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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.

Social Change Analysis – Part I

Published February 18, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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ABSTRACT

This extensive research is broken into three parts and takes an in-depth look at the constructs and implications of social movements that emerge from various conflicts and cycles. This analysis includes: (a) the theories behind the conditions, the trends, the political processes, and the environmental factors that act as locomotives of change; (b) the functioning structures and innovations; (c) strategies that civilizations incorporate to adjust to climate change, migration, famine, and war; (d) influences from changes in ideology and social status; and (e) the effects on resources by population growth.  To illustrate this our research looks at the beginning of the human agency to the land of Mesopotamia and the cradle of civilization. In doing so, we can learn from their struggles, their strains, their cycles and patterns, and their conflict management methodologies to help us determine more effective ways of application in the modern era. Our conclusions deduce that in studying the past and the elements that facilitated the rise of the human genus, we can learn from the components of change to avert a similar demise in the modern era.

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Social Change in the Ancient World

INTRODUCTION

The pervasive feeling is that something fundamental is occurring worldwide with the current explosion of interest in globalization and feelings of uncertainty has intensified. There is an increased awareness of what is transpiring in one part of the world that has a deep affect (sometimes immediate) by events unfolding in other parts of the world (Dicken, 2011). In analyzing how we arrived at this juncture, studying the ancient world can give us clues.

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Many individuals in the meantime, often become confused by the mythological depictions and cultural belief systems of ancient civilizations. The quest of the modern seeker is to establish an erudition of our ancestors and the components that incurred social change by examining the momentous shifts that transpired in the human condition (Free, 2011). This research examines the major causes and underlying conditions that prompted social change in the ancient past, as well as the main choices, innovations, and factors that ancient cultures faced in their attempts to shape their individual and collective futures.  We will also examine humanity’s comprehension of the ancient world on macro and micro levels as well as the various patterns and cycles that shaped it. By scrutinizing earlier civilizations of the human agency, we can learn from the management of their successes and failures.  Learning from the demise of past civilizations helps us comprehend and avert analogous conditions in the modern era that can decelerate the upgrade and reconfiguration process of human destiny.

 To Be Continued … Part II – An Overview and Analysis of Social Change

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REFERENCES:

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

Free, J. (2011). Sumerian religion: Secrets of the Anunnaki. New York, NY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

Social Change in the Workplace

Published January 18, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Precipitous change, both peaceful and vehement, is a fact of life that practically everyone on planet earth has come to envisage, if not unconditionally accept.  According to sociology professor and author Jay Weinstein (2010) from Eastern Michigan University, “a great social cultural revolution is sweeping the world” (p. 3).  A historical juncture has been attained at which the former ways of conducting human affairs from the interpersonal to the international levels are becoming less effective.  This year for example, because of the technological sophistication of electronic communication, for the first time in television history, a prime time television show drama on the CBS network’s hit series, Hawaii Five-O allowed viewers to choose the ending of an episode in real time with the aid of electronic devices like smartphones, tablets and computers.

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Just as the modern era deposed feudalism, globalization is reformatting contemporary society.  This research is focused on my personal experience of social change in the workplace and the impact it produced from the functionalist, conflict, and interpretative perspectives when the board members at Capitol Records (a former place of employment) restructured the organization.  This significant event involved substantial personnel cuts and the shutting down of an organizational branch.  These changes created conflict and confusion for both contractual and non-contractual employees as the functional requisites were shifting in the way of personnel and economic resources.  In addition, panic ensued within the organization as workers attempted to interpret the action and parameters of the social change.

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The music industry is constantly in a state of flux.  A musician can enjoy great success or can meet artistic doom through the efforts of their record company.  Executives are always searching for the next megastar.  There is no one way to success and no one can predict what the public will embrace as a hit, or scoff at as a flop.  As a result, the board of directors is, at times, forced to make changes when the executives miss the mark on what constitutes a successful music star and what is considered wasted energy.  When a company does not reflect significant profits, while the books reveal extreme expenditures for artists that are not attracting substantial returns, or worse, lose their popularity, adjustments are calculated to navigate the organization towards profit and success.

Revenue at Capitol Records was in decline and the organization was exhibiting signs of struggle.  The functional requisites were shifting with respect to the minimum number of personnel required to keep the company operational within the frame of the economic resources available.  As a solution, the organization faced a restructuring situation.  In their concerted effort to downsize, an outside agency was employed to provide the hatchet man duties.  The institution in this instance did not require the main body of personnel to conform or participate in the decision to remodel the organization.  Staff members were unsure of job security until they were summoned by the hatchet man for verification.

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The organizational change that was implemented created panic within the structure as workers were attempting to comprehend the action and parameters of this new paradigm shift.  The organizational edifice affected was comprised of two floors.  The main body of personnel was located on the ground level, while the upper floor housed two divisions – the offices of the President and the offices of the Vice President of Business Affairs (the author’s supervisor).  Our department was advised of the organizational changes and I was asked to participate as the assistant to the hatchet man in the downsizing process.

On the one hand I was relieved that, for me, a firm position within the organization still existed.  On the other hand, it was an emotionally difficult task to call each individual employee to their final exit meeting.  That call was something people I had worked with for years were dreading.  A situation-insensitive brother made remarks how proud he was that I was chosen to assist in the organization’s blood bath.  On the contrary, in my view, it was equated to the position of a modern day accomplice to the staff executioner.  Although the hatchet man was a very kind individual with a soft spoken demeanor, his task was not an easy one and it affected me deeply because of my empathy for the people that had been my colleagues and friends – some for many years.  The power of the event and my involuntary participation of this social change presented personal conflict because of my espoused values within the organization and my sympathy towards the people that were being asked to leave.

The new social setting created a reality that redefined the organizational structure implemented by the stranger cast as the terminator.  The idea of job stability was modified as each individual struggled with the change imposed on them.  When individuals heard the phone ring, a disposition of low self-esteem emerged as the withdrawal papers were delegated one by one.  The facility shut down shortly after the event concluded.  Employees that were not dismissed were assimilated in other areas of the organization.

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The world faces a long list of threats that include: (a) hunger, (b) disease, (c) poverty, (d) despair, (e) pandemics, (f) global climate change, and (g) aging economies.  Breakthroughs in society occur when the demand for an end to deprivation, marginalization, and equality ultimately overwhelms the resistance (Light & Reynolds, 2011). Breakthroughs in companies incur change with episodes of restructuring that often include considerable downsizing of personnel as part of the process.  These are the tools of agitation that disrupt and replace the status quo.  The changes that transpired at Capitol Records were instigated by a variety of circumstances which included (a) the completion of the President’s contract; (b) the sale and shutting down of the building; and (c) the financial climate of the corporation.  Individuals who initially challenged the reforms eventually learned to create a new normal.

In conclusion, social change continues to evolve with globalization having a significant impact on contemporary society.  Two fundamental principles drive change: (1) power, and (2) love.  Love is defined as the drive towards unity and power towards separation (Kahane, 2010).  To create lasting change, individuals should learn to work fluidly towards unity and must uncover a means to balance these two forces.  When we learn to shift between power and love, we can begin a new order that will assist to move society forward.

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References

Kahane, A. (2010). Power and love: A theory and practice of social change. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Light, P., & Reynolds, C. (2011). Driving social change: How to solve the world’s toughest problems. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Weinstein, J. (2010). Social change. (p. 3). Pymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.