What Are Some Examples of Social Systems?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 15, 2020 7:33:32 AM ET
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A social system exists between any two or more people who have a common purpose or orientation and interact within a limited scope or area. Examples of social systems include family groups, neighborhoods, governments and regions.


The concept of social systems is central to the study of sociology. They exist throughout human society by their very definition.

Social systems, also called human systems, begin in simple form and can become progressively more complex. The family is a basic unit that extends to the community, municipality, region and nation. Social systems can exist to serve a specific purpose, such as a corporation or industry or educational institution. A college campus is its own social system. Any individual can belong to a number of social systems simultaneously.

Social systems are characterized by a shared sense of purpose however that may be expressed. The result is a unique and shared set of features, behaviors, norms and standards. For example, the form of government of a particular country produces a social system with its own set of standards. The Soviet social system of the first half of the 20th century, for example, was quite different culturally and socially from its United States counterpart.