The Analysis of Social Change Reconsidered: A Sociological Study

By J. A. Ponsioen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THEORIES EXPLAINING THE DYNAMICS OF SOCIETY FOCUSING ON SPECIAL SUBPROCESSES CONSIDERED TO BE PRIME MOVERS

There is no doubt that interest in the study of changing societies is a response to the challenge of the process of development of so-called underdeveloped or low-income or new countries. This induced us to look back to previous great changes, in the hope of throwing light on the present problems. But the actual problems themselves direct our attention to those processes in history which seem to be determinants of today's big changes. Examples put forward are the demographic process, the urbanization process and the process of industrialization or technological change. Although there may be danger in identifying the whole process of change with one of these processes, or in looking upon them as the independent variable, all other aspects being dependent on them, there is not the slightest doubt that they are and have been important phenomena.


A. DEMOGRAPHICAL CHANGE AS THE PRIME MOVER

Demography as a discipline deals with the quantitative analysis of the population, the changes in its number and composition. By population is understood people within national boundaries, and so the figures shown in statistical yearbooks may be averages of very heterogeneous groups under this aspect (regions, classes, religions). Good demography, however, analyses the quantitative trends and composition of the population by using significant categories (e. g. income groups, infant mortality, migration) for more and more detailed description.

Sociology then explains established facts and changes (such as fertility rates, death rates) in terms of group behaviour, group attitudes, and values. Other explanatory factors such as medicine, government population policy, economic improvement, are not immediately in the field of sociology, but only in so far as these factors affect the groups. Changing

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