Groups are social systems in which participants are conscious of their membership in the system. They are also aware of the boundaries of groups. It means they know who members are and who are not.
They are conscious of interaction as it affects them and their co- participants. Finally, the members share values, goals towards which they strive. The groups act and have purposes or goals, just as individuals do.
In some kinds of social systems larger than groups-the members are not necessarily conscious of the interaction among them. Further, the system itself may not have a consciousness as such. Such systems are called organisations.
Et. Two economic classes which are in conflict as constituting a system. Big business companies engaged in competition for getting the shares of the market as constituting a system, etc. Organisations may have members who are acting consciously and are enacting roles. But the organisation itself should not be personified. The organisation acts but it is not conscious.
The largest and most nearly independent social systems are called ‘societies’. Ideally, societies are substantial collections of people living in near isolation from other such collections of people (or societies). It is true that in reality no social system can be completely independent. The term ‘society’ has almost come to mean the ‘nation state’—India, America, Japan, etc.
(iv) Supra-National Systems:
Above the national systems we find ‘Supra-national systems’. In modern times, forces such as trade, war, travel, communication, and politics are world-wide. The boundaries of formerly independent societies have become unclear. Supra-national systems are coming into existence. In sociological studies, the term social system is very rarely used to denote the ‘supra-national systems’.