Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Social change
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Social change

Social change refers to acts of advocacy for the cause of changing society in a positive way. The term has significance to the study of history, economies and politics, and can encompass concepts as broad as revolution and paradigm shift, to narrow changes such as a particular cause within smalltown government.

Social change includes topics such as the success or failure of different political systems, globalization, democratization, development and economic growth. The term can encompass concepts as broad as revolution and paradigm shift, to narrow changes such as a particular cause within small town government. That is, social change is about how societies change, from the grand scale, for example, evolution of societies, to the small scale.

Social change is generally a branch of sociology, but also involves political science, economics, history anthropology and many other social sciences.

People may advocate social change. In this context, social change refers to acts of advocacy for the cause of changing society in a positive way.

According to The Global Social Change Research Project: "The process of social, political and economic change is very complex. Change may involve many different factors, and multiple processes operating concurrently. First, many coincidental, unique or random factors influence the change process. For example, geography can have an impact on whether a civilization developes one great center versus many smaller independent centers. Similarly, the presence or absence of specific people may be one major determinant of the path a society takes. Consequently, the specific forms that a society takes, and the particular paths, for example of development, taken by different societies will not be the same among different societies. On the other hand, there are systematic or common processes which affect all societies. For example, successful development generally requires a basic degree of social mobilization, structural differentiation, development of free resources, specialization and diversity of social organization, and a stable and flexible governmental system. Social, political and economic change can best be understood by combining systematic with more unique, random or coincidental factors."

Global trends

Some recent trends in global change are that the world population has become more concentrated in the less developed world and in cities, there has been a tremendous growth in internet use, infant mortality rates have declined, illiteracy has declined, more people are living in freedom, GDP per capita has increased, and poverty has declined.

The changes did not happen equally throughout the world, however. For example, in 1960, infant mortality rate was more than 4.5 times higher in developing countries than it was among industrialized countries. In 2000, infant mortality rates in developing countries was about 10 times higher than was IMR in industrialized countries. That is, infant mortality rates declined faster among the more developed countries. There were similar disparities in illiteracy and political freedom. That is, conditions did improve among less developed countries, but not as much as they did among more developed countries.

In addition, some countries experienced worsening of conditions, for example, increases in infant mortality rates, increases in illiteracy and less freedom. These patterns were complex through, as usually a country had a worsening in one of these conditions, but not in others. That is, there didn't seem to be any clear pattern of single countries experiencing overall worsening conditions.


Global Social Change Reports. Gene Shackman, Ya-Lin Liu and George (Xun) Wang. 2004. http://gsociology.icaap.org/reports.html

External links