NCERT Textbook - Social Change and Social Order in Rural and Urban Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Sociology Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Social Change and Social Order in Rural and Urban Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 22 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
CHAPTER 2
SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND
URBAN SOCIETY
It is often said that change is the
only unchanging aspect of society.
Anyone living in modern society does
not need to be reminded that constant
change is among the most permanent
features of our society. In fact, the
discipline of sociology itself emerged
as an effort to make sense of the rapid
changes that Western European
society had experienced between the
seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
But though social change
seems such a common and obvious
fact about modern life, it is –
comparatively speaking – a very new
and recent fact.  It is estimated that
human beings have existed on planet
earth for approximately 500,000 (five
lakh) years, but they have had a
civilised existence for only about 6,000
years. Of these civilised years, it is only
in the last 400 years that we have seen
constant and rapid change; even
within these years of change, the pace
has accelerated only in the last 100
years.  Because the speed with which
change happens has been increasing
steadily, it is probably true that in the
last hundred years, change has been
faster in the last fifty years than in
the first fifty.  And within the last fifty
years, the world may have changed
more in the last twenty years than in
the first thirty…
The Clock of Human History
Human beings have existed on earth for about half a million years.  Agriculture,
the necessary basis of fixed settlements, is only about twelve thousand years old.
Civilisations date back no more than six thousand years or so.  If we were to think
of the entire span of human existence thus far as a day (stretching from midnight
to midnight), agriculture would have come into existence at 11:56 pm and
civilisations at 11:57.  The development of modern societies would get underway
only at 11:59 and 30 seconds!  Yet perhaps as much change has taken place in
the last thirty seconds of this human day as in all the time leading up to it.
From: Anthony Giddens,2004 Sociology, 4th edition, p.40.
2019-20
Page 2


 22 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
CHAPTER 2
SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND
URBAN SOCIETY
It is often said that change is the
only unchanging aspect of society.
Anyone living in modern society does
not need to be reminded that constant
change is among the most permanent
features of our society. In fact, the
discipline of sociology itself emerged
as an effort to make sense of the rapid
changes that Western European
society had experienced between the
seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
But though social change
seems such a common and obvious
fact about modern life, it is –
comparatively speaking – a very new
and recent fact.  It is estimated that
human beings have existed on planet
earth for approximately 500,000 (five
lakh) years, but they have had a
civilised existence for only about 6,000
years. Of these civilised years, it is only
in the last 400 years that we have seen
constant and rapid change; even
within these years of change, the pace
has accelerated only in the last 100
years.  Because the speed with which
change happens has been increasing
steadily, it is probably true that in the
last hundred years, change has been
faster in the last fifty years than in
the first fifty.  And within the last fifty
years, the world may have changed
more in the last twenty years than in
the first thirty…
The Clock of Human History
Human beings have existed on earth for about half a million years.  Agriculture,
the necessary basis of fixed settlements, is only about twelve thousand years old.
Civilisations date back no more than six thousand years or so.  If we were to think
of the entire span of human existence thus far as a day (stretching from midnight
to midnight), agriculture would have come into existence at 11:56 pm and
civilisations at 11:57.  The development of modern societies would get underway
only at 11:59 and 30 seconds!  Yet perhaps as much change has taken place in
the last thirty seconds of this human day as in all the time leading up to it.
From: Anthony Giddens,2004 Sociology, 4th edition, p.40.
2019-20
23 SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND URBAN SOCIETY
Activity 1
 Talk to your elders and make a list
of the things in your life that:  (a) did
not exist when your parents were
your age; and (b) did not exist when
your grandparents were your age.
Eg: Black & white/colour TV;
milk in plastic bags, zip fasteners
on clothes; plastic buckets; etc. –
did it exist in your parents’/
grandparents’ childhood?
Can you also make a list of things
that existed in your parents’/
grandparents’, time but don’t exist
in your time?
SOCIAL CHANGE
‘Social change’ is such a general term
that it can be, and often is, used to
refer to almost any kind of change not
qualified by some other term, such as
economic or political change.
