UPSC SOCIOLOGY – Paper 1 – SOCIOLOGICAL THINKERS – Talcott Parsons – Social System; Pattern Variables.
- These are referred to as types of orientation.
- Pattern variables are choices between alternative variables while performing roles.
- Action systems in society exist in form of roles.
- Society develops such roles in order to achieve certain goals.
- Roles are a vital link between individual and Society.
PATTERN VARIABLES AND SOCIAL SYSTEM
- Pattern variables is per connecting link between Parsonian idea of social action and social system.
- Pattern variables allow for the categorisation of the modes of orientation in personality systems, the value patterns of cultural systems and the normative requirements of the social system.
- Pattern variables are dilemmas, social system is the solution.
- Self-orientation vs Collective-orientation – refers to the dilemma between fulfillment of self interest or collective interest.
- Affectivity vs affective neutrality – refers to the dilemma between emotional attachment and emotional detachment in a particular situation.
- Particularism vs Universalism – refers to the dilemma regarding the standard of values to be used in a evaluationary process. Particularism refers to traditional values and beliefs. Universalism refers to modern and rational value system.
- Ascription vs Achievement – whether the judgement is to be done in terms of ascriptive (based on birth) attributes or on the basis of achieved attributes.
- Diffuseness vs Specificity – it refers to the dilemmas regarding relations and obligations. Eg: In a money market, buyer- seller relation is in terms of strict rules, but in rural economy, it is diffused (Price of a commodity is not specific but depends upon who the buyer is.)
According to Parsons, social institutions in society tend to cluster around opposite poles in this dichotomies. Eg: In a family, relations are particularistic, affective and diffused. But in a workplace, they are universalistic, affectively neutral and achievement based.
4 TYPES OF STRUCTURES OF SOCIAL SYSTEMS (BASED ON PATTERN VARIABLES)
- Universalistic achievement pattern – Eg: Modern American Society.
- Universalistic Ascription Pattern – Eg: Nazi Germany.
- Particularistic Achievement Pattern – Eg: Classical Chinese Family (even the royal blooded members of the family have to prove their worth via individual achievements)
- Particularistic Ascription Pattern– Eg: Indian caste system.
- Pattern variables help in distinguishing between different types of societies.
- Choices of individuals of one pattern over another are dictated by the cultural values and institutionalized norms, i.e, social action is guided by social system.
- Thus the idea of pattern variables provide overall direction in which most of the members choose their roles.