Chapter 2 Social Change and Social Order in Rural and Urban Society
Would you agree with the statement that rapid social change is a comparatively new phenomenon in human history? Give reasons for your answer.
- It is estimated that human beings have existed on planet earth for approximately 500.0 (five lakh) years, but they have had a civilised existence for only about 6.0 years.
- Of these civilized years, it is only in the last 400 years that we have seen constant and rapid changes.
- Even within these years of change, the pace has accelerated only in the last 100 years. Because the speed with which change happens has been increasing steadily, it is probably true that in the last hundred years, change has been faster in the last fifty years than in the first fifty.
- And within the last fifty years the world may have changed more in the last twenty years than in the first thirty years.
How is social change to be distinguished from other kinds of change?
- Social change is a general term that refers to almost any kind of change not qualified by some other terms, such as economic or political change.
- Social change refers to changes that are significant, changes which alter the underlying structure of an object or situation over a period of time.
- Social change does not include any and all changes, but only changes which transform things fundamentally.
- Social change remains a very broad term. Attempts to further qualify it by its sources or causes: by its nature, or the kind of impact it has on society; and by its pace or speed.
What do you understand by ‘structural change’? Explain with examples other than those in the text.
- Structural change refers to transformations in the structure of society to its institutions or the rules by which these institutions are run.
- For example, the emergence of paper money as currency marked a major change. in the organization of financial markets and transactions. Until this change came
about, most forms of currency involved precious metals like gold and silver.
- The value of the coin was directly linked to the value of the gold or silver it contained.
- By contrast, the value of a paper currency note has no relationship to the value of the paper it is printed on, or the cost of its printing.
- The idea behind paper money was that a medium or means for facilitating the exchange of goods and services need not itself be intrinsically valuable. As long as it represents values convincingly i.e., as long as it inspires trust – almost anything can function as money.
- Changes in values and beliefs can also lead to social change.
- For example, changes in the ideas and childhood have brought about many types of social changes. There was a time when children were simply considered small adults. There was no special concept of childhood as such with its associated notions of what was right or wrong for children to do.
- As late as in 19th century, for example, it was considered good and proper that children do work as soon as they are able to. Children were often helping their families at work from the age of five or six; the early factory system depended on the labour of children.
- It was during the 19th and early 20th centuries that ideas of life gained influence for small children to be at work, and many countries passed laws banning child labour.
Describe some kinds of environment related social change.
1. Nature, ecology and physical environment have always had a significant influence on the structure and shape of society.
2. This was particularly true in the past when human beings were unable to control or overcome the effects of nature. For example, people living in a desert environment were unable to practice settled agriculture of the sort that was possible in the plains, near rivers and so on. So the kind of food they ate or the clothes they wore, the way they earned their livelihood, their patterns of social interaction were all determined to a large extent by the physical and climatic conditions of their environment.
3. Sudden and catastrophic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, or tidal waves (like the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands and parts of Tamil Nadu in December 2004) can change societies quite drastically. These changes are often irreversible, that is, they are permanent and don’t allow a return to the way things were.
4. There are numerous instances of natural disasters leading to total transformation and sometimes total destruction of societies in history. Environmental or ecological factors need not only be destructive to cause change, they can be constructive as well.
What are some kinds of changes brought about by technology and the economy?
1. The combination of technological and economic change has been responsible for immense social changes, specially in the modern period.
2. Technology affects society in a wide variety of ways. As seen above, it can help . us to resist, control, adapt to or harness nature in different ways. In combination with the very powerful institution of the market, technological change can be as impressive in its social impact as natural factors like a tsunami or the discovery of oil.
3. The discovery of steam power allowed emerging forms of large scale industry to make use of a source of energy that was not only far stronger than animals or human beings, but was also capable of continuous operation without the need for rest.
