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Chapter 18, Section 1
Remember, sociology stemmed from the
Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 1800s.
Social change= alterations in various
aspects of society over time.
Led to the formation of four major theories to
explain the process.
Views change from a historical perspective.
States that societies pass through stages of
emergence, development, and then
decline. Social change is a natural offshoot of
that cycle.
Oswald Spengler and Pitirim Sorokin.
 4 stages of societies: childhood, youth, adulthood
and old age.
 Western civilization reached ‘adulthood’ around
1700…. so now it is on the decline and will eventually
 Societies fluctuate between two extremes–
ideational culture (belief/truth in religion) and
sensate culture (belief/truth in science).
▪ The balance is known as idealistic culture.
Views change as a process that moves in
one direction, and grows in complexity.
As members in a society adapt, they push
society to develop more extensively.
Difference between early evolutionary
sociologists and modern ones.
Early Evolutionary
 Comte, Spencer
 Justified social and political conditions;
 Distinction between weaker and stronger
Modern Evolutionary
 Societies have a tendency to be more complex
over time;
 Progress does not mean the same in all
Change in one aspect of society yields
changes in all aspects– societies maintain
Functionalist Talcott Parsons
As a society encounters new norms, it
differentiates between old and new, and
the new ones become institutionalized.
Change results from conflicts between
groups of opposing interests.
Karl Marx and Ralf Dahrendorf
Marx’s class conflict differences between
classes lead to revolutions (an extreme form
of social change).
Agreed with Marx in that conflict is central to
all societies.
Social conflict is not just between classes, but
race, gender, etc. as well.
Also believed that revolution does not yield
all social change within modern, industrial
societies– interest groups.