Forces of Social Change
“Everyone over the age of forty
is an immigrant”
- Margaret Mead
What is Social
• Social Change: Changes in the way
society is organized, and the beliefs
and practices of the people who believe in it
• All societies are involved in a process of social change, however
this change may be so subtle and slow that society is hardly
aware of it
• The opposite of social change is social continuity which means
that there are structures within society which are built to resist
change. Example - the Catholic Church
Examples of Social
• Question 1 – How has the development
of housing in Markham changed?
• Question 2: How has public opinion shifted
regarding social issues such as:
-Domestic Violence
Power of the Individual(s)?
• Sociologist Max Weber claimed that one of the most important
components of social change was a LEADER with CHARISMA (large
vision, magnetic style, strong popular support and extraordinary
character). This leader places great demands on his or her
followers, promises rewards for their support . Examples?
• Sociologist Samuel Eisenstadt
claimed that in most societies,
there exists one or more
of people who create significant
social change and influence the
direction it goes
Alienation of the People
• Sociologist Emile Durkheim coined the
word ”anomie” to describe the conditions
of the industrial workers who had no roots or norms as they
struggled in their lives
• Sociologist Karl Marx took this term and applied it to working
people or “proletariat”. He claimed the workers were exploited
and controlled (employment, housing) and could never reach
full potential
• This notion has been expanded it mean anyone who does not
share the major values of society and feels like an outsider
• Effects?
Conformity of the
• Conformity is the act of maintaining
a certain degree of similarity
(in clothing, manners, behaviors,
etc.) to those in your general social
circles, to those in authority, or to
the general status quo. Usually, conformity implies a tendency to
submit to others in thought and behavior other than simply clothing
• Informational Influence: human desire to accept information that
another, admired person tells us is valid (ie. Parent, teacher, coach)
• Normative Influence: pressure to conform to the positive
expectations of others (ie. Follow in footsteps of parent’s career)
• Effects?
Natural Forces of
Social Change
• This is when the natural
lay of the land has affected
the way societies have developed Examples?
• Natural disasters can also drastically change a society (floods,
earthquakes, volcanoes)
• Pollution, garbage, ozone, car emissions, smog, recycling
• national, provincial and local programs that address
environmental problems
• Effects?
External Events as Forces
of Social Change
• External events are events that have occurred on a
large scale affecting an entire nation or several
• These events have a large and immediate impact on
social change
• American Civil War – abolished slavery
• WWII – forced women into the workforce and they never
returned home
• September 11/2001 – a change of thought regarding national
threat and security
Poverty and
• Karl Marx was first to point
sociology to study inequality
in society
• Income inequalities:
gap between earnings of the rich and poor
• Is social inequality an inherent part of human social structures?
• Does society have a responsibility in trying to deal with the
effects of income inequality?
• Effects? - education, crime, housing
• Examples?
Values and Social Change: Pluralism
• Singularity- belief that everyone in society should act and think
the same way
• Pluralism- widespread acceptance of differences in culture,
religion, values and lifestyle
• Inclusiveness- all law abiding people, regardless of their
particular background, should be able to play a constructive
role in the life of the nation
• Examples: struggle for inclusiveness with women obtaining
equal roles and status to traditionally ‘male’ roles
• Technology has strongly
affected the way societies
are designed and how they
keep changing
• People receive their
information more quickly
now, can communicate in
different ways
• Greatest invention of the
millennium? Guesses?
• Impact…
Coping with Technological Change –
Positive or Negative???
Over dependency
Creation of ‘mass culture’
Changes in Gender roles
Social Isolation
Positive and Negative
• Luddites: People who oppose
new technologies are often
called “luddites” after a secret
society whose goal it was to
destroy new textile machines
during the early years of the
Industrial Revolution