4. Modes of transport like the steam, ship and the railways transformed the economy and social geography of the world.
5. The rail, road enabled the westward expansion of industry and trade on the American continent and in Asia. In India too, the railways have played a very important role in shaping the economy, specially in the first century after their introduction in 1853.
6. Steamships made ocean voyages much faster and much more reliable, thereby
changing the dynamics of international trade and migration. Both these developments created gigantic ripples of change which affected not only the economy but also the social, cultural and demographic dimensions of world 3 society.
7. Sometimes, the social impact of technological changes become visible only retrospectively. A technological invention or discovery may produce limited immediate effects, as though it were lying dormant. Some later change in the economic context may suddenly change the social significance of the same invention and give it recognition as a historic event. Examples of this are the discovery of gunpowder and writing paper in China, which had only limited impact for centuries until they were inserted into the context of modernizing Western Europe.
8. From that vantage point, given the advantage of enabling circumstances, gunpowder helped to transform the technology of warfare and the paper-print revolution changed society forever.
9. Sometimes changes in economic organization that are not directly technological can also change society. In a well-known historical example, plantation agriculture, that is, the growing of single cash crops like sugarcane, tea or cotton on a large scale created a heavy demand for labour.
10. In India, too, the tea plantations of Assam involved the forced migration of labour from Eastern India (specially the Adivasi areas of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh).
What is meant by social order and how is it maintained?
- Social order, is the tendency within established social systems that resists and regulates change.
- Social order prevents, discourages, or at least controls change. In order to establish itself as a strong and viable social system, every society must be able to reproduce itself over time and maintain its stability. Stability requires that things continue more or less as they are – that people continue to follow the same rules, that similar actions produce similar results, and more generally, that individuals and institutions behave in a fairly predictable manner.
- The ruling or dominant groups in society generally resist any social changes that
may alter their status, because they have a vested interest in stability. On the other hand, the subordinated or oppressed groups have a vested interest in change. ‘Normal’ conditions usually favour the rich and powerful, and they are able to resist change.
- Social order refers to the active maintenance and reproduction of a particular pattern of social relations, values and norms. Broadly speaking, social order can be achieved in one or two ways – when people spontaneously wish to abide by a set of rules and norms; or when people are compelled in various ways to obey such norms.
- Spontaneous consent to social order derives ultimately from shared values and norms which are internalised by people through the process of socialisation.
- Socialisation may be more or less efficient in different contexts, but however efficient it is, it can never completely erase the will of the individual.
- While socialisation does take on much of the burden of producing social order, it is never enough by itself.
- Thus, most modem societies must also depend on some form of power or coercion to ensure that institutions and individuals conform to established social norms.
- Power is usually defined as the ability to make others do what you want regardless of what they themselves want. When a relationship of power is stable and settled, and the parties involved have become accustomed to their relative positions, we have a situation of domination.
- If a social entity (a person, institution or group) is routinely or habitually in a position of power, it is said to be dominant.
- In normal times, dominant institutions, groups or individuals exercise a decisive influence on society. It is not as though they are never challenged, but this happens only in abnormal or extraordinary times.
What is authority and how is it related to domination and the law?
Authority is defined by Max Weber as legitimate power, that is, power considered to be justified or proper. For example, a police officer, a judge, or a school teacher all exercise different kinds of authority as part of their jobs.
- This authority is explicitly provided to them by their official job description. There are written documents specifying their authority, and what they may and may not do.
- A law is an explicitly codified norm or rule. It is usually written down, and there are laws that specify how laws are to be made or changed, or what is to be done if someone violates them.
- Law forms the formal body of rules according to which society will be governed. Laws apply to all citizens. Whether or not I as an individual agree with a particular law, it has binding force on me as a citizen, and on all other citizens similarly regardless of their beliefs.
- Domination works through power, but much of this power is actually legitimate power or authority a large part of which is codified in law.
