Real, abstract,tangible, intangible structures

Real Structure:


Take a hill that was there before the birth of mankind. The reality of that hill has physical aspects, chemical aspects, visual aspects,and many other aspects along with structural aspect. The hill had a conical structure.

Abstract Structure:


A billion years later,after the start of human civilization, say, a civil engineer has drawn the conical shape of the hill. He has ‘abstracted’ the structural aspect of the hill from the reality of the hill comprising many other aspects like physical aspect, chemical aspect. This abstraction is a human activity, and abstract structure is a man made structure. Without man abstraction of the structure does not exist. Abstraction is due to the interaction of human intellect with reality. Concepts are abstractions and they are born in human mind and hence in brain. But they represent reality. The quantitative aspects of a real structure like height, area can be measured with the help of abstraction

Tangible structure:


Take a building.Say, bricks are the basic units of the building. It’s super structure is made of pillars and beams. It’s walls are made of bricks. It’s structure can exist without and outside bricks. It’s structure can be independent of bricks. The shape and size of the structure is tangible and measurable.

Intangible structure:


Society has economic, political, technological aspects and many other aspects, along with structural aspect.

Unlike the structural aspect of a hill or building, the structural aspect of a society is not tangible. The structure of a society exists in power relations between individuals and groups. These relations take shape inside human minds/brains. Hence the individuals (bricks) contain structures (super structure/framework). So to change a structure, considerable part of an individuals mind need to change deeply. Not superficially,intellectually alone, but behaviorally and practically.

Take feudal society. The physical things like the amount of land and the race that won the last war can decide (shape) the structure of the fundal society. Both land and race are physical. Physical things can cause the structure of a society. But the form of the structure of a society is not physical. The form of the structure is intangible, because it’s based on relations, which are intangible. Social structure spawns myriad of norms, rules, customs.Structure differentiates a society and perpetuates across space, time and groups and evolves into a system.

The structure of a society can have tangible physical effects, like all rich living in a posh locality, having mansions and cars etc. But the form of social structure it self is not tangible.

Abstraction of social structure:


If an intellectual puts the idea of the intangible social structure on paper, then it becomes an abstraction of social structue ( reality ) having economic, political aspects along with structural aspect.


People adopt and encourage a change that does not involve changing what they are made of. That’s why identity and culture (habit) based ideologies catch up and succeed quickly. They involve superficial changes. To bring in a paradigm shift the structure and system needs to be changed, which is easier told than done.


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