The word “change” usually refers to the alteration of something, passing it from one state of form to another or rather substituting something with another (Farkas, 1998). International change usually entails a number of alterations in different aspects. These include such aspects as economic changes, political and cultural changes. Social change on the other hand entails transformation of the social structures or organizations as well as the cultures over time. It stands to reason that society does not remain static. This is because aspects such as the economic, social, political and cultural changes are dynamic and inevitable (Sanghera et al, 2007).
Many theories have been advanced and researches carried out on this particular subject. In the analyses of the components of social change in particular, Macionis (1996) states that social change occurs everywhere but the rate of change varies from one place to another. He gives an example of changes in America where these changes usually occur faster than in the developing countries. He also attributes the sluggish nature of change in the third world countries to lack of advanced technology and poor access to information.
Another important component of international change in the social world is that it is in most cases intended but often unplanned (Payne and Askeland, 2008). For instance, when the vehicle was invented, people understood that it would enhance the speed of travel. However, if we look at it closely, no one knew that this would affect the whole society in the future. What we see in the current social world is that people are able to live far from their family members since they would return from time to time due to the ease in travel (Farkas, 1998). The road accidents too were not foreseen by then yet it is a reality today with thousands of people dying from road accidents. Major debates rise around this subject of change. For example, the change in people’s moral values brings a major controversy among societies (Kurki, 2008). For instance, the aspect of homosexuality was not common in many societies; however, it has become widespread in the current world with gay people even demanding for their rights publicly (Amsler, 2007).
International networks formed in societies usually fuels major changes in the social world. Some networks formed to promote dialogue and exchanges as well as learning amongst the members do contribute a lot in the aspect of social change. When international changes occur, they usually affect foreign policies in so many ways and at the same time the social world is affected. Some networks are formed with the intention of building community. This entails promoting and upholding the values and standards of individual groups as well as organizations within it. This brings about major transformation around the social world (Brown and Bromley, 2004.
Factors Influences International Changes in the Social World
People’s ideologies usually act as a major factor which influences change internationally (Payne and Askeland, 2008). For instance, people’s values and beliefs greatly shape the nature of international change. According to Max Weber, beliefs, ideologies and values play a vital role in shaping social change. He cites some factors such as capitalism, which he mentions that it does not only affect the economic system, but also the values and ideas that enhance the benefits of pursuing private economic interests, free markets as well as competition (Church et al, 2002). He also cites other factors such as nationalism which plays a major role in enhancing union in pursuit of a certain interest of the community. He also considers people’s freedom and self determination ideas as crucial to steering the major changes all around the globe (Church et al, 2002). In his expression, Weber construed that expression of those ideas by charismatic individuals would contribute to changes in the world. Example of such a leader is Martin Luther King who contributed a lot in fighting of the rights and freedom of the minority group. He was against violence and led a campaign advocating the rights of the people who were oppressed due to their skin color. He was even murdered in his attempt to bring about fairness, unity and the spirit of an undivided nation. Due to his effort, a lot of changes have been seen not only in America but also all over the world (McMichael, 2004).
One of the leading causes of international change in the social world is culture. Anthropologists define culture as the sum total of the way a group of human beings live and it is usually transmitted from one generation to another (Sanghera et al, 2007). Culture systems usually gains and losses their components constantly. This usually happens due to development of other subcultures which embrace some values which are different from those of the main culture. Cultures do change due to diffusion, invention and discovery. Diffusion of culture occurs when the ideas and objects of one society spreads from one society to another. Diffusion is inevitable; this is because there are many contributing cyclic factors that enhance it (Macionis, 1997). This includes, mass communication, migration and economic aspect such as trading.
A major contributing factor to diffusion of cultures today is mass media. It usually allows a rapid diffusion of ideas all around the globe. This contributes largely to international change especially in societies which have advanced technologies. Marcioni (1997) argues that cultures also changes due to new discoveries. By this he meant that a culture may find something that has not have been found before or even find something new in something that has been in existence. Invention of culture entails production of new ideas and social pattern different from what has been in existence. All these aspect of the change in some aspect of cultures enhance international change in the social world.
Formation of various social movements and organizations
Social movements are formed with an objective of uniting people together to attain a common mutual goal (Farkas, 1998). Social movements are categorized according to the change they want to bring about in the society. Social movements have brought about dynamism in social change in the modern world. This is clearly seen when we account for the differences between social life we have today and social life a century ago.
In the same line as social movements, various organizations are created in the verge of bringing changes in the society. These organizations come up with various strategies and tactics which fuels changes in the society and the globe as well. Examples of these organizations include Church Based Organization and Non-Governmental organizations. Some of these organizations are international and they are the main actors in influencing changes in the economic, political and social sphere. Many of them come up with strategies aimed at facilitating various actions by its members, thereby addressing various issues that require immediate actions. They also mobilize resources for their members to carry out their activities. By undertaking various actions such as those aimed to resolve international crises, many changes come along (Church, et al 2002).