- Consent and cooperation are obtained on a regular and reliable basis because of the backing of this structure of legitimation and formal institutional support. This does not exhaust the domain of power or domination – there are many kinds of power that are effective in society even though they are illegitimate, or if legitimate are not codified in law.
How are a village, town and city distinguished from each other?
- Villages are a unit of the rural community, where rural life upholds itself and does perform its functions.
- It is simple community based on agriculture.
- Villages are end product of nomadic ways of life based on hunting, gathering food and transient agriculture to a more settled form of life.
- Social changes are slow and gradual.
- It has a large population, high density of population, heterogeniety predominantly engaged in non agricultural occupations.
- Their life is complex and multidimensional. These are mostly commercial hubs.
- Social changes in cities are quick and drastic.
What are some features of social order in rural areas?
- Villages are small in size so they usually permit more personalised relationships;
it is not unusual for members of a village to know all or most other members by sight.
- The social structure in villages tends to follow a more traditional pattern: institutions like caste, religion, arid other forms of customary or traditional social practices are stronger here.
- For these reasons, unless there are special circumstances that make for an exception change is slower to arrive in villages than in towns.
- The subordinate sections of society have much less scope for expressing themselves in rural areas than their counterparts in cities. The lack of anonymity and distance in the village makes it difficult for people to dissent because they can be easily identified and ‘taught a lesson’ by the dominant sections.
- The relative power of the dominant sections is much more because they control most avenues of employment, and most resources of all kinds, so the poor have to depend on the dominant sections since there are no alternative sources of employment of support.
- If there is a strong power structure already in place in a village, it is very difficult to dislodge it. Change in the sense of shifts in power are thus slow and late to arrive in rural areas because the social order is stronger and more resilient.
- Change of other sorts is also slow to come because villages are scattered and not as well connected to the rest of the world as cities and towns are.
- Communication links of other sorts (road, rail) have also generally improved over time so that a few villages can really claim to be ‘isolated’ or ‘remote’.
- High population density places a great premium on space and creates very complex problems of logistics. It is the primary task of the urban social order to ensure the spatial viability of the city.
- This means the organization and management of things like: housing and residential patterns; mass transit systems for transporting, large number of workers to and from for work; arranging for the coexistence of residential, public and industrial land-use zones.
- All the public health, sanitation, policing, public safety and monitoring are needs of urban governance.
- These functions as a huge undertaking in itself and present formidable challenges of planning, implementation and maintenance.
- The divisions and tensions of class, ethnicity, religion, caste and so on are also present and active.
- Lack of housing for the poor leads to homelessness, and the phenomenon of ‘street people’ – those who live and survive on the streets and footpaths, under bridges and flyovers, abandoned buildings and other empty spaces. It is also the leading cause for the emergence of slums.
- Because of the absence of ‘settled’ property rights of the kind seen elsewhere, slums are the natural breeding ground for ‘dadas’ and strongmen who impose their authority on the people who live there.
- Residential areas in cities all over the world are almost always segregated by class, and often also by race, ethnicity, religion and other such variables. Tension between such identities cause these segregation patterns and are also a consequence.
- For example, in India, communal tensions between religious communities, most commonly Hindus and Muslims, results in the conversion of mixed neighbourhoods into single-community ones.
- This in turn gives a specific spatial pattern to communal violence whenever it erupts, which again furthers the ’ghettoisation’ process.
- The worldwide phenomenon of ‘gated communities’ is also found in Indian cities. This refers to the creation of affluent neighbourhoods that are separated from their surroundings by walls and gates, with controlled entry and exit. Such communities also have their own parallel civic facilities, such as water and electricity supply, policing and security.
Very Short Answer Type Questions
Define social change.
Social change refers to any change in the system in which social-relationships remain organised, controlled and stable.
Authority refers to a person who has inherent power to give reward and punishment. According to Max Weber, authority refers to legitimate power.
“Law is the body of rules which are recognised, interpreted and applied to particular situations by the courts of the state.”
