Social space - History of sociology

Social space

Social space - the place where the events, phenomena and processes described by the sociologist occur - is one of the fundamental concepts in P. Sorokin's theory.

Above the idea of ​​social space, R. Descartes, T. Hobbes, Leibniz, F. Ratzel, G. Simmel, E. Durkheim, R. Park, E. Bogardus, L. von Wiese, E. Spector, P. Sorokin , B. Verlaine and others. However, the most clear formulation, and not just a statement of the problem, belongs to P. Sorokin, who first expressed his views in the 1920s. XX century. the idea of ​​the possibility and necessity to represent the diversity of phenomena taking place in society placed in a social space (Figure 13.1).

Properties of Social Space P. Sorokin

Fig. 13.1. Properties of social space P. Sorokin

In his book, Social Mobility (1927) P. Sorokin writes: "... it seems necessary to very accurately describe the essence of what I mean by social space and its derivatives. First, the social space is radically different from the geometric space. People who are close to each other in a geometric space (for example, the king and his servant, the master and slave) are separated by a huge distance in the social space. Conversely, people who are very far from each other in geometric space (for example, two brothers or bishops professing one religion ...) can be very close to the social ... Similarly, the social space is a kind of universe , consisting of the population of the earth ... Accordingly, to determine the position of a person or of any social phenomenon in social space means to determine his (their) attitude towards other people and other social phenomena taken for such "Reference points". The very choice of "reference points" depends on us: they can be individuals, groups or groups of groups ... In order to determine the social position of a person, one must know his family status, citizenship, nationality, attitude to religion, profession, membership in political parties , economic status, its origin, etc. ... So, we summarize: 1) social space - this is the population of the Earth ; 2) social position is the totality of its connections with all population groups , within each of these groups , ie. with its members ; 3) the position of a person in the social universe is determined by establishing these links ; 4) the totality of such groups , and also the set of positions within each of them constitute a system of social coordinates , allowing to determine the social position of any individual

Features of social space in P. Sorokin are as follows:

• the social space is fundamentally different from the geometric;

• it is a collection of social relations (connections) into which any individual enters with other individuals, groups and society as a whole;

• The social coordinates of such a space are set by social groups and nothing else;

• The social situation is revealed through a combination of social ties with all groups;

• social space reflects population, not status.

The image of social space was used by P. Sorokin as an auxiliary tool for better depiction of stratification. Today, the idea of ​​social space has been adopted, it seems, by all sociological schools, although each of them fills it with its content. Ultimately, modern sociology agreed that the entire social world, filled with people living in different societies and epochs, is just a certain type of social topography. According to the concept of P. Bourdieu, "sociology is primarily a social topology".

"If I can not repeat the great achievements of social thinkers, then at least I am satisfied with their similarity in the small."

П. Sorokin

Social space P. Sorokin three-dimensional - in accordance with the three axes of the coordinates of stratification (economic, political and professional) (Figure 13.2). Stratification itself is a division of the totality of people into classes and strata in a hierarchical rank. Three coordinates of social space arose not by chance. They should not be considered a mere borrowing of a three-dimensional system of physical space. Why not, it will be clear in the future, and now it should be noted that the three-dimensional model of stratification came to sociology not from Newton, but from Weber. The latter, like P. Sorokin, considers the social disposition in the three-dimensional social space arising on the basis of hierarchical structures of relations of property, power and prestige in any society.

The Euclidean geometric space is three-dimensional. But it does not fit, according to P. Sorokin, for the description of social space. Geometric and social spaces are two fundamentally different things. Consequently, if one is described by Euclidean topography, then the second must be described by some other, non-Euclidean topography. The social space is multidimensional, since there are more than three variants of grouping people according to social characteristics that do not coincide with each other (population grouping according to the state, religion, nationality, profession, economic status, political parties, descent, sex, age etc.). The axes of differentiation of populations for each of these groups are specific, sui generis and do not coincide with each other, "P. Sorokin pointed out.

Three-dimensional social space of P. Sorokin

Fig. 13.2. P. Sorokin's three-dimensional social space

Thus, the two signs - multidimensionality and different quality of axes - make us say that the social space really should have a non-Euclidean metric (Figure 13.3).

Multidimensional space of P. Sorokin, whose vectors correspond to social characteristics (social groups)

Fig. 13.3. The multidimensional space of P. Sorokin, whose vectors correspond to social characteristics (social groups)

thematic pictures

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