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Social Structure Essay Sample

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BANGLADESH IS NOTED for the remarkable ethnic and cultural homogeneity of its population. Over 98 percent of its people are Bengalis; the remainder are Biharis, or non-Bengali Muslims, and indigenous tribal peoples. Bangladeshis are particularly proud of their rich cultural and linguistic heritage because their independent nation is partially the result of a powerful movement to uphold and preserve their language and culture. Bangladeshis identify themselves closely with Bangla, their national language. One of the world’s most densely populated nations, Bangladesh in the 1980s was caught in the vicious cycle of population expansion and poverty. Although the rate of growth had declined marginally in recent years, the rapid expansion of the population continued to be a tremendous burden on the nation. With 82 percent of its people living in the countryside, Bangladesh was also one of the most rural nations in the Third World. The pace of urbanization in the late 1980s was slow, and urban areas lacked adequate amenities and services to absorb even those migrants who trekked from rural areas to the urban centers for food and employment.

Frequent natural disasters, such as coastal cyclones and floods, killed thousands, and widespread malnutrition and poor sanitation resulted in high mortality rates from a variety of diseases. In the late 1980s, poverty remained the most salient aspect of Bangladeshi society. Although the disparity in income between different segments of the society was not great, the incidence of poverty was widespread; the proportion of the population in extreme poverty–those unable to afford even enough food to live a reasonably active life–rose from 43 percent in 1974 to 50 percent in the mid-1980s. The emerging political elite, which constituted a very narrow social class compared with the mass of peasants and urban poor, held the key to political power, controlled all institutions, and enjoyed the greatest economic gains. Urban in residence, fluent in English, and comfortable with Western culture, they were perceived by many observers as socially and culturally alienated from the masses.

At the end of the 1980s, Bangladeshi society continued to be in transition–not only from the early days of independence but also from the colonial and Pakistani periods as well–as new values gradually replaced traditional ones. Nearly 83 percent Muslim, Bangladesh ranked third in Islamic population worldwide, following Indonesia and Pakistan. Sunni Islam was the dominant religion among Bangladeshis. Although loyalty to Islam was deeply rooted, in many cases beliefs and observances in rural areas tended to conflict with orthodox Islam. However, the country was remarkably free of sectarian strife. For most believers Islam was largely a matter of customary practice and mores. In the late twentieth century fundamentalists were showing some organizational strength, but in the late 1980s their numbers and influence were believed to be limited. Promulgated in June 1988, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution recognizes Islam as the state religion, but the full implications of this measure were not apparent in the months following its adoption.

Hindus constituted the largest religious minority at 16 percent; other minorities included Buddhists and Christians. Since its birth in 1971, Bangladesh has suffered through both natural calamities and political upheavals. In July-September 1987, for example, the country experienced its worst floods in more than thirty years, and floods during the same period in 1988 were even more devastating. In 1987 more than US$250 million of the economic infrastructure was destroyed, the main rice crop was severely damaged, and an estimated 1,800 lives were lost. The 1988 floods covered more than two-thirds of the country, and more than 2,100 died from flooding and subsequent disease. The country also underwent a period of political unrest fomented by major opposition political parties. Enduring uncertainties as the 1990s approached were bound to have an impact on social development, especially in the areas of education, development of the labor force, nutrition, and the building of infrastructure for adequate health care and population control.

Social Structure
A term loosely applied to any recurring pattern of social behavior, or, more specifically, to ordered interrelationships between different elements of a society. Social structure comprises different kinship, religious, economic, political and other institutions as well as of norms, values and social roles of the members of a society. The development of the social structure in any society is historically conditioned. The social structure of Bangladesh, therefore, needs to be analyses in that context. Bengal is basically an alluvial land with a network of a large number of small and big rivers. The early establishment of settled agricultural economy in the region helped her people to evolve their own distinctive lifestyle

