Wednesday, 14 September 2011

social transformation

Social transformation
Social transformation implies an underlying notion of the way society and culture change in response to such factors as economic growth, war or political upheavals.

Social transformation refers to the process of change in values, norms, institutionalized relationships, and stratification hierarchies over time. It affects patterns of interaction and insti­tutional arrangements within a society.

Cultural researcher Raymond Williams wrote in 1958 that culture is a "set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs." A 2002 article by the United Nations agency UNESCO quotes this definition and agrees with it. But as far back as 1871, Sir Edward B. Tylor referred to culture as "civilization" saying that it is a "complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." Many people view the latter as the more suitable definition.

Another view of culture includes the three elements, values, norms and artifacts. Values reflect ideas on what is important in life. They are the foundation for all else in a culture. Norms are the expected and accepted ways that people behave in a culture, and sanctions enforce norms. Artifacts are a culture’s material items, generally studied by archeologists.
Cultures, by their very nature, embrace and resist change. Cultural change can arise from environment, due to inventions and other influences, or as a result of contact with other cultures. In diffusion, a physical form is transferred to another culture without the meaning being transferred. For example, when hamburgers reached Asia, they were considered an exotic food. The diffusions of innovations theory explains why cultures adopt new practices, ideas and products. And a bleak example of acculturation can be seen in the story of the American Indians, who were forced to be home-dwellers when their entire cultures were based on their nomadic traits.
When a person adapts to a new culture, it is called assimilation. Cultural change, for the individual or an entire society, is one of the most stressful of all human experiences. This underscores how pivitol culture really is to our personal identities and psychological foundation.
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation technologies and services, mass migration and the movement of peoples, a level of economic activity that has outgrown national markets through industrial combinations and commercial groupings that cross national frontiers, and international agreements that reduce the cost of doing business in foreign countries
Social transformation is a reciprocal relationship in which people have to be embraced and correctly identified with the cultural expectations of their particular class membership. This is the only way that persons can move from their own ascribed status to a new achieved status.
Social transformation are such when they sustain over time where attitudes and values are held in a completely new context (or paradigm) based upon different assumptions and beliefs.
One definition of Social transformation is the process by which an individual alters the socially ascribed social status of their parents into a socially achieved status for themselves. However another definition refers to large scale social change as in cultural reforms or transformations. Social transformation is related to dissociation between ground qualities (natural living, participant consciousness, community, and equality) and emergent qualities of (technology, reflexive consciousness, and social structure); the emergent qualities have suppressed the ground qualities.
Studying social transformation means examining the different ways in which globalizing forces impact upon local communities and national societies with highly-diverse historical experiences, economic and social patterns, political institutions and cultures.
If current way of doing something isn’t working, and when this becomes apparent to enough people, alternatives will be sought and taken seriously. This can happen in any area—social structure, technology, or consciousness. This is especially likely to occur in a crisis. People may choose an alternative simply because it offers a better way for them personally or for their business, or they may also realize that it is necessary for societal reasons. Change is most likely to start with a small group of people doing something in a new way, and then gradually spread to other groups and then hopefully to the whole society. This usually happens through a social movement, though the movement may not be explicitly related to social change.
We may have in mind the ‘great transformation (Polanyi 1944) in western societies brought about by industrialization and modernization, or more recent changes linked to decolonization, nation-state formation and economic development in the Asia Pacific region.

The idea of development is the most recent stage of the Enlightenment notion of human progress as a continual process of internal and external expansion based on values of rationality, secularity and efficiency. Internal expansion refers to economic growth, industrialization, improved administration, government based not on divine right but on competence and popular consent–in short to the development of the modern capitalist nation-state. External expansion refers to European colonization of the rest of the world, with the accompanying diffusion of western values, institutions and technologies. Modernity had the military and economic power to eliminate all alternatives, and the ideological strength to claim a right to a universal civilising mission. The most obvious reason why modernity is coming to an end is that its core principle–continual expansion–has become unviable:

1.      There are no significant new territories to colonize or integrate into the world economy;
2.      Human activity now has global environmental consequences;
3.      Weapons of mass destruction threaten global destruction;
4.      The economy and communications systems are organized on a global level;
5.      Global reflexivity is developing: people and groups of all kinds refer to the globe — not the local community or the nation-state — as the frame for their beliefs and action; and
6.      New forms of resistance that refuse to accept the universality of western values are becoming increasingly significant

Development was a question of instilling the ‘right’ orientations–values and norms–in the cultures of the non-Western world so as to enable its people to partake in the modern wealth-creating economic and political institutions of the advanced West.

Social transformation should not be defined simply as a negation of something else.

Social transformation studies do imply a rejection of some central assumptions of development studies. The very notion of development often implies a teleological belief in progression towards a pre-fixed goal: the type of economy and society to be found in the ‘highly-developed’ western countries. Social transformation, by contrast, does not imply any predetermined outcome, nor that the process is essentially a positive one.

Social transformation can be seen as the antithesis of globalization. I mean this in the dialectical sense that social transformation is both an integral part of globalization and a process that undermines its central ideologies. Focusing on the social upheavals which inevitably accompany economic globalization can lead to a more critical assessment. Trends towards economic and cultural globalization accelerated, largely due to the information technology revolution. The structure and control mechanisms of global markets changed rapidly. The new media allowed an increasingly rapid diffusion of cultural values based on an idealized US consumer society. A leap in military technology shifted the global balance of power to the United States and its allies. Globalization and industrial re-structuring also led to marginalization, impoverishment and social exclusion for large numbers of people in both the older industrial countries and the rest of the world, undermining the supposed dichotomy between developed and underdeveloped economies.

Today Social transformation affects all types of society in both developed and less-developed regions, in the context of globalization of economic and cultural relations, trends towards regionalization, and the emergence of various forms of global governance. Any analysis of social transformation therefore requires analysis both of macro-social forces and of local traditions, experiences and identities.

It is essential to understand social transformation studies as a field of research that can lead to positive recipes for social and political action to protect local and national communities against negative consequences of global change.

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