Law is collection of customary standardised and formalised norms that regulate human conduct. They have the support of customs and law making bodies.
What is traditional authority?
Traditional authority emphasises on social values, beliefs and continuity. Family based on kinship are its example.
It maintains the social order and brings desired changes according to social demands.
What is socialisation?
Socialisation is a process of social learning through which a child acquires the norms, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that are acceptable in his/her culture. The principal agents of socialisation are the family, school, peer group and media.
What is conformity?
Conformity is a type of social influence in which individuals change their attitude or behaviour in order to adhere to existing social norms.
What do you understand by Ghettoisation?
Ghettoisation is the process of creation of ghettoes through the conversion of mixed composition neighbourhoods into single community neighbourhoods.
What is the meaning of social influence?
It refers to the efforts by one or more individuals to change the attitudes, beliefs, perception or behaviour of the people.
Define social norms.
It refers to rules indicating how individuals are expected to behave in specific situations.
What is contestation?
It refers to broad forms of insistent disagreement. It is a situation in which people tend to protest against or refuse to conform to existing social norms.
What is charismatic authority?
A particular political or religious leader with whom people get attached due to his exceptional and supernatural qualities is called charismatic authority. Such people have great power to influence people.
How technology can bring social change?
Technology refers to the use of sophisticated methods to fulfil material needs which is capable of bringing vast changes in the society.
It changes the simple society into complex one. Social changes due to technology is being labelled as technological revolution.
How was the word ‘culture’ derived?
The word ‘culture’ comes from the Latin word “colere” which means to cultivate. It was used to refer to progressive refinement.
What is city?
Answer: A city is the core of metropolitan area. It has a large population, high density of population, heterogeneity, predominantly engaged in non-agricultural occupations.
What is a suburb?
A suburb is a community situated just on the outskirt of a city having low population density and smaller population. It is located in the metropolitan area.
Short Answer Type Questions
What is social change?
- Social change refers to the change in the system in which human social relationship remains organised, controlled and stable.
- It is a universal phenomena that the rate of change varies. It is community change and nature of change is influenced significantly by time factor.
- Social changes are of various types i.e.; growth, evolution, progress etc.
- Social changes are caused by changes in economy, social and environmental factors, technological factors and political status of that state.
State a few causes of crime in the society.
- Biological factors: It is the result of heredity transmission.
- Psychological factors: Frustration leads to aggression and aggression leads to crime.
- Economic factors: Poverty big gap between classes, unemployment etc.
- Geographical factors: Due to climate and seasonal changes.
- Socio-cultural factors: Lack of proper education, broken homes.
“Society is not static phenomenon, instead it is subject to constant change.” Discuss.
- Social change is inevitable in social life and relationship.
- Evolutionary theories views society as moving in a definite direction and cause changes.
- Social changes may occur in the internal or external aspects of the structure of society.
External change refers to changes in forms of family, marriage, class, caste and kinship etc.
- Internal changes refer to changes in the norms and values of the society.
- The rate of change of internal aspects is always slow because the social norms, values and belief gradually become part of the core of personality.
Long Answer Type Questions
How demographic factors, education and social legislation cause social change?
- Population growth, its size and composition cause social change.
- When population starts multiplying, unemployment, housing, cleanliness and hygiene, poor economic condition, severe stress due to competition.
- Education is one of the core factors which has far reaching consequences on the evolution, revolution and progress of individual and society by and large.
- Modem educational system aims at imparting empirical knowledge.
- Education enables the members to participate effectively in social domains.
- Education can bring radical changes in the status of women.
- Modem education has brought significant changes in customs, traditions, superstitions and beliefs of people in the society.
- Social legislation has brought significant changes in society if it is supported by
- After independence in India many legislations have been passed out. Of so many, a few could bring about significant changes e.g. legislation related to SCs and STs. But there are many which are unplemented. It could not bring about significant changes particularly in the rural society like ‘Sharda Act’ related to child marriage.