Social and Cultural Change

Subject: Sociology

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The main aspects that affect on the social and cultural change are related to the three grade orders: the biophysical, the cultural and the technological. Change is the paradigm shift; a paradigm shift is the application of new knowledge, ideology, modern, technology etc which brings a change in the social and cultural pattern.
Social and Cultural Change

Nature is always changeable. It is never at rest. So, change is a universal fact. Similarly, society is not at all a static phenomena but a dynamic entity. The term social change is used to indicate the change that takes place in human interaction and interrelation. Society is a web of different social relationship. Hence, social change obviously means the change in the system of social relationship.

Social relationships are understood in terms of social process and social interaction. Thus, the term social change is used to refer desirable variations in social interaction, social process, and social organization. Cultural change is broader than social change and social change is only a part of it. All social changes are cultural changes but all cultural changes need not necessarily be social changes. Cultural changes can be called social changes only when they affect human relations and the social organization cause some variation in them. Cultural environment is the manmade environment. So, change in human needs and desires influences cultural change.


  • Social and cultural changes are universal phenomena.
  • It is a regular process.
  • Prediction of social and cultural change is not possible.
  • The changes show chain effect in all aspects of society.
  • Both can be a plan or unplanned.

Process of Social and Culture Change
  • Discovery

Discovery is one of the prime process of social and cultural change. It is only when society accepts it and adopts regularly in their everyday life. Therefore any addition in the existing socio-cultural pattern may bring a change in the society. Any invention in the field of technology, politics, philosophy, economics, culture and so on is subject to change and its socio-cultural phenomenon.

  • Innovation

Innovation is the mechanism of creation of new ideas, new techniques or new behaviors which make social and cultural changes possible. It is a new application of knowledge. Innovation is thus, dependent on human creativity and on the receptiveness of the community to accept or adopt the products.The ultimate source of all change is through innovation.

  • Diffusion

Diffusion is one type of process of socio-cultural evolution and change. Adaptation of new thing by an individual or society from another individual of a society is called diffusion of cultural attributes from the social units to the next. Therefore, diffusion refers to the spread of cultural attributes from one culture to another through regular contact between different cultural groups.

  • Acculturation

Acculturation is also a very important component of socio-cultural change. It is the phenomena which result when group of individual having different culture come into first-hand contact with subsequent changes in the original cultural pattern of both groups. Acculturation is the process in which two or more than two cultural groups come into continuous contact. This makes subsequences in their cultural pattern. In a simple word when the system of life in a culture begins to change under the influence of a developed culture, it is the process of acculturation.

  • Modernization

Modernization is the process which indicates the adoption of the modern ways of life and values. It refers to an attempt on the part of the people to adopt themselves to the present time, conditions, needs, style and ways in general. It refers to the change in people’s food habit, custom ,speaking styles, language, choices, ideas and so on which in overall result the socio-cultural change of any cultural group. The modernization of cultural pattern, application of modern science and technology, innovation of knowledge etc have brought about remarkable changes in the whole system of social relationship and stall new ideologies in the place of traditional ones.

Factors of Social and Cultural Change
  • Economy

The mode of change in a subsistence economy and economic pattern may bring a change in the existing sociocultural pattern. For e.g the primitive hunting and gathering culture has been transformed into modern industrial civilization due to process in the economic system of the ever existing society. In all these social systems there are obvious changes in the socio-cultural structure of the society. There is a deep relation between economic structure and social and cultural change. When the economic status of the society is changed there will be a change in the every aspect of life. The economic factors have played an important role for economic progress of any society. The economic development of a society also gives rise to the technological and industrial development of the society.

  • Technology

Technology is the systematic knowledge which is put into practice that is to use tools and machines to serve human purposes. In an attempt to satisfy human wants, fulfill his needs and to make his life more comfortable, man build civilization. Hence technology is a product of civilization. The modern age is often called the technological age. The technological development has given rise to industrialization, urbanization, development of transportation and communication, modernization, changes in the social institution and so forth. Technology and social change are intimately connected where rapid technological and social change goes hand in hand.

  • Education

Education is one of the intervening variables in a phenomenon of social change. It can also be understood as a factor of social change. The role of education as an agent of social change and development is widely recognized too. Education can initiate social change by bringing about change in the outlook and attitudes of man. It brings change in the pattern of social relationship and thereby it may cause socio-cultural changes. The changing purpose of education is to change man and his life and living style. To change a man is to change society. Further more education has brought about phenomenal changes in every aspect of man’s life. It has widened our vision and removed our narrow idles, prejudices and misunderstandings.

  • Demography

Demography refers to the human populations mainly in qualitative or numerical term. It establishes reliable estimates of total population numbers and compositions. It also analyses the rate of fertility, mortality, and migration as well as the interrelationship which exist between different variables such as age, sex, social class, ethnic origin etc. The broad area of social demography is concerned in general with the relationship between population and social process and has link with ecology and other aspects.

Role of Communication and Media in Social and Cultural Change

There are more challenging responsibilities of media. They are the leading role in transforming people's mindset, the tough face job they ever had . Before being able to carry out this transformation job the media themselves must change their mindset. Whether people aspirations for vast changes get fulfill or does not depend solely on the role of the mass media.

However, media have the potential to supply ample input and insight to political forces. The mass media have a role in educating the people on socio-cultural issues. As the media have the potential to mentally prepare people for progressive action and participation this role cannot be undermined.

Similarly, media technologies are also other factors behind socio-cultural changes. Import and export of cultures are possible through the mass media. Especially in this cyber age marked by accelerating globalization, the development of interdependent relations is inevitable. There is a give and take process in socio-cultural issues.


Khatri, Prem Kumar, Elementary Sociology and Anthropology XI, Bhundipuran Prakashan, Kathmandu

Sharma, Kamal Raj, Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology inNepal-XI, Sunrise Prakashan Pvt. Ltd., Kathmandu

Sitaula, Mohan Kumar, Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology-XI, Ekta Books and Distributors, Kathmandu

Things to remember
  1. The term social change is used to indicate the change that takes place in human interaction and interrelation. 
  2. Social and cultural change follow different processes.
  3. Social and cultural change is a continuous process which is affected by internal and external factors.
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.

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