Theoretical Lens || Social Change || Bcis Notes

Theoretical Lens || Social Change || Bcis Notes

Theoretical Lens

Examining social change through a theoretical lens:

  • Evolutionary Perspective
  • Diffusionism
  • Functionalism or Equilibrium Perspective
  • Conflict Perspective
  • Cyclic Theory

Evolutionary Perspective

  • This theory was formulated by Auguste Comte, Herbert Speyer, Tylor, and other evolutionists.  It believes that society evolves and. develops slowly and gradually in a progressive way. It assumes that society from simple to complex, from homogeneity to heterogeneity, from uniformity to multiformity, and from the military stage to the industrial stage. Their research findings articulate that society evolves from theological sage to
    metaphysical and then eventually to the stage of positivism.
  • The theological stage was guided by supernatural wisdom. The metaphysical stage was the transitional stage in which supernatural beliefs are replaced by abstract principles as cultural guidelines and the poor scientific stage is the one in which society is guided by evidence-based scientific laws. In the process of social evolution, human society has passed from the savagery stage to barbarism and from barbarism to the stage of civilization mediated through quantitative and qualitative development. Hunting and gat wring mode of production were replaced by agriculture and agriculture is being modified into industrialization(machine) which has brought out radical changes.


  • Cultural diffusionists like G.E. Smith, WHR Rivers, and F. Ratzel are of the opinion that cultural traits are originated in specific historical periodic time and space then gradually start diffusing to the corresponding areas through migration, means of transportation, trade links, print capitalism, audio-visual forms, and other socio-political relationships. The areas which are ecologically suitable with abundant natural resources can be the cultural core for the cultural productions.

Some effects of cultural diffusion are:

  • Changes in food items, wearing patterns, music, dance, arts and crafts, and
  • Changes in norms and values, behavioral patterns, ways of thinking and doing, and other social activities.

Functionalism or Equilibrium Perspective

  • Functionalists accept change as a constant which does not need to be explained. Changes disrupt the equilibrium of society until the change has been integrated into the culture. Changes that prove to be useful are accepted and those which are dysfunctional are rejected.

Conflict Perspective

  •  Conflict theorists follow the Marxist pattern of evolutionary change. Conflict theory view that social change is the constant result of conflict between these products further change. Any particular changes in victorious groups or classes represent the success in imposing their preference for others.

Cyclic Theory

  • These theories focus on the rise and fall of civilizations attempting to discover and account for these patterns of growth and decay. It believes that each civilization is like a biological organism and has a similar life cycle- birth, maturity, old age, and death.
  • In the process of social evolution, society changes from simple to complex. It evolves and develops from savagery to barbarism and from barbarism to the stage of civilization. It assumes that when a civilization reaches the saturated point then again it sta. declining. It keeps on changing like the wheel of the cart.
  • P.A. Sorokin saw all great civilizations in an endless cycle of three cultural systems. As he argues ideational culture is guided by supernatural beliefs and values. The idealistic culture is the conglomeration of supernatural beliefs and evidence-based rationality that creates the ideal society. According to him, sensate culture is the one in which sensations are the test of reality and the goal of life.
  • He came to the conclusion that modern western civilization. rotten and soon to collapse to be followed by a new ideational culture. It is the cycle of cure from one particular stage to another. In brief, these all are the viewpoints to see socio-cultural changes academically. Besides these theoretical schemas, we can deploy deterministic theory another vivid theoretically informed lens according to the needs and requirements of the Issue.
  • For the last couple of years, Nepal is being changed rapidly. We have embarked on monarchism to republican state in the field of politics. New constitution h. come with the sentiments of federalism. Similarly couples of chang. have come in the field of religion as it was a Hindu kingdom and now has become secular by the constitution. Provision of inclusion, multivocality, sharing of power, and resources are certain changes that came in our context. External socio-political force. and internal needs and situations made a system change.

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