The present volume is an outcome of my doctoral thesis which I submitted to Poona University in 1964. It is an occasion of rejoicement to see one’s thesis in print. However, like the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of a book is in eliciting critical appraisal. The book came out as a challenge whether one could ignore theory while studying social change. At that time there was some academic prejudice to attempt to study social change on the theoretical framework. Now that the circle has come round and there are several concerns expressed in sociological circles about the necessity of theoretical frameworks.
What the book is trying to focus is the necessity of theory for studying macro-social change in India. There were several works based on village studies but non on large-scale changes. I believe this book will fill in the gap.
The Introductory chapter give the general review of social change theories and the works on India. The first chapter deals with the social structure in all its fundamental aspects and relates it to and upto the Indian independence. The second chapter analyses the sociological categories of planning with reference to Indian social system. The third chapter gives out a broad view of economic development and economic planning. The next two chapters deal with community development in structural and functional aspects. The sixth one is based on the change agent Village Level Worker. The seventh connects the last two chapters under co-operation. The eigth one is an independent chapter which is based on Bhoodan-Gramdan movement. The ninth chapter reviews the entire social structure and the problems of mobility in relation to the formation of class under Vested Interests. The tenth chapter is based on the problems of change from one model to another and the resulting transitionary problems. The last chapter brings the threads together and attempts to weave a coherent whole with the help of theoretical framework. In a word, while the first part, upto seventh chapter, forms the structural features, the latter part i.e. from ninth to tenth, forms an evaluation of the implications.
That the work is for scrutiny before the academic public, I do not wish to say much, except to add if this work could stimulate interest in sociological theory and its implications it will have served its purpose.
I acknowledge my debt to Dr. Y. B. Damle who has been associated with this work from its inception to its going to Press. However, all the imperfections of the work are mine only. I have to thank Dr. S. M. Katre, Director of Deccan College, for taking keen interest in seeing the work in print which would not have been otherwise possible. Last, but not the least, I have to thank my friend and co-scholar Mr. P. H. Reddy for the painstaking job of hustling away the printer’s devil.
Right from Heraclitus down to the modern times the study of social change has been one of constant endeavour, speculation, ideological controversy, philosophical quarrels and finally relating it to elan vital principle rather than as a consequence of human social action. The unending speculation and presentation of theories may be likened to Penelope’s web which is equally unending. There were attempts of explanations of part for the whole or vice versa or sometimes even relating and explaining it in terms of the models borrowed from the physical and natural sciences.
Thus we find an impressive array of theories presented in the name of the society and consequently a condition for the study of social change. The Mechanistic school was full of social atoms, repulsions, attractions and astronomical systems. The Le Play’s school took part for the whole and made the family as a central configuration of social life. The Geographical school emphasized the geographical factors in determining the social customs, manners and consequently the society. Under the influence of biological explanations of organisms, several schools, one way or the other, tried to explain human beings as individual organism with biological drives as the cause of the entire web of social life. The Darwinian influences spread into the analysis of society and there came to the fore theories explaining the nature of struggle for existence among the human beings. Finally the sociologistic school explained society in terms of interaction and interrelations as the entire crux of the problem of society. As a branch of this school, there grew a great school which explained everything in terms of correlations nothwithstanding he partial nature of such correlations.
The latter exponents of social factors for the theory of social change divided culture into material culture and non-material culture. They gave explanation that material culture changes quickly rather than the non-material culture which includes the web of social relationships. This theory is called culture-lag theory which explains a partial association of factors in the social relationships.
What is lacking in all these theories is the lack of interest in the analysis of change as suggested by theoretical formulations and consistent observation. The models were borrowed haphazardly and explanations were given in an equally haphazard manner. In contrast to this the modern sociological theory emphasizes the nature of the web of social relationships as a system and attempts to explain the nature of change in terms of that system or model.
What has been missing from the above is supplied by the modern sociological theory in terms of its comprehensiveness, extent, theoretical rigour and a sustained interest in the study of social change in a truly scientific spirit, bereft of ideological overtones or philosophical vested interests.
Although Sorokin’s approach is highly abstract in terms of changes from one system to other, i.e., ideational, idealistic and sensate supersystems, a sort of cyclical view of change is presented by delineating the distinct modes of historical stages. These stand as principles without really giving out any type of systematic approach except in broad historical perspectives. Likewise the single factor theories of social change of linear growth were also not suitable for the study of social change. As contrast to this, the current sociological theory postulates that social changes may begin in any sector of the society and cannot be confined to a particular direction alone.
