Social Development: Four Characteristics Of Social Change

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Concept of Social Change
The term Social change encompasses any type of transformation in the demographic, structural, cultural or environmental characteristics of a social system (Johnson, 2007), describing the transition of the social system or object from one form to another (Ungureanu, 1990). The term social change to Agabrian refers to permanent shifts, on a relatively long term, of the elements of culture, social structure and social behaviours (Agabrian, 2003). However, social change can be defined as the intentional or unintentional alteration of culture, economic, political, technological and social organization/ structure over a specific period of time.

Characteristics of Social Change

Macionis (1996) identified four main characteristics
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Peoples’ culture can be changed through three key pillars of change (Giddens and Duneier, 2000). The first source is invention. Inventions produce new products, ideas, and social patterns. The invention of rocket propulsion led to space travel, which in the future may lead to inhabitation of other planets. The second source is discovery. Discovery is finding something that has never been found before, or finding something new in something that already exists. The third source is diffusion. Diffusion is the spreading of ideas and objects to other societies. This would involve trading, migration, and mass communication. The ‘mass media’ is a vital factor in the speed of social change. It permits rapid diffusion of ideas, making the manifest in the private and relaxing environs of the home, where audiences are at their most susceptible.

2. Conflict
Another reason social change happens is due to tension and conflict (between races, religions, classes etc.). Karl Marx thought that class conflict in particular sparked change. Idealistic factors include values, beliefs, and ideologies. From Max Weber’s perspective, in essence, values, beliefs, and ideologies have a decisive impact on shaping social change. These factors have certainly broadly shaped directions of social change in the modern world. For example: -
 Freedom and self-determination
 Material growth and
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Environmental factors
Change can be through the impact of environmental factors such as drought and famine. The degree of natural disasters between different countries and regions also lead the different social changes between the countries. The shift from collecting, hunting and fishing to agriculture may have happened because, in some areas, the human population grew too large to be sustained by existing resources.
5. Economic & political advantage
International shifts in economic or political advantage also have great impacts on social change. For example, ‘Globalisation’ & ‘the WTO’ are key factors in our modern society affecting the global economy, political structures and dynamics, culture, poverty, the environment, gender etc.
6. Demographic Change
Change occurs from an increase in the population or human migration between the areas. Compared to the Netherlands and Tokyo the United States has an abundance of physical space. The United States was affected by migration the late 1800's to early 1900's. When masses of people came to America, farm communities started to decline and cities expanded. Human migration between rural villages and big cities in Nigeria is causing a great impact on society in Nigeria as a

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