The Sociological levels – scale

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This scale of differentiations is part of the scale of scales.

Intent: Differentiate between Sociological Levels, or levels of organisation, or levels of observation.

Simple description

we will distinguish different levels:

  • People
  • Group
  • Organisation

  • State (- Nation)

  • Culture

an individual, (as a professional) can be part of several groups: a team, and a community of practice, (guild or chapter), all within an organisation (EN:company). This organisation has clients, suppliers, other organisations, themselves included in a state (nation) governing a legal framework, and being part of a culture (the French-speaking world, for example).

(in a professional framework, the higher levels only serve to illuster, to differentiate and contrast, (unless we consider institutional levels)).

More sophisticated with intra and inter

we will distinguish between internal and external (intra and inter) perception at each level.

example with a team:

  • intra team: the team when it meets and organizes itself, considering itself as a common (semi-) autonomous entity.
  • inter team: inter team dependencies, or other form of synchronisation


  • Intra-personal: what the individual thinks, believes, values, his competences, motivations, goals and expectations…
  • inter-personal: the relationship between two individuals.
  • intra group: the team as a (semi-) autonomous unit
  • inter group: dependencies and inter-teams flows
  • intra organisation: the organisation that considers its production, priorities, etc. its strategy, its vision
  • inter organisation: relations between organisations

( in a professional setting, I leave this distinction aside for the higher levels, so as not to overload. ( unless we are working at institutional levels))

Other similar models

I had intuited this in 2013, and other similar models have been brought to me in the meantime, with different variants and purposes,

Taesch 2013

the 2013 model, ( codename “stairway (to heaven)” ):

which served to illustrate that the transition from an old system to a new system requires at least one adequate technique, and that this technique is valid for one sociological level, but is not very effective in another, while being synergistic between them.


Jacques Ardoino models the institutional tensions of May 68.

Any conflict situation is marked by complexity, i.e. by the entanglement of several levels. In order to address this complexity, it is important to have an adequate tool at one’s disposal.
Ardoino’s approach is based on 3 key ideas:
1. Any conflict can and must be read at different levels: these are the levels of intelligibility.
Ardoino distinguishes 5 of them.
2. Any conflict has all 5 levels simultaneously, even if 1 or 2 appear at the same time.
preponderant. There are interactions between the various levels.
3. Some conflict resolution strategies are appropriately applied at a particular level,
but prove to be ineffective for others. If one neglects to consider a level of
conflict, there is a risk of trying to apply sterile strategies in a futile way.
ineffective. 1

More? a nice reading by Gerard Pirroton (archive)


Dominique Desjeux

works, among other things, on :

Freedom, Decision and Scale of Observation:

  • at the micro-individual level, the decision is analysed as an arbitrage
  • At the micro-social and meso-social scales, the decision is analysed as a series of interactions between social actors, in situation and under constraint.
  • at the macro-social level, the decision becomes invisible as such. It becomes a result

More, By Gaétan Briseierre


No system can be understood or managed by focusing on it on a single scale. All systems (and SES in particular) exist and operate at multiple scales of space, time and social organisation, and the interactions between scales are fundamentally important in determining the dynamics of the system at a particular focal scale. This interactive set of hierarchically structured scales has been described as a ‘panarchy’ (Gunderson and Holling 2003).

Panarchy is a framework of rules of nature, evoked by the name of the Greek god of nature – Pan – whose personality also evokes an image of unpredictable change. Since the essential purpose of panarchy is to rationalise the interaction between change and persistence, between the predictable and the unpredictable, Holling et al (2002) use the notion of a hierarchy of influences between integrated scales, i.e. pan-archies, to represent the structures that support experiments, test their outcomes and allow for adaptive change.


an application example

the review of my interests ( early 2019) (need for clarity), on a table presenting the sociological levels (horizontal axis), Dilts vertically, and an ecocycle above. I do the same on orga in transformation.

in pdf

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