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structure (social structure)

Definition of Structure

(noun) The complex and stable framework of society that influences all individuals or groups through the relationship between institutions (e.g., economy, politics, religion) and social practices (e.g., behaviors, norms, and values).

Structure Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: struc·ture

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /strUHk-chuhr/
  • British English – /strUHk-chuh/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈstrək(t)ʃər/
  • British English – /ˈstrʌktʃə/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: structures
  • The terms “structure” and “social structure” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.

Related Quotations

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Additional Information

Related Terms


Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. [2011] 1976. Schooling in Capitalist America. Haymarket Books: Chicago.

Connell, R. W. 1987. Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual Politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Parsons, Talcott. 1954. “The Present Position and Prospects of Systematic Theory in Sociology” in Essays in Sociological Theory. Rev. ed. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. 1935. “On the Concept of Function in Social Science.” American Anthropologist 37(3):394–402. doi:10.1525/aa.1935.37.3.02a00030.

Tarrant, Shira. 2009. Men and Feminism. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.

Dillon, Michele. 2014. Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and their Applicability to the Twenty-first Century. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Encyclopædia Britannica. (N.d.) Britannica Digital Learning. (https://britannicalearn.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Cite the Definition of Structure

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2015. “structure.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 22, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/structure/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

structure. (2015). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/structure/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2015. “structure.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 22, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/structure/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“structure.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/structure/>.