Social Change Analysis – Part II

Published February 20, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Analysis and Overview

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Causes of Social Change

Humanity approaches an historical juncture that is prodding social change as the traditional methods of managing human affairs, at the interpersonal and international levels, are becoming less and less effective (Weinstein, 2010). To better comprehend causes of social change, experts study the where and how of material production as well as the distribution and consumption of goods and services significant to society. Studying the ancient past can be instrumental in facilitating homeostasis in the modern era. Without observation and analysis of the social sciences, causes and implications of change would be difficult to ascertain.

Experts also take into consideration demographic changes. In addition, researchers labor to comprehend the various natures of population transformations and the scale of a civilization’s interconnectedness that involves both the expansion and amplification of economic relationships (Dicken, 2011). Without sufficient knowledge of these components, all geographies of development can be disrupted.

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Conditions of Social Change

Researchers acquiesce that social change is brought on by transformational conditions that include: (a) significant events like invasions or earthquakes; (b) repeating cycles, patterns, and trends on a macroscopic level; and (c) from social activities that affect individuals (Chase-Dunn & Babones, 2006). In other words, barriers and obstacles that arise from causes like world events and behaviors of groups that seek basic human rights for example, are some of the elements that drive social change.

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Functioning Structures and Innovations

Social change can also influence the efficiency and functionality of nations.  Conflicts that occur extend opportunities for cultural evolution as a society interprets the variety of components that motivate action from them.  The conflict perspective theory of the social sciences, suggests cultural change evolves at a particular point in time when the availability of resources and opportunities alter as a result from collective action or reform.  The structural functionalism theory also known as the functionalist theory, looks at the interconnectedness of a society and how they function together to promote their system.  For example, scarcity of resources creates strain and conflict within a culture that disrupt functioning systems. Struggles with issues like inequality and ideology can also become engines of change (Weinstein, 2010).

Innovations occur as a result of the grievances and unrest that emerge in a society. These certain (often hidden) motivators emerge from a lack of an effective, efficient or equitable system (Cels & de Jong, 2012). There are four phases of the innovation stage: (a) a clear awareness of a challenge; (b) the setting, conditions, and the assembly of the elements involved; (c) a new meaning, configuration, or a eureka moment; and (d) a crucial upgrade or revision to an invention. These innovations are likely to succeed when a society is ready to adapt them.

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Environmental Factors and Cycles

Catastrophic events like typhoons, earthquakes and landslides, present new problems that have consequential effects on a population and their migration.  Scientific research confirms that climate change has an effect on the environment. McNall (2011) purports that human impact of change on the global environment has effected the levels of CO2 on our planet that is higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years. He cites this for one reason that everything frozen on the planet thawing (McNall, 2011).

Identifying patterns of change in the economic and political aspects of a society is essential in understanding developmental change.  An economic theory of politics (also known as public choice) applies a more rational look at cultural behavior. By studying linear, cyclical and dialectical models of change, experts can assess whether patterns will follow a linear before and after frame, or a cyclical pattern, by determining if it is capable of returning to the same point (Weinstein, 2010).

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Basic Strategies of Change

Fundamental strategies can assist in the delineation of change that outline characteristics and boundaries of a population or system. These strategies can facilitate challenges between leaders and factions (Weinstein, 2010). Some of these tactics involve education, persuasion, and power as well as violent and nonviolent action.  Leaders that are capable of identifying problems and needs are able to make effective changes.

External assistance can also be a factor for those open to receiving it. This is especially true when it instigates community improvement and active participation with focus on an end goal (Weinstein, 2010). In short, a variety of ideas that are substantially different from the status quo, whether as modifications, substitutions or mutations of materials, also play an important role in stimulating cultural movement and growth.

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Changes in Ideology

As a civilization evolves, a culture’s ideological beliefs also helps shape the development of humankind.  For example, politicians, artists, and social activitists garner the power of the market with innovative ideology.  They contend the ability to champion a better ideology, also referred to as cultural orthodoxy, is the key to creating a demand for a new culture (Holt & Cameron, 2010).  In the meantime, archeological and mythological records of early civilizations typically focused their energy on pleasing their Gods to attain favorable conditions.  This major component is a commonality that shaped earlier cultures.

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Invasions and War

Social change is also incurred from the hostilities that arise in groups due to: (a) sorrows and grievances; (b) the incompetence of leaders to manage challenges; (c) the difficulties in adapting to change; or (d) a shift or circulation of new radical concepts and ideologies.  These components offer a fertile breeding ground for conflict that can lead to revolution and battle. Social change scientists look at the interconnectedness of a culture with a scientific approach to the components that drive them on a macro level.  Bauer’s (2007) research concludes that the interconnectedness of governments, religion, the urban environment, social structure, and the economy of earlier civilizations, extends for millenia (Bauer, 2007). To illustrate these constructs we will examine man’s earliest civilization to better comprehend ours in our next post.

 To Be Continued … Part III – An Ancient World View

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References

Bauer, S. (2007). The history of the ancient world. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, LLC.

Cels, S., & de Jong, J. (2012). Agents of change: Strategy and tactics for social innovation. Harrisonburg, VA: R. R. Donnelley Publishing.

Chase-Dunn, C., & Babones, S. (2006). Global social change. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Dicken, P. (2011). Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world economy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Holt, D., & Cameron, D. (2010). Cultural strategy: Using innovative ideologies to build breakthroughs. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

McNall, S. (2011). Rapid climate change: Causes, consequences, and solutions. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

Weinstein, J. (2010). Social change. Pymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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