社会结构是一组有组织的社会制度和制度化关系模式，它们共同构成了社会。社会结构既是社会互动的产物，也是直接决定社会互动的产物。未经训练的观察者不会立即看到社会结构，但是，他们总是存在并影响人类社会经验的各个方面。将社会结构视为在特定社会的三个层面上运作是有帮助的：宏观，中观和微观层面。当社会学家使用“社会结构”一词时，他们通常指的是宏观层面的社会力量，包括社会制度和制度化关系的模式。社会学家认可的主要社会机构包括家庭，宗教，教育，媒体，法律，政治和经济。我们将这些视为相互关联和相互依存的独特机构，共同帮助构成社会的总体社会结构。这些机构组织我们与他人的社会关系，并在大规模观察时创造社会关系模式。例如，家庭制度将人们组织成不同的社会关系和角色，包括母亲，父亲，儿子，女儿，丈夫，妻子等，并且通常存在这些关系的等级，这导致权力差异。宗教，教育，法律和政治也是如此。这些社会事实在媒体和经济体制中可能不那么明显，但它们也存在于那里。在这些组织中，有些组织和人拥有比其他组织更大的权力，以确定其中发生的事情，因此，他们在社会中拥有更多的权力。这些人及其组织的确扮演了我们所有人生活中的结构力量。在特定社会中这些社会机构的组织和运作导致社会结构的其他方面，包括社会经济分层，这不仅是阶级制度的产物，而且还由系统性种族主义和性别歧视以及其他因素决定。偏见和歧视的形式。美国的社会结构导致了一个急剧分层的社会，很少有人控制财富和权力 – 他们往往是白人和男性 – 而大多数人都很少。鉴于种族主义植根于教育，法律和政治等核心社会机构，我们的社会结构也导致了一个系统性的种族主义社会。性别偏见和性别歧视问题也是如此。
Social structure is the organized set of social institutions and patterns of institutionalized relationships that together compose society. Social structure is both a product of social interaction and directly determines it. Social structures are not immediately visible to the untrained observer, however, they are always present and affect all dimensions of human experience in society. It is helpful to think about social structure as operating on three levels within a given society: the macro, meso, and micro levels. When sociologists use the term “social structure” they are typically referring to macro-level social forces including social institutions and patterns of institutionalized relationships. The major social institutions recognized by sociologists include family, religion, education, media, law, politics, and economy. We see these as distinct institutions that are interrelated and interdependent and together help compose the overarching social structure of a society. These institutions organize our social relationships to others and create patterns of social relations when viewed on a large scale. For example, the institution of family organizes people into distinct social relationships and roles, including mother, father, son, daughter, husband, wife, etc., and there is typically a hierarchy to these relationships, which results in a power differential. The same goes for religion, education, law, and politics. These social facts may be less obvious within the institutions of media and economy, but they are present there too. Within these, there are organizations and people who hold greater amounts of power than others to determine what happens within them, and as such, they hold more power in society. What these people and their organizations do act as structuring forces in the lives of all of us. The organization and operation of these social institutions in a given society result in other aspects of social structure, including socio-economic stratification, which is not just a product of a class system but is also determined by systemic racism and sexism, as well as other forms of bias and discrimination. The social structure of the U.S. results in a sharply stratified society in which very few people control wealth and power–and they tend to be white and male — while the majority has very little of either. Given that racism is embedded in core social institutions like education, law, and politics, our social structure also results in a systemically racist society. The same can be said for the problem of gender bias and sexism.