Toffler's Spheres of Society
Alvin Toffler described his view of how society works as a system of interlocking parts in Previews and Premises, an extended interview, published by the South End Press (Boston), 1984. He described this view as his starting point for The Third Wave. In this view, all societies have the following parts, which he called "spheres", all more or less coequal:
Toffler felt that these six spheres encompass most of what constitutes any society, but he wasn't concerned if a few aspects were not included. The point is, the spheres constitute a model, or way of thinking, about what the major parts of a society are, what the differences are between different societies, and how the parts of a society interact. For example, if technology is not an independent social force, what are the other parts of society that it interacts with? This model is a starting point -- a list of parts -- for answerwing that question.
Toffler emphasized that there is nothing magic about this model. In reality, society works by myriad small processes working every which way, and the spheres are just envelopes drawn around groups of interactions. For example, a society's culture cuts across many, if not all, of the spheres. To quote,
"For example, every civilization also develops its own ‘super-ideology’ to justify itself, to explain its place in history and the universe, and to vindicate or rationalize its operations. And that is the cultural overlay that covers the whole and helps shape its structure. That ideology is reflected in all the spheres, from family life to technology."
[One more point about this model. Toffler described his model in anwer to a question from the interviewer about his (Toffler's) views of Marxism (the interviewers were Marxists). Toffler used the model to explain his primary objection to Marxism; it was too simple, focusing on the power-sphere (class conflict). A model that focuses on one sphere cannot explain the whole of a society, unless you believe that the sphere that is the subject of the theory is the dominant sphere. If you believe that all of the spheres are coequal, then explaining one sphere does not explain the society. Similarly, if you believe in a conspiracy, i.e. that there is a group that controls the society, you must believe that the group controls all of the spheres, because controlling one only controls part of the society.
So people that believe that society is complex -- many interacting coequal parts -- will tend not to believe in single-concept social theories, or in conspiracies.]