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
    About Lesson

    Organic Analogy

    Herbert Spencer continued to use his theory of social evolution in his research into all areas of knowledge. Herbert Spencer, however, pointed out the distinctions between the biological organism & society when he compared human society to an organism, which is precisely what the term “organic analogy” implies. Even though it is made up of human “organisms” (individuals), he insisted that “a society” is more significant than and different from an “organism.” It is a comprehensive system of social organization’s constituent parts and their related roles. It is an organization that exists above and beyond the level of the organism; it is a super-organic entity.

    Sustaining system

    In both social systems and living things, the sustaining system keeps things going on the inside. The sustaining system takes the shape of the digestive organs in a biological organism. Still, in a social system, it takes the form of the many components of the industrial system. The components of a society’s sustaining system are those involved in productive endeavors and influenced by the spatial distribution of local and regional resources.

    Regulative system

    The regulative system deals with external issues for social systems and creatures. The neuromuscular system in organisms and the political-military apparatus in social systems serve as regulatory mechanisms. Warfare with other systems and environmental problems are issues that both parties are interested in. The regulatory system comprises components that deal with governmental and inter-societal interactions, from markets and monetary systems that control production and distribution to centralized states and militaries that control whole communities.

    Distributive system

    The distributive system connects the regulative and sustaining organs and systems. Spencer drew a comparison between roadways in social systems and blood veins in bodies, describing them as “channels which transmit, in the one instance, blood-corpuscles and serum, and in the other case persons and goods.”


    He maintained that much like a biological creature, society comprises several interrelated parts and subparts. In the case of society, these components are social institutions, and the social structure is more or less a persistent network of these interdependent components.

    Later, Spencer believed that society was more than just a label for a group of people. That is to say; it is a unique entity rather than merely a group of various people. The aggregate is greater than the parts. A home is thus more than just a construction made of bricks, wood, and stone. It calls for a specific assembly sequence. Spencer, an individualist, thought that, in contrast to biological entities, in which the parts exist for the good of the whole, society’s whole lives for the advantage of its constituent pieces, i.e., its citizens.

    Additionally, societies exhibit size and complexity growth, much like organisms do. He maintained that when a society grows, its complexity rises due to increased division of labor or component differentiation. This societal development or expansion may result from changes in the social environment or internal population increase. This social evolution process is the subject matter of sociology.

    Three categories of social function

    Spencer stated that specific components’ contributions to meeting societal requirements are why social structure endures. Function refers to the contribution of the individual elements. He was a pioneering sociologist applying the idea of “social function.” He claimed that these components must carry out the social roles of distributive, operative, and regulatory in a society. Political institutions provide the regulatory function, while social institutions such as families, marriage, and kinship play the operational function and economic institutions responsible for distributing commodities and services perform the distributive function.

    Sociology Plus