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- Unit-1 Studying Human SocietyUnit-1
Unit-1 Studying Human Society
This unit familarize the students with some tips on how to study a society.
What do you understand from the fact that the society is made up of several levels of reality?
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Society is not what it looks like. It looks like a mere aggregation or individuals. But actually it is more than all individuals put together. This is because once the individuals come together, they add so many values to the process of social living. These values concern many important issues of living together. To count some prominent ones: freedom, equality, mutual respect, toleration of others, progress, balancing of moral and material interests etc. The biggest challenge to the policy makers is to prioritize among these values. Is growth more important than distribution of benefits? To answer this question, one cannot take a view of either-or. Because if we insist on distributive justice (that is equitable distribution), then we need to have goods for that purpose. which is only possible through growth. Therefore mere insistence on growth is not enough. Those of us who study societies should remember that social phenomena normally occur with these type of opposites unfolding from inside them. A popular example is: a glass half full is half empty; but pause for a moment and ask yourself, is it always either half empty or half full? It would actually depend or whether you are thirsty or not. Society is not what it looks like. It looks like a mere aggregation or individuals. But actually it is more than all individuals put together. This is because once the individuals come together, they add so many values to the process of social living.
All the above examples only show that studying a society or a social phenomenon requires first of all a recognition that social reality consists of several levels. Secondly, the top visible level need not be representative of the reality as a whole. Thirdly, a true picture of the social phenomenon is possible only if we take care to consider all aspects of that phenomenon. Karl Marx has very insightfully observed that "lf the apparent were real, then there would be no need for a science". Society therefore should be viewed in its depth from all sides. Edmund Leach, a famous anthropologist once chided his fellow brothers who described tribes in terms of their colourful dresses, ornaments, living patterns etc. He called them a bunch of butterfly catchers. why? You may ask. Tribals as we know are a mass of down-trodden people whose problems of living have not drawn as much attention of these colonial anthropologists a their external bearings. But the question of understanding social reality is a very perplexing one. Mainly because the complexity of the routine living and doing is endlessly varied. From among this complex matrix, to pick one or one set of options is not easy. However, we are always required to make such choices before we take a decision.