Sociology of Development
Akintunde Osa, Ojutiku
Why and How Does Society Change and How Can We Analyze It
Supervised by: Prof .Dr. Rudiger
WHY AND HOW DOES SOCIETY CHANGE AND
HOW CAN WE ANALYZE IT
is an inevitable phenomenon. Change affects all aspects of human lives; it is
actually essential for continuity of life processes. It is not restricted to
biological or sociological aspects, it relates to the political, economic,
cultural, geographical, technological and virtually everything that pertains to
the human environment or society. It is therefore not an easy task to answer
the questions: “how and why a society changes?” Hence, we might find it more
difficult to analyze these changes that occur.
tasks can only be handled through the sociological imagination of the
researcher in order to expand his or the horizon and view beyond the
ordinary human experiences. It enables the individual to look at the most
simple or ordinary things of life from a per ulnar lens and reflect upon the
social attributes attached to them which are not just limited to the
individual’s life. (Giddens, 2006. P.7)
human behaviors, values and traditions being passed from one generation to
another; we notice changes which reflect that these behaviors and oral
traditions are constantly affected by some elements change. Traced back to the
end of the industrial revolution, the traditional societies went through great
deal of transformation.(Giddens, 2006. P.10) Science and technology took over
the place of religion and agriculture and a whole lot of changes one to be.
These changes can be said to evolve because it is still challenging to know how
like August Comte tries to study human behavior, social change and social laws.
He proposed the Law of Three Stages; which is that human effort have passed
through theological, metaphysical and positive approaches. He was criticized by
Durkheim, who sees the study of social facts as events of nature that are
coercive and external. All these proposed theories have been beneficial in
understanding how the social environment works. Hence, an idea is criticized
and improved upon through modern approaches to meet the challenges of the
constantly changing demands of the world.
2012 says to study social change, we will draw out comparisons between physical
evolution, genetic evolution and changes in human ideas, knowledge and
institutions over time. Time has been the instrument to measure these changes
and their effects. Agriculture has taken a new look with invention of machines
and industrial processes; these changes are seen worldwide, but their paces,
levels or degrees differ as the human societies are able to keep up with them. Therefore,
we have classifications and categorization of the world into: the developed,
the developing and the underdeveloped nations.
is dichotomous, its effects could be positive or negative. The modern society
has complicated structures with diverse social systems and institutions; they
include: the family, religion, politics, education etc. The people are
responsible for their lives and thought processes; unlike the traditional
society, where the lifestyle of the people were dictated and controlled by
customs and religious beliefs. Some people still exist in between the traditional
and modern world; the modern world does not include those who still hold on
tight to the traditional lives. That is, those who do not embrace development
and those who are too poor to keep up with the demands of the changing world.
(Giddens, 2006. P.42)
every human society, three basic factors influence social change; they could be
cultural, geographical or political. The cultural factors are religious
beliefs, customs, rules, language, values that form their way of life; they are
peculiar to various cultures across the globe. The geographical factors
involves the physical environment where people live in; humans form their
lifestyles around elements of nature in their environment. These elements vary,
they cold be in form of temperature – hot or cold, features like forests or
deserts, seas or dry lands, mountains or low lands etc. The political factors
come to play as a result of grown and development. Hence, there is need for
leadership, to maintain order, peace and stability in the growing society. For
example: in Hunters and Gathers, they had leaders who took care of their basic
needs; as the group grew larger, they became a tribe and social sanctions were
introduced to put everyone under cheek. This help to maintain peace and order
with other tribes.
human societies constantly experience changes and the demands and goals change
as well, thereby, thought processes are adjusted to meet these demands.
Advancement in information and communication technology has bridged the gap of
communication over the world. Everyone is free to think as dimmed fit and can
create an identity with better concepts that will enhance development and
globalization. Although the effects of globalization is felt as cultural values
fade off, some countries still hold on to their values e.g. Kuwait. (Giddens,
is necessary for human scientists to undergo changes; to analyze these changes,
the research has to think deep to carry out such analysis. Questions like what
happened? How did it happen? Did it happen elsewhere? Did it happen for the
first time or over time? And why it happened are good basis for the
sociological research. (Giddens, 2006. P.78) The analysis will look critically
at occurrences that happen over a period of time and thereafter interpret them.
The researcher should make use of theoretical approaches in order to explain
facts about the occurrences. Some theories are limited to human
interpretations, hence becomes subjective in nature.
history of any human society is important in order to evaluate the progress and
development level, but the modern world leaves out the role of history. Modern
theorists and postmodern scholars like Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard
agrees that there is no need for these histories because it is impossible to
predict the events of the modern world. According to Gusfield 1967, the
traditional societies were not even static or structured in homogenous nature.
issue of change in a society is primarily controlled by humans. Human relations
show complexities and complications, hence, they cannot be predicted neither
can their actions be quantified using numerical units of measurement. They
cannot remain the same at different times and locations, therefore, the
analysis of social change requires the understanding of the constantly changing
world and human behaviors.
conclusion, the society cannot exist without humans. As change is inevitable,
the effects of social change could either be negative or positive, temporary or
permanent. Therefore, not every action of change comes with progress or
development. With the challenges of the present world and new ideas or
innovations springing forth rapidly day by day. Even with the changing society
from the traditional to the modern there is still an argument on the issues on
the trust of the modern society from the postmodern thinkers who sees the
changes as more complex with un-solving problems. I would like to think along
this thought, why do people and society clamor for changes. Society wants are
unlimited in diver’s ways which leads to diminishing marginal utility, both
individually and collectively. Therefore society “post modernity” ask questions
of how, what and when. Just like the philosopher Socratics, who believe that
knowledge can only come for series of questions and there is no final answer to
the question, so also society will keep changing rapidly without a clear
cutline in this new global phase of knowledge. For example in this modern and postmodern
ear, research worker are trained to be more open minded and flexible in its
approaches which has geared new theories alongside with cultural relativism in
order to unravel the trending developmental effects that constantly transform
the human society. This openness to new knowledge of series of questions has
been a source agent for societal changes.
Giddens, A. 2006, Sociology
(6 ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gusfield, J. R. 1967,
Tradition and Modernity: Misplaced Polarities in the Study of Social Change. American
Journal of Sociology, 72 (4), 351-362.