Sociologists have had to work hard to
limit this broad meaning in order to
make the term more specific and
hence useful for social theory.  At the
most basic level, social change refers
to changes that are significant – that
is, changes which alter the ‘underlying
structure of an object or situation over
a period of time’ (Giddens 2005:42).
Thus social change does not include
any and all changes, but only big ones,
changes which transform things
fundamentally.  The ‘bigness’ of
change is measured not only by how
much change it brings about, but also
by the scale of the change, that is, by
how large a section of society it affects.
In other words, changes have to be
both intensive and extensive – have a
big impact spread over a large sector
of society – in order to qualify as social
change.
Even after this kind of
specification, social change still
remains a very broad term.  Attempts
to further qualify it usually try to
classify it by its sources or causes; by
its nature, or the kind of impact it has
on society; and by its pace or speed.
For example, evolution is the name
given to a kind of change that takes
place slowly over a long period of time.
This term was made famous by the
natural scientist Charles Darwin, who
proposed a theory of how living
organisms evolve – or change slowly
over several centuries or even millenia,
by adapting themselves to natural
circumstances.  Darwin’s theory
emphasized the idea of ‘the survival of
the fittest’ – only those life forms
manage to survive who are best
adapted to their environment; those
that are unable to adapt or are too slow
to do so die out in the long run.  Darwin
suggested that human beings evolved
from sea-borne life forms (or varieties
of fish) to land-based mammals,
passing through various stages the
highest of which were the various
varieties of monkeys and chimpanzees
until finally the homo sapiens or
human form was evolved.  Although
Darwin’s theory refered to natural
processes, it was soon adapted to the
social world and was termed ‘social
Darwinism’, a theory that emphasised
the importance of adaptive change.  In
contrast to evolutionary change,
change that occurs comparatively
2019-20
Page 3


 22 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
CHAPTER 2
SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND
URBAN SOCIETY
It is often said that change is the
only unchanging aspect of society.
Anyone living in modern society does
not need to be reminded that constant
change is among the most permanent
features of our society. In fact, the
discipline of sociology itself emerged
as an effort to make sense of the rapid
changes that Western European
society had experienced between the
seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
But though social change
seems such a common and obvious
fact about modern life, it is –
comparatively speaking – a very new
and recent fact.  It is estimated that
human beings have existed on planet
earth for approximately 500,000 (five
lakh) years, but they have had a
civilised existence for only about 6,000
years. Of these civilised years, it is only
in the last 400 years that we have seen
constant and rapid change; even
within these years of change, the pace
has accelerated only in the last 100
years.  Because the speed with which
change happens has been increasing
steadily, it is probably true that in the
last hundred years, change has been
faster in the last fifty years than in
the first fifty.  And within the last fifty
years, the world may have changed
more in the last twenty years than in
the first thirty…
The Clock of Human History
Human beings have existed on earth for about half a million years.  Agriculture,
the necessary basis of fixed settlements, is only about twelve thousand years old.
Civilisations date back no more than six thousand years or so.  If we were to think
of the entire span of human existence thus far as a day (stretching from midnight
to midnight), agriculture would have come into existence at 11:56 pm and
civilisations at 11:57.  The development of modern societies would get underway
only at 11:59 and 30 seconds!  Yet perhaps as much change has taken place in
the last thirty seconds of this human day as in all the time leading up to it.
From: Anthony Giddens,2004 Sociology, 4th edition, p.40.
2019-20
23 SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND URBAN SOCIETY
Activity 1
 Talk to your elders and make a list
of the things in your life that:  (a) did
not exist when your parents were
your age; and (b) did not exist when
your grandparents were your age.
Eg: Black & white/colour TV;
milk in plastic bags, zip fasteners
on clothes; plastic buckets; etc. –
did it exist in your parents’/
grandparents’ childhood?
Can you also make a list of things
that existed in your parents’/
grandparents’, time but don’t exist
in your time?