Bangladesh – SOCIAL SYSTEM
Bangladesh did not exist as a distinct geographic and ethnic unity until independence. The region had been a part of successive Indian empires, and during the British period it formed the eastern part of a hinterland of Bengal, which was dominated by the British rulers and Hindu professional, commercial, and landed elites. After the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, present-day Bangladesh came under the hegemony of the non-Bengali Muslim elites of the West Wing of Pakistan. The establishment of Bangladesh, therefore, implied the formation of both a new nation and a new social order. Until the partition of British India in 1947, Hindus controlled about 80 percent of all large rural holdings, urban real estate, and government jobs in East Bengal and dominated finance, commerce, and the professions. Following partition, a massive flight of East Bengali Hindus effectively removed the Hindu economic and political elite and cut the territory’s ties to Calcutta. After the emigration of the Hindus, Muslims moved quickly into the vacated positions, creating for the first time in East Bengal an economy and government predominantly in Muslim hands.

These vastly increased opportunities, especially in the civil service and the professions, however, soon came to be dominated by a West Pakistani-based elite whose members were favored by the government both directly and indirectly. Soon after independence in 1971, an ill-prepared Bangladeshi elite moved into the areas vacated by West Pakistanis. Except for members of small non-Bengali caste-like Muslim groups known as “trading communities,” Bangladeshi Muslims almost immediately established control over all small- and medium-sized industrial and commercial enterprises. The 1972 nationalization of non-Bengali-owned large industries accelerated the establishment of control and influence by the indigenous community.

The sudden rise of a new managerial class and the expansion of the civil and military bureaucracy upset the balance in both the urban and the rural sectors. Party affiliation, political contacts, and documented revolutionary service became the main prerequisites for admission to the rapidly growing new elite of political and industrial functionaries; the established middle class and its values played lesser roles. In the countryside, new elites with links to the villages bought property to establish their sociopolitical control. Also taking advantage of the situation, the rural political elite amassed fortunes in land and rural-based enterprises. The result was the growth of a new, land-based, rural elite that replaced many formerly entrenched wealthy peasants (in Bangla, jotedars).

Rural society
The basic social unit in a village is the family (poribar or gushti), generally consisting of a complete or incomplete patrilineally extended household (chula) and residing in a homestead (bari). The individual nuclear family often is submerged in the larger unit and might be known as the house (ghor). Above the bari level, patrilineal kin ties are linked into sequentially larger groups based on real, fictional, or assumed relationships. A significant unit larger than that of close kin is the voluntary religious and mutual benefit association known as “the society” (shomaj or milat). Among the functions of a shomaj might be the maintenance of a Mosque and support of a mullah. An informal council of shomaj elders (matabdars or shordars) settles village disputes. Factional competition between the motobdars is a major dynamic of social and political interaction. Groups of homes in a village are called Paras, and each para has its own name. Several paras constitute a mauza, the basic revenue and census survey unit.

The traditional character of rural villages was changing in the latter half of the 20th century with the addition of brick structures of one or more stories scattered among the more common thatched bamboo huts. Although farming has traditionally ranked among the most desirable occupations, villagers in the 1980s began to encourage their children to leave the increasingly overcrowded countryside to seek more secure employment in the towns. Traditional sources of prestige, such as landholding, distinguished lineage, and religious piety were beginning to be replaced by modern education, higher income, and steadier work. These changes, however, did not prevent rural poverty from increasing greatly. According to the FY 1986 Household Expenditure Survey conducted by the Ministry of Planning’s Bureau of Statistics, 47 percent of the rural population was below the poverty line, with about 62 percent of the poor remaining in extreme poverty. The number of landless rural laborers also increased substantially, from 25 percent in 1970 to 40 percent in 1987.

Urban society

In 1988 about 18 percent of the population lived in urban areas, most of which were villages or trade centers in rural areas. Urban centers grew in number and population during the 1980s as a result of an administrative decentralization program that featured the creation of upazilas. In appearance these small urban areas were generally shabby. Most of the urban population merely congregated in ramshackle structures with poor sanitation and an almost total lack of modern amenities. Towns were populated mostly by government functionaries, merchants, and other business personnel. Most dwellings contained nuclear families and some extended family lodgers. A few households or a neighborhood would constitute a para, which might develop some cohesiveness but would have no formal leadership structure. With the exception of a small number of transients, most town populations consisted of permanent inhabitants who maintained connections with their ancestral villages through property or family ties. Most towns had social and sporting clubs and libraries. Unlike in the rural areas, kinship ties among the town population were limited and fragile.

Bangladesh – RELIGION
Religion and Society
Nearly 83 percent of the population of Bangladesh claimed Islam as its religion in the 1980s, giving the country one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the world. Although initially Bangladesh opted for a secular nationalist ideology as embodied in its Constitution, the principle of secularism was subsequently replaced by a commitment to the Islamic way of life through a series of constitutional amendments and government proclamations between 1977 and 1988. In spite of a history of religious strife, Bangladeshi Muslims tended to be accommodating toward adherents of other religions. The Muslim community in the Bengal region developed independent of the dominant Islamic trends in India. The preservation of pre-Islamic cultural elements from Buddhist and Hindu periods made the commitment to Islam uniquely Bangladeshi. Features of Bangladeshi Hinduism, which differed in some respects from Hinduism in other parts of South Asia, influenced both the practices and the social structure of the Bangladeshi Muslim community.

In spite of the general personal commitment to Islam by the Muslims of Bangladesh, observance of Islamic rituals and tenets varies according to social position, locale, and personal considerations. In rural regions, some beliefs and practices tend to incorporate elements that differ from and often conflict with orthodox Islam. Islamic fundamentalists, although a rather limited force in the past, had begun to gain a following, especially among the educated urban youth, by the 1980s. Estimated to make up 18.5 percent of East Pakistan’s population in 1961, the Hindu proportion of the population had shrunk to about 13.5 percent by 1971. Steady Hindu emigration to India and Burma throughout the 1960s accounted for most of the decline. Although the Hindu population increased in size after 1971 and had reached 10.6 million by 1981, its relative proportion of the total population continued to decrease. In 1987 Hindus represented nearly 16 percent of the population. Other minority religious groups counted in the 1981 census included approximately 538,000 Buddhists, about 275,000 Christians, and nearly 250,00 categorized as “others,” probably members of tribal religions.

Bangladesh – Education System
The base of the school system was five years of primary education. The government reported a total of nearly 44,000 primary schools enrolling nearly 44 million students in 1986. Bangladesh had 8,790 secondary schools with 2.7 million students in 1986. Secondary education was divided into two levels. The five years of lower secondary (grades six through ten) concluded with a secondary school certificate examination. Students who passed this examination proceeded to two years of higher secondary or intermediate training, which culminated in a higher secondary school examination after grade twelve. Higher secondary school was viewed as preparation for college rather than as the conclusion of high school. Development of the education system depended largely on the supply of trained teachers. In 1986 about 20 percent of the estimated 190,000 primary-school teachers were adequately trained; at the secondary-school level, only 30 percent of the teachers were trained.

At the postsecondary level in 1986, there were 7 universities, 758 general colleges, and 50 professional (medical, dental, engineering, and law) colleges. More than 25 percent of the colleges were government managed; the rest were private but received substantial government grants. In addition to four general-curriculum universities–the University of Dhaka, Rajshahi University, Chittagong University, and Jahangir Nagar University–there were the University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka, the Agricultural University in Mymensingh, and the Islamic University in Tongi (near Dhaka). The total enrollment in the 7 universities in 1986 was estimated at 27,487, of which 80 percent were male. Universities were selfgoverning entities with 95 percent of their total expenditures paid through government block grants. The University Grants Commission, created in 1973, coordinated the funding and activities of the universities. A large number of scholarships and stipends were offered to students in education institutions at all levels.

