Social structural theory is a sociological perspective that seeks to explain the various issues of society by examining the underlying structures that shape these issues. This theory holds that social problems arise from the way society is structured, rather than from individual actions or choices.

What is Social Structure?

Social structure refers to the patterns of relationships among individuals and groups in society. These patterns can be understood as a set of rules and norms that dictate how people interact with each other. Social structures can be both formal, such as laws and regulations, and informal, such as cultural norms and values.

Examples of Social Structures

Some examples of social structures include:

Social Structural Theory

Social structural theory suggests that social problems arise from the way these structures are organized. For example, poverty is seen as a result of economic inequality and inadequate access to resources, rather than simply a lack of effort or motivation on the part of individuals.

This perspective emphasizes the importance of examining how different social structures intersect with one another. For example, race, gender, and class are all social constructs that can play a significant role in shaping an individual’s experiences within society.

Implications for Social Change

Social structural theory has important implications for efforts to bring about social change. Rather than focusing solely on changing individual attitudes or behaviors, this perspective suggests that lasting change requires addressing the underlying structures that shape these attitudes and behaviors.

For example, efforts to reduce poverty may involve policies aimed at redistributing wealth and resources more equitably, rather than simply encouraging individuals to work harder or save more money.


In conclusion, social structural theory provides a valuable framework for understanding the complex issues facing society today. By examining the underlying structures that shape these issues, we can gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of social problems and work towards creating lasting change.