Factors Promoting and Resisting Social Change


Social Change:

Social change can be defined as

“The reorganization of society in terms of time and space”

Different people are assigned with different roles and statuses in a society at a given time and space. When variation comes in performing different jobs or same job over time, the phenomenon is known as social change.

A change in a trait or a complex of one social institution will setup a chain reaction of further changes in all other dependent institution. This will naturally induce change in existing social order.

Process of Social Change:

The process of social change consists of

  1. Innovation
  • Discovery
  • Invention

2. Diffusion

3. Acculturation

  • The process of social change is inevitable and universal and will go on in spite of the rigidity of normative order.
  • The process of change is common in all societies no matter complex or primitive.

Change Resisting Factors:

Some most important factors causing hindrance in the way of social change are:

Cultural Lag:

Technology is advancing at fast pace and outflanking our culture and society. Material aspects of culture are undergoing rapid improvement unlike Non-Material culture. For example: number of Automobiles each year versus roads and Driving Skills, Population explosion and uneven distribution versus Resources and Urbanization.


  1. Cultural Inertia:

  1. A phenomenon common in Primitive societies.
  2. The customary ways of life and cultural values are deeply entrenched with the members so that they are not ready to forfeit them. E.g. Tribal culture in Tribal areas of NWFP & Balochistan.
  1. Cultural Formalism:

    Change is inversely proportional to the importance and love which the members of a given society attach with their values.

  1. Ideological Conflicts:

    Ideology plays a big role in accepting or rejecting a change. For example, US fast food like KFC and Mc Donald is increasingly becoming popular in our metropolis but we still abhor their culture of eating Hamburger or meat of swine. This is perhaps due to the fact that the mental outlook of the people is so devised that they cannot immediately reconcile with ideologies.

5. Non Acceptance of Inventions:

Since innovations lead to disturbance and confusion in the existing social order therefore they are not readily accepted. For instance, the introduction of farm technology in rural areas of developing countries or polio vaccine in FANA and FATA areas of Pakistan

6. Vested interests and Pressure Groups:

If the change is endangering the interests or status quo of peer groups it is consciously resisted. These groups are common in every society, primitive as well as industrial. For example Vehement opposition of land reforms in Pakistan by the feudal class.

Lack of Education:

Uneducated people prefer to live in the age long traditions mores and values. Since they are unaware of the pros and cons of a certain change therefore they resist innovation and enlightened ways both in material and non-material fields. For instance, birth control and family Planning etc has not elicited cordial response in our villages.

Ratio of Older People:

If older people constitutes a major chunk of society and enjoy considerable respect and authority then change is naturally resisted and vice versa etc.

Degree of satisfaction:

If more members of a society are satisfied then change is less likely and vice versa.

Small Cultural Base:

If the number of traits and complexes are small than change will not be frequent because of less number of innovation and diffusion.

Change Promoting Factors:

Conformity with existing values:

  • If the induced change ensures conformity with the existing values and ethos of a culture it will be readily adopted.
  • When the most cherished values of people are least disturbed, changes are accepted.

Large Cultural Base:

  • Innovations and diffusion will flourish more in a society having large cultural base.

If the Values are undergoing Change:

  • It is always easy to induce change while the values of society are undergoing change.

Heterogeneous Culture:

  • Social change is directly proportional to a heterogeneous culture having numerous sub and counter cultures within itself.

Dissatisfied individuals:

  • Dissatisfied individuals are more penchant towards accepting a Change.

The Ratio of Young People:

  • Since young ones are more prone to the novelties therefore change will be promoted more easily in such society where the ratio is greater.

Personality of the Innovator (Role of Leadership)

  • Charismatic personalities of prophets, seers, thinkers and poets etc are endowed with natural ability to reshape a given society and induce a new culture. For instance, Islam, Buddhism, Communism and Confucianism etc.

Amicable Aftermath:

  • If the induced change brings amicable aftermath and more satisfaction in the society it will be promptly accepted E.g Mobile phones and Sms etc.

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