal and the vertical status and roles (position). Geographical mobility is also referred to s spatial mobility.

N/B: Vertical, horizontal, geographical mobility can happen separately or comparatively.



The society is dynamic i.e. it changes over time. The history of mankind has changed drastically over a long period of time and will continue to change. This change is referred to as a social change.

Social change refers to alterations, overtime in which behaviour patterns, culture and the structure of a society changes.

Today change has occurred in the following ways:-

  • Language
  • Dressing

Sociologists are interested in the change in terms of ‘from’ ‘to’ i.e. where is the society coming from and where is leading to. What is the ‘engine’ of social change to which ‘direction’?. What are the ‘causes’ What are the ‘consequences?’

Theories of social change

  1. Evolutionary (Social Darwinism)

After Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the theory states that the society is moving from simplicity to complexity; through processes and patterns influencing natural selection. The survival of societal characteristics (elements) depends on their ability to resist change (adaptive ness or adaptation). If they can’t adapt they become extinct (depleted).

  1. Diffusion

This states that social change originates/begins at one point and spread to other regions or other societies e.g. the changes in America diffuses to affect Kenya and the rest of the world.

  1. Conflict theory

Developed by Karl Max; states that power is at the centre of social change ‘questions rather than notes’.

The structural functionalist theory

Developed by Emile Durkheim at all; they state that the society is moving from state of mechanical solidarity to a solidarity where people base their relationship or behavior on closeness/communal, help one another, rudimentary. Organic solidarity involves a society where closeness is not a factor; there is individualism, no physical contacts like two days.


It states that social change rests on industrialization and urbanization. Under this, change depends on environment, technology, time, circumstances.

Nature of Social change

Social change can be either:-

  • Planned
  • Unplanned

Planned social change

Is a change in the society (behavior, social structure and culture) which is consciously carried out to make social life more confident and is intended for a particular purpose (it is premeditated).

It s deliberate and can be carried out by a government or international organizations e.g. the call to change our sexual behaviors, creating rules and regulations to govern and positions.

Unplanned social change

It is spontaneous

Undeliberate (nobody plans it)

Unconscious e.g. language changes, eating habits, dress codes etc.

Elements of social systems that changes

  1. Values

Some values do change towards human rights conduct; this is because others are easy to change and others have defined passage of time.

Human rights may include:-

Right to speech, eat, associate, move, live etc.

  1. Norms; specific guidelines showing how an individual should behave in a society.
  2. Goals/expectations of the society; goals can be economic (eradicating poverty), political (good governance), or based on social welfare (fighting ignorance and health).
  3. Status roles (tasks allocation); what people are to do in the job situations e.g. the role of a teacher, a doctor etc. may change over time.
  4. Sanctions (rewards and punishments)
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