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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
Lesson 44
Social change has many causes. Also in a world linked by sophisticated communication and transportation
technology, change in one place often begets change elsewhere. Some of the causes of social change are
being discussed here.
Culture and Change
There are three important sources of cultural change: invention, discovery, and diffusion.
Invention is the combination of existing elements of culture into something new. Inventions produce new
objects, ideas, and social patterns. Invention of ideas, objects and social patterns bring social change.
Discovery occurs when people take note of existing elements of the world. Medical advances, for example,
offer a growing understanding of the human body. Human body has been there but perhaps in the olden
times humans did not know much about its functioning and dis-functioning. Discoveries about the
functioning of human body have added to the scientific knowledge. Beyond the direct effects on human
health, medical discoveries have stretched life expectancy. Increase in life expectancy is change in society.
Diffusion is the transference of cultural traits from place and/or group to another. Diffusion creates change
as products, people, and information spread from one culture to another. Many of the familiar elements of
culture may have come from other cultures. For purposes of diffusion to take place, it is necessary to have
contact between two cultures. In the past contact used to be physical contact through whatever means i.e.
exchange of visits of people belonging to different cultures; one way visit of travelers, traders; conquerors
who may invade, plunder, and leave with booty; other invaders who conquer and stay as rulers; colonizers
who rule their colonies. All these situations demonstrate diffusion situations where the establishment of
contact leads to borrowing of cultural traits from each other. The invaders and colonizers may bring their
own culture and impose it on the local people. Nevertheless, these very rulers may have picked up some
elements from the local culture. In the present times, for purposes of diffusion, the two different societies
don't have to have a physical contact with each other. Presently mass media of communication has
demolished the physical boundaries for contacting other cultures. Now perhaps you have to have a control
over the "mouse" and reach anywhere in the world, know about its culture, understand it, and if like may
borrow its cultural traits. Look at borrowing of fashions from outside, mixing of cultures, and exchange of
communication across the cultures.
World is becoming a global village where information spreads instantaneously and becomes a source of
change. Diffusion is the most important factor of bringing change in the culture of society.
Inventions, discoveries, and diffusion, all bring change in culture which in turn bring change in the social
structure and the relationships of people.
Conflict and Change
Tension and conflict in a society also produce change. Karl Marx saw class conflict as the engine that drives
societies from one historical era to another. Social class has been considered by Marx as a means to social
change. The two classes identified were the capitalists and the workers. Both these classes are based on
inequality (We have already discussed it under "social stratification"). Social classes are located in the
different relationships of people to the means of production. The relationships become important if a
group becomes conscious and organized for action. Out of these two groups capitalists oppose social
change, whereas the workers want to change the society. According to Marx the conflict between the two
classes is a means to social change. The two classes cannot remain in conflict for all the time. The
conflicting situation has to be resolved, and what ever the `give and take' for resolving the conflict, the new
situation will be different from the previous one  a social change  new relationships.
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
In more than a century since Marx' death this model has proven simplistic. Yet Marx correctly foresaw that
social conflict arising from inequality (involving not just class but also race and gender) would force changes
in every society.
Ideas and Change
For Karl Marx the most important aspect of human beings social life is the material basis of that life. In
this approach society where private property is the source of material production there exists a basis of
social conflict -- which in turn will lead to social change.
Max Weber considered Marx's view just one perspective. There could be other explanations of social
change. So instead of economic determinism, according to Weber, ideas could also determine economic
structure. Weber traced the roots of social change to ideas. For example, people with charisma can carry a
message that sometimes changes the world. Look at the prophets who have changed the societies with new
ideas. The religious ideas turned into movements which changed the societies. Changes brought by Islam
and its ideas brought drastic changes in the structure of society and relationships among the people.
Weber also highlighted the importance of ideas by showing how the religious beliefs of early Protestants set
the stage for the spread of industrial capitalism. The fact that industrial capitalism developed primarily in
areas of Western Europe where Protestant work ethic was strong proved to Weber the power of ideas to
bring about change.
Ideas also generate social movements. For example we come across movements for bringing change in the
ideas of people like social movements against "big dams" as part of environmentalism.  There are
movements for improving the lives of poor. There are movements for the rights of women.
Demographic Change
Population patterns also play a part in social change. There could be change in the structure of population
with respect of age, education, occupation, etc. Pakistani population is experiencing all these changes.
Migration within and among societies is a demographic factor that promotes change. In Pakistan there is a
lot of migration from rural to urban areas. The urban population has increased from 20 percent in 1947 to
33 percent in 1998. The size of the urban settlements has increased putting pressure on the local resources,
and other relationships. With the change in education of women, female participation in the labor force is
on the increase which has implications for the institution of family.
Environmental Changes
Environmental change can bring changes in the structure of societies and relationship of people.
Degradation of the environment may force people to migrate to new places. Water logging and salinity of
agricultural land makes people to migrate simply because they have lost their means of livelihood. Similarly
people leave their settlements due to drought.
Environmental changes brought about by "development projects" can also be a factor for social change.
For the construction of water reservoirs, motor ways, and industrial zones may necessitate the displacement
of populations. The same populations may get training for new jobs and follow new occupations. It may
change the life styles of the whole communities. Similarly the natural calamities can destroy the human
settlements as well as their means of livelihood, and thereby could be a factor of social change. People may
change their occupations, develop new settlements, migrate to new areas; all these situations are situations
of social changes.
Modernization is process of social change initiated by industrialization in the mid 18th century. As a result
of modernization:
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
 There is decline of small and traditional communities. In the traditional societies there is lot of
cohesiveness, strong sense of belongingness, strong neighborhood relations but all these undergo
change as the communities become complex in an industrial society. The structure and relations in
the families also undergo change in the modern society.
 There is an expansion of personal choice in the modern society. Personal choices increase for
getting education, for choosing an occupation, for a place to live, for choosing a spouse, and even
for adopting a lifestyle. There are series of options provided by the modern society and one could
choose. Such options were not available in the traditional society.
 There is an increasing diversity in the society. In the urban areas one could see the diversity of
people, diversity of occupations, diversity of religions, diversity of races, diversity of ethnic groups,
diversity of lifestyles, diversity of economic systems, diversity of political lines, and so on. Such
diversities provide rich resources for interactions and changes in society.
 There is future orientation and growing awareness of time. People in the modern societies think
more about the future. Being optimistic they try to improve their lives by adopting innovations
rather than having emotional attachment with traditions. These people are time conscious and
organize their daily routines down to the very minute.
All the causes of social change have interconnections and overlap each other.
Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity