Some things you cannot have without another.

Take a hammer and a screw for example, the overall goal is to build something using both tools, but you cannot nail a screw in without a hammer and you cannot hammer anything together without the screw. The same idea applies to building a rising society, the individual shapes the community and the community shapes the individual. There’s this idea called functionalism originally pioneered by Auguste Comte and became prominent in the study of sociology. The theoretical perspective is that social events can best be explained in terms of the functions they can perform. Societies are thought to function like organisms. Various social institutions work together like organs to maintain and reproduce society, just like the community and the individual. Without working together, the individual is looked at in terms of selfishness and the community is viewed as inhuman.

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With both the community and the individual, it creates stability and integration within the society. The selfish individual and the inhuman community are equally important because you cannot have one without the other. For starters, let’s take a look into just the individual. It is said that without the individual there is no community. Social institutions (embedded patterns of behavior within a society) represent shared values that only under rare circumstances would a group of individuals have the same set of shared objectives.

Because they are individuals, it is probable that some of their objectives will be different and conflict or compete. It is necessary for the community to have a set of social institutions to coordinate competing values and ends. This idea goes along with German sociologist and philosopher, Max Weber, who said that individuals act according to their interpretation of the meaning of their world. The theoretical approach emphasizes the role of symbols and language as the core elements of all human interactions. Meaning through communication and the knowledge of what an item is to stand for, individuals use these as the basis of human interactions within society.

But getting too deep with your individual rights and your interactions within society can lead to not thinking of the community as a whole and committing acts of selfishness. We then come to the micro-level theory that focuses on the relationships among individuals within a society. Micro-level sociology looks at small-scale interactions between individuals, such as conversation or group dynamics. It is key that without these small-scale interactions between individuals, a large-scale community full of interactions will not be formed. Society is thought to be socially constructed through human interpretations. But you see, a “society” is nothing more than just a sum of all the people that live in it. If individuals didn’t each have an effect on shaping society, then society wouldn’t be shaped at all.

Then we take a look at just the community. It is said that for the individual to be shaped by the community, we should direct it to just exactly what our principle morals are. As a social primate species, we modulate our morals with signals from family, friends and social groups with whom we identify because in our evolutionary past those attributes helped individuals to survive and reproduce. We do not just blindly concede control to authorities; instead we follow the cues provided by our moral communities on how best to behave. We are kind of forced to follow the cues displayed to us by the community on how to behave. Sometimes letting community shape the individual is not all that good. It stripes us of our moral rights and leads us to making decisions that will negatively impact our needs in society.

As we talked about functionalism in the beginning, it is also criticized for its failure to account for social change and individual agency; some consider this conservatively biased. As you can see, functionalism can downplay the role of individuals actions, and for being unable to account for social change. Then we take a look into macro interactions rather than micro interactions of the individual. Macro-level sociology looks at large-scale social processes, such as social stability and change. Macrosociology allows observation of large-scale patterns and trends, but runs the risk of seeing these trends as abstract entities that exist outside of the individuals who enact them on the ground. Meaning that the community is such a large-scale group, that their ideas as whole will both positively and negatively affect the individuals within it.

In this case, functionalism downplays the individual action to a base of society while symbolic interactionism focuses on microscale interactions to build on a society. But this is where as the individual you get shaped into your community. Once you establish the individual, you get to create a community where everyone comes down to the same morals and classifies under one society.

The individual will get greedy and selfish to fulfill their wants and needs, when not taught, that once you establish the individual, you expand to working together as a community. The community will get inhuman and merciless to fulfill their wants and needs, when not taught, that once you establish the community, you expand to doing what’s best for society as a whole. As explained over and over again, and after making point after point, societies thought to work like organisms and broken down into two parts, micro and macro theories. Micro studies illuminate broad institutional patterns. The face-to-face interactions from each individual is the basis of all forms of social organization, no matter how large the scale.

Macro analysis is essential for understanding the institutional background of daily life, because people’s lives are affected by the broader institutional framework. No matter how many indirect or electronic relationships we enter into, even the most complex societies require the presence of other people.