Gillin and Gillin add,
“Social changes are variations from the accepted modes of life; whether due to alteration in geographical conditions, in cultural equipment, composition of the population or ideologies whether brought about by diffusion or inventions within the group.”
Social change has various definitions mainly because it can be applied to various situations. Social change refers to any modification, difference, or alteration that occurs in an object or situation in the course of time. Any changes that occur in human interrelations and interactions can also be termed as social change. Since society consists of several relationships, any changes that occur in the social relationship systems can also be labelled as social change.
Types of Social Change
The cycles of rise, fall, and decline determine the changes occurring in societies and civilisations as well. Spengler believes that all societies have a predetermined life cycle including birth, growth, maturity, and decline.
Since social change is essential for correcting social inequalities and injustices, social change is highly necessary. Percy S. Cohen (Modem Social Theory, 1968) adds, “This theory is plausible, but it is not necessarily true. The contention that group conflict is a sufficient condition for social change is obviously false. It is arguable that structured conflict, when it involves a fairly equal balance of forces.”
The introduction of the Darwinian Theory of biological evolution led society and culture to be regarded as undergoing changes akin to the evolutionary changes. It believes that society and culture are governed by the same laws that guide organisms and biological growth. Herbert Spencer (1890) added that sociology is, “the study of evolution in its most complex form”.
Technology is considered to be one of the important factors of social change. Technological development is also believed to produce human civilisation and any change occurring in technology will consequently change the social relationship arrangement as well.
The state of productive forces determines the economic structure of society. Dorthy S. Thomas (1925) adds, “it is not difficult to establish correlation between social changes and economic changes, though it is harder to interpret them”.
Causes of Social Change
These factors can be quantitative and quantitative. Both the quality of the composition of the demography and the size and density of the human population can lead to social change as there can be a rise, fall, or decline.
Biological factors revolve around the genetic constitution of human beings which includes human beings as well as non human beings. If there is any increase or decrease in the same, it can lead to social change.
Malinowski defines culture, “as the handiwork of man and as the medium through which he achieves his end.” Discovery, invention, and diffusion are the three main factors that birth changes in culture thereby leading to social change.
W.F. Ogburn believes, “Technology changes society by changing our environments to which we In turn adopt. This change is usually in the material environment and the adjustment that we make with these changes often modifies customs and social institutions initiate a corresponding social change.”
Since society consists of a large group of people and different cultures reside together, there may be occurrences of conflicts and this can also be a major cause of social change.
Any change in the population such as a massive growth in the number of human beings populating the world can also lead to social change.
M.E. Jones states,
“Social change is a term used to describe variations in, or modifications of, any aspect of social process, social patterns, social interaction or social organisations.”
Morris Ginsberg asserts,
“By social change I understand a change in social structure, i.e. the size of a society, the composition or balance of its parts or the type of its organisation.”