Social change refers to the changes in the social structure or the alteration of the social structure (Jordan and Pile). The social structure in this case refers to the social relationships within a group of individuals or within the society. Social change is considered as the modification of the functions of society (Jordan and Pile). These changes relate to the functioning of the various parts or institutions of the society such as the church, education, and the family (Jordan and Pile). Thus social change includes a change in the patterns of social behavior, change in status and roles, change in groups within the society, and change in institutions such as the family, religion, political and economic systems in the society. This essay will discuss the various aspects of social change as well as the factors that cause it in society.
Aspects of Social Change
Social change involves significant shifts in the basic elements of society (Jordan and Pile). This means that when social change occurs then the various social facts that form the social reality must also change. Thus the specific elements of the society that changes as a result of social change will include values, norms, beliefs, goals, and ranking of systems (Jordan and Pile). For example, values refer to facts such as respect for parents, honesty, and hard work that are highly regarded as shapers of behavior. When society changes its perspective on these facts then social change is said to have occurred.
Social change occurs at different levels in society. First, it can be identified at the individual level (Sztompha). At this level, social change is identified in the form of changes in attitude, beliefs, aspirations, and motivations. Second, social change occurs at the group level (Sztompha). At this stage the most important elements that can change include the patterns of communication, patterns of interaction, conflict resolution, and the unity of the group. Third, social change occurs at the organizational level. In this case, change will include alterations in the methods of production, the hierarchy of offices, and communication (Sztompha). Fourth, social change occurs at the institutional level. The changes, in this case, include the introduction of new education systems and religious ideologies (Sztompha). Social change at the societal level includes all the changes at these levels. At the global level, social change occurs in terms of changes in patterns of communication, international trade, and culture assimilation.
The magnitude of social change can be categorized or measured as follows. First, social change can be incremental or marginal (Jordan and Pile). This is a modest change that only affects the margins of norms or behavior. It does not affect the basic substance of the elements of society. It is the most common type of change and it consists of minimal force. Second, social change can be comprehensive (Sztompha). Comprehensive social change is caused by cumulative marginal social changes. It has reasonable force or momentum as compared to marginal social change. For example, individual amendments to the constitution are marginal changes. However, when several amendments to the constitution are brought together the resulting change is a comprehensive one. Finally, social change can be revolutionary (Sztompha). Revolutionary changes are usually rapid and drastic. These changes usually alter the entire system or subsystem. They are characterized by high momentum or force. The revolutionary change can be chaotic and destructive since it brings in a new system. The industrial revolution in Europe is an example of this type of social change.
Social change can be planned or unplanned. Planed social change refers to the deliberate efforts to manage or control the process of change in society. It is important to manage the process of social change to achieve the desired results (Durance, Coates, and Godet). Poor management of social change can lead to chaos and wastage of resources in the society (Durance, Coates, and Godet). The planned social change includes development plans. Unplanned change refers to the changes that were never anticipated and are beyond the control of human beings.
There are several sources of social change in society. Technology is one of the sources of social change (Durance, Coates, and Godet). Technology refers to the package of knowledge and tools used to understand a particular task or used to produce goods and services (Durance, Coates, and Godet). The invention of new technology has changed the lifestyle of human beings from ancient times to the modern world. It has brought positive changes such as improving quality of life and relationships. It has also brought negative changes such as pollution in the environment and conflict over natural resources. Ideology is also a source of change. Ideology is a system of beliefs that explain both social and political phenomenon in society. Ideology represents the perspective of the world. Thus it acts as the vision that guides the society on how things should be done (Durance, Coates, and Godet). It describes the various ideas that are taken to be true. Thus it makes sense to those who support it and this makes it an important source of change.
Competition in society can result in social change (Richerson and Boyd). Competition occurs in society due to the scarcity of resources. As the members of the society compete for resources, they develop new ideas, new perspectives, new patterns of interaction and communication. This leads to changes in the elements of the society such as values (Richerson and Boyd). Competition can lead to confrontation and chaos if it is not controlled. Conflict is another source of change in society. Conflict brings about change as different parties compete to achieve similar goals (Hear). Unlike the competition, in conflict, the competing parties do not abide by the rules of competition (Hear). Finally, social change can be caused by education. Education is the process through which people acquire new ideas knowledge and skills. Thus it is a powerful source of change as it changes the behavior of individuals as well as their views concerning life issues.
Social change has both positive and negative impacts on society. Social change has particularly led to the abolition of traditional beliefs and methods of production (Durance, Coates, and Godet). It has led to the adoption of scientific views and new methods or technologies of production. This has led to a better lifestyle for human beings throughout the world. However, social change has led to the loss of fundamental values that unified the society in the past.
The social change represents the modifications in the social structure (Jordan and Pile). It has led to changes in the basic elements of society such as values and norms. Social change can be planned or unplanned in society. The main sources of social change include education, technology, ideology, competition, and conflict. Social change has both negative and positive impacts on society as discussed above. It is important to manage the process of change in society to achieve the expected results.
Durance, Philippe, Joseph Coates and Michael Godet. “Technological forecusting and social change.” Strategic foresight 77 (2010): 1423-1610.
Hear, Nicholas. “Theories of migration and social change.” Journal of ethnic and migration studies 36 (2010): 1531-1536.
Jordan, Tin and Steven Pile. Social Change. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003.Print.
Richerson, Peter and Robert Boyd. “Being human: migration an engine for social change.” Nature 18 (2008): 1213-1215.
Sztompha, Piotr. The sociology of social change. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 1994.Print.
Durance, Philippe, Joseph Coates and Michael Godet. “Technological forecasting and social change.” Strategic Foresight 77 (2010): 1423-1610.
This article discusses the various ways in which technological advances affect the lifestyle of human beings. The information that was obtained from this article relates to technology as a source of social change in the society.
Hear, Nicholas. “Theories of migration and social change.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36 (2010): 1531-1536.
This article discusses the various theories that explain the patterns of migration and the effects of migration. The article was used to obtain information on competition as a source of social change in the society.
Jordan, Tin and Steven Pile. Social change. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003. Print.
This is a Sociology textbook that discusses the concept of social change in the society. This textbook was used to define social change as the alteration of the social structure. It was also used to identify the specific elements of the society that are altered in the process of social change.
Recherson, Peter and Robert Boyd. “Being human: migration an engine for social change.” Nature 18 (2008): 1213-1215.
This article focuses on the effects of migration from one part of the world to the other. The information that was obtained from this article relates to competition as a source of social change in the society.
Sztompha, Piotr. The sociology of social change. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 1994. Print.
This is also a Sociology textbook that discusses the concept of social change. It was used to obtain information on the levels at which social change occur. It was also used to obtain information on the magnitude of social change.