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‘Social structure’ is one of the central and basic concepts of sociology. After World War II, the concept of social structure became popular in social anthropological studies and since then, it is applied to almost any ordered arrangement of social phenomena. Social structure is a pattern or arrangement of elements of a society in an organized and collec­tive way. The interactions and behaviour of the members of a society are stable and pat­terned. These stable patterns of interaction are called ‘social structures’.

Social structure is the framework of society that sets limits and establishes standards for our behaviour. It is, thus, defined simply as any recurring pattern of social behaviour. A social structure includes or is made-up of elements of society, such as institutions, statuses, roles, groups and social classes. Sociologists study social structure by examining the elements or parts that comprise it.

The study of social structure with the principal form of social organization, that is, types of groups, associations and institutions and the complex of these which constitutes societies. – Ginsberg

The term ‘social structure’ applies to the particular arrangement of inter-related institutions, agencies and social patterns as well as the statuses and roles, which each person assumes in the group. – Talcott Parsons

As now we have discussed about the concept of social structure, let us now proceed with the rural social structure of Indian villages that is unique and maintains a separate culture of their own, away from urban societies. Though the influence of urban areas is felt on rural areas, there are some specific aspects, which occupy a significant place in the rural society.

Some of them are caste, kinship, family, marriage, religion, economy and polity. Found in urban societies as well, these institutions are very rigid in their func­tioning in the rural society. For instance, the institution of family found in urban India is completely different from rural. The family in the village community has a greater importance.

If a member of a family defaults in paying his loan installments in a coop­erative bank, it brings great defamation to the whole family. It is very difficult for an individual to isolate himself from the family. The existence of individualism is marginal in the village. It is this perspective, which differentiates village institutions from urban institutions.

The rural social structure includes all these aspects in social, economic and political institutions. Thus, a rural community is a separate entity on its own. A correct idea about the rural social structure comes with an understanding of the characteristics of rural community

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