Social change
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Social Change. Social change:. What is social change? What causes it? Social movements Globalization. What is social change?. Transformations over time of the institutions and culture of society . What causes social change?. Does Giddens have a theory?

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Social Change

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Social Change

Social change:

  • What is social change?

  • What causes it?

  • Social movements

  • Globalization

What is social change?

Transformations over time of the institutions and culture of society

What causes social change?

  • Does Giddens have a theory?

    • A theory is a systematic explanation of cause and effect

    • No real theory presented

    • “Influences” (pp. 618-622)

      • Physical environment (economy)

      • Political organization

      • Culture

  • Says we need general theories, but abandons them (except globalization as a trend)

What causes social change: theories Giddens neglects

  • Parsons (functionalism): evolutionary—differentiation of institutions

  • Symbolic interactionists: social construction, new “scripts”

  • Marx: historical materialism



New thesis

New antithesis



Struggle of opposites

New struggle of opposites

Dialectical materialism

  • (material) social forces of production as base (basis) of social life

  • Ideas, institutions “erected” in support of relations of production

  • Class struggle in relations of production becomes political

  • Struggle (revolution) leads to new stage of history: historical materialism

Historical Materialism


Ideas, ideology, institutions

Social reproduction

New superstructure

Class struggle


Social forces of production

Relations of production

Means of production

New forces of production

Postindustrial society

  • aka information society, service society, knowledge society because these sectors dominate the economy

    • Codified knowledge/information key resource

    • “Knowledge workers” become leading social group

  • But:

    • Service work includes a lot of manual labor

    • Close integration of service and manufacture

    • Giddens: this approach overemphasizes economic factors


  • Modernity

    • Refers to the industrial period

    • Based on notion of “progress” – i.e., history has a direction, things get better

  • Postmodernity means that idea has collapsed

    • Social reality is now pluralistic and diverse

    • Everything is in flux

    • Shafer and Divney: Postmodernists overemphasize cultural factors, wrong about “end of history”

Globalization: “influences”

  • Telecommunications

  • Fall of U.S.S.R, “capitalist road” in China brought virtually entire planet into market system

  • Transnational corporations dominate: biggest 500 TNC’s bigger than most countries’ economies

Table 20.3

Globalization debate

  • Skeptics:

    • Globalization is not new

    • Regionalization more significant

    • National governments still play important role

    • Shafer: current events lend credence to the skeptics’ points

Globalization debate

  • Transformationalists:

    • Globalization is changing societies, but governments hold onto some power

    • Globalization is “multidirectional”

    • New, “nonterritorial” social organizations:

      • TNC’s

      • NGO’s

      • Social movements

Globalization debate

  • Hyperglobalizers:

    • New global order being born

    • Market forces more powerful than national governments (Ohmae)

    • National governments in decline

    • International organizations grow in power:

      • European Union

      • World Trade Organization

Fig. 20.3

Campaign for global justice

  • Grassroots social movement concerned about global inequality

  • Battle of Seattle, 1999

  • Continues today (Miami anti-FTAA protest)

  • Has its own media using WWW:


Epilogue: social movements

  • Conscious, organized actions to influence social change

  • Piven and Cloward: most effective when mass-based, non-bureaucratic

  • Maoism and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution:

    • Revolution within a revolution

    • Among many other things, tried to invent new relations of production (non-wage labor)

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