People, through social relationships , can approach or depart, giving rise to forms of association or dissociation. This dynamic aspect is called the social processes.
The sociability , which is natural ability of human beings to live in society, develops through socialization . It is through socialization that a person joins a group, assimilating customs, habits and rules.
A fundamental aspect of the social process is social contact . The social contact is the root of life in society. It is through social contact that we establish relationships with other people. There are basically two types of social contacts. The first is called primary social contacts . These are personal and intimate. Individuals tend to share their particular experiences; there is a certain fusion of individuality. Contact is complete, that is, it is considered as an end in itself. These are personal contacts where there is a strong emotional base: the relationship between parents and children, husband and wife, teacher and student, a group of friends, etc. As for the secondary social contactsthey are informal, impersonal and calculated. They are usually superficial, involving only one facet of the personality. An example: a customer enters a pharmacy and asks the pharmacist for medicine. Contact is informal and rational. Other examples of secondary social contacts are those maintained by letter, telephone, e-mail, etc.
In contemporary society, there is, when compared to past times, a decrease in the groups of primary contacts. There are several reasons for this: industrialization and urbanization; the fact that people are very busy, having relatively little time to devote to others. In fact, most of our social contacts are secondary. Today, the majority of the population lives in large cities where there is great physical proximity, but where human relations are, in general, impersonal. Feelings of competition and individualism often result in a loss of affectivity among human beings. Many people live alone and lonely, having few primary social contacts.
The absence of social contacts is called social isolation . Isolation can be understood as the lack of contact or communication between groups or individuals. Nowadays, there is practically no absolute isolation. But there are isolated communities, which have little contact with other communities.
The forces behind this isolation are called social attitudes and individual attitudes . Social activities are manifested through prejudice, whether racial, religious, ethnic, sexual, etc. An individual attitude that causes and reinforces isolation is shyness. People who have great difficulty in establishing bonds of coexistence and affection with others are more likely to live alone, isolated, on the margins of society.
Sociologists indicate five types of isolation: spatial, structural, functional, psychic and habitudinal.
The spatial or physical isolation is the absence of contacts due to geophysical factors: mountains, valleys, forests, deserts, rivers, oceans , etc. These factors and the distance between communities act as insulators.
The structural insulation is constituted by biological differences such as age, sex and race. Society assigns diverse roles and activities to men and women, adults and children and, consequently, creates differences of interest. The isolation of ethnic, religious and racial groups occurs in several countries. Age also results in isolation in societies. Isolation of the elderly, for example, is a problem in today’s society.
The functional insulation originates from a physical disability – blindness, mutism, deafness and other physical limitations. People with physical disabilities have limited participation in many of society’s activities.
The psychological isolation occurs because of different interests, tastes and preferences of individuals belonging to the same culture. Psychic isolation is what separates the great intellectual from the illiterate, the farmer’s entrepreneur. The existence of clubs, political parties and secret societies reinforces psychic isolation.
Finally, habitual isolation occurs due to differences in habits, customs, language, religion, etc. There is habitual isolation among people who do not speak the same language. Religious fanaticism also leads to a lack of communication between members of different religions.
The communication is essential for the survival and development of humanity. It is also fundamental for culture.
Communication can take place through non-vocal means, such as expressions and physiognomic traits, inarticulate sounds, based on emotions, and by words and symbols, that is, by language. The main means of communication for human beings is language. It is through it that we are able to establish and solidify relationships with other human beings: expressing ideas, thoughts, teachings and feelings. If there is no effective communication, there is no development or progress.
In addition to the spoken language, the human being developed several forms of communication. One of the most important is writing. Another fundamental step in the development of communication was the invention of printing, by Gutenberg, in the 15th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries, telegraph, telephone, radio, cinema, television, satellite communication and, more recently, the Internet were invented.
Social contacts and interaction are essential for human beings and human society. Social interaction affects the people involved, due to the contact and communication established between them.
Progress in the media, mainly from the widespread use of the Internet, has resulted in the creation of new forms of social contact. Nowadays, there is interactivity – the exchange of information simultaneously – between people living in different parts of the world.
Social relationship is the form taken by social interaction in each situation. For example, a seller and a buyer establish a business relationship; teacher and student establish a pedagogical relationship. Social relationships can also be family, religious, cultural, political, etc.
Cooperation is a type of social process. Social processes are the ways in which people relate and establish social relationships.
Social processes can be associative and dissociative . Associative processes establish forms of cooperation and coexistence in a group. Dissociative processes, on the other hand, manifest themselves through divergences and even conflicts. The main associative social processes are cooperation , accommodation and assimilation . The main dissociative social processes are competition and conflict .
Cooperation is the social process in which two or more individuals or groups work together to achieve the same objective or purpose.
Cooperation can be temporary : people come together to perform a task for a temporary period. Examples: group study, joint efforts. Continuous cooperation occurs between individuals or groups that, established in a specific location, always need the collaboration of each other. Example: the inhabitants of a city collaborate, take measures, to reduce pollution.
Cooperation can also be direct : individuals perform activities together. This type of cooperation is divided into associated work – for example, a family shopping at the fair; overtime – for example, a task force; integration of different works (different works aiming at a common goal) – for example, the production of a film, which requires the work of different professionals and specialists.
Indirect cooperation is doing different jobs. Cooperation occurs because individuals are not self-sufficient. An example of indirect cooperation is that between a farmer and a doctor: the doctor needs the food planted and harvested by the farmer and the farmer needs medical care.
There are many interests that lead individuals and groups to cooperate. In short, cooperation is social solidarity in action.
The competition is basically the opposite of cooperation. It is the form of interaction that involves effort, struggle, for scarce resources or for objectives that cannot be achieved by everyone. For the satisfaction of their needs and desires, individuals and groups compete with each other.
Competition occurs when there are more applicants than positions: those who want to achieve a better situation enter into competition with other competitors. An example of competition is a presidential election: several people crave the most politically important position, but in a country there can be only one president. There are several candidates for just one post, which is highly sought after; therefore, there is competition that often manifests itself in an aggressive and hostile manner.
Another example of competition is the entrance exam: generally, there are more candidates than vacancies, mainly for the most popular courses. But this is an example of competition that is generally beneficial, as it encourages study, discipline and diligence. Competition can become harmful when it results in conflict – that is, when it results in high social tension and even violence. The fundamental difference between competition and conflict is that competition is not necessarily personal and does not necessarily result in hostility.
The most accepted definition of conflict is that it is a dispute between individuals or groups in which each dispute seeks a solution that excludes that desired by the other disputants.
There are several forms of conflict. The rivalry comprises jealousy and antagonism (for example, two boys who want to marry the same girl). The debate is the controversy over views, ideas or beliefs (for example, debates in Congress and the Senate). The discussion is how to debate characterized by a certain degree of hostility (eg, exchange of harsh words between people who support different political parties). The dispute is a lawsuit between opposing parties. The contention is the fight between individuals or groups (twisted arranged between, for example). Finally, wars are fights between countries or national, ethnic, religious groups, etc.
In reality, there are conflicts all the time, in all countries and in all societies. There are conflicts between police and criminals, between countries that are at war, between dictatorial governments and the civilian population that fights for their civil rights, etc.
It is important to note that not every conflict is harmful and undesirable. The social conflict , for example, is a social process that can bring about positive changes in society. An example of this: in the 1960s, in the United States, civil rights were obtained by the black population through social conflict.