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The Individual And Society

Updated on April 17, 2012

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; Any man's death diminishes me because i am involved in mankind".
This poem holds a sociological truth that we all are involved in humankind. from birth to death each person is a participating part of the larger society. In-fact our individual and group experiences are understandable in terms of our involvement with other members of society. We cannot over emphasize the importance of people to people. It is not practicable for an individual to completely isolate himself from the ties of family, friends and all other people. No one has ever existed totally independent of the society.

The sociological perspective is a point of view that most, if not all human behavior, involves others, directly or indirectly. In fact, most of our individual behavior is not purely individualistic. Humans, as social beings, do not live in a social vacuum. In order even to think, we need a language of some kind and the language we use in the thought process, we learn from others. We are what we are because of the influence of others that may have occurred in different times in history. No man indeed is an island, we are each a piece of the entire race of humanity.

For a long time, scholars have debated over the relation between an individual and society. Does a person control the conditions of society or do the conditions of society control the individual? Does an individual have free will or is a person more controlled by society? These questions have created two groups of scholars namely: Social determinist and Individual determinist. Social determinist believe that individual behavior is determine by societal forces. On the other hand individual determinist argue that human beings determine their individual behavior. Thus these views seem to conflict. However, the sociological viewpoint would state that both are correct. it makes no sociological sense to separate the individual and society. The individual cannot exist without the society and vice verse. Each person is part of society, and society is made up of people who influence one another in several ways.

Individual make their choices and decisions, but the kind of choices and decisions they make, are limited by their experiences and involvement in society. A society is a network of relationships among individuals. Each will influenced others and each will be influenced by others. This is termed social interaction, which ia at the very heart of human experience. Social interaction occurs when people take each other into account and influence one another. What happens when people play games and politics are social interaction. What happens at schools, in the market place, at church and at home between parents and their children involved social interaction, as people involved influences each other in the process. In everyday activity, a person meets people, competes or cooperates with them, agrees or disagrees with them, laugh with them. In all such cases social interaction is taking place.

We simply cannot avoid the fact that each of us is bound in some degree to other people and society generally. Despite our single selfish selves, our unique individualism and our idea of individual determinism, each person feels, thinks and acts as a result of social interaction with other human beings.


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