SOCIAL CHANGE
‘Social change’ is such a general term
that it can be, and often is, used to
refer to almost any kind of change not
qualified by some other term, such as
economic or political change.
Sociologists have had to work hard to
limit this broad meaning in order to
make the term more specific and
hence useful for social theory.  At the
most basic level, social change refers
to changes that are significant – that
is, changes which alter the ‘underlying
structure of an object or situation over
a period of time’ (Giddens 2005:42).
Thus social change does not include
any and all changes, but only big ones,
changes which transform things
fundamentally.  The ‘bigness’ of
change is measured not only by how
much change it brings about, but also
by the scale of the change, that is, by
how large a section of society it affects.
In other words, changes have to be
both intensive and extensive – have a
big impact spread over a large sector
of society – in order to qualify as social
change.
Even after this kind of
specification, social change still
remains a very broad term.  Attempts
to further qualify it usually try to
classify it by its sources or causes; by
its nature, or the kind of impact it has
on society; and by its pace or speed.
For example, evolution is the name
given to a kind of change that takes
place slowly over a long period of time.
This term was made famous by the
natural scientist Charles Darwin, who
proposed a theory of how living
organisms evolve – or change slowly
over several centuries or even millenia,
by adapting themselves to natural
circumstances.  Darwin’s theory
emphasized the idea of ‘the survival of
the fittest’ – only those life forms
manage to survive who are best
adapted to their environment; those
that are unable to adapt or are too slow
to do so die out in the long run.  Darwin
suggested that human beings evolved
from sea-borne life forms (or varieties
of fish) to land-based mammals,
passing through various stages the
highest of which were the various
varieties of monkeys and chimpanzees
until finally the homo sapiens or
human form was evolved.  Although
Darwin’s theory refered to natural
processes, it was soon adapted to the
social world and was termed ‘social
Darwinism’, a theory that emphasised
the importance of adaptive change.  In
contrast to evolutionary change,
change that occurs comparatively
2019-20
 24 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
quickly, even suddenly, is sometimes
called ‘revolutionary change’.  It is used
mainly in the political context, when
the power structure of society changes
very rapidly through the overthrow of
a former ruling class or group by its
challengers.  Examples include the
French revolution (1789-93) and the
Soviet or Russian revolution of 1917.
But the term has also been used more
generally to refer to sharp, sudden and
total transformations of other kinds as
well, such as in the phrase ‘industrial
revolution’ or ‘telecommunications
revolution’, and so on.
Activity 2
Refer to the discussions about the
French Revolution and the Industrial
Revolution which you have come
across before in your textbooks.
What were the major kinds of change
that each brought about?  Would
these changes qualify to be called
‘social change’?  Were these changes
fast enough and far reaching enough
to qualify as ‘revolutionary change’?
What other kinds of social change
have you come across in your books
which might not qualify as
revolutionary change?  Why would
they not qualify?
Types of change that are identified
by their nature or impact include
structural change and changes in
ideas, values and beliefs.  Structural
change refers to transformations in
the structure of society, to its
institutions or the rules by which
these institutions are run.  (Recall the
discussion of social structure from the
previous chapter.)  For example, the
emergence of paper money as
currency marked a major change in
the organisation of financial markets
and transactions.  Until this change
came about, most forms of currency
involved precious metals like gold and
silver.  The value of the coin was
directly linked to the value of the gold
or silver it contained.  By contrast, the
value of a paper currency note has no
relationship to the value of the paper
it is printed on, or the cost of its
printing.  The idea behind paper
money was that a medium or means
for facilitating the exchange of goods
and services need not itself be
intrinsically valuable.  As  long as it
represents values convincingly — i.e.,
as long as it inspires trust — almost
anything can function as money.  This
idea was the foundation for the credit
market and helped change the
structure of banking and finance.
These changes in turn produced
further changes in the organisation of
economic life.
