Human societies routinely accomplish what, when one thinks about it, are remarkable feats of coordination: providing food and shelter, waging war, producing rituals and spiritual meanings, fostering technological innovation, and governing, all of which require the participation of many people in a complex set of interactions. The study of social organization provides the tools for understanding the forms and processes that enable people to accomplish such routine miracles of social choreography.
- Understand the concepts of social structure, including statuses (positions), roles (expectations attached to positions), institutions, and social networks.
- Understand how societies of different sizes organize themselves to accomplish some common needs, such as raising and educating the young; regulating social behavior including power, violence, and sexuality; producing and exchanging food, shelter, and desired goods; and dealing with death, tragedy, disasters, and uncertainty.
- Understand that as societies become larger, they become more differentiated and the ways they use to coordinate purposive activity change. Kinship, bureaucracy, and markets are different ways of organizing activities. The forms and relative importance of each of these types of organization may vary, depending on a society's size and history.
- Understand the importance of informal and formal social networks and how they operate, even in complex modern societies.