Social Change and Social Order In Rural and Urban Society

Social Change and Social Order In Rural and Urban Society

Question

Describe some kinds of environment-related social change.

Answer
1. Nature, ecology and physical environment : Nature, ecology and the physical environment have always had a significant influence on the structure and shape of society. This was particularly true in the past when human beings were unable to control or overcome the effects of nature. For example, people living in a desert environment were unable to practise settled agriculture of the sort that was possible in the plains, near rivers and so on.

2. Food and Clothes : The kind of food they ate or the clothes they wore the way they earned their livelihood, and their earned their livelihood and their patterns of social interaction were all determined to a large extent by the physical and climatic conditiors of their environment. The same was true for people, living in very cold climates, or in port towns, along major trade routes or mountain passes, or in fertile river valleys.

3. Technological Resources : The extent to which the environment influence society has been decreasing over time with the increase in technological resources. Technology allows up to overcome or adapt to the problems posed by nature, thus reducing the differences between societies living in different sorts of environments. On the other hand, technology also alters nature and our relationship to it in new ways (see the chapter on environment in this book). So it is perhaps more accurate to say that the effect of may have shaped the societies, but how did it play any role in the social change ?

4. Natural Clamaties : The earliest and most powerful answer to this question can be found in natural disasters. Sudden and catastrophic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, or tidal waves (like the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands and parts of Tamil Nadu in December, 2004) can change societies quite drastically. These changes are often irreversible, that is they are permanent and don't allow a return to the way things were.

Examples : For instance,

(a) It is quite possible that many of these whose livelihoods were destroyed by the tsunami will never be able to return to them again, and that many of the coastal villages will have their social structure completely altered.

(b) There are numerous instances of natural disasters leading to a total transformation and sometimes total destruction of societies in history.

5. Ecological Factors : Environmental or ecological factors need not only be destructive to cause change, they can be constructive as well. A good example is the discovery of oil in the desert regions of West Asia (also called the Middle East).

6. Like the discovery of gold in California in the 19th century transformed the societies in which they are found. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates would be very different today without their oil wealth.

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