Whenever there is discontentment and rivalry between societies, many changes occur. Olson (1963) argues that when parties are involved in conflict due to resources that are limited in supply and at the same time they cannot simultaneously own or enjoy, it reaches a point where those parties have to make decisions to resolve their state. Many adjustments are made in the attempt to resolve such conflicts. Laws are made which becomes a major drive of social-economic and political changes. International laws for instance have been enacted and they serve the purpose of ensuring a certain degree of uniformity in behavior among members of diverse group irrespective of their cultural or behavioral patterns. These laws seek to mitigate social evils and bring about reformation in the societies (Olson, 1963).
Politics and Economic factors
International Politics and economic spheres play major roles in the enhancement of changes in the social world. The aspect of leadership usually entails decision making which requires that people must come into an agreement over who should take part in the decision making. Political strategies adopted by the members of a particular political organization define the motivation of its members, their missions and objectives as well as the social changes they wish to create. Social changes which are to be pursued by a country are usually clearly defined and several organizations are put in place to monitor and evaluate the progress. Through this, various changes are usually seen all over the world in the social circles.
In the economic spheres, there has been an aspect of trading which is in the frontline steering various social changes internationally. Karl Marx argued that social change is mainly a result of economic factors. He postulated that the mode of production determines the social, religious, cultural and political aspects of a society. According to McMichael (2004), formation of various trade unions economic organizations such as the World Trade organization greatly affects the global economy, political structures, people’s cultures and many other factors. Strategies embraced with an aim of developing the economy such as scientific and technological changes and new forms of energy usually brings about major social, economic and cultural changes. Human interaction is made possible through world trade, embracing these technologies and this brings a greater transformation all around the world (Amsler 2007).
Religion is one of the most powerful agents in shaping human behaviors and attitude all around the world. For the development of the society, it is very important that human beings interact with their unique social aspects, materials and beliefs. According to Macionis (1997) religion entails beliefs in creation, destiny, creation and purpose. People’s believe and disbelief in supernatural being affects many aspects of behaviors there are many social movements that are formed all around the world which try to change and shape people’s belief systems. Religion transforms people’s attitudes and ethics both positively and negatively (Brown and Bromley, 2004).
Curriculums which have included spiritual and moral education have made major contributions in changing many aspects of social world. For instance, they have laid a foundation for advocacy of equality of women and men, and emphasis of unity of the communities all around the globe. Most religions are involved in advocacy of social justice and that propels them to become active participants in various community projects. Religion greatly changes the family institutions all around the world. Various changes in the family usually occur due to acquisition common values and ethics that guide the members of a religion (Brown and Bromley, 2004).
Demographic factors such as population cause changes in the social world. According to Macionis (1997) demographic factors are those that determine the numbers, composition, selection and hereditary quality of successive generations. Changes in numbers and composition greatly affect the societies. In many cases, changes in population size results to changes in economic life of the people. This transforms various aspects of human life such as political, cultural and social aspects.
If death rate declines, it leads to increase in population growth. Decline in death rate is mainly attributed to provision of better medical facilities. This brings about a change in people’s beliefs and attitude. It is worth to note that, if the growth in population presents threats to people’s living standard, people get inspired to change their attitudes. People become open to embrace family planning methods such as contraceptives, giving birth to few children and others opt to adopt children. Increase in population also brings about increase in unemployment, poverty and development of slums among others. This has led to inadequacy in facilities, rise in nuclear families which in turn transforms social relationships (McMichael, P, 2004).
International changes are clear-cut and very evident in the current world. Various human activities have played major roles in bringing about changes in various social aspects. There are many factors that have enabled changes to occur in society. These factors include politics, economic aspects, demographic factors, conflict, religion, education, ideologies, and cultural changes among others. Throughout history, various changes have occurred and human efforts have been undertaken to make adjustments to the negative effects brought about by these changes. It is beyond doubt that changes are inevitable whether intended or not. Changes occur constantly across the nations and they shape human interactions and relationships.
Amsler, S, 2007. The politics of knowledge in central Asia: social science between Marx and the market. Central Asia Research Forum. London: Routledge.
Brown W and Bromley S, 2004. Ordering the international: history, change and transformation. London: Pluto Press.
Church, M et al, 2002. Participation, Relationships and Dynamic Change: New thinking on evaluating the work of international networks, Development Planning Unit. London: Development Planning Unit, University College London.
Farkas, A, 1998. State learning and international change. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Kurki M (2008). Causation in international relations: reclaiming causal analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Macionis, J. J, 1997. Sociology (6th. Ed.). Upper Sandle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Inc.
McMichael, P, 2004. Development and social change: a global perspective: Pine Forge Press, 2004.
Olson, M, 1963. Rapid growth as a destabilizing Force, in: journal of economic history, 23 (1963), 529-552.
Payne M and Askeland G. A 2008. Globalization and international social work: postmodern change and challenge. London: Ashgate.
Sanghera B et al, 2007. Theorising social change in post-Soviet countries: critical approaches. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang.