ABSTRACT: In this paper, a modest attempt is made to highlight the contributions of the great Tamil Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar who lived about 2000 years ago, on social thought and social order. The contributions of many of the Nineteenth and Twentieth century western thinkers seemed to have toed the line of thinking of their predecessor in Tamilnadu (India). Using the Parsonian GAIL model, the analysis traces the constituents of the GAIL model in the writings of Thiruvalluvar. Examining the ‘functional primacy’ of the subsystems in the direction of and contribution to the maintenance of social order, this paper dwells into the famous couplets of Thirukkkural. The society’s ability to ensure relationship among the people is a vital determinant of social order. One has to take note of the message that Thirukkural offers very seriously to keep the order in society; or else the society may look like one at enmity with peace
The science of sociology remains dichotomized. Of the ‘Two Sociologies’(Dawe 1970), one speaks of social system and the other social action. Though poles apart, the central problems of the ‘Two Sociologies’ revolves around those of order and control. The sociology of social system considers that without external control or constraints, social and individual well-being will be at the crossroads. On the other hand, the sociology of social action proceeds with the key notion that truly human social order could be achieved only when man is freed from external constraints. The ‘Two Sociologies’ have their intellectual ancestry in functionalism on the one hand and conflict theory on the other. One among the ‘sociological trinity’, Emile Durkheim, whose name is associated with functionalism, was preoccupied with gaining insight into social order. Functionalism is inextricably tied up with the question of order. It asks: ‘how is order maintained in society?’ Looking at society as a relatively persisting configuration of elements, functionalism considers that it is only the parts of the society which ensure order, stability, cohesion and integrity. Though the dialectical model views change and tension to be ubiquitous, both functionalism and conflict theory are based on an equilibrium model of society.
Talcott Parsons (1951), evincing interest in the pattern of interaction and cooperation, believes that all social systems are confronted by two sets of problems which need to be resolved. While the instrumental problems relate to achieving certain ends, expressive problems have to do with the maintenance of efficient cooperation between individuals. Refining and shedding more light on this, Parsons maintains that any social system is subject to four independent functional imperatives or problems.
The equilibrium or the ‘continued existence’ of the social system will be in jeopardy unless answers to those problems are found. These four ‘functional imperatives’ or ‘problems’ which constitute the GAIL model are:
* Goal Attainment
Goal attainment refers to setting of goals and moving the system towards its goal. Adaptation is concerned with procuring the means to achieve these ends. Maintenance of harmony and solidarity in the face of ‘deviance’ which a discrepancy between ‘ends and means’ engenders, becomes the concern of Integration. Latency is concerned with ‘tension management’ and stability in the face of strains towards destabilization.
Smelser (1972) considers that certain subsystems become functionally important in meeting the needs of the society which GAIL represents. While ‘polity’
as a subsystem aims at resolving the problems of goal attainment, the economic subsystem takes care of the ‘Adaptation’
function. Industry produces and distributes the means by which survival, progress and improvement in the standard of living become possible. The ‘Integration’
function is concerned with the problem of socialization. The cultural subsystem meets the needs of ‘Latency’
, which leads us to recharge our batteries and come alive and work as useful members of society. The capacity of the social system to sustain itself is not only augmented, but the collapse of the social system is also stalled when the ‘functional pre-requisites’ are satisfied.
This paper is oriented toward the examination of the ‘functional primacy’ of these subsystems in the direction of an overall contribution to the maintenance of social order. An effort is, therefore, made to bring above the watermark of visibility the extent to which their relevancy remains capsuled in the couplets of Saint Thiruvalluvar who touched upon these aspects several centuries earlier than many of the sociologists and psychologists.
(to be continued