In my posts about the environment, technology, art, and other topics, I am yet to come across a simpler and more misunderstood phrase than ‘social change’. So, I am going to cover what this term means and why it is important to pay attention to it and respond.
Social change refers to the transformation of culture, behavior, social institutions, and social structure over time. Or, at least, that is how it’s usually defined. In simple terms, social change covers any, well, social change. Any time a relationship between people shifts, or when there is a change in how we interact with each other, there is social change.
Consider women’s right to vote. That was one of the rights gained through social movements. The same applies to things like same-sex marriage, acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, ending segregation, fighting racism, and even some things that we take for granted today.
For example, the term spinster was almost a slur and denoted (and in places, still does) a woman who is not married and has, in the eyes of the local community, wasted her life. However, spinsters were originally women who refused to be financially dependent on the men of their community, spinning and knitting to make money and take care of themselves. While this was looked down upon in the past, women today are praised for their entrepreneurship. Furthermore, many of us realized that women are equal to and, in some aspects, better than men. This is one instance of a good social change.
Why Is This Important?
Don’t think about the moral high-ground. Nothing is absolute and societal values are prone to change every so often. What was once an abomination or social suicide is now accepted and welcomed and vice-versa. There is no telling what the future will bring. That is, unless we follow the shifts.
Social change is important as it can change the way societies function on a fundamental level. Issues of science, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and the preferred economic system then become more prominent and no-one wants to be on the losing side. Actually, it would be fairer to say that we all believe to be in the right.
The point is that change is not inherently good or bad. It is the motives and the end result of the societal change that make it beneficial or detrimental. Every social change has its warriors who believe to fight for the greater good. It is up to each individual to judge the situation and take a stand or plan their future accordingly.
How To Recognize a Social Change
The most reliable and the riskiest way of recognizing a social change (apart from those in your immediate area) is to discover it in the media. I say the riskiest because many of us are locked in a tight circle of friends and acquaintances and refuse new information that may upset the status quo. This is what’s known as an echo-chamber and new info rarely gets in.
However, if you need to see which way the wind blows, it is useful to look at social media profiles and ad campaigns of big brands. They might not generally support causes and movements through and through, but they may show a token of acceptance to draw in a new customer base. They are good indicators of public opinion on a topic.