Social Change is a universal process but it works in several ways. Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Marx, Maclver, Sorokin and several other sociologists have tried to explain the modes or patterns in different ways.
Major patterns/modes of social change are:
1. Social Change through Evolution
2. Social Change through Progress
3. Social Change through Development.
4. Social Change through Revolution
5. Social change through Social Movements
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1. Social Change through Evolution:
Some scholars try to explain the process of social change as change through evolution. Following Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and other 19th century social theorists, tried to interpret social change as a form of evolution. Evolution means a slow and continuous change from simple to a complex. Evolutionary process tells us that social change is like an evolutionary change which occurs due to internal forces within society.
In the process, the society changes over from a simple to a complex society. For example, there was a time when people acted as hunters and fruit pickers/pluckers from forests and thus satisfied their hunger. It was a simple stage.
Thereafter while undergoing evolution, they passed through the grazing stage, shepherd stage, agriculture stage and then into the industrial stage. All this process shows that the human life changes from simple to a complex. Social evolution is different from social change but it does act as a mode of social change
2. Social Change through Progress:
Progress is another mode of social change. Progress means ‘going forward’. The process of progress can be visualized. It is a case of change in a positive direction. Progress indicates a very definite direction of change. It means that the society in its present state is going forward in accordance with the desires and needs of the people.
In the process, the entire society gets benefited. In the evolutionary process, changes come about due to internal causes, while in case of progress the change is always due to external forces. Change may be fast, and it is not essential for progress to proceed stage-wise, or in definite stages. Progress also acts as a mode of Social Change
3. Social Change through Development:
Development is another pattern of social change. Development means the speed at which a stage changes or develops over into another stage. The development may be positive or negative; a change from one stage to the next is development. Social life is not static, and it continuously changes at a certain speed and in several modes. It moves ahead naturally.
The very movement forward is development. In the process of development, there is a realization that society is moving forward, but there is no question of its being good or bad. The history of every society is full of rise and fall, successes and failures, some achievements and some losses. Development means changes in social life of the people. It is also a mode of social change.
4. Social Change through Revolution:
Revolution is another pattern of social change. Karl Marx and his followers appreciate and uphold social change through revolution. This type of social change comes only as a new big all round change that takes place through a revolution against the existing social stage.
A revolution agitates the entire society and as a result, a new social system is born. It is to be noted that revolution is only a mode of change. The factors which lead to the revolution do not occur overnight.
There is always a social discontent and conflict which when touches its extreme point, the dissatisfied and downtrodden section of society gets united and organizes a revolution for bringing about a fundamental all round change in society. Revolution is invariably always accompanied by violence and bloodshed.
It involves forcible replacement of existing social order by a new social order. Revolutions keep on coming in some societies at certain moments of history. Hence, revolution can be accepted as only one possible not really desirable mode of social change of social change. However it cannot be accepted as a universal mode as some societies have not experienced a revolution and yet these have experienced social change. It must be noted that mean a revolutionary and big change does not mean a Regulation.
5. Social Change through Social Movements:
Every society experiences both good and bad experience and development during the process of its evolution and progress. The evil or negative elements appear like painful sores on human body and these even retard progress. It is necessary to carefully eliminate such negative elements in order to enable that society to maintain its health.
Such organized and conscious attempts as are made to eradicate evil elements from the society are called Social Movements. “Social Movement is the active actions or endeavours which are undertaken to eradicate evil social customs, religions misbelieves, cultural and social discriminations.
Such endeavours may be individual, or collective and their aim to make the life of individual; family or group more healthy and progressive in society in any stage of social development.” Social conditions change due to social movements and then the social system experience social change.
For example, when Mahatma Gandhi started a movement against untouchabiliy, it aroused a new awareness and the people slowly began to look down upon untouchability. All this gave strength to the process of social change from social inequality towards equality.