Sociology and Social Change

6081 words 25 pages
SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIAL CHANGE "The air does not cease to have weight," writes Durkheim, "although we no longer feel that weight."(1) The point is, of course, how do we know that there is that thing called "air" out there if we do not feel its presence? What Durkheim was interested to show, indeed, was that those elements of reality that he came to call social facts(2) were out there, regardless of whether the individuals felt their presence or not. Actually, the individuals are almost never aware of the compelling presence of those social facts, which they have a tendency to take for granted. Sometimes, however, social facts appear unmistakably to the individual who is not even trained sociologically to discover that which is not so …show more content…

This approach came to view those "primitive" societies as the first links in the chain of social development and the Western, modern societies as the last, mature, and final stage. Of course, the qualifier "primitive" used for those non-Western societies announced their ethnographers' Western bias. Condescendently, the emerging Western social science was characterizing non-Western societies as immature and as the living examples of the stages already undergone by Western societies. Western social scientists thus implied that the logical development path for the "primitive" societies meant to replicate the series of stages traversed by the supposedly more mature Western societies. When sociology arrived in the United States, it increasingly abandoned the European concern with social change and development. The American society was indeed changing rapidly. However, the preoccupation with the ill-effects of the breakdown of the Old World normalcy found few followers on this side of the Atlantic. American social scientists, rather, optimistically considered social change as progress. Instead of conceiving of social change as posing problems of adjustment, American social scientists focused on the processes whereby innovations become adopted. Increasingly, the


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