This article explain the meaning and definition of “Social Change” !
According to MacIver and Page, social change is a change in social relationship. It is a process responsive to many types of changes, to changes in man-made conditions of living, to changes in attitudes and beliefs of men and to changes that go beyond human control to the biological and physical nature of things.
To Lundberg, “Social change refers to any modification in established patterns of inert-human relationships and standards of conduct.” In a similar vein, Judson R. Landis writes, “Social change refers to change in the structure and functioning of the social relationships of society.” Koenig feels “Social change refers to the modifications which occur in the life patterns of people”.
According to M.E. Jones, “Social change is a term used to describe variations in or modifications of any aspect of social processes, social patterns, social interaction or social organisation”. No doubt change identifies a wide canvas or contour for development, progress transformation, growth, mobilisation and soon. There are many perspectives that are used to explain social change. These are mentioned in brief as follows:
1. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the concept of evolution assumed a central place in explanations of all forms of human development in both the social and biological sciences for example, Morgan’s three epochs of humanity i.e., savagery, barbarism and civilisation and Auguste Comte’s ideas of human intellect.
Comte argues, human intellect passing through three historical phases of sophistication the theological, the metaphysical and the positive. Spencer’s view is that of human societies passing through a course of natural development, from relatively simple patterns of organisation to more complex structures, characterised by an increasing specialisation of parts.
2. The conflict perspective can best be understood in terms of tension and conflict between groups and individuals and here change is viewed as an intrinsic process in society. To Karl Marx, social changes take place based on the antagonistic class relations based on ownership of the means of production; between the haves and the have-nots and that this class struggle culminates into a revolutionary change in society with its progression from ancient to feudal and finally from feudal to capitalist stage of development in society.
According to Coser, conflict is an inevitable part of the socialisation process and no social groups can be completely harmonious as individuals have a predisposition for love as well as hate. Thus conflict acts as a creative force that stimulates change in society, constructive or destructive. While Karl Marx has identified class and class conflict based on unequal distribution of material resources, Daharendorf has identified the same in terms of unequal distribution of authority. According to Daharendorf, all groups in society are divided into those who have authority and those who do not and conflict arises because of unequal distribution of authority in society’. This conflict on unequal distribution of authority leads to change in society.
3. To structural-functional theorists, society consists of interrelated parts that work together for the purpose of maintaining internal balance. It perceives roles as locating individuals in social positions, and providing them with articulated sets of expectations specifying the rights and duties of occupants. This perspective is oriented towards order and stability and preservation of the status quo. Durkheim has observed change in terms of change in the nature of division of labour in society. He believed that the change in labour from traditional society to modern society was the cause for social change.
According to Talcott Parsons, society is a system surrounded by three other systems — personality, the organism and culture. There is social equilibrium when the boundaries of the three systems are maintained and social change results from boundary breaking. Ogburn’s theory reasons that societies operate as homogeneous mechanisms and that changes that upset the equilibrium in one part tends to produce compensating changes to restore that equilibrium. To him all aspects of culture, i.e., material or non-material do not change at an equal rate. This creates the phenomenon of cultural lag that ultimately leads to change in society.
4. These theories posit that activities of people constitute the essence of change in society and modifications in the behaviour can facilitate change and play an essential role in social development. Max Weber thought that modernity was replacing traditional views with a rational way of thinking. In pre-industrial societies traditional views obstructed change, things were the way they were because that is what everyone believed and no one questioned it.
In modern societies, things were questioned and answers were calculated. David McClelland focused his study on what he called need for achievement, symbolised by V achievement. According to him, the greater the development of the ‘n’ factor the greater the economic development in any society. Consequently, there is certain behaviour characteristics exhibited by people with this V factor, such as individualism, energetic innovative activity, drive for success and so on. In simple words, individual economic achievement produces economic growth.