Changes in values and beliefs can
also lead to social change.  For
example, changes in the ideas and
beliefs about children and childhood
have brought about very important
kinds of social change, there was a
time when children were simply
considered small adults — there was
no special concept of childhood as
such, with its associated notions of
what was right or wrong for children
to do.  As late as the 19th century for
example, it was considered good and
proper that children start to work as
2019-20
Page 4


 22 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
CHAPTER 2
SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND
URBAN SOCIETY
It is often said that change is the
only unchanging aspect of society.
Anyone living in modern society does
not need to be reminded that constant
change is among the most permanent
features of our society. In fact, the
discipline of sociology itself emerged
as an effort to make sense of the rapid
changes that Western European
society had experienced between the
seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
But though social change
seems such a common and obvious
fact about modern life, it is –
comparatively speaking – a very new
and recent fact.  It is estimated that
human beings have existed on planet
earth for approximately 500,000 (five
lakh) years, but they have had a
civilised existence for only about 6,000
years. Of these civilised years, it is only
in the last 400 years that we have seen
constant and rapid change; even
within these years of change, the pace
has accelerated only in the last 100
years.  Because the speed with which
change happens has been increasing
steadily, it is probably true that in the
last hundred years, change has been
faster in the last fifty years than in
the first fifty.  And within the last fifty
years, the world may have changed
more in the last twenty years than in
the first thirty…
The Clock of Human History
Human beings have existed on earth for about half a million years.  Agriculture,
the necessary basis of fixed settlements, is only about twelve thousand years old.
Civilisations date back no more than six thousand years or so.  If we were to think
of the entire span of human existence thus far as a day (stretching from midnight
to midnight), agriculture would have come into existence at 11:56 pm and
civilisations at 11:57.  The development of modern societies would get underway
only at 11:59 and 30 seconds!  Yet perhaps as much change has taken place in
the last thirty seconds of this human day as in all the time leading up to it.
From: Anthony Giddens,2004 Sociology, 4th edition, p.40.
2019-20
23 SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND URBAN SOCIETY
Activity 1
 Talk to your elders and make a list
of the things in your life that:  (a) did
not exist when your parents were
your age; and (b) did not exist when
your grandparents were your age.
Eg: Black & white/colour TV;
milk in plastic bags, zip fasteners
on clothes; plastic buckets; etc. –
did it exist in your parents’/
grandparents’ childhood?
Can you also make a list of things
that existed in your parents’/
grandparents’, time but don’t exist
in your time?
SOCIAL CHANGE
‘Social change’ is such a general term
that it can be, and often is, used to
refer to almost any kind of change not
qualified by some other term, such as
economic or political change.
Sociologists have had to work hard to
limit this broad meaning in order to
make the term more specific and
hence useful for social theory.  At the
most basic level, social change refers
to changes that are significant – that
is, changes which alter the ‘underlying
structure of an object or situation over
a period of time’ (Giddens 2005:42).
Thus social change does not include
any and all changes, but only big ones,
changes which transform things
fundamentally.  The ‘bigness’ of
change is measured not only by how
much change it brings about, but also
by the scale of the change, that is, by
how large a section of society it affects.
In other words, changes have to be
both intensive and extensive – have a
big impact spread over a large sector
of society – in order to qualify as social
change.
Even after this kind of
specification, social change still
remains a very broad term.  Attempts
to further qualify it usually try to
classify it by its sources or causes; by
its nature, or the kind of impact it has
on society; and by its pace or speed.
For example, evolution is the name
given to a kind of change that takes
place slowly over a long period of time.
