Kinds of Order in Society

“Arten der Ordnung.” Ordo 14 (1963).


“We call a multitude of men a society when their activities are mutually adjusted to one another. Men in society can successfully pursue their ends because they know what to expect from their fellows. Their relations, in other words, show a certain order. How such an order of the multifarious activities of millions of men is produced or can be achieved is the central problem of social theory and social policy.

Sometimes the very existence of such an order is denied when it is asserted that society—or, more particularly, its economic activities—are “chaotic.” A complete absence of an order, however, cannot be seriously maintained. What presumably is meant by that complaint is that society is not as orderly as it should be. The orderliness of existing society may indeed be capable of great improvement; but the criticism is due mainly to the circumstance that both the order which exists and the manner in which it is formed are not readily perceived. The plain man will be aware of an order of social affairs only to the extent that such an order has been deliberately arranged; and he is inclined to blame the apparent absence of an order in much of what he sees on the fact that nobody has deliberately ordered those activities. Order, to the ordinary person, is the result of the ordering activity of an ordering mind. Much of the order of society of which we speak is, however, not of this kind; and the very recognition that there exists such an order requires a certain amount of reflection.”

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