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45 Characteristics Of Social Change

Social change is the ongoing and universal process of change to society, culture, lifestyles, economies, social groups and institutions. This is an inevitable process that is driven by technology, new ideas, communication, demographics, economic conditions and anything else that changes how people think and live. The following are the basic characteristics of social change.
Accelerating – pace of change has increased with the rate of technological change
Affects every aspect of society, culture and economy
Affects everyone
Can create new culture
Can create new institutions
Can create new social groups
Can disintegrate institutions
Can strain intergenerational communication and relationships
Chaotic – can come from anyone, anywhere at anytime
Continuous – never stops
Creates disruption and instability
Creates social conflict
Demographics – can be created by demographic change
Difficult to reverse once it has occurred
Each change has secondary effects
Economic – often driven by economic conditions
Emergent – unplanned and uncontrolled
Eventually accepted - people tend to view the social change of 50 years ago as positive but current social change as negative
Every element of society and culture can change
Generational – new generations tend to lead social change but everyone contributes
Inevitable – an inherent aspect of life
Intentional or unintentional – social change is often an unintended consequence
Media – often driven by processes of communication
Often disruptive to power structures
Often disruptive to quality of life
Often disruptive to the labor market
Participatory – everyone contributes in some way
Peaceful or violent
Politics is often a battle to shape social change
Prediction of social change is difficult and mostly impossible many years into the future
Progressive or conservative
Reactionaries – people want to reverse change to go back to a supposed golden age
Reactive – reactions against change can create large changes in a feedback loop
Resisted or embraced
Revolution – grassroots conflict that produces change
Social changes can have many causes
Some changes are purely cultural such as changing fashion trends
Some changes have very broad impact in areas such as work, lifestyles, economics, politics, justice and government
Technological – often driven by new technology
Technology tends to change quickly while culture and society lag behind and play catch-up
Temporary or permanent – some changes don’t last
The cause of social changes isn’t always clear
Traditions and heritage are tools of stability
Transformative or evolutionary – can occur suddenly or slowly
Universal – no society escapes change
Social change tends to create nostalgia for the past as the disruption it creates makes the past look more peaceful, easy and good. This can dramatically influence politics where politicians promise to bring back symbols of the "good old days."
Progressivism is the embrace of aggressive rates of change. This is often mislabeled "liberal." Historically, progressives have embraced both paternalistic and liberal policies without much consistency.
Conservatism is the prioritization of stability over change. This can produce resistance to changes that have already occurred such that it can become reactionary.
Next read: Examples of Social Change
More about social change:
Economic Problems
Modern Life
Perception Change
Social Challenges
Social Constructs
Social Facts
Social Forces
Social Status
Working Conditions
More ...
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