This term was made famous by the
natural scientist Charles Darwin, who
proposed a theory of how living
organisms evolve – or change slowly
over several centuries or even millenia,
by adapting themselves to natural
circumstances.  Darwin’s theory
emphasized the idea of ‘the survival of
the fittest’ – only those life forms
manage to survive who are best
adapted to their environment; those
that are unable to adapt or are too slow
to do so die out in the long run.  Darwin
suggested that human beings evolved
from sea-borne life forms (or varieties
of fish) to land-based mammals,
passing through various stages the
highest of which were the various
varieties of monkeys and chimpanzees
until finally the homo sapiens or
human form was evolved.  Although
Darwin’s theory refered to natural
processes, it was soon adapted to the
social world and was termed ‘social
Darwinism’, a theory that emphasised
the importance of adaptive change.  In
contrast to evolutionary change,
change that occurs comparatively
2019-20
 24 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
quickly, even suddenly, is sometimes
called ‘revolutionary change’.  It is used
mainly in the political context, when
the power structure of society changes
very rapidly through the overthrow of
a former ruling class or group by its
challengers.  Examples include the
French revolution (1789-93) and the
Soviet or Russian revolution of 1917.
But the term has also been used more
generally to refer to sharp, sudden and
total transformations of other kinds as
well, such as in the phrase ‘industrial
revolution’ or ‘telecommunications
revolution’, and so on.
Activity 2
Refer to the discussions about the
French Revolution and the Industrial
Revolution which you have come
across before in your textbooks.
What were the major kinds of change
that each brought about?  Would
these changes qualify to be called
‘social change’?  Were these changes
fast enough and far reaching enough
to qualify as ‘revolutionary change’?
What other kinds of social change
have you come across in your books
which might not qualify as
revolutionary change?  Why would
they not qualify?
Types of change that are identified
by their nature or impact include
structural change and changes in
ideas, values and beliefs.  Structural
change refers to transformations in
the structure of society, to its
institutions or the rules by which
these institutions are run.  (Recall the
discussion of social structure from the
previous chapter.)  For example, the
emergence of paper money as
currency marked a major change in
the organisation of financial markets
and transactions.  Until this change
came about, most forms of currency
involved precious metals like gold and
silver.  The value of the coin was
directly linked to the value of the gold
or silver it contained.  By contrast, the
value of a paper currency note has no
relationship to the value of the paper
it is printed on, or the cost of its
printing.  The idea behind paper
money was that a medium or means
for facilitating the exchange of goods
and services need not itself be
intrinsically valuable.  As  long as it
represents values convincingly — i.e.,
as long as it inspires trust — almost
anything can function as money.  This
idea was the foundation for the credit
market and helped change the
structure of banking and finance.
These changes in turn produced
further changes in the organisation of
economic life.
Changes in values and beliefs can
also lead to social change.  For
example, changes in the ideas and
beliefs about children and childhood
have brought about very important
kinds of social change, there was a
time when children were simply
considered small adults — there was
no special concept of childhood as
such, with its associated notions of
what was right or wrong for children
to do.  As late as the 19th century for
example, it was considered good and
proper that children start to work as
2019-20
25 SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND URBAN SOCIETY
soon as they were able to.  Children
were often helping their families at
work from the age of five or six; the
early factory system depended on the
labour of children.  It was during the
19th and early 20th centuries that
ideas about childhood as a special
stage of life gained influence.  It then
became unthinkable for small
children to be at work, and many
countries passed laws banning child
labour.  At the same time, there
emerged ideas about compulsory
education, and children were
supposed to be in school rather than
at work, and many laws were passed
for this as well.  Although there are
some industries in our country that
even today depend on child labour at
least partially (such as carpet weaving,
small tea shops or restaurants, match-
stick making, and so on), child labour
is illegal and employers can be
punished as criminals.
But by far the most common way
of classifying social change is by its
causes or sources.  Sometimes the
causes are pre-classified into
internal (or endogenous) and
external (or exogenous) causes.
There are five broad types of sources
or causes of social change:
environmental, technological,
economic, political and cultural.
Students in a classroom
2019-20
Page 5


 22 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
CHAPTER 2
SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND
URBAN SOCIETY
It is often said that change is the
only unchanging aspect of society.
