How do different parts of society depend on each other for their progress?



As an example, some part of society can progress only so much before such progress stagnates and it requires other parts of society to progress.

Prior Research

No matter how many different ways I search for it online, I can not find this concept I read in some article two years ago. Over time, I inquired about it amongst knowledgeable (in different subjects) friends and acquaintances of mine in real life. After asking another friend recently and having a tangential discussion, I was inspired to ask people online (and found this spectacular site!).

Off the top of my head as a weird analogy, the concept(s) I am inquiring for is essentially an abstract version of Liebig's Law of the Minimum ("growth is dictated not by total resources available, but by the scarcest resource", "yield is proportional to the amount of the most limiting nutrient, whichever nutrient it may be.").

Semi-relevant concepts/answers I have received or found:

  • Law of Diminishing Returns: "states that, at some point, adding an additional factor of production results in smaller increases in output."
  • Post Structuralism: which argues that all knowledge is referential, because everything is known in reference to some other knowledge, not measured against a universal "truth".
  • Commodification (of goods): the transformation of various things into objects of trade.
  • Symbiosis: the biological term describing how two, independent, organisms benefit mutually from shared existence (there are likely many more ecological concepts potentially usable as analogies..)
  • Effects of generalized symbolic media of exchange on institutional domains: Essentially, as described in this paper, different institutional domains (religion, family, economy etc.) operate using different kinds of "generalized symbolic media." These media are whatever is the central focus of an institution, so money for the economy, power for politics, love for family, etc. These different media vary in how much they influence the structure and ideology of other institutional domains. The more interdependent different institutional domains are, then the more we should expect one to influence the other.
  • Lastly, apparently, how some of Marxist and Communist theory is actually based on what I inquire about??


In the weird analogy provided above, "growth" is described. However more fitting, and more specific, for this question would be "progress". Following this, it makes slightly more sense that by "parts of society" I am asking for abstract domains such as political, economic, culture, etc. Most importantly, I am asking for various theories or concepts, not necessarily anecdotal or historical examples. However, any similar concepts even partially within the confines of this question would be greatly appreciated!

[Note: I should recognize it took quite a bit of formulating (with prompting by fellow users) for a better question. Graciously, I now understand]


Posted 2020-04-26T07:02:10.530

Reputation: 317

3To be answerable, this question would need to elaborate on precisely what is meant by "growth" and "different parts of society". – Brian Z – 2020-04-26T12:57:24.490

1@BrianZ Requiring precise definitions of abstract terms is virtually impossible, and would disallow all abstract questions. Perhaps I'm misreading you, and you're asking for specific examples? – agc – 2020-04-26T15:22:21.250

1"Growth" can mean wildly different things. Economic growth? Population growth? Technological advancement? Similar for "part of society". Economic sectors? Geographical regions? Abstract domains (political vs. economic vs. cultural)? If you don't narrow this down considerably, the possible interpretations are virtually endless. – Brian Z – 2020-04-26T16:02:09.443

You are correct, and I have noted that :). I specified the question as well as added text to the body clarifying the question. Hopefully it is enough to re-open the question? @BrianZ – Holiday_Chemistry – 2020-04-26T21:18:28.333


That helps, but I wouldn't say the question is clearly defined yet. It seems like you might be interested in structural functionalism.

– Brian Z – 2020-04-26T21:28:59.973

2@BrianZ, Each item in that list of "wildly" different things seems germane to the Q.'s abstraction. Flexibility of application is the central value of abstraction. It's as though a question about animals in general were asked, and the question was closed because of demands to know which animals. – agc – 2020-04-27T07:39:07.463


I somewhat reluctantly voted to reopen this. The question seems to be about some kind sociological theories, but since those might tangentially influence some politicians... (and since there's no Sociology SE and the q is probably even more off-topic on Psychology SE; from there it was migrated to econ SE, where I suspect it won't do that well either

– Fizz – 2020-04-27T20:49:08.567

@BrianZ I specified the question in both ways you mentioned in response to agc. 1. I changed "growth" to "progress" and 2. Of the examples you provided, I elaborated upon and chose one of them in the body of the question. I believe it has been narrowed down considerably, at least given your specifications/examples..? – Holiday_Chemistry – 2020-04-28T01:00:14.993

1@Fizz I honestly accept the question being passed on to economics simply for the sake of maximizing the chance of obtaining answers, however I would argue that Politics in fact encompasses Economics. Politics is at the intersection of the different "parts of society", and exists to serve and organize them. If any SE (of the ones that exist) is suited to answer this question, it is Politics.SE. – Holiday_Chemistry – 2020-04-28T01:38:40.587

I think your question is fairly likely to get closed on economics soon[ish]; there's a close vote already there. Here you have 4 reopen votes already. – Fizz – 2020-04-28T02:26:38.750

2Not worthy of an actual answer, but this book is a good start: Thomas Piketty: capital in the 21st century. It is a historical economic analysis that e.g. look at how collages in the US benefit from student loans and many other good examples – Thomas Koelle – 2020-04-28T07:28:28.830

I don't think this question is answerable outside of sheer speculation (that wouldn't even rise to the level of theory). I mean, I expect that most academics would agree with the basic principle, but you're lumping a tremendous number of tremendously different things under the concept 'resource' here: time, effort, expertise, money, energy, material properties, land, means of production, delegated authority, social status, social positioning, physical force, collective power, intelligence, charisma, will power... all of these things (and more) can be construed as limiting resources. – Ted Wrigley – 2020-04-29T05:23:25.210

1If you read this somewhere int he past, it was probably framed within a specific domain (otherwise it would have been too broad to pass muster in any given field). You may have mentally extrapolated from it over the years to make it seem like something more than it was..? At any rate, I can't think of anything that comes close to this kind of grand musing, and I'm well-read in this area. – Ted Wrigley – 2020-04-29T05:25:43.580

No answers