Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary.


The word "Social" derives from the Latin word socii ("allies"). It is particularly derived from the Italian ''
Socii The ''socii'' ( in English) or '' foederati'' ( in English) were confederates of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (m ...
'' states, historical allies of the Roman Republic (although they rebelled against Rome in the Social War of 91-88 BC). +201098838419

Social theorists

In the view of
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary. Born in Trier, German Confederation, Germany, Marx studied law and ph ...

Karl Marx
Morrison, Ken. ''Marx, Durkheim, Weber. Formations of modern social thought'', human beings are intrinsically, necessarily and by definition social beings who, beyond being "gregarious creatures", cannot survive and meet their needs other than through social co-operation and association. Their social characteristics are therefore to a large extent an objectively given fact, stamped on them from birth and affirmed by
socialization In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, em ...
processes; and, according to Marx, in producing and reproducing their material life, people must necessarily enter into relations of production which are "independent of their will". By contrast, the sociologist
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist, who is regarded among the most important theorists on the development of modern Weste ...

Max Weber
for example defines human action as "social" if, by virtue of the subjective meanings attached to the action by individuals, it "takes account of the behavior of others, and is thereby oriented in its course".

In socialism

The term "
socialism Socialism is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of Economic systems, economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production.Arnold, N. S ...
", used from the 1830s onwards in
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Overseas France, several overseas regions and territories. The metro ...
and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
, was directly related to what was called the social question. In essence, early socialists contended that the emergence of competitive market societies did not create "liberty, equality and fraternity" for all citizens, requiring the intervention of
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that stu ...
social reform A reform movement is a type of social movement Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is Volition (psych ...
to tackle social problems, injustices and grievances (a topic on which
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, , ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Republic of Geneva, Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment throughout Europe, as w ...
discourses at length in his classic work '' The Social Contract''). Originally the term "socialist" was often used interchangeably with "
co-operative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomy, autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned wiktionary:Enter ...
", " mutualist", " associationist" and "collectivist" in reference to the organization of economic enterprise socialists advocated, in contrast to the private enterprise and Corporation, corporate organizational structures inherent to capitalism. The modern concept of socialism evolved in response to the development of industrial capitalism. The "social" in modern "socialism" came to refer to the specific perspective and understanding socialists had of the development of material, economic forces and determinants of human behavior in society. Specifically, it denoted the perspective that Human nature, human behavior is largely determined by a person's immediate social environment, that modes of social organization were not supernatural or metaphysical constructs but products of the social system and social environment, which were in turn products of the level of technology/mode of production (the material world), and were therefore constantly changing. Social and economic systems were thus not the product of innate human nature, but of the underlying form of economic organization and level of technology in a given society, implying that human social relations and incentive-structures would also change as social relations and social organization changes in response to improvements in technology and evolving material forces ( relations of production). This perspective formed the bulk of the foundation for Karl Marx's Historical materialism, materialist conception of history.

Modern uses

In contemporary society, "social" often refers to the Redistribution (economics), redistributive policies of the government which aim to apply resources in the public interest, for example, [social security]. Policy concerns then include the problems of social exclusion and social cohesion. Here, "social" contrasts with "Privacy, private" and to the distinction between the public and the private (or privatised) spheres, where ownership relations define access to resources and attention. The social domain is often also contrasted with that of physical nature, but in sociobiology analogies are drawn between humans and other extant taxon, living species in order to explain social behavior in terms of biology, biological factors.

See also

*Social media *Sociology *Social network *Social neuroscience *Social psychology *Social skills *Social support *Social studies *Social undermining *Social work *Social cue


External links

Dolwick, JS. 2009. The 'Social' and Beyond: Introducing Actor Network Theory
article examining different meanings of the concept 'social' {{Authority control Sociological terminology