Politics of Bangladesh
takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Constitution of Bangladesh was written in 1972 and has undergone fifteen amendments. The President is the head of state , a largely ceremonial post. The real power is held by the Prime Minister, who is the head of government. The president is elected by the legislature every five years and has normally limited powers that are substantially expanded during the tenure of a caretaker government, mainly in controlling the transition to a new government. Bangladesh has instituted a unique system of transfer of power; at the end of the tenure of the government, power is handed over to members of a civil society for three months, who run the general elections and transfer the power to elected representatives. This system was first practiced in 1991 and adopted to the constitution in 1996. Hasina-Khaleda rivalry

They are the arch rivel in Bangladesh political area.They are two famous former prime minister of Bangladesh Khalada zia and Shak hasina.They shaked hands and exchange speech forgetting their legendery hostility. The two leaders toled the press that they exchanged their experience of jail from which they detuched recently Khalada zia said that she had no objection to set for discussion with Hasina in future.Lets see how it is benefited to the people of Bangladesh…

The Present Political conditions in Bangladesh
Every country wishes not the political conditions of his country but each sector especially economical condition, administrative sector, social condition to be well as the welfare of a country depends on political condition, social condition and economical condition etc. So, every sector of a country should be good for introducing it as rich or developing country all over the world. But The condition of Bangladesh at this moment is very disappointed not only politically but socially, economically and so on. The people of this country always hopes to see it as a welfare country. We are the people of Bangladesh who believe in democracy. But the majority of people do not agree this very easily by their heart although they always say by their mouth. We observe this situation in most of guys, supporting politics. There is an objective and aim in politics that every person obeys democracy very earnestly. But every guy engaging with politics comes to it because of their own objectives. They all the times want to fill up their own tasks very perfectly.

For this reason, they push themselves in politics. There are two types of people in Bangladesh politics. One is the government party. The second one is the opponent party. Bangladesh is such a place where the government party is busy with their own oils and they are always corrupted and where the opponent party always tries to dethrone the government party. So, the government party can’t improve any sector because of their corruption. For this reason, they can’t manage social, sports of bangladesh and economical condition of this country very easily. On the other hand, the opponent party tries to protest them observing this rubbish situation. They try to run the unloving task anywhere. They try to manage disordered situation breaking vehicles in the street without any cause. The people of this country have been suffering this for many years from about liberation war because of which They can’t move from one place to another. They destroy their normal life very easily.

Ethnic groups in Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s tribal population consisted of 897,828 persons, just over 1 percent of the total population, at the time of the 1981 census. The Bangladeshi population is relatively homogeneous and consists of about 98% ethnic Bengali as well as various tribal groups, mostly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and in the regions of Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Rajshahi. The majority of the tribal population (778,425) lived in rural areas, where many practiced shifting cultivation. Most tribal people were of SinoTibetan descent and had distinctive Mongoloid features. They spoke Tibeto-Burman languages. In the mid-1980s, the percentage distribution of tribal population by religion was Hindu 24, Buddhist 44, Christian 13, and others 19. The Chakmas

The Chakmas are the largest tribe of Bangladesh. The Chakmas are of mixed origin but reflect more Bengali influence than any other tribe. The Chakmas generally lived in the highland valleys. Most Chakmas are Buddhists, but some practice Hinduism or animism. The Chakmas ( Chakma or ), also known as the Changma , are a community that inhabits the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and the North-East India. The Chakmas are the largest ethnic group in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, making up more than half the tribal population. Chakmas are divided into 46 clans or Gozas. A tribal group called Tangchangya are also considered to be a branch of the Chakma people. Both tribes speak the same language, have the same customs and culture, and profess the same religion, Theravada Buddhism. The Tipperas (or Tipras)

The Tipperas are nearly all Hindus and account for virtually the entire Hindu population of the Chittagong Hills. They had migrated gradually from the northern Chittagong Hills. The northern Tipperas were influenced by Bengali culture. The Mros (Mrus or Moorangs).