Anyone living in modern society does
not need to be reminded that constant
change is among the most permanent
features of our society. In fact, the
discipline of sociology itself emerged
as an effort to make sense of the rapid
changes that Western European
society had experienced between the
seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
But though social change
seems such a common and obvious
fact about modern life, it is –
comparatively speaking – a very new
and recent fact.  It is estimated that
human beings have existed on planet
earth for approximately 500,000 (five
lakh) years, but they have had a
civilised existence for only about 6,000
years. Of these civilised years, it is only
in the last 400 years that we have seen
constant and rapid change; even
within these years of change, the pace
has accelerated only in the last 100
years.  Because the speed with which
change happens has been increasing
steadily, it is probably true that in the
last hundred years, change has been
faster in the last fifty years than in
the first fifty.  And within the last fifty
years, the world may have changed
more in the last twenty years than in
the first thirty…
The Clock of Human History
Human beings have existed on earth for about half a million years.  Agriculture,
the necessary basis of fixed settlements, is only about twelve thousand years old.
Civilisations date back no more than six thousand years or so.  If we were to think
of the entire span of human existence thus far as a day (stretching from midnight
to midnight), agriculture would have come into existence at 11:56 pm and
civilisations at 11:57.  The development of modern societies would get underway
only at 11:59 and 30 seconds!  Yet perhaps as much change has taken place in
the last thirty seconds of this human day as in all the time leading up to it.
From: Anthony Giddens,2004 Sociology, 4th edition, p.40.
2019-20
23 SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND URBAN SOCIETY
Activity 1
 Talk to your elders and make a list
of the things in your life that:  (a) did
not exist when your parents were
your age; and (b) did not exist when
your grandparents were your age.
Eg: Black & white/colour TV;
milk in plastic bags, zip fasteners
on clothes; plastic buckets; etc. –
did it exist in your parents’/
grandparents’ childhood?
Can you also make a list of things
that existed in your parents’/
grandparents’, time but don’t exist
in your time?
SOCIAL CHANGE
‘Social change’ is such a general term
that it can be, and often is, used to
refer to almost any kind of change not
qualified by some other term, such as
economic or political change.
Sociologists have had to work hard to
limit this broad meaning in order to
make the term more specific and
hence useful for social theory.  At the
most basic level, social change refers
to changes that are significant – that
is, changes which alter the ‘underlying
structure of an object or situation over
a period of time’ (Giddens 2005:42).
Thus social change does not include
any and all changes, but only big ones,
changes which transform things
fundamentally.  The ‘bigness’ of
change is measured not only by how
much change it brings about, but also
by the scale of the change, that is, by
how large a section of society it affects.
In other words, changes have to be
both intensive and extensive – have a
big impact spread over a large sector
of society – in order to qualify as social
change.
Even after this kind of
specification, social change still
remains a very broad term.  Attempts
to further qualify it usually try to
classify it by its sources or causes; by
its nature, or the kind of impact it has
on society; and by its pace or speed.
For example, evolution is the name
given to a kind of change that takes
place slowly over a long period of time.
This term was made famous by the
natural scientist Charles Darwin, who
proposed a theory of how living
organisms evolve – or change slowly
over several centuries or even millenia,
by adapting themselves to natural
circumstances.  Darwin’s theory
emphasized the idea of ‘the survival of
the fittest’ – only those life forms
manage to survive who are best
adapted to their environment; those
that are unable to adapt or are too slow
to do so die out in the long run.  Darwin
suggested that human beings evolved
from sea-borne life forms (or varieties
of fish) to land-based mammals,
passing through various stages the
highest of which were the various
varieties of monkeys and chimpanzees
until finally the homo sapiens or
human form was evolved.  Although
Darwin’s theory refered to natural
processes, it was soon adapted to the
social world and was termed ‘social
Darwinism’, a theory that emphasised
the importance of adaptive change.  In
contrast to evolutionary change,
change that occurs comparatively
2019-20
 24 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
quickly, even suddenly, is sometimes
called ‘revolutionary change’.  It is used
mainly in the political context, when
the power structure of society changes
very rapidly through the overthrow of
a former ruling class or group by its
challengers.  Examples include the
French revolution (1789-93) and the
Soviet or Russian revolution of 1917.
