Course Content
Survival of the Fittest
Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer
Moral Actions – Spencer
Types of Cooperation – Herbert Spencer
Critique of Communism and Socialism
Society as a Thing – Spencer and Realism
Comparative-Historical Method
Value Free Sociology of Spencer
Criticism of Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
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    Degree of Composition

    According to the first thesis of the classification system, societies evolve from simple to different degrees of the compound based on their degree of composition.

    The “degree of composition” is the foundation of Spencer’s initial classification scheme. Spencer classified the data into social categories based on the increasing complexity of the political institutions to systematize it in an evolutionary sequence. According to Spencer, the demand for integration is directly inversely correlated with the degree of differentiation since differentiation and integration are twin processes in evolution. Political institutions are the main social structures that promote integration; thus, the more diverse a society is, the more specialized and complicated the political institutions will be. As a result, the character of the political institution serves as a gauge for its level of development. Based on this justification, Spencer created a classificatory typology in which he ranked the social types according to the degree of social organization complexity shown by the characteristics of the political institutions. This typology served as Spencer’s representation of the universal social development theory. According to him, civilizations evolve from simple to several phases of the compound based on their degree of composition.

    Spencer claims that when certain simple societies are combined, they become compound societies, and when some compound societies are combined, they form doubly compound societies. Trebly compound societies are created when certain double compound societies are combined.

    Spencer classified society into these four categories according to the level of compounding. Simple societies are the first kind and consist of a single functioning entity unconnected to any other entity. These cultures lack compounding processes and are generally homogenous and primitive. 

    The second example is compound societies, which exhibit a specific rise in heterogeneity. For instance, a supreme chief who reigns over the chiefs of several little groupings may develop in this kind of civilization.

    There are now several groupings; thus, it is evident that some compounding has occurred by conquest or peaceful ways. Due to the rise in heterogeneity in compound societies, people also see a surge in organizational complexity and the division of labor in the economy. 

    Third, societies produced through recompounding compound groupings are doubly compound societies. Here, people discover much greater diversity and ongoing civilizational advancements. As a result, people find even more advanced and reliable administrations in the political sphere. Other developments Spencer noted in these civilizations were the emergence of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, a more intricate division of labor, the creation of law out of custom, the expansion of cities and highways, and the development of more sophisticated knowledge and the arts. 

    Then there are the major countries of the globe, or the trebly compound societies, which are even more developed. Older civilizations like the Roman Empire and contemporary countries are also included in this category.

    Simple > compound > doubly compound > trebly compound

    Spencer claims that families make up simple societies, that families are united into clans in compound societies, that clans are united into tribes in doubly compound societies, and that tribes are brought together to create countries or governments in triple compound societies, such as current British society.

    Sociology Plus