Social change: What is Social change and its Forms?

Social change refers to imminent alteration in the social order of a society. From the beginning, sociologist have considered evolution, advancement and social change – the three perceptions- to have the same meaning. But in 1922, Ogburn defined the actual distinction among them. After this, these are used excessively in sociological terminology.

According to Botomore, social change can be inclusive of those changes which occur due to changes in social organisation, social institutions or their mutual relationships.

According to Johnson’s view,” In its basic sense social change means change in social structure

Forms of social change

In a society, social change explains the forthcoming diversity in various periods of time. But it is not definite that occurrence of this change happens in which country, under which law, or based on which principle. Forms of social change as described by sociologist are

1. Process

Process implies continuity of change. It can be either direct or indirect and rise and fall in any direction. This is certain order of the occurence of change due to which one state changes to another. According to MacIver process is necessarily a state of continuous change of activity of present powers. For example, when we say that today society is in the state of technological process. It means, primitive values, traditions are continuously changing. And are getting absorbed in modernity

2. Evolution

The concept of evolution is given by Darwin. In his view, anything that is directed from simplicity to complexity is evolution. And this process of direction occurs in some certain steps. Although Social change, in form of evolution was first defined by Herbert Spencer. Where he applied Darwin’s principle on society. He discussed the four levels of social evolution

  • Barbaric stage
  • Pastoral stage
  • Farming stage
  • Industrialisation stage

According to MacIver, every substance that is evolutionary has the possibility of undergoing evolution that is expressed in future. Hence a state can be said to undergo evolution when change occurs in definite direction continously. Also it occurs in its composition and qualities.

3. Progress

Progress is related to that change which is in accordance with the aims and goals of society. In other words, the change that happens for the betterment of society is called progress. It is often planned and is usually related to society’s values and principles. The concept of progress is diverse. It cannot be applied universally to all societies. As it is related to value, principle and morality which may be different in different societies. About progress Ogburn and Nimkoff have written,” The meaning of progress is related to change for the betterment and because of this it is worth determining the progress. ” Thus progress is a desired change.

4. Development

By development we mean change occuring in an object which is directed towards superiority. Even when a baby develops from infancy to adolescence, he goes through different changes. Be it physical, emotional, social nd moral which makes him well adjusted individual in the society. Similarily when a society undergoes changes in economical, sociological and moral terms. It is called developed society. In this way, development is an indicator of change that progresses towards superiority. Hobhouse has given four determinants for development. They are

  • Increase in quantity
  • Efficiency
  • Mutual cooperation
  • Freedom

In comparison to Indian society, western society is considered developed. As they have changed in all fields of economy, technology, education etc. Thus development is necessary for the progress of society.

5. Adaptation

Adaptation is also a process of change in which one person tries to accommodate with another person or circumstances. In the process of adaptation two things are important

  1. An individual should adapt himself according to the circumstances, or
  2. He should transform the circumstances in accordance to his requirements.

Adaptation takes place at the societal level, that is adjustment, accommodation, assimilation and integration etc words are used. These indicates the extent of adaptation. Thus we can say adaptation is also a form of social change. It is a process of biological setting in which the organisms transfer the qualities which are accommodated in a refined manner, i.e. both structurally and functionally.

6. Revolution

Whenever there is an increase in exploitation, atrocity, tention and impatience then political order is disturbed drastically. Hence, there is decrease in social values simultaneously. All this brings a drastic change in society which we call revolution. Usually revolution in society occur acutely in economic and political fields

7. Growth

Development is also form of change which indicates the determinable change in an object. Usually, change in size is called growth, which has a limit. And once the limit is attained, growth stops and indicates a change in a particular direction or area. Hence growth is a form of change, which is measurable. For example, birth and mortality rates in a society can be determined.






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