Every society undergoes changes with the changing conditions of life and environment. The word change or development denotes a difference in anything observed over some period of time. society which may be static does not exist in the real sense. Change is the law of nature. If we make a comparative study of ancient society with the modern society, we will be amazed to find that it has undergone tremendous changes.
But some questions arise about the nature of change, for example, “What is the direction of social change? Why its rate varies in different societies at different historical periods? What is the cause of the social change?”
In every society the nature and rate of social change have been different, it has never been uniform. Moreover, different aspects of a society change at different rates and times. In some societies, science and technology may be advancing fast, while in others religious changes may be going ahead. It has been observed that technically advanced societies change rapidly as compared to the conservative societies.
Nature of Social Change
Social changes occur in all societies. Change from pastoral to tribal system, from agricultural to industrial may result in deep structural changes in the society. Changes must occur in all societies. But the rate of change may be different in different societies. Social development often is unpredictable. It is difficult to make any prediction as to what direction the social change will take. For instance, we can hope that the social
reform movements in India will remove the evil of untouchability but
we cannot predict the exact form which social reforms will assume in
The social change is the result of the interaction of various factors.
But no single factor can be held responsible for all the changes that
are occurring in all aspects of social life. Developments in one part
influence the other parts and in this way the whole social structure is
The Factors of Social Change
Social changes occur in all societies in all periods of history. But
the speed and quality of change differ from one society to another. In
one society the process of change is rapid while in another it is slow.
There are various factors which determine the rate and direction of
social development. The usual factors of change are the following
First, there are biological factors. They include (a) plants or
vegetation in the area. The way human beings use the plants and
animal life determine their culture. For example, the Hindus worship
snakes and peepal tree. They regard the cow as a sacred animal.
Changes in geographical conditions such as climate, drying of lakes or streams bring changes in the way of living of the people. These changes affect the nature of man’s struggle for existence. (b) Technological factors. Technology radically changes the process of production. Technology affects social development greatly in that a variation in technology causes variation in social institutions and Customs. The change in technology is often in material environment and modifies of our customs, institutions and economic life. The changes in technology led to the migration of working class to the factories in the towns. industrialization led to the emergence of two classes—labour and capital. A middle class has also emerged. It has given birth to a new current of thinking. Trade union movements have come into existence. Lockouts, strikes, processions and demonstrations have become the stocks in trade of- those who promote class interests. These are the regular features of the economic activity. Technology has also led to the development of new means of transport and communication such as postal service, telegraph, telephone, e-mail, fax etc. These means lead to mutual exchange between different cultures. The development of technology has improved the condition of women. The burden of work on the women in a family has decreased by the increasing use of mechanical devices. The industrial society has affected the caste system in India. People belonging to various classes work together in factories. It is now difficult to keep lower classes at a distance from higher castes. Besides, the people belonging to different classes come closer in hotels, clubs, public means of transport such as buses, railways. Today, the suitability of match for marriage is no longer measured by caste but by status in the society. Modem technology has led to the disintegration of joint family system in India. It has led to the liberation of women. It has affected the authority of the father as the head of the family.
Cultural factors also play an important role in the process of social change. Culture gives speed and direction to social change and determines the limits beyond which social changes cannot occur. There is a correlation between the social forms and the ideas, beliefs and ideologies underlying them. A change in religion and morality brings a subsequent change in beliefs, attitudes and aspirations of the people. A change in the form of marriage brings a change in the family set up. In India as caste
a system is on the decline, the Hindu social organizations are undergoing changes subsequently. The change in the quality and size of the population have an effect upon social organization as well as customs, traditions, institutions, associations etc. The size of population affects standard of living, social values, beliefs and social organizations. The increase of population in the poor countries increases poverty, disease and unemployment. As a result, the fall in their standard of living is inevitable.
Sometimes men and women are not in the same ratio. It may affect form of marriage, family and working force of the society.