But the term has also been used more
generally to refer to sharp, sudden and
total transformations of other kinds as
well, such as in the phrase ‘industrial
revolution’ or ‘telecommunications
revolution’, and so on.
Activity 2
Refer to the discussions about the
French Revolution and the Industrial
Revolution which you have come
across before in your textbooks.
What were the major kinds of change
that each brought about?  Would
these changes qualify to be called
‘social change’?  Were these changes
fast enough and far reaching enough
to qualify as ‘revolutionary change’?
What other kinds of social change
have you come across in your books
which might not qualify as
revolutionary change?  Why would
they not qualify?
Types of change that are identified
by their nature or impact include
structural change and changes in
ideas, values and beliefs.  Structural
change refers to transformations in
the structure of society, to its
institutions or the rules by which
these institutions are run.  (Recall the
discussion of social structure from the
previous chapter.)  For example, the
emergence of paper money as
currency marked a major change in
the organisation of financial markets
and transactions.  Until this change
came about, most forms of currency
involved precious metals like gold and
silver.  The value of the coin was
directly linked to the value of the gold
or silver it contained.  By contrast, the
value of a paper currency note has no
relationship to the value of the paper
it is printed on, or the cost of its
printing.  The idea behind paper
money was that a medium or means
for facilitating the exchange of goods
and services need not itself be
intrinsically valuable.  As  long as it
represents values convincingly — i.e.,
as long as it inspires trust — almost
anything can function as money.  This
idea was the foundation for the credit
market and helped change the
structure of banking and finance.
These changes in turn produced
further changes in the organisation of
economic life.
Changes in values and beliefs can
also lead to social change.  For
example, changes in the ideas and
beliefs about children and childhood
have brought about very important
kinds of social change, there was a
time when children were simply
considered small adults — there was
no special concept of childhood as
such, with its associated notions of
what was right or wrong for children
to do.  As late as the 19th century for
example, it was considered good and
proper that children start to work as
2019-20
25 SOCIAL CHANGE AND SOCIAL ORDER IN RURAL AND URBAN SOCIETY
soon as they were able to.  Children
were often helping their families at
work from the age of five or six; the
early factory system depended on the
labour of children.  It was during the
19th and early 20th centuries that
ideas about childhood as a special
stage of life gained influence.  It then
became unthinkable for small
children to be at work, and many
countries passed laws banning child
labour.  At the same time, there
emerged ideas about compulsory
education, and children were
supposed to be in school rather than
at work, and many laws were passed
for this as well.  Although there are
some industries in our country that
even today depend on child labour at
least partially (such as carpet weaving,
small tea shops or restaurants, match-
stick making, and so on), child labour
is illegal and employers can be
punished as criminals.
But by far the most common way
of classifying social change is by its
causes or sources.  Sometimes the
causes are pre-classified into
internal (or endogenous) and
external (or exogenous) causes.
There are five broad types of sources
or causes of social change:
environmental, technological,
economic, political and cultural.
Students in a classroom
2019-20
 26 UNDERSTANDING SOCIETY
Environment
Nature, ecology and the physical
environment have always had a
significant influence on the structure
and shape of society.  This was
particularly true in the past when
human beings were unable to control
or overcome the effects of nature.  For
example, people living in a desert
environment were unable to practise
settled agriculture of the sort that was
possible in the plains, near rivers and
so on.  So the kind of food they ate or
the clothes they wore, the way they
earned their livelihood, and their
patterns of social interaction were all
determined to a large extent by the
physical and climatic conditions of
their environment.  The same was true
for people living in very cold climates,
or in port towns, along major trade
routes or mountain passes, or in fertile
river valleys.  But the extent to which
the environment influences society
has been decreasing over time with the
increase in technological resources.
Technology allows us to overcome or
adapt to the problems posed by
nature, thus reducing the differences
between societies living in different
sorts of environments.  On the other
hand, technology also alters nature
and our  relationship to it in new ways
(see the chapter on environment in
this book).  So it is perhaps more
accurate to say that the effect of
A child doing skilled work
2019-20
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