Friday, 15 March 2019

Social Statics and Social Dynamics

Definition of Social Static

Social statics is the study of the conditions of society’s existence at any given moment which is analyzed by means of a theory of social order.

Definition of Social Dynamic

Social dynamics is the study of continuous movements in social phenomena through time by means of a theory of social progress.

Auguste Comte’s concepts of Social Statics and Social Dynamics

According to Comte, every science passes through these three stages. The progress of human mind points toward the existence of general intellect. Since humans form one species, the human mind/intellect progresses in a common way in all conditions and areas. It is interesting to note that Comte constructs the progress of human mind on the basis of the commonness of species being. He goes on to apply the Law of Three Stages to human life as such. He is of the view that if a person introspects into his/her life, then he/she would find that in childhood he/she was theological, in youth metaphysical, and in the middle age, he/she becomes a natural philosopher. Besides these facts, there are other theoretical reasons in support of the Law of Three Stages. In the absence of the foundation provided by theological concepts, in the beginning, it was impossible to observe facts without theory as well as develop theory without facts. In many ways, the relation between facts and theories is mediated by personal observation and experiences.

In the first volume of his book, Comte provides the above-mentioned outline of his theoretical paradigm and goes on to elaborate on these stages in the second volume. However, it is essential to first discuss two more of Comte’s concepts to obtain a better understanding of the Law: social statics and social dynamics.


Social statics is the precondition for understanding social evolution. There are three levels of social statics, namely, individual, family and society.

  1. Individual: 

Assuming man as a concept, one may proceed to understand its characteristics. To begin with, as a species and from the perspective of biology it is possible to construct a theory of man’s intellect and morality. However, one of the most important characteristics of man is that emotions dominate over intellect. Humans are not generally equal.

  1. Family: 

From the individual, Comte moves to family. He is clear in his views that instead of individual, family is the social unit. Family expands into a tribe and then takes the form of a nation. In human society, the natural condition of family life is monogamy, but society has reached this stage by passing through polygyny or polyandry. Two elements of family are central to its understanding. First, sexual relationships between man and woman are regulated through the established institution of marriage. Second, the relationship between parents and children, through which a person learns discipline.

  1. Society: 

The priority of society over family occurs due to many reasons, but for Comte functional specialisation in society occurs like established law. However, society depends on the cooperation among individuals. In a tribal society, cooperation among individuals is of a low level. The level of cooperation increases together with the expansion of society. Division of employment and work, structure of the government, etc., create social statics.

Comte’s notion of social statics clearly brings out the fundamentals of sociology, which have remained relevant and are subject to discussion even today. Most major sociologists start with building premises about individuals and society. Family is inseparable from the construction of the relationship between individual and society, for it is regarded as the mediating element between the two. In Comte’s view, society gets priority over both individual and family, which provides the subject matter of sociology. At the same time, however, social order becomes the basic orientation of sociological imagination. What maintains order in society within the evolutionary framework of progress has led to the argument that there is something distinct from polity and economy that may be christened ‘social’. This issue becomes clearer as the discussion proceeds. At this stage, it is important to understand his views on the social dynamics in which he developed the Law.


Another name for social dynamics is the theory of natural progress in human society. To understand social dynamics, it is important to examine the direction of social development of man. The development of civilization is a result of man’s action on nature, the purpose of which is existence. Comte points out that existence is the major purpose for man and as a result, it becomes important for man to control the powerful sexual instinct of primitive society. There is continuous struggle in man between his animal and human instincts. The consequence of this struggle is the birth of emotions, intellect and morality. There are three dimensions of social dynamics underlying the progress of society. These are: rate of progress, duration of human life, increase of population and order of evolution.

  1. Rate of progress: 

In his delineation of the rate of progress, Comte identifies primary and secondary forces that influence the pace of evolution of society. Among the primary influences, he identifies natural conditions, which are further shaped by regional and environmental changes. One of the various secondary but permanent influences is ennui which affects the rate of human development. According to Comte, it is important that, unlike animals that are confined to physical activity, humans must find fullest expression of their mental faculties. Man cannot be happy without the exercise of his mental faculties.

  1. Duration of human life: 

It should be understood in two ways. First, no other person can fulfil the intellectual goal of a man, because two persons have different intellects. Human life is not long enough to complete his goal during his lifetime. Second, individual life is similar to social life. One replaces the other imperceptibly. Old must be replaced by the new.

  1. Increase of population: 

It may be regarded as the most important factor in the transformation of society. No attempt is generally made to highlight this aspect of Comte’s contribution to our understanding of social dynamism. As we shall see later in the discussion of Spencer, Durkheim and Marx as well, great importance is attached to the increase in the population of society. According to Comte, with the natural increase of population, there is an emergence of division of labour that cannot take place with size of the population being small. As a result of the increase in population, man has to use his mind for existence, the consequence of which leads to social progress.

  1. Order of social evolution: 

Sociologically significant premise that again betrays the influence of biology is the interconnectedness of various parts of society. Despite this interconnectedness among various parts of the society (remember the interconnectedness of various parts of the body), one part/aspect is more prominent/dominant than others (the same as in the case of parts of the body) through the other parts act upon and influence it. Comte gives priority to human intellect over all other parts/dimensions. Thus for him, the order of evolution could be understood in terms of the emergence and establishment of qualitatively distinct elements of human intellect.

By basing his theory of evolution on the development of human intellect he gives a definite direction to his philosophy, which is essentially idealistic. Since stages in the development of society correspond with those of intellect/ideas, Comte’s notion of social dynamics becomes inseparable from the emergence and growth of ideas.


Judge, P. S. (2012). Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory: Functionalism, Conflict and Action. Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Limited, Licencees of Pearson Education in South Asia.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much this is help for me and other people that may need this information in research grounds