TUE 31 - 3 - 2020
Feb 27, 2020
The Daily Star
Between social order and chaos
Rubina Abu Zeinab-Chahine
The issue has been and will always be how society progresses from a state of disorder and uncertainty to one of high order and reasonableness.
This concern is more severe in “Fragile States” that rise from a combination of many influencing factors inclusive of a focus on human security and peace building, a concern for the relationship between state efficacy and growth, and a perception that underdevelopment and instability are linked.
Fragile societies are often marked by continued violence and uncertainty, a history of war, poor governments, and the inability to deliver efficient and fair public goods.
It is understood that development in these circumstances cannot be “business as usual,” and that precarious circumstances require a concerted cross-sectoral solution that incorporates state building, peace building, and the use of whole of- government strategies. In addition, it needs preventive actions rather than reactive.
With concentration on the intersection between governance, development, security and state building, experts suggest that the discussion should be about values that are central to the way the current world order is viewed.
Social order is a fundamental concept that refers to how the different components of society work together to maintain the status quo. It is a broad concept that focuses on the relationships, standards and hierarchies of society. This represents social structures, organizations, relationships and processes, covering cultural elements such as traditions, ideologies and ideals.
People will use the term "social order" outside of the field of sociology to describe a state of stabilization and agreement that occurs in the lack of chaos and upheaval.
However, sociologists have a more sophisticated understanding of the concept. It refers to the entity of many interconnected parts of a society inside the field. Social order exists as people commit to a shared social contract stating that certain rules and laws must be followed, and that certain expectations, principles and norms must be upheld.
It is possible to observe social order within geographical regions, bodies, associations, families, as well as formal and informal entities, at the local and global scale. It is most frequently hierarchical within all of these; Some individuals hold more sway than others so that they can uphold the law, regulations, and norms required to preserve social order.
Practices, actions, principles and attitudes contrary to those of the social order are usually described as deviated or sometimes dangerous, and are thus restricted by law enforcement, regulations and standards.
The problem of how to establish and maintain social order is the issue which gave birth to the field of sociology. Thomas Hobbes paved the way for the social sciences to answer to this issue. He acknowledged that there can be no society without any form of social agreement, and in the absence of social order, chaos and disorder would rise to power.
Modern states were set up in order to supply social order as explained by Hobbes. People agree to allow the state to empower the rule of law, and they renounce some of their powers in exchange. This is the nature of the social contract that exists at the root of the theory of social order. Other scientists were interested in pursuing the issue of social order, namely at the level of industrialization, urbanization and the decline of religion as a major force in social life.
Various approaches on how to establish and maintain social order, and to what ends included the connection among a social system, freedom agency and the ability to change present social structures.
Social structures make order and change simpler. They are the defined cultural, political and economic institutions. They might be enablers or constrainers. These roads are paths created by other people who have powers over communities. What do I need personally? What does the group need? And, what is our collective interest? What are the issues that should be identified to maintain social systems?
How can we change the social structures around us as individuals? How do we contribute to its evolution? Is social order sustained through coercion exerted by others or through perceived mutual benefit? To what extent is achieving widely respected group outcomes accomplished by reducing individuality and promoting diversity?
In society, normlessness is not uncommon. Social coordination needs stabilization and predictability. When addressing uncertainty, the concept of structure is important. When society acts unpredictably, we start to get disordered. However, sometimes the rim of chaos denotes a phase of transformation between disorder and order.
Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic and financial crisis of its modern history. The dramatic economic downturn severely impaired economic development and caused major delays in progress. Higher unemployment, revenue loss, and increased poverty were among the crisis's prevailing social effects.
Today, Lebanon sits at the center of the storm. The shifting social hierarchies are troubling. Many Lebanese struggle to survive in an ever more difficult economic climate. Increasing numbers of people have to manage to sustain their initial living standards, while others, have fallen into loans to attempt financing the lives they're used to. The outlook for middle class in Lebanon is bleak.
Nevertheless, every crisis offers an opportunity. A prospect to pursue social progress, as daunting as it may be, by making social order and security a priority, recreating the social effects of the crisis, and promoting more inclusive and sustainable growth. Stability is maintained when social structures are accepted and maintained by members of society.
Rubina Abu Zeinab-Chahine is executive director of the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Development.
The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy
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