Social Structure

Social structure refers to the patterned or regularized aspects of the relationships existing among participants in an organization (Scott p. 16). It is comprised of normative and behavioral structures, both interdependent.

"All social groups... are characterized by a normative structure applicable to the participants and by a behavioral structure linking in a common network or pattern of activities, interactions, and sentiments". Scott p. 17 "Not only stability and order, but tension and stress, deviance and change, can often be attributed to structural factors" p. 17

The normative structure helps create the regularized patterns seen in the behavioral structure. Normative structure embodies what "ought to be", and includes values, norms, and role expectations.Changes in behavioral structure can affect and modify the normative structure. "Behavior shapes norms just as norms shape behavior" Scott p. 17. Sometimes the norms and behavior are similar, sometimes different, but always exist in dynamic tension.

The behavior structure focuses on actual behavior -- "what is". Homans classifies behavior into activities, interactions, and sentiments (Homans 1950). Organizational behavior focuses on the recurring patterns of behavior. Power structure and sociometric structure are examples of behavioral structure. (Scott p. 17).

Katz and Kahn add that "the cement that holds (social structures) together is essential psychological than biological. Social systems are anchored in the attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, motivations, habits, and expectations of human beings". (p. 37)

Event-structure theory is another explanation of social structure.

Katz and Kahn (p. 37) note that "There has been no more pervasive, persistent, and futile fallacy handicapping the social sciences than the use of the physical model for the understanding of social processes"