(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Sociological Theory and Concepts in Public Administration A.P. Barnadas

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Sociological Theory and Concepts in Public Administration A.P. Barnadas


The three approaches’ to the study of society in Sociology are- structure; function, interaction and conflict “Functionalism” is referred as an “integration theory”. It regards society as a structure of mutually interrelated parts which are sustained by mechanisms and which provide for, equilibrium: Various’ parts of the society are understood primarily in terms of relationship to the whole. Social order social stability, inter-dependence division of labour are same aspects of structure functionalist approach. It also maintains, that social institutions’ serve functions, which are essential for the survival of existing systems. Smelser suggest that the following aspects are central ideas of the theory.

  • Institutions serve purpose as the on-going society effort to guarantee that its main goals are realised.
  • Institutions manifest a strain towards consistency, e.g. the contours of a higher education shaped by the functional needs or higher technology service based economy.
  • Strains and contradictions in institutional life set up by equilibrating g process that change these institutions in adaptive direction.
  • A principal from of change in developing societies is structural differentiation. Van Dev Berghe feels that the following elements are involved in the structure function approach:
  • Societies must be looked at holistically as systems of inter- related Parts, Hence the causation’ is multiple and reciprocal. Social. Systems are in state of dynamic equilibrium, the dominant tendency is towards stabilizing and inertia.
  • Change generally occurs’ in a gradual adjusticive factor-not in a sudden revolutionary way.
  • Changes tome from basically three sources: adjustment of the system, exogenous growth through structural functional growth and inventions or innovations by members and group within society.
  • The most important and basic factor making for social integration is value consensus.

Conflict Theory

Some Sociologists believe that conflict is pervasive in all societies. It is considered intrinsic to any social organisation in which there are accepted differences in authority between groups. There is reference to exogenous and endogenous conflicts the former refers to conflict brought-in by an outside force which may integrate the society inflicted upon (e.g. invasion or war may get the whole society together). The latter refers to conflicts within society. Most conflict theories derive from a Marxian perceptive which involves the analysis of the infrastructure, There is a basic contradiction between forces and relations of production. Exploitation and oppression by the ruling class, which will lead to disintegration of society:

Though Marx view still dominates the conflict theory there are some other views-too. There is a suggestion that main agency of domination is post- industrial capitalism, not as in classical Marxian sense but rather as technical administrative state based on instrumental rationalities. Thus the state is the oppressor. There is also reference to new movements-environmental, antinuclear antiwar, women, social, ethnic. Their movements are not class based but often arise out of social policies and-bureaucratic intervention:

Some refer to the dependency theory, which suggests that not only is their conflict between the donor and the recipient, but also between those who can manipulate the receipts from the donors to the disadvantage of others in society.

While the two theories briefly stated tend to be universal the interaction theory is to be seen more in terms of middle range theories. Symbolic interaction refers to the peculiar distinctive character as takes place between human beings. Interactions is to examine how individuals direct their action at each other. The assumption being that action is meaningful to individuals who are in interaction. The need is to provide an interpretation of the meaning that individuals attach to their activities. Blumer says that actors do not simply react to each other’s action but define each other’s action. An action is not immediate but rather based on an assessment of the meaning of the act.

Public administration, to prove a meaningful approach to administration and governance, needs to look at the analysis of society. If equilibrium is the main factor in social relations, how does public administration suggest- that changes and innovations can be part of the administrative process. Part of the difficulty is that the administrative system ‘is a part of the social system. The need for reforms in the administrative set up is to rise above itself. The society in India is fall of conflicts caste, class, region, language, religion etc.

There exists a conflict between citizens and the administrators. Research studies have indicated alienation between the two.

For good governance, there is a need to analyse factors causing conflict-so as to formulate policies which can provide stability. Dependency theory has implications for public administration. The interact ion theory provides insight into human behaviour which administration needs to understand.

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