The Mros are considered the original inhabitants of the Chittagong Hills. They lived on valleys and often fortified their villages. They had no written language of their own, but some could read the Burmese and Bangla scripts. Most of them claimed to be Buddhists, but their religious practices were largely animistic. Other Tribes

There are some other tribal groups in other parts of the country. Santals are inhabitants of Rajshahi and Dinajpur. Khasis, Garos, and Khajons in Mymensingh and Sylhet regions. Different tribal groups differed in their social organization, marriage customs, foods, birth and death and other social customs from the people of the rest of the country. They have somehow managed to resist centuries of colonization and in the process have retained their own customs, traditions and life. Bangladesh also has the Mughal Tribe

Economic Condition of Bangladesh
All the times for being a poor country, the economy of Bangladesh is structured by that of a developing country as known as a rich country. The per capita income we show is lower than other countries. In 2008, the income of Bangladesh was US$1,500 where Pakistan and India achieved average of $10,497. Bangladesh in 2008 got the rank number as the 48th largest economy by IMF called International Monetary Fund with a gross domestic product of US$224.889 billion. The economy has increased at the rate of 6-7% p.a. more than for a few years. Half of the GDP is going to the service sector in Bangladesh especially in the agriculture sector, with RMG, fish, vegetables, leather and leather goods, ceramics, rice.

Bangladeshi are increasing the Remittances working overseas, mainly in the Middle East. It is becoming the major source of foreign exchange earnings for Bangladesh and others are exports of garments and textiles for foreign exchange earning. GDP’s rapid growth due to sound financial control and regulations have also contributed to its growth. However, slowly foreign direct investment is increasing very significantly. Bangladesh is introducing herself all over the world to make major steps in its human development.

Bangladesh are playing a very significant role in the economic sectors like Agriculture, Manufacturing & Industry and Textile sector

Marriage System in Bangladesh
Marriage is a civil contract rather than a religious sacrament in Islam (see Islamic marriage contract), and the parties to the contract represent the interests of families rather than the direct personal interests of the prospective spouses. In Bangladesh, parents ordinarily select spouses for their children, although men frequently exercise some influence over the choice of their spouses. In middle-class urban families men negotiate their own marriages. Only in the most sophisticated elite class does a woman participate in her own marriage arrangements. Marriage generally is made between families of similar social standing, although a woman might properly marry a man of somewhat higher status. Financial standing came to outweigh family background in the late 20th century in any case. Often a person with a good job in a Middle Eastern country is preferred over a person of highly regarded lineage. Marriages are often preceded by extensive negotiations between the families of the prospective bride and groom. One of the functions of the marriage negotiations is to reduce any discrepancy in status through financial arrangements.

The groom’s family ordinarily pledges the traditional cash payment, or bride-price, part or all of which can be deferred to fall due in case of divorce initiated by the husband or in case the contract is otherwise broken. As in many Muslim countries, the cash payment system provides women some protection against the summary divorce permitted by Islam. Some families also adopt the Hindu custom of providing a dowry for the bride. Of the total population in 1981, an estimated 34 million were married. A total of 19 million citizens of marriageable age were single or had never married, 3 million were widowed, and 322,000 were divorced. Although the majority of married men (10 million) had only one wife, there were about 580,000 households, between 6 and 10 percent of all marriages, in which a man had two or more wives. Although the age at marriage appeared to be rising in the 1980s, early marriage remained the rule even among the educated, and especially among women.

The mean age at marriage in 1981 for males was 23.9, and for females 16.7. Women students frequently married in their late teens and continued their studies in the households of their fathers-in-law. Divorce, especially of young couples without children, was becoming increasingly common in Bangladesh, with approximately one in six marriages ending in this fashion in the 1980s. Typical spouses know each other only slightly, if at all, before marriage. Although marriages between cousins and other more distant kin occur frequently, segregation of the sexes generally keep young men and women of different households from knowing each other well. Marriage functions to ensure the continuity of families rather than to provide companionship to individuals, and the new bride’s relationship with her mother-in-law is probably more important to her well-being than her frequently impersonal relationship with her husband. Women’s role in society

Available data on health, nutrition, education, and economic performance indicated that in the 1980s the status of women in Bangladesh remained considerably inferior to that of men. Women, in custom and practice, remained subordinate to men in almost all aspects of their lives; greater autonomy was the privilege of the rich or the necessity of the very poor. Most women’s lives remained centered on their traditional roles, and they had limited access to markets, productive services, education, health care, and local government. This lack of opportunities contributed to high fertility patterns, which diminished family well-being, contributed to the malnourishment and generally poor health of children, and frustrated educational and other national development goals. In fact, acute poverty at the margin appeared to be hitting hardest at women. As long as women’s access to health care, education, and training remained limited, prospects for improved productivity among the female population remained poor.

