Social Change in the Twentieth Century

Social Change in the Twentieth Century

Social Change in the Twentieth Century

Social Change in the Twentieth Century

Excerpt

Social change means different things to different audiences. Those interested in, say, the women's movement wish to read about social changes related to this topic. Others, interested perhaps in ecological questions and the issue of conservation, might seek books about rather different kinds of social change. No single work can cover all worthwhile issues.

This particular book is about two closely related types of social change. First, it seeks to explain why certain kinds of change within societies affect the international balance of power. Second, it examines how changes in that balance, in turn, cause changes in the individual societies that make up the world. These two types of change make up an unbroken causal circle; neither one is comprehensible without the other.

Most people would agree that the world is now made up of interdependent units, and that no country is a self-sufficient island. But the extent of mutual interdependence and its consequences for the daily lives of all the world's people in the twentieth century are not as widely appreciated. Also not generally perceived is the fact that the bonds of interdependence and the international balance of power have changed, and continue to change rapidly. These changes need to be discussed and understood by everyone, if only in preparation for the dramatic effects they will have on our domestic lives.

This book focuses on issues of social stratification, the distribution of power, and international relations. It is my contention that these form the basic framework within which all other types of change occur. Other aspects of change are not necessarily less interesting or less important to individuals. But the distribution of power, both within societies them, determines the direction and speed of all social change. I hope to demonstrate that no contemporary. society is independent of the rest of the world, and that studying. social change without studying its international context is both theoretically unsound and dangerous.

In addition, I believe that there is a strong possibility of catastrophic change in the capitalist democracies, now the richest and most advanced societies in the world; this catastrophe will come about . . .

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