A social relation or also described as a social interaction or social experience is the fundamental unit of analysis within the social sciences, and describes any voluntary or involuntary interpersonal relationship between two or more individuals within and/or between groups. The group can be a language or kinship group, a social institution or organization, an economic class, a nation, or gender. Social relations are derived from
human behavioral ecology
Human behavioral ecology (HBE) or human evolutionary ecology applies the principles of evolutionary theory and optimization to the study of human behavioral and cultural diversity. HBE examines the adaptive design of traits, behaviors, and ...
, and, as an aggregate, form a coherent
In the social sciences, social structure is the aggregate of patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of individuals. Likewise, society is believed to be grouped into structurally rel ...
whose constituent parts are best understood relative to each other and to the ecosystem as a whole.
Fundamental inquiries into the nature of social relations feature in the work of sociologists such as
Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German sociologist, historian, jurist and political economist, who is regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of modern Western society. His ideas pr ...
in his theory of
In sociology, social action, also known as Weberian social action, is an act which takes into account the actions and reactions of individuals (or ' agents'). According to Max Weber, "Action is 'social' insofar as its subjective meaning takes ac ...
. Social relationships are composed of both positive (affiliative) and negative (agonistic) interactions, representing opposing effects.
Categorization is the ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as objects, events, or ideas), organizing and classifying experience by associating them to a ...
social interactions enables observational and other social research, such as Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
(lit. 'community and society'),
Collective consciousness, collective conscience, or collective conscious (french: conscience collective) is the set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society.''Collins Dictionary of Sociolog ...
Forms of relation and interaction
According to Piotr Sztompka
, forms of relation and interaction in sociology and
Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, societies, and linguistics, in both the present and past, including past human species. Social anthropology studies patterns of beha ...
may be described as follows: first and most basic are animal-like
Behavior ( American English) or behaviour ( British English) is the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or artificial entities in some environment. These systems can include other systems or organisms as ...
s, i.e. various physical movements of the body. Then there are
Action may refer to:
* Action (narrative), a literary mode
* Action fiction, a type of genre fiction
* Action game, a genre of video game
* Action film, a genre of film
* ''Action'' (1921 film), a film by John Ford
* ''Action'' (1980 ...
s—movements with a meaning and purpose. Then there are social behavior
s, or social actions, which address (directly or indirectly) other people, which solicit a response from another agent.
Next are social contacts
, a pair of social actions, which form the beginning of social interactions. Social interactions in turn form the basis of social relations. Symbols define social relationships. Without symbols, our social life would be no more sophisticated than that of animals. For example, without symbols people would have no aunts or uncles, employers or teachers-or even brothers and sisters. In sum, symbolic integrations analyze how social life depends on the ways people define themselves and others. They study
Face-to-face interaction is social communication carried out without any mediating technology. It is defined as the mutual influence of individuals’ direct physical presence with their body language and verbal language. It is one of the basic ...
, examining how people make sense out of life, how they determine their relationships.
* Affectional action
* Communicative action
* Dramaturgical action
Instrumental and value-rational action
"Instrumental" and "value-rational action" are terms scholars use to identify two kinds of behavior that humans can engage in. Scholars call using means that "work" as tools, instrumental action, and pursuing ends that are "right" as legitimate ...
Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems, i.e. cohesive groups of interrelated, interdependent components that can be natural or human-made. Every system has causal boundaries, is influenced by its context, defined by its structu ...
The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclosure, but also in their duration, in t ...
Relations of production
Relations of production (german: Produktionsverhältnisse, links=no) is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their theory of historical materialism and in '' Das Kapital''. It is first explicitly used in Marx's publi ...
Social isolation is a state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects temporary and involuntary lack of contact with other humans in the world. Social isolation c ...
A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social or political one. This may be to carry out a social change, or to resist or undo one. It is a type of group action and ...
Social multiplier effect The social multiplier effect is a term used in economics, economic geography, sociology, public health and other academic disciplines to describe certain social externalities. It is based on the principle that high levels of one attribute amongst ...
A social robot is an autonomous robot that interacts and communicates with humans or other autonomous physical agents by following social behaviors and rules attached to its role. Like other robots, a social robot is physically embodied (avatars ...
Symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory that develops from practical considerations and alludes to particular effects of communication and interaction in people to make images and normal implications, for deduction and correspondence w ...
A tradition is a belief or behavior (folk custom) passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. A component of cultural expressions and folklore, common examples include holidays ...
Engaged theory is a methodological framework for understanding social complexity. It takes social life or social relations as its base category, with 'the social' always understood as grounded in 'the natural', including humans as embodied beings ...
Social philosophy examines questions about the foundations of social institutions, social behavior, and interpretations of society in terms of ethical values rather than empirical relations. Social philosophers emphasize understanding the social ...
Social psychology is the scientific study of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people or by social norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the ...
* Relationship science
* Azarian, Reza. 2010. "Social Ties: Elements of a Substantive Conceptualisation." '' Acta Sociologica
* Piotr Sztompka
, Socjologia, Znak, 2002,
* Weber, Max
. "The Nature of Social Action." In ''Weber: Selections in Translation'', edited by W. G. Runciman
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the university press of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest university press in the world. It is also the King's Printer.
Cambridge University Pre ...