Factors Affecting Social Change

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Factors Affecting Social Change

Factors of Social change


There are a number of specific factors affecting changes in all societies. The precise nature and direction of the changes is governed by internal and external factors. These factors as described below are responsible to bring changes in the Society that can be upward or downward, linear or multi-linear and may occur in the form of progression or regression.

Physical Environment and Biological Factors

The physical environment has a great influence on the culture and social structure of a society. People living in mountains have evolved different social forms than those who live in plains and tropical islands. Under biological factors of social change two issues are included:

  • Plants and animals,
  • Human beings.

Man utilizes man and plants as per his cultural requirements. Cow is regarded as a sacred animal in India whereas beef is consumed in Europe. The human biological elements include factors determining composition and heredity quality of generation. The human element in society always changes. If we compare our self with our ancestors, we will know that we are different from them in many respects. No new generation is accurate and exact replica (duplicate) of the old. Every new generation has new beginning.

Change in the social attitudes and beliefs are perceivable due to change in the numbers and composition of population leaving far reaching effects on society. You will find in the chapter on population that during last ten or more decades the population in most countries has increased. Under developed countries in general and India in particular are in the grip of population explosion bringing untold economic miseries and a great variety of social problems in spite of adopting improved sanitary conditions and medical facilities. Urbanization with all its attendant evils is the result of high rate of population in India. Over population cause the problems of unemployment, underemployment, poverty, housing, shortage, illiteracy, poor health, learning the physical health and vitality of the people. The subsistence population is always socially backward, economical and unprogressive lacking entrepreneurship.

The main defects of over population are high birth and death rates, more number of children and infants, large number of disabled persons and short-span of life. All these defects affect the quality of population. Here it is needless to comment that the population of India is passing through these critical situations such as general poverty, unemployment, socio-economic backwardness and criminality.

Technological Factors

Technology is a major source of social change. The more advanced a society’s technology, the more rapid social change tends to be. Introduction of automobile in America is a classic example of social change brought in this country.  In American society cars were initially used by the leisure class for recreation and reflection of wealth. After recognizing its importance and value Henry Ford used mass-production techniques to make them available even to marginal families. Since then car has become the most important feature of the Americans bringing countless social effect into lime-light.

Industrial revolution in U.K. and green revolution in India are considered two major processes which have brought sufficient changes in the field of agriculture and industry. Changes brought by advanced methods of transportation and communication are equally noteworthy and worth mentioning. Industrial developments have also created new industrial towns such as Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Bokaro and Bhillai.

Economic Factors

Economic factors influence and bring social change. Economic theory of social change was built by Marx, the description of which can be found in his famous treaty ‘Das Capital’. According to Marx it is the mode of production which determines social, cultural, religious and political aspects of human life. Social formation corresponding to feudalism. Capitalism and socialism are the result of mode of production. He further stressed the capitalism emerged because of the contradictions that developed in feudalism. Socialism came into being as a result of class-struggle existing in capitalism. Such social changes took place due to change in the mode of production which was an important economic factor.

Academicians who are influenced by the essence of Marxism support that it is the material conditions which bring social change in every society and Indian society is no exception to it. Such changes are also brought in the other spheres of life. Two implications are involved in it.

Firstly industry and agriculture are interrelated and secondly, agricultural production in India is capitalistic in its form and contents.

What needed is the thorough examination and inspection as to whether there has been a structural change in terms of shifting economic power from one class to another or not. Structural changes during the earlier years of our independence are found when Zamindari and Zagirdari system of land tenure was abolished and proprietary rights were granted to the land tillers to own land holdings earlier owned by their masters. This development caused structural processes of change in the society. A similar process of change in Orissa is also noted. With the abolition of landlords, farmers began selling all their produce in the open market. In a very short span of time, the economic conditions of farmers improved and that of landlords deteriorated. With the result, landlord sold their lands to the toddy-tappers.

India is changed to a Welfare State. The abolition of traditional land system ceilings on land-holdings and promotion of cooperative farming and many other programs of economic upliftment are positive indicators of social change. The effects of these programs coupled with green revolution have brought a new level of social transformation. Caste has changed to adapt as per demands of the new situations. Families are disjointed by remaining at different and distant places. So we can see that change in India is more prone to transformation rather than to replacement.

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