THEORY OF SOCIAL CHANGE
Discuss the deterministic theory of social change. (Not more than 150 words)(KAS MAINS 2020)
- Introduction – A short introduction (15 words)
- Body – Explain the deterministic theory of social change (120 words)
- Conclusion – Mention a short conclusion (15 words)
The word “change” denotes a difference in anything observed over some period of time. Social change, therefore, would mean observable differences in any social phenomena over any period of time.
- The deterministic theory of social change is a widely accepted theory of social change among contemporary sociologists. According to this theory there are certain forces, social or natural or both, which bring about social change. It is not reason or intellect but the presence of certain forces and circumstances which determine the course of social change.
- Social change is an essentially irrational and unconscious process. Variation in the folkways which occurs in response to a need is not planned. Man can at most only assist or retard the change that is under way. It was Karl Marx who, deeply impressed by the German philosopher Hegel’s metaphysical idealism, held that material conditions of life are the determining factors of social change. His theory is known as the theory of economic determinism or “the materialist interpretation of history”.
- Briefly put Marx held that human society passes through various stages, each with its own well-defined organisational system. Each successive stage comes into existence as a result of conflict with the one preceding it. Change from one stage to another is due to changes in the economic factors, namely, the methods of production and distribution.
- The material forces of production are subject to change, and thus a rift arises between the underlying factors and the relationships built upon them. A change in the material conditions of life brings changes in all social institutions, such as state, religion and family.
- It alters the primary socio-economic relationships..
- It is not the consciousness of man that determines their existence, but on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.
- The modern capitalistic system has been moving towards its doom because the conditions it produced and the forces it unloosed make its disintegration inevitable. In it the class struggle is simplified, revealing itself more and more into the clear-cut conflict of two great classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
- Marx’s theory of determinism contains a great element of truth but it cannot be said to contain the whole truth. Few deny that economic factors influence social conditions of life but few hold that economic factors are the only activating forces in human history. There are other causes obviously also at work.
- There is no scientific proof that human society is going through the stages visualized by Marx.
- Moreover, Marx’s thesis of the relation between social change and economic process is based upon an inadequate psychology. In a way it may be said that an inadequate psychology is perhaps the fatal weakness of all determinisms. He does not tell us as how change is reproduced in the modes of production. He speaks as though the changing technique of production explained itself and was a first cause.
- A number of social thinkers opposed to the theory of economic determinism consider non-material elements of culture the basic sources of social change. They regard ideas as the prime movers in social life. The economic or material phenomena are conceived to be subordinate to the non-material. Gustave Le Bon, George Sorel, James G. Frazer and Max Weber held that religion is the chief initiator of social changes. Thus Hinduism, Budhism and Judaism have had a determining influence upon the economics of their adherents.
- It means that change is pluralistic rather than monistic in origin. But this pluralistic theory of social change is initiated in the material culture and thence spreads to other spheres. Change is caused not only by economic factors but is also largely automatic in nature.
- A number of sociologists have held that social change can be brought about by means of conscious and systematic efforts. Thus, Lester F. Ward asserted that progress can be achieved by means of purposive efforts of conscious planning. Through education and knowledge intellect can assert itself over the emotions so that effective planning is made possible.
- They expressed the view that progress can be achieved through the control of material factors by the mind. Human affairs are amenable to control by reason and, therefore, rational element in our nature must be developed so that it may be utilized as a factor in the evolutionary process.