Social change refers to any significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and cultural values and norms. By “significant” alteration, sociologists mean changes yielding profound social con-sequences. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CHANGE
According to evolutionary theory, society moves in specific directions. Therefore, early social evolutionists saw society as progressing to higher and higher levels. As a result, they concluded that their own cultural attitudes and behaviors were more advanced than those of earlier societies. * Unilinear Evolutionary Theories (Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer) - maintain that all societies pass through the same sequence of stages of evolution to reach the same destiny. * Multilinear Evolutionary Theory (Gerhard Lenski, Jr.) - holds that change can occur in several ways and does not inevitably lead in the same direction. Multilinear theorists observe that human societies have evolved along differing lines. Functionalist Theory
Functionalist theories of social change start with the advantage that they deal with social statics before dealing with social dynamics. The functionalist perspective was introduced into modern sociology by Emile Durkheim, who examined several aspects of society by asking what function they played in maintaining the social order as a whole. Conflict Theory
Conflict theorists maintain that, because a society's wealthy and powerful ensure the status quo in which social practices and institutions favorable to them continue, change plays a vital role in remedying social inequalities and injustices. Cyclical Theory
The cyclical theorists also see a series of stages through which societies must pass. But, instead of ending in a “final” stage of perfection, they see a return to the starting point for another round. According to Oswald Spengler, a German philosopher, each great civilization passes through successive stages of birth, growth, and decline, with the completed cycle covering about a thousand years. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE
Technological and Economic Changes
The practical applications of scientific or other knowledge create social change. * Agricultural advancements
* Examples include irrigation, the plow, cotton gin. * Industrialization
* The process of moving from an agrarian based economy in which the primary product is food to an industrial or post-industrial economy in which the primary product is goods, services and information * The process of changing from a manual labor force to a technology driven labor force in which machines play a large role. This may lead to changes in: * Work – people work outside of the home/community, which lead to changes in gender (value of, child care, value of labor). * Work became centered and organized around machines. Alienation. * Weapons production – guns, nuclear weapons.
* Information Society. Information overload.
Characteristics of industrialized societies:
* Smaller percentage of workforce employed in agriculture * Increased division of labor, specialization of occupations * Increase in education of workforce
* Increase in economic organizations (businesses)
* Stronger link between government and economy – interdependent * Technological change – new goods and services produced and new occupations result; control of environment and the need to do so. * Geographical mobility
* Occupational mobility
* Population change:
* Demographic transition; move from (1) high birth rates and high death rates (with smaller population sizes) to (2) high birth rates and low death rates (with extreme population growth) to (3) low birth rates and low death rates (with populations maintenance). * People have fewer children as society industrialized because role of family changes and technological advancements allow control of reproduction. *...