Attitudes and Values Sociology Help

Attitudes and Values

To us change is normal, and most Westerners pride themselves upon being progressive and up to date. Children in Western societies are socialized to anticipate and appreciate change. By contrast, the Trobriand Islanders off the coast of New Guinea had no concept of change and did not even have any words in their :~ngum C!l nge [Lee, 1959, 'pp. 89 easterners tried to explain the concept ot Change, the  slanders could not understand what they were talking about. Society obviously differ -greatly in their general"-attitude toward change. A people who revere the past, worship their  ancestors, honor and obey th ir elders, and are preoccupied with traditions and rituals will change slowly and unwillingly. When a culture has been relatively static for a long time, the people are likely to assume that it should remain so indefinitely. They are intensely and unconsciously ethnocentric; they assume that their customs and techniques are correct and everlasting. A possible change is unlikely even to be seriously considered. Any change in such a society is likely to be too gradual to be noticed. A rapidly changing society has a different attitude toward change, and this attitude is both cause and effect of the changes already taking place. Rapidly changing societies are aware of social change. They are somewhat skeptical and critical of some parts of their traditional culture and will consider and experiment with innovations. Such attitudes powerfully stimulate the proposal and ac acceptance of changes by individuals within the society. Different groups within a locality or a society may show differing receptivity to change. Every changing society has its liberals and its conservatives. Uterate and educated people tend to accept changes more readily than the illiterate and uneducated [Nwosu, 1971;Waisanen and Kumata, 1972]. The Amish in the United States have resisted change of ready every kind except, sometimes, in farming techniques. Although the Amish may never have he rd of the "integration of culture," they realize that if their young people had easy access to movies, television, motorcycles, and fast .Iood, their traditional values wouldsoon fade. " A group may be highly receptive to changes of one kind and resistant  o changes of other kinds. The Amish quickly accepted new farming procedures (seeds" crop breeds, crop rotation, field management), slowly accepted  new farm machinery, and rejected practically all new consumer products. Many religious group readily accept new church architecture  but not new religious doctrines. Some changes are more threatening to a group's major values than are other changes. Attitudes and values affect both the amount and the direction of social change. The ancient Greeks made great contributions to art and l earning but contributed little to technology.Work  was done by slaves; to concern oneself with a slave's work was no proper task for a Greek scholar. No society has been equally dynamic in all aspects, and its values determine in which area-art, music, warfare, technology, philosophy, or religion-it will be innovative.

Perceived Needs

A society's rate and direction of change are greatly affected by the needs its members perceive. "Needs" are subjective; they are real if people feel that they are real. In many underdeveloped and malnourished parts of the world, people not only have objective needs for more food, they also need different foods, especially vegetables and legumes. Agricultural changes which bring more food are more readily accepted than those bringing different foods, for which they feel TlO need  Arens berg and Nieho"ff, 1971, p. 155]. Until people feel a need, they resist change; only
the perceived needs of a society count. Some practical inventions languish until the society discovers a need for them. The zipper fastener was invented in 1891 but ignored for a quarter century. The pneumatic tire was invented and patented by Thompson in 1845 but was ignored until the popularity. of. the bicycle created an awareness of need for it; then it was reinvented by Dunlop in  1888.It is often stated that changing conditions
create new needs--genuine, objective needs not just subjectively "felt" needs. Thus, urbanization created a need for sanitary engineering; the modern factory system created a need for labor unions; and the high-speed
automobile created a need for superhighways. A culture is integrated, and, therefore, changes in one part of the culture create a need for adaptive changes in related parts of  the culture.It is doubtless true that failure to recognize an objective need may have unpleasant consequences. For centuries, sickness and death  were the price of our ancestors' failure torecognize that urban growth made sewers ne essary. A more recent failure to recognize that death control creates a need for birth control has brought half the world to the brink of starvation. All this does not alter the
fact that it is only those "needs" which are perceived as needs which stimulate innovation and social change. The concept of perceived need as herein outlined is largely a functionalist concept. Functionalists see many "needs" as objective

Posted on September 4, 2014 in SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CHANGE

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