S. F. Nadel: Concept and Nadel on Social Structure, Three Criteria of Social Structure

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  • Siegfried Frederick Nadel
  • Born April 24,1903, Vienna
  • Austrian-born British anthropologist
  • Studies on African ethnology


  • The Theory of Social Structure 1958 (posthumously published)
  • The Foundations of Social Anthropology 1951
  • The Theory of Social Structure

Concept of Social Structure

  • System, institution, or pattern
  • Several parts put together to form an integrated whole
  • Compared to human body
  • “Structure refers to a definable articulation, and ordered arrangements of parts. It is related to the outer aspect or the framework of a society and is totally unconcerned with the functional part of the society.” – Nadel, 1942

Nadel on Social Structure

  • ‘Structure relates to definable articulation, ordered arrangements of parts, of social relations into structural roles and positions.’
  • Social roles crucial in the analysis of social structure.
  • Social structures are networks of social relations
  • Can be studied in terms of coherence or interlocking into system
  • These networks are created among the individuals when they interact with each other according to their status in accordance with the patterns of a society.
  • Social structure is relatively invariant or unchangeable while the parts are variable or changeable according to the rules in the society.
  • The rules and patterns are limited and do not change easy therefore there is orderliness in the society
  • If the change in the parts do not adhere to the institutionalized rules it would lead to chaos.

Three Criteria of Social Structure

Social structure is based on:

  • Repetitiveness of social phenomena
  • Durability of the social phenomena
  • Moving equilibrium


Q. 1. Who has classified roles as ‘Pivotal,’ ‘Sufficiently relevant’ and ‘Peripheral’ in his theory of social structure?

(1) A. R. Radcliffe – Brown

(2) S. F. Nadel

(3) G. P. Murdock

(4) C. Levi – Strauss

Answer: (2) S. F. Nadel

Q. 2. Who has considered that social structure is made up through the internal structure of roles?

(1) A. R. Radcliffe-Brown

(2) R. K. Merton

(3) R. Linton

(4) S. F. Nadel

Answer: (4) S. F. Nadel

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