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Social Change: Traditional, Modern, and Postmodern Societies

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Suzanne Casimiro

SOC100 November 23 rd Social Change: Traditional, Modern, and Postmodern Societies What is Social Change? - social change: the transformation of culture and social institutions over time 1. happens all the time, but some societies or elements change faster than others 2. is sometimes intentional, but often unplanned 3. is controversial 4. some changes matter more than others Causes of Social Change Culture and Change - invention: production of new objects, ideas, and social patterns - discovery: taking note of existing elements of a culture - diffusion: the spread of products, people, and information from one culture to another Conflict and Change - Marx thought that, in industrial-capitalist societies, the struggle between capitalists and workers pushes society towards a socialist system of production - this model has proved simplistic, but Marx foresaw correctly that social conflict arising from inequality creates social change Ideas and Change - Max Weber traced the roots of most social change to ideas - Weber also showed how the religious beliefs of early Protestants set the stage for the spread of industrial capitalism - ideas also direct social movements Demographic Change - population growth places escalating demands on the natural environment, while altering cultural patterns - increases and decreases in migration or birth rates can lead to social change as society may need to expand and/or contract housing, education, and health Social Movements and Change - social movement: an organized activity that encourages or discourages social change Types of Social Movements 1. Alternative 2. Redemptive 3. Reformative 4. Revolutionary Explaining Social Movements 1. Deprivation Theory 2. Mass Society Theory 3. Resource Mobilization Theory 4. Culture Theory Modernity - social patterns resulting from industrialization - in everyday usage, modernity refers to the present in relation to the past - modernization: the process of social change begun by industrialization 4 Dimensions of Modernization 1. decline of small traditional communities a. cars, TVs, and high-tech communications puts small towns in touch with the world 2. expansion of personal choice a. an unending series of options referred to as “individualization” 3. increasing social diversity a. modernization promotes a more rational, scientific world-view 4. orientation toward the future and growing awareness of time a. modern people look forward to scientific advances b. they also organize their daily routines down to the very minute Ferdinand Tonnies: The Loss of Community - with modernization comes the loss of Gemeinschaft, or human community - modernity brings about Gesellschaft, or efficiency, rootlessness, and impersonal relationships Emile Durkheim: The Division of Labour - mechanical solidarity: society was held together by social bonds anchored in common moral sent
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