This article provides information about the Various Causes of Social Change !
One of the central concerns of the sociology of development is change. In societies of all times there is change affecting every realm of life social, economic, cultural, technological, demographic, ecological and so on.
Social scientists have underlined social change in terms of a change in relationships, organisation, culture, institution, structure and functioning of the social system. By social change, Kingsley Davis meant only such alterations that affect the organisation, structure and functions of society. Robert A. Nisbet views social change as a succession of differences in time within a persisting identity. To John J. Macionis social change is “the transformation of culture and social institutions over time.”
There are few identifiable characters of social change. Some of them are as follows: that social change happens everywhere, but the rate of change varies from place to place; that social change is sometimes intentional but often unplanned; that social change may generate controversy; that some changes matter more than others do. For example, the invention of personal computers was more important than, say, patch dolls. These are some of the major factors that highlight the causes of social change:
i. A large part of change in society is caused by change in culture. Culture is a system that constantly loses and gains components. Invention, discovery and diffusion are considered to be the main sources of cultural change.
Inventions produce new products, ideas, and social patterns. It is a new combination or a new use of existing knowledge. Inventions may be classified into material (telephone, aeroplane), and social inventions (alphabet, language, government, etc.). Each invention is new in form, function and meaning and has long-term possibilities of impact. Discovery is finding something that has never been found before, or finding something new in something that already exists.
A discovery adds something new to the culture and becomes a factor in social change only when it is put to use. Diffusion is a process of the spreading of ideas, culture and objects to other societies. It operates both within societies and between societies involving trading, migration, and mass communication. It is indeed a two way process:
ii. New ideas and modification of old ideas in a new context bring wide-scale changes in society. For example, Max Weber established that rationalisation of religious ideas brought about phenomenal change in Protestant world.
iii. Demographic change is caused by an increase in birth and decline in death and migration of populations. Change occurs from the demographic transition in society.
iv. Social change is also caused by tension and conflict. Structural strain, deprivation, cultural revitalisation have been the major causes of conflict. Again social division based on class, caste, gender, ethnicity, estate, etc. have also been important sources of conflict in society.
v. Social movements are organised efforts of groups of people to bring about deliberate change in the values, norms, institutions, culture relationships and traditions of the society. They also generate new identities and a new perspective.