Essay on Nature and Characteristics of Social Change

Change happens through time. Social change is temporal in the sense it denotes the time-sequence. In fact, society exists only as a time-sequence. As MacIver says, “it is a becoming, not a being; a process, not a product”.

Innovation of new things, modifica­tion and renovation of the existing behaviour and the discarding of the old behaviour patterns take time. But the mere passage of time does not cause change as in the biological process of ageing.

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3. Social Change is Environmental:

It must take place within a geographic or physical and cultural context. Both these contexts have impact on human behaviour and in turn man changes them. Social changes never take place in vacuum.

4. Social Change is Human Change:

The sociological significance of the change consists in the fact that it involves the human aspect. The composition of society is not constant, but changing.

The fact that people effect change and are themselves affected by it makes change extremely impor­tant.

5. Social Change Results from Interaction of a Number of Factors:

A single factor may trigger a particular change, but it is always associated with other factors. The physical, biological, technological, cultural and other factors may, together bring about social change. This is due to the mutual interdependence of social phenomenon.

6. Social Change May Create Chain Reaction:

Change in one aspect of life may lead to a series of changes in its other aspects. For example, change in rights, privileges, and status of women has resulted in a series of changes in home, family relationships and structure, the economic and to some extent, the political pattern of both rural and urban society.

7. Social Change Involves Tempo (or Rate) and Direction of Change:

In most discussions of social change some direction is assumed. This direction is most necessarily inevitable. Some­times, the direction is determined ideally. Change towards such a destination is more appropriately regarded as progress.

In actuality, social change may tend towards any direction. The tempo or the rate of change is also not governed by any universal laws. The rate of change varies considerably from time to time and society to society depending upon its nature and character-open and closed, rural and urban and others.

8. Social Change may be Planned or Unplanned:

The direction and tempo of social change are often conditioned by human engineering. Plans, programmes and projects may be launched by man in order to determine and control the rate and direction of social change. Unplanned change refers to change resulting from natural calamities such as famines and floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.

9. Short versus Long-run Changes:

Some social changes may bring about immediate results while some others may take years and decades to produce results. This distinction is significant, because a change which appears to be very vital today may be nothing more than a temporary oscillation having nothing to do with the essential trends of life, some years later. This is what historians mean when they say that time alone can place the events of the day in their true perspec­tive.

10. Social Change is an Objective Term:

The term social change describes one of the cat­egorical processes. It has no value-judgements attached to it. To the sociologist social change as a phenomenon is neither moral nor immoral, it is amoral.

It means the study of social change involves no-value-judgement. It is ethically neutral. One can study change even within the value system without being for against the change.

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