According to Southern New Hampshire University, sociologists define social change as changes in human interactions and relationships that transform cultural and social institutions. These changes occur over time and often have profound and long-term consequences for society.
Historically, these changes have been prompted by large social movements such as Civil Rights, Women’s Suffrage, and LGBTQ Rights.
A single person cannot create social change; however, they can create a movement or idea that attracts more individuals and eventually form a movement. Social change is extremely hard to set in motion, as it is battling comfort. When people become comfortable with certain lifestyles, mindsets, or ideas, it is very difficult to take them out of that comfort zone, especially when the comfort zone is shared by a majority of individuals.
According to Lumen, “there are numerous and varied causes of social change.” The four most common causes of social change are technology, environment, population, and institutions. These areas can impact how and when society changes.
While some causes of social change happen quickly and with obvious causes, such as the Civil Rights movement, others are more gradual and don’t have a specific starting “issue.” In the 21st century, we have been experiencing a massive social change in the form of technological advances. While technology has increased our knowledge of the world around us, made lives easier, and even helped with medical advancements, there was no major human or social rights issue that set the change into motion.
Even without major issues, society is in a natural state of equilibrium. According to Saylor Academy, “gradual change is necessary and desirable and typically stems from such things as population growth, technological advances, and interaction with other societies that brings new ways of thinking and acting.”
Social change is a difficult concept to truly grasp, and many of us take it for granted. No society has ever remained the same. Change is always happening, and although it can be scary or hard to swallow, it is a necessary part of life.