This article provides information about the idea of spencer on social evolution:
Spencer propagated that all through the ages there had been social evolution from a simple, uniform or homogenous structure to a complex multifold or heterogeneous one. Thus he drew an analogy between the living organism and human society in explaining their progress through evolutionary processes.
To him, in the process of evolution, societies march from simple to various levels of compound on the basis of their composition. The aggregate of some simple societies gives rise to compound societies; and the aggregate of some compound societies gives rise to doubly compound societies. The aggregate of doubly compound societies gives rise to trebly compound societies.
Simple societies, according to Spencer, consist of families unified into clans, doubly compound societies consist of clans unified into tribes; and trebly compound societies have tribes brought together forming nations or states. Spencer has also delineated the evolution of societies from military to industrial as a model of analysis.
Compulsory cooperation; a centralised pattern of authority and social control; myths and beliefs reaffirming the hierarchical notion of society; rigorous discipline and close identity between public and private spheres characterised the military society. The industrial society, on the other hand, was characterised by voluntary cooperation; recognition of personal rights; separation of the economic realm from political control of the government; and growth of free associations and institutions.
It is very important to note that Spencer’s model of evolution helped explain the emergence and expansion of the Laissez Faire doctrine of free market in Europe and America. Spencer was of the view that progress was largely due to pressure of population and he presented a comprehensive theory by including a variety of factors in his theory of social evolution and progress.
He treated human society as a biological organism and, therefore, tried to study “development” in the sense of change from within. He propounded an analogy between society and organism and between social and economic growth; and argued that “with increase in size, the structural complexity of the society also increases”.