In the sections that follow, an attempt is made to analyse social change in terms of modern sociological theory, particularly, with the help of theoretical framework.
As a point of departure from the above approaches for the study of social changes, action theory has been adopted for the purpose of study of social change in India. Action is the basic unit of social behaviour. It assumes a unit act, an actor, a situation and normative order, as building blocks. Above all, the action of an actor is described in terms of the subjective expectations which serves the scientific canons of validity.
For Parsons the minimal social systems “consists of in a plurality of individual actors interacting with each other in a situation which has at least a physical or environmental aspects,” and these actors are motivated in “optimization of gratification” in a situation of culturally structured and shared symbols.” The entire analysis, for Parsons, is based on social system as delineated from personality and cultural systems. The social system analysis could be utilized at different levels, i.e., at microscopic and macroscopic levels. The crux of Parsons approach towards social system is that individual actor is motivated toward social system goals by the internalization of norms and values in the form of role-expectations. As such it constitutes a “motivational problem of order” for the entire social system. This implies an adequate motivation of individual actors for participation in the social system, positively to get reward and negatively to get punished which are “relative and gradual”. Thus the actor is motivated to fulfil role-expectations by internalization of values of the social systems, in the form of norms and acts out as “need-dispositions” of the personality system. The role-expectations are institutionalized. A social system would not be possible without cultural integration of communication pattern through language. These are known as functional pre-requisites of social system. The motivational orientations are generated in the four functional pre-requisites of social system. The motivational orientations are generated in the four functional pre-requisites of empirical social systems such as kinship system, instrumental achievement structures and stratification; territoriality, force and integration of the power system; and religion and value-integration. The same are given, slightly in a modified form, functional imperatives in the form of four-fold table, as L, I, G, A representing pattern-maintenance, integration, goal-attainment and adaptation.
The very basis of social change theory rests upon ht structural imperatives of the social system and the motivational processes of the individual actors. As long as there is constancy of pattern in each of the structural imperatives “the stable state of equilibrium” continues in a given state. But there are also possibilities for the development of stresses and strains. The bases of such strains are
“For example, the statements to the effect that strain, defined as some combination of one or more of the factors of withdrawal of support, interference with permissiveness, contravention of internalized norms and refusal of approval for valued performance, results in such reactions as anxiety, phan-tasy, hostile impulses and resort to the defensive-adjustive mechanisms, are definitely statements of laws of motivational process.”
From the analysis of social system as a boundary-maintaining and equilibrating system, it is apparent that social change encounters the problem of “vested interests” which are the central feature of equilibrating system. So any change has to encounter this phenomenon by successfully altering the pattern “by overcoming of resistance” of the vested interests.
Any inconsistencies in the patterns of interaction, structural constraints, and consequently the disturbances in the orientations of motivations may also cause disequilibrium in the social system. This may also occasion for change.
Thus a pattern of change in the form of strain may begin in any aspect of the structural imperatives of the social system. By virtue of the interdependence of the subsystems, strain may rapidly gain ascendency in other subsystems also. As mentioned above change is always “alteration of pattern.”
As for the directions of social change Parsons argues that directionality is inherent in the theory of action, because of orientation of action toward “gratification”. But gratification as such, or deprivation, cannot be transmitted unlike cultural tradition. Therefore the directionality of social change lies in value-orientations and cultural tradition. Here the countervailing elements in the processes of social change are directed in one direction is shown through the description of the process of socialization. In a later work Parsons explains the process of “boundary exchanges,” between G cell and the A cell of the structural imperatives of the social system. He shows the interchange between the power structure and economy, in their respective subsystems.
The development of charismatic movement is related to the presence of “alienative subgroups” in the social system, and if the countervailing mechanisms of social control fail, then the charismatic movement “rapidly gains ascendency,” in the social system to bring about change. But there is every likelihood of its being “routinized,” in the process of its spread.
Mention must be made of deviance and its relation to social change before closing this section. As far as deviance is within limits and does not upset the stability of the system, it is not problematic, but if it threatens the system it should bring about social change. Thus deviance enhances the degree of strain on the social system beyond certain limit which may occasion the cause of change in role-content of the role-players. Likewise technological changes may render obsolete one type of roles and may create another type of new roles.
Thus stability and interchange within boundaries of the sub-systems of the social system form the core of the theory of social change. The differentiation of roles in terms of functional imperativves also can occasion for change.
As for the directionality of change, the pattern-variables as depicted by Parsons, supply a mode of direction for the study of social change. As such they have been extensively used in the analysis of social change in the present thesis.
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