Social classes and stratification
Social class distinctions were mostly functional, however, and there was considerable mobility among classes. Even the structure of the Hindu caste system in Bangladesh was relatively loose because most Hindus belonged to the lower castes.[6] Ostensibly, egalitarian principles of Islam were the basis of social organization. Unlike in other regions of South Asia, the Hindu caste-based social system had a very limited effect on Bangladeshi Muslim social culture. Even the low-caste jolhas (weavers) had improved their social standing since 1971. Although several hierarchically arranged groups—such as the syeds (noble born) and the sheikhs, or shaykhs (also noble born)–were noticeable in Bangladesh Muslim society, there were no impenetrable hereditary social distinctions. Rather, fairly permeable classes based on wealth and political influence existed both in the cities and in the villages.[6] Traditional Muslim class distinctions had little importance in Bangladesh.

The proscription against marriage between individuals of high-born and low-born families, once an indicator of the social gap between the two groups, had long ago disappeared; most matrimonial alliances were based on wealth and power and not on the ties of family distinction. Also, many so-called upper class families, because of their traditional use of the Urdu language, had become alienated in independent Bangladesh. Although Hindu society used to be formally stratified into caste categories, caste did not figure prominently in the Bangladeshi Hindu community. About 75 percent of the Hindus in Bangladesh belonged to the lower castes, notably namasudras (lesser cultivators), and the remainder belonged primarily to outcaste or untouchable groups. Some members of higher castes belonged to the middle or professional class, but there was no Hindu upper class. With the increasing participation of the Hindus in nontraditional professional mobility, the castes were able to interact in wider political and socioeconomic arenas, which caused some erosion of caste consciousness. Although there is no mobility between Hindu castes, caste distinctions did not play as important a role in Bangladesh as in they did in the Hindu-dominated Indian state of West Bengal. Bangladeshi Hindus seemed to have become part of the mainstream culture without surrendering their religious and cultural distinctions.

Employment
a. Workers: The industrial labour force employed in mills and factories, transport industry, tea gardens, weaving and other industrial units alongwith agricultural labour force numbers about 30 million. Agricultural labourers form the largest chunk of this force i.e. about 20 million. These 30 million people constitute the workers in Bangladesh. The nature of their work mainly involves physical labour. b. Employees: The number of white-collared staff in the government, semi-government, autonomous and non-government institutions, agencies & offices, shops, trading houses, commercial organisations and factories stands at 5.6 million. Their work is clerical and semi-clerical in nature.

These people are known in Bangladesh as employees. c. Professionals: The relatively well-off groups of cooperative farmers, other land-owning farmers, agronomists, diploma agriculturists, engineers, diploma engineers, physicians, rural doctors, teachers, lawyers, journalists, artists, literatures, cultural activists, writers, social workers, shopkeepers, small and medium businessmen, commercial executives, factory owners, executives of government and non-government organisations, officers and members of the village defence force, Ansars, Police, Border Defence Force and Armed Forces make up the body of professionals in Bangladesh. They are known as professionals for the kind of work they do and for the kind of social status and technical know-how they possess. Their number stands at about 9 million. Unemployment

About 18 million adult are unemployed. The age of this majority ranges from 18 to 25 years. These people do get occasional and temporary jobs, but these do not bring them enough money for their livelihood. That makes them by and large dependent on the earnings of the other members of the family.

Conclusion
A term loosely applied to any recurring pattern of social behavior, or, more specifically, to ordered interrelationships between different elements of a society. Social structure comprises different kinship, religious, economic, political and other institutions as well as of norms, values and social roles of the members of a society. The development of the social structure in any society is historically conditioned. The social structure of Bangladesh, therefore, needs to be analyses in that context. Bengal is basically an alluvial land with a network of a large number of small and big rivers. The early establishment of settled agricultural economy in the region helped her people to evolve their own distinctive lifestyle

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