Social and Cultural ChangeThe Greek philosophers believed three thousand years back that everything changed. They said that "no man could jump in a river twice because for the second time the man and the river would change." This philosophy holds good even today. Every society is variable in its function and structure with the passage of time. It is the change that, brought about hunting and gathering society to an agrarian and last of all to the most modern post industrial society. That is why, this change is an important topic of sociology.
Social and cultural change is such a social phenomenon that no society has been able to check or prevent this change. The rate of change can be less or more, direction may be different but its prevention is impossible.
August Comte, who founded modern sociology, believed that it was a fact i that effort should be made to make it rational to secure human future and stability. Its change without control will destroy the social structure and give rise to problems. Many sociologists presented views to avoid the problems produced by
this change but remained unsuccessful to cope with the challenges so far. Wilbert Moore has criticized the sociologists this condition in the words :
“The mention of theory of social change will make most social scientists appear defensive, furtive, guilt ridden or frightened.”
Definitions1. Wilbert Moore :
As significant alteration overtime in behaviour patterns and culture, including norms and values."
2. CH. Persell :
“A modification or transformation in the way society is organized."
3. Ian Robertson :
"Social change is the alteration in pattern of culture, social structure and social behaviour over time."
4. Kingsley Davis :
The alterations in the social structure and social relations is referred to social change."
1. Physical Environment :
Factors of Social-Cultural Change
Although it is difficult to guess that the change as a result of change of physical environment will be of what change but we know that earthquakes, floods and tempests bring about short and long-term social changes.
Physical environment of a society affects the social change in terms of its encouraging the ether cultures like England and Japan where changes were slow but in the Sub-Continent these were rapid due to business and invader people also bringing their culture. The countries surrounded by sea and mountains, there was less culture diffusion mess social-cultural changes.
Earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities destruct villages and new structure is associated with cultural changes both national and spiritual. The earth-quake of Quetta changed the style of construction of houses. Sonarni, tempest of 2004 in the Indian Ocean, changed Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia in many aspect of life.
2. Population :
Science technology created rapid changes in the cultural and social life of the societies. The conquests of Europe increased because of better weapons and not only geographical changes took place but also in the government and in system and style of life. A flood of inventions and innovations rapidly changed the social life more than cultural traditions and norms, thus inter generational distance increased with adjustment problems. However, inventions are helping in solving some problems like provision of food because of increased production due to fertilizers, insecticides, transport has been rapid with time saving, modern
medicines to fight against incurable disease and making the administration better and rapid. The style of life has improved both in quality and quantity. Thus, a series of progress and changes as a result of that are due to science technology.
3. Natural Resources :
The presence or discovery of- natural resources affects socially and economically. Rivers, fertile land, water resources, forests and ocean all of these affect the social change. By constructing dams on rivers, cheap electricity can be produced, water abundance increase fertility and production and sea food for more foreign exchange etc. all of these make social life better. Discovery of minerals opens gates for progress and welfare. Gas discovery increased national welfare of Pakistan. The way of cooking changed from hearth to gas heaters to keep the houses warm in cold season. All Of these produced social and economic changes in the individuals of the society. According to Ziman: "A discovery is in itself an addition to the culture and this is a change because of a new thing and its effects and innovations prove a series of changes."
4. Diffusion :
The series of invention and innovations do not continue in a society but diffusion is a process that introduces invention continuously in a culture. Diffusion means the popularity and introduction of characteristics of one culture into the culture of another society.
This is a two-way action but if a culture is strong in its efforts and the other is weak then two-way action and one-way action is seen and felt Just diffusion of Pakistani and American are seen on one way because of weakness of Pakistani culture and has no effect on European culture. In Pakistani culture, there are changes in the culture including use of computer, internet, mobile use, opening of new departments in education and structural changes in administration.
Mutual trade and exchange of delegations produce social interaction, better communication system, facilities in means of conveyance make diffusion effective helping to continue social and cultural changes.
5. Cultural Composition :
Structure of culture provides a base for cultural and social changes. No doubt, these changes cannot be prevented but structure of culture in terms of its elements like religious depth, language, ethnocentrism, grip of caste, rigidity of political system, love for traditions can prevent this change for a long time and allow diffusion of their own to become popular. Therefore, elements of science and physical environment can only make the change rapid when a culture really wants for its diffusion willingly. All other elements like the capacity of religious beliefs, of language, softness of ethnocentrism, openness of caste structure, dynamic political system and less influence of tradition will provide a congenial environment for these changes a capacity for fast action of changes will be produced. Just as with reference to Cuba and Pakistan, the culture of tribes of Waziristan; Bugti and Mengal do not provide a favourable environment for cultural and social changes and as a result the rate of_change is very slow.
6. Social Problems :
Social problems are the negative aspects of social and cultural change and individuals of a society accept social change under pressure and obligation. Since social problems produce mental disorder and dispersion, producing an unfavorable situation and society searches for methods to get rid of this situation of some alternative type. A new way of behaviour changes social values, traditions and habits. In Pakistan, to control the shortage of food, mechanical agriculture and use of manures took place and changed the previous habits. To control the problem of population, small family policy was made a social value which is a great change in our social structure.
7. Trend of Social Change :
All sociologists are agreed that such circumstances which are diverting the society voluntarily towards change become a cause of structural and functional change. The following elements have been pointed out:
i. Strain of Social Inequality :
Such societies where unequal distribution of power, authority, social status, income and wealth is present and majority of people feel deprived, they try to annul this distribution and sometimes this social conflict causes a revolution, changing the society completely. Socialism took place because of this inequality which changed the society altogether.
ii. Clashes over Resources and Values :
This View has explained the theory of Carl Marx that possession over economic sources causes social conflict because of social and economic deprivations. Social values and traditions fall a prey to conflict which give rise to social dispersion and compel the individuals to do changes to get rid of such conditions. The social institutions are reorganized with change in function and structure to surprise the people. People of Russia and Eastern Europe had tendency of some social changes but the Second World War being the war of possession over economic sources, brought about new system - socialism as a result of the conflict. The collective social life of people were changed unexpected by which under pressure had to be accepted and for the tendency towards change, they had to pay a heavy price.
iii. Youth and Communication Sources :
Young people have traditionally been viewed as the vanguard of social change." (A. Roth)
In all societies of the world, young people are thought a power and a stimulus for change because they are dissatisfied with the lives of their forefathers and are fond of doing something novel. The means of communications work as a stair, care to their interests and curiosity. There is a saying that where there are
better means of communication for information, the youth of that nation are inclined towards changes and they do not care for the institutions having vested interests and keeping status quo conditions. The diffusion through education, modern technology and means of communication make the youth restless and determined young people accept change before its actual happening. This attitude of young people becomes a source of psychological problem for old people but they compromise for the benefits and stability of the society for these changing circumstances.