The discipline of thought to which scholars subject themselves can occasionally have odd results. The scientist that concentrates his attention on deeper understanding of a fairly narrow aspect of the universe thereby, and properly, neglects other aspects. It sometimes happens, however, that the conventional usages of a scientific field leave relatively untouched large areas of observation and potential generalization, areas that appear to be an important part of the field's charter. So it has been with the study of social change in the field of sociology, the social science that claims an interest in the most general features of social organization and social behavior.
Why this relative neglect has occurred is discussed early in this book. It is noted here in advance because the result has been odd: the ordinary intelligent layman, the person innocent of special training in social science, has seemed more acutely aware of changes in life's circumstances than have the "experts."
When Professor Alex Inkeles offered me the opportunity to participate in the Foundations of Sociology series by writing a short book on Social Change I accepted with enthusiasm. A very considerable period of work on industrialization and its associated changes had led me to a broader concern with social dynamics. Yet I too had been long subject to the discipline of thought in sociology that discouraged the study of change, and I had to seek ways of relating the realities of change to the more extensively documented realities of order . . .