Perspectives on Social Change

Perspectives on Social Change

Perspectives on Social Change

Perspectives on Social Change

Excerpt

One of James Fenimore Cooper's fictional characters said the entire country was in "a constant state of mutation." Few would argue that the situation has altered--if anything, the rate of change is accelerating. Moreover, the changes that continually confront us are defined variously as baffling, outrageous, appropriate, acceptable, inevitable, and so forth. Probably, one could even find all such adjectives applied to the same change, such as the changing situation of racial minorities. The point is that social change elicits some kind of response, for change is both inescapable and consequential for our lives. Some observers would even argue that change is the most crucial factor in our well-being (or lack of well-being). The study and understanding of change, therefore, are linked to the quality of human life.

This book is addressed to all those who are concerned about change. It is not an exhaustive study of all aspects of change, but it indicates the most important issues and problems. Some topics in this book are of great importance but have been neglected in other texts: the role of youth in change, the relation of violence to change, and strategies for effecting change. Other topics have been treated more or less adequately by others but must be understood by any serious student of change: theories of change, mechanisms of change, and patterns of change in the world today.

I hope the reader of this book will gain a broad understanding of the basic concerns in the area of social change. I even hope the reader will be both stimulated and prepared to explore the various facets of change in greater depth, for this important area of sociological study has been neglected, and the opportunities for creative and significant work are many.

The value of the book is maximized when the reader understands its plan of organization. The divisions are, of course, arbitrary; one could use any of a number of different schemes. Basically, the book is divided . . .

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