SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CHANGE
Although we know a good deal about the conditions and processes of change, we have no satisfactory explanation of why change occurs, Possibly the explanation lies in the human capacity for becoming bored. Most of the higher species, whenever not hunting, eating, or mating, simply go to sleep-as much as twenty hours a day. Humans cannot sleep that much, and human boredom may be the true cause of social change [Hirschman, 1982]. Another answer is simply to assume that change is a constant in the universe, which needs no explanation. A constant is something which is always present. Populations .grow and decline; fashions come and go; mountains are pushed upward and erode away; even the sun is gradually burning itself out. No society exactly copies and'transmits the culture to each new generation. This is shown by language changes. English has changed. so greatly that most students have their troubles with Shakespeare and are hopelessly lost in Chaucer. In 1755 Samuel Johnson published his dictionary in the hope that it would stabilize word meanings and stop language changes but soon confessed that he had failed. · None of the historic efforts to protect a culture from change or "foreign influences" has succeeded for very long. Social and cultural change is continuous and irresistible. Only its speed and direction vary. There is a distinction between social change changes in the social structure and social relationships of a society and cultural change change in the culture of a society. Somesocial changes might include changes in the age distribution, average educational level, or birthrate of a population, or the decline of informality and personal neighborliness as people shift from village to city; or the change in the relationship between workers and employers when unions become organized; or the change of the husband from the boss to a partner in today's democratic family. Cultural changes might include such things as the invention and popularization of the automobile the addition of new words to our language; changing concepts of propriety and morality; new forms of music, art, or dance or the general trend toward sex equality. Yet the concepts overlap. The and toward sex
equality involves both a changing set of cultural norms concerning male and female roles and some changing social relationships as well. Nearly all important changes involve both social and cultural aspcts. In practice, therefore the distinction is seldom a very important one, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Sometimes the term horticultural change is used to include changes of both kinds.
There is an important distinction between social change and progress. The term "progress" arries a value judgment. Progress means change in a desirable direction, Desirable as measured by whose values? Are taller buildings, higher incomes; or easy divorce and abortion desirable? Not all Americans are agreed. Since progress Is an evaluative term, soda! scientists prefer the neutrally descriptive term "change