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Chapter 18:. Social Change. What to Expect in This Chapter. What is Social Change? Sources of Social Change Theories of Social Change Evolutionary Theory Conflict Theory Functionalist Theory Cyclical Theory Modernization and Global Social Change Social Change in the United States.

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chapter 18

Chapter 18:

Social Change

what to expect in this chapter
What to Expect in This Chapter...
  • What is Social Change?
  • Sources of Social Change
  • Theories of Social Change
    • Evolutionary Theory
    • Conflict Theory
    • Functionalist Theory
    • Cyclical Theory
  • Modernization and Global Social Change
  • Social Change in the United States
what is social change
What is Social Change?

Social change refers to “...any modification in the social organization of a society in any of its social institutions or social roles”

sources of social change
Social change can originate from either within a society, or from outside of a society

Internal sources of social change are those factors that originate within a specific society that singly or in combination with other factors produce alterations in social institutions and social structure.

External sources of social change are events that originate outside of a society to bring about change to social institutions or structures

Sources of Social Change
internal sources of social change
Internal Sources of Social Change
  • Internal sources of social change typically occur through technological innovation or ideological shifts
  • Technological Innovation
    • Technology has changed society, particularly since the Industrial Revolution
  • Ideological Shifts
    • Ideology refers to a set of beliefs and values that justify pursuit of identified goals through a given set of means
    • Ideologies may be either conservative, liberal or radical
    • Liberal and radical ideologies are most likely to produce social change
external sources of social change
External Sources of Social Change
  • External sources of social change emanate from outside of the society
  • Such change takes place through a process of cultural diffusion—the movement of cultural traits from one society to another
  • In some cases this diffusion is forced upon weaker societies—a process known as forced acculturation
theories of social change
Theories of Social Change

Evolutionary

Theory

Conflict

Theory

Functionalist

Theory

Cyclical Theory

evolutionary theory
Evolutionary Theory
  • Grounded in Darwin’s ideas of evolution and applied to social change
  • Sociologist Herbert Spencer then coined the term “survival of the fittest” to refer to the process by which one culture comes to dominate others
  • Other social scientists, such as Durkheim and Tönnies, suggested that societies pass through evolutionary stages, from less to more complex
  • More recently, social scientists suggest that there are many ways that societies develop and that a “general” evolutionary trajectory cannot explain the development of societies around the world
conflict theory
Conflict Theory
  • Grounded in the ideas of Karl Marx
    • Claims that the engine for social change is conflict between unequal social classes
  • More recent conflict theorists suggest that conflict between various groups, not necessarily class-based, also fuels social change
    • Such groups include the National Organization for Women, the Christian Coalition and many others

Visit NOW online

functionalist theory
Functionalist Theory
  • Functionalists see society as a homeostatic system--consisting of interrelated parts
    • The normal state of society is one of equilibrium
    • Because society is an open system, it is usually in a dynamic state, or a state of near equilibrium
  • Society changes as it seeks to integrate conditions which act upon it
    • The changes, however, are piecemeal and very gradual
    • The purpose of these changes is to bring society to a place of equilibrium
cyclical theory
Cyclical Theory
  • Based on the observation that civilizations rise and fall
  • An examplar of cyclical theory is the work of Pitirim Sorokin
    • Sorokin identified 2 types of cultures
      • Ideational cultures—emphasize spiritual values
      • Sensate cultures—emphasize sensual experience
    • Suggested that societies move between these two extremes of sensate and ideational culture
    • Societies occasionally arrive at an intermediate point, or idealistic point, which represents a harmonious mix of both ideational and sensate cultural features
modernization and global social change
Modernization and Global Social Change
  • Modernization is “...a complex set of changes that take place as a traditional society becomes an industrial one”
  • The process of modernization usually takes place in stages:
    • Farmers produce a surplus to be sold at market, creating a money economy
    • Simple tools are replaced by industrial technology
    • Work becomes specialized
modernization in the third world
Modernization in the Third World
  • Unlike Western societies, where modernization developed naturally, third-world nations have had modernization forced on them by colonizing nations
  • As these societies are establishing political independence, they are rejecting many aspects of Western modernization
  • Western organizations are also recognizing that Western models for modernization are not necessarily appropriate for third-world countries

Click here to visit SIFAT—a Christian-based organization seeking to develop appropriate technologies for third-world economies

impact of modernization on individual life
Impact of Modernization on Individual Life
  • Modernization has had numerous positive impacts on people’s lives
    • In Western nations, life expectancy has increased from 47.6 years in 1900 to about 76 years today
    • Health has generally improved
    • Leisure time has increased
    • Standards of living have improved
  • There have also been costs to modernization
    • Obesity, anxiety, and pollution are all products of modernization
    • Modernization in developing worlds has resulted in severe psychological dislocation
the mcdonaldization of society
The McDonaldization of Society
  • Sociologist George Ritzer uses the fast food restaurant as a model for what is taking place in modern society today
    • Like McDonalds, modern society is increasingly efficient and predictable
    • Moreover, similar to the model of a fast food restaurant, technology controls people in modern society rather than vice versa
  • Ritzer suggests that there is a downside to McDonaldization
    • Such a society is dehumanizing
    • There is little room for human creativity in such systems
social change in the united states
Social Change in the United States
  • Technological change has dominated the landscape of American society in the last half century
  • One author has suggested that technological innovations have ushered in the “Age of Insight”
    • New technology provides more information, and helps us understand the human body and the physical world in ways never before possible
  • Sociologists sometimes use the term technological determinism to refer to the impact that technology has on society and culture

What are some technological innovations that have occurred since you were born?

the workforce of the future
The Workforce of the Future
  • Changing demographic composition of the United States will powerfully affect the nature of the workforce
    • The population over age 85 has increased by 30% from 1990-1998
    • Teens comprise an ever lower proportion of the population
    • Minorities and women will comprise a larger percentage of the workforce in the future
  • Changing technologies will also affect the workforce of the future
    • Manufacturing is decreasing, while service sector and information processing jobs are increasing