Social revolutions involve rapid, basic, and aggressive changes in the internal culture of a society. They combine structural transformations and huge class disruptions in the political and social character of a society that eventually leads to changes in leadership and policies (Skocpol, 1976, P.175). Technology has been associated with these social revolutions. Historically, four revolutions have occurred as a result of new technologies.
New technologies and Social Revolutions
In history, the French, Russian, Chinese, and American revolutions are some of the most successful social revolutions (Skocpol, 1976, p.180). The agrarian and industrial revolutions at the time had major impacts on these changes. Amid successful agrarian developments, Hopkins & Wallerstein (1967, p.39) argue that manufacturers and producers began to compete among independent states. Britain for instance acquired commercial control of Europe and in turn received pressures to keep her status. As result, many of the peasants in most European states were taxed to finance armies and navies, yet the benefits were eaten by the upper class. In retaliation, the poor peasants rebelled. There had to be reorganization in the structure of land ownership so that the lords also paid tax.
Developments in war technology caused revolutions in Russia (Skocpol, 1976, p.183). The czar relied heavily on the army to quell reprisals from outside. In turn, the continual involvement with foreign countries weakened the leadership of the czar. War meant that Russia whose economy depended on neighbors would dwindle. Her ambition to stay afloat forced her to enter WWI in the early 1900s by mobilizing even the restive low class although they were only persuaded after agriculture was modernized to free laborers for urban migration (Chermberlin, 1963, p.64).
The consequence of these revolutions was that the coercive methods employed by the rulers to protect the interests of the upper-class landlords were reduced. They had to lower taxation, allow peasants to own land, make decisions that involved the whole populace as a way of gaining the support of managing state resources centrally. By gaining the vote of the peasants, governments would reduce their incapacities in managing their state institutions (Skocpol, 1976, p.181). This was part of social change.
William Ogburn suggested the basic driver of development as technology, although he additionally noted that social reactions to it usually weaken its intended advancement. There are 3 main stages of development: creation, dispersion, and adoption (Ogburn, 1968, p.155).
Creation involves the invention of new types of technology. They are additions to the already existing way of life which can only occur if the society has accumulated a certain level of helpful information in a given field. For example, the invention of the mobile phone has come after accumulating knowledge in telecommunications probably through wireless gadgets like the radio.
Dispersion is the expansion or diffusion of an idea among different cultural groups. This spread of ideas often brings improvements to earlier inventions. For instance, the size of the first mobile phone was larger than the current creations. Today’s mobile phones can perform tasks as picture messaging, file transfer, and remote sensing as opposed to earlier versions that only made calls.
Adoption is the adjustment that society takes to accommodate the use of the invention. Although many people use mobile phones, the response has been varying. While others use it for communication, some individuals use it for surveillance where they take pictures in someone’s privacy. Most governments have restricted the ownership of mobile phones through registration. Apart from easing communication, mobile phones have rendered the work of the postmaster useless because fewer people send ordinary mails.
Capitalism and socialism
Capitalism is an economic and social system where capital and labor are privately controlled and produced goods traded in a free market. The rewards from this are distributed to the owners of machinery as profits or paid to workers as wages (Bacher, 2007, p.2). Socialism advocates for public worker ownership and the means of production and resource allocation to be accessed equally by all and every person are paid according to the amount of effort put in.
Capitalism supports free trade without state interventions but socialism sees intervention as a way to stop the exploitation of the weak. Capitalism says that state intervention can be effective if it is limited; only to come by issuing free-market policies that shall control free markets (Riordan, 2007, p.11).
Capitalism is criticized for causing exploitation and unequal distribution of resources because wealth circulates among the elites only. Socialism cannot efficiently control market prices because the state is the sole owner of capital.
Both systems support minimum intervention. Capitalism supports that the state should protect its people against unfair competition, while socialism supports limitation on market prices to limit middlemen exploiting consumers and increase the utility of resources.
A combination of the two gives social capitalism. Socialism and capitalism are supportive of each other (Jagannathan, 2009, para. 3). By helping the poor, the output is enhanced and the government can support the free market while regulating the trade. The result will be the accommodation of the poor by giving them food and better housing, sponsored by the government. This will in turn enhance economic stability because the society eliminates crime caused by poverty, and improves security for businesses to perform.
Bacher, C. (2007). Capitalism, Ethics and Paradox on self-exploitation. (3rd Ed.) Munich: Grin Verlag.
Chermberlin, W.H. (1963). The Russian Revolution, New York: Grosset and Dunlap.1, 64-65
Hopkins, TK & Wallerstain, I. (1967). The comparative study of National societies, Social Science information, 6, 39.
Jagannathan, R. (2009). Socio-capitalism set to become the New Economic Doctrine. Web.
Ogburn, WF. (1922). Social Change with Respect to Culture and Original Nature. (2nd Ed.) New York: B.W. Huebsch.
Skocpol, T. (1976). France, Russia and China: a structural Analysis of Social Revolutions, Comparative studies in society and history, 8(2), 175-210.