Social changes refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. The base of social change is change in the thought process in humans. It may refer to the notion of social progress or sociocultural evolution, the philosophical idea that society moves forward by dialectical or evolutionary means. It may refer to a paradigmatic change in the socio-economic structure, for instance a shift away fromfeudalism and towards capitalism. Accordingly it may also refer to social revolution, such as theSocialist revolution presented in Marxism, or to other social movements, such as Women's suffrage or the Civil rights movement. Social change may be driven by cultural, religious, economic, scientific or technological forces.
More generally, social change may include changes in nature, social institutions, social behaviours, orsocial relations.
Change can be either planned or unplanned. Unplanned change occurs suddenly due to specific circumstances whereas planned change is a longer process that involves planning to achieve a specific goal (Patronis Jones, 2009). In addition, change may be due to internal or external forces. Internal forces are factors within the organisation such as organisational values, beliefs and culture whereas external forces are factors that come from outside the organisation such as social factors, economic factors and legislations (Patronis Jones, 2009). Change can also be personal or organisational. However, according to Harris (2002) and Wainwright (2008), organisational change mainly involves personal change. This means that change always involve people who plan, implement and evaluate changes individually or within a team (Harris, 2002).
In the next section we shall explore three aproaches for social change – conventional politics, violence and non-violence.
2.1 Conventional Politics
"Conventional politics" means the usual way of doing things in terms of the collective exercise of power. The world today is divided into countries, each under the authority of a government (though in some countries the government has broken down or has little power). The government is the political executive of the state; other components of the state include the police, military and various bureaucracies to handle diplomacy, trade, taxation and other functions.
The economic system has important political dimensions, because it is also about the exercise of power. States normally set up regulations for handling economic affairs. Businesses, especially large corporations, have a strong influence on economic policy. Huge global corporations have an influence on whole countries.
States interact in various ways, and the strongest states - economically, militarily, diplomatically - usually have the largest influence over others, and on the global system as a whole. There are also many international organizations such as the United Nations. At the other end of the scale are local governments and other local groups.
Focusing on the government function of formal decision making, the forms of government can be divided into three main types: authoritarian, representative and participatory. This is a simplification of the actual diversity of political systems, but useful for expository purposes.
Authoritarian governments include military dictatorships, state socialist and fascist systems, and others where rule is by a single individual or group. In authoritarian systems, decisions are made by rulers without any substantive accountability to the wider public.
In representative systems, the top-level political decision makers are chosen by members of the public, typically through elections. Like authoritarian systems, decisions are made by an individual or small group, but those decision makers are formally accountable to the electorate. Note that some authoritarian governments run sham elections, in which votes are falsely counted or where only one candidate is available, to give the appearance of representative government.
A second approach to social change is through using violence. At the international level, this includes using military force to threaten or attack another country, defeating the other country's military forces in a war and taking control of the government, corporations and so forth. Within a country, violent change can occur through a military coup, in which a segment of the military takes control of the government.
Nonviolent action refers to methods of action that are not violent and that are not conventional politics. Examples include rallies, vigils, ostracism, strikes, work-to-rule, boycotts, sit-ins, fasts and setting up alternative political structures. Nonviolent action can be by an individual, such as a protester who perches in the top of a tree to prevent it being logged, or by groups, such as marches. Nonviolent action can be through physical presence, such as occupation of offices, or through withdrawal, such as when voters boycott an election or workers walk off the job.
There is also a positive side to nonviolent action, including such things as developing neighborhood associations, serving the needs of the poor, promoting harmony between different groups in a community, constructing environmentally friendly buildings, setting up interactive communication systems, and fostering community participation in local decision making. These are all things that help make a community survive and thrive without violence and without domination. Gandhi called this the constructive program.
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How to deal with social changes