Accommodation – Definition, Features and Types of Accommodation in Sociology

Accommodation Sociology


Accommodation is the adjustment of hostile individuals or groups to develop temporary working arrangements. Individuals can overcome competition, contravention, and conflict in social relationships. Attaining a stage of equilibrium is the outcome of conflicting social interactions.

Accommodation is used to define relations within differentiated communities based on culture, religion, class, and ethnicity. This method finds a way for attaining harmony with a different group without losing the characteristics of the new entrant. In accommodation, one takes a chain of steps to adapt to the new conditions through new attitudes and habits.

Adaptation with physical environment and accommodation with the social environment

It is a resolution of conflicts by making oneself compatible in a new physical and social environment.

The adjustment occurs via organic or structural changes transmitted to another individual by heredity in the physical environment. It is referred to as adaptation.
The social adjustment by adopting new behavior, lifestyles, and attitudes transmitted by society socially is referred to as accommodation with the social environment.

Animals adjust among themselves by adaptation in the biological process. Human beings accommodate in the social environment in social situations.

Characteristic Features of Accommodation

It helps in the attainment of equilibrium between individuals and groups.
It assists resolution of conflicts.
It is a tool in problem-solving in social research methods.
It helps in tolerating relationships and saving energy and time.
It is universal.
It is an evolving and continuous process.
It is a mixture of conscious and unconscious human activity in varied social situations.
It is an associative social process in societal interaction.

Pak and Burgess classification of two categories of accommodation 

  1. Natural conditions
  2. Social conditions

The first one is the adjustment to different emerging natural conditions. It is the acclimatization or adjustment to the new climatic patterns and geographical conditions like soil and climate. An individual has to adapt physiologically to the new condition.

The second one is naturalization or adjustment to new social institutions, culture, folkways, and society. An individual has to undergo psychological modification to achieve behavioral and attitudinal changes.

Types and Methods of Accommodation

  1. Accommodation of Pressure
  2. Accommodation of Compromise
  3. Accommodation of Mediation
  4. Accommodation of Consensus
  5. Accommodation of Tolerance
  6. Accommodation of Coercion
  7. Accommodation of Arbitration and Conciliation
  8. Accommodation of Conversion
  9. Accommodation of Subordination
  10. Accommodation of Rationalisation

Accommodation of Pressure

Powerful individuals or groups apply a certain pressure over comparatively weaker groups or individuals in a conflicting societal interaction. Weaker individual or group accepts the pressure made by powerful ones to avoid long term conflicts in future.

Using political pressure to win over a person in a scenario is considered an accommodation of the pressure method. This type of accommodation ensures continued peace for the weaker section of the society.

Accommodation of Compromise

Rational justice in the process of social interaction is the method in this compromised form of accommodation. In a long-term conflict, both sides realize the continuous harm in which they are involved.

Both sections will involve the sacrifice of their demands to end the conflict. This type of accommodation can be seen in the international diplomacy of various nations. It is a conscious and rational method of accommodation.

Accommodation of Mediation

Mediation is an interlinked step with consensus. One group tries to understand what the other group wants by mediation. After that, they arrive at a consensus. The requirements of various groups are analyzed and studied by a middle person called a mediator in this process.

Sometimes intermediaries are not required, and they involve indirect mediation. Many social groups offer mediation processes for various conflicting situations in society.

Accommodation of Consensus

When two different groups or individuals arrive at a mutual understanding or consensus, it results in accommodation. Employer-employee conflicts are mostly solved by the consensus accommodation method. Continuous talks and deliberation are very important factors in reaching a consensus.

Peace is restored in the social situation after individuals or groups attain accommodation. Each party arrives in some concession to the other side for yielding consensus in accommodation.

Accommodation of Tolerance 

A multi-ethnic, multireligious, multicultural, multi-linguistic nation like India, Singapore, U.S., Philippines is a shining example of accommodation of tolerance. Such an accommodation ensures peace in a heterogeneous society.

It is the avoidance of overt conflict rather than consensus among people. Individuals give priority to avoid conflicting situations intolerance method of accommodation.

Accommodation of Coercion

It is the application of force to eliminate, diminish or terminate a conflict in society. It involves sections from two different situations with an unequal power structure. Treaties signed by Allied powers after World War 2 with Axis powers are an example of accommodation of coercion.

In such a conflict loser has to select between accepting defeat and sign a treaty according to the winners’ terms or risk of being terminated altogether.

Accommodation of Arbitration and Conciliation

Third-party involves in such a situation to end the conflict. Internationally diplomats and politicians consider this an important method in settling cross-boundary disputes. Even though there is a similarity to mediation, there are differences between mediation and arbitration.

The people with diversity are brought together, and a settlement is reached after meeting a common ground in mediation. The mediators suggest a common ground if the parties involved are unable to find common ground. However, the opinions provided by mediators do not have a binding impact on the parties involved. In arbitration, the decision provided by arbitrators is binding on the parties involved.

International Council for Commercial Arbitration provides such binding decisions to parties involved.

Accommodation of Conversion

It is the way of accommodation in which individuals or groups give up their belief systems and join or convert to a new system of beliefs and traditions.

This method of accommodation is seen in religious conversions around the world.

Accommodation of Subordination

It is the type of accommodation found in joint, extended and nuclear families. A child accepting the parent’s control and being subordinate to them is an example of accommodation of subordination.

Teacher child relationship in the classroom is also a kind of subordination. It is also found in the Military as a part of the discipline of the force.

Accommodation of Rationalisation

It is the method in which one hides one’s fault and finds imaginary reasons to justify their version of opinions.

The United States attacking Iraq for imaginary nuclear weapons is one such excuse to start a war. The United States considered Iraq and its nukes as a threat to regional stability.

Conclusion: Accommodation and its social necessity 

As conflict results in disturbing peace and equilibrium in the social system, all societies find resolution methods like accommodation as important for their continued existence. It enables cooperation in a complex heterogeneous society.

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