Social change.

Essay by onegaiCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 2004

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Social change is the central problem of sociology. Sociologists have explained the question on how social change comes about largely by the close analysis of particular change processes and by refining definitions. Social change theories encompass a very broad range of phenomena, including short-term, and long term, large-scale and small scale changes.

Social change refers to any significant alteration over time in behaviour patterns and cultural values and norms. In functionalism, social change is represented by transformation in the social morphology, or the structure of social relations that link individuals into a coherent entity, society and the moral structure or the body of laws. Functionalism sees the changes to happen within the society itself without any intervention from external forces. Functionalists regard the changes as inevitable and happen automatically. Due to the growth in organizations and the development of industrialization, the existing relations of production need to be expanded and renewed to contain the development of the forces of production.

Talcott Parsons (1902-1979), a leading functionalist saw society in its natural state as being stabled and a balanced. He also believed that social change is a process of social evolution from simple to more complex forms of society. Just like Auguste Comte's stages of human development model 9theological, metaphysical and science stages), he developed his own 'epochs' in which the last 'epoch' is towards historicisms, a belief in laws of history, the inevitability of social development and progress.

According to functionalists, the basic prerequisites of society, adaptation, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance systems are inter-related, a change in one will produce responses in the others. Changes come about when the important divisions of society like the family, law and religion play their role to overcome the differences and control the disturbance thus restore the system to equilibrium. Therefore social...