What are the theories of social change

Social Change Theories

In the following I will deal with two texts that are intended to explain social change. The first is von Geißler, in which he analyzes social change in Germany with the modernization concept.

In this elaboration, I will deal with the question of whether Geißler also takes into account the disadvantages of the modernization theory or of a modern society in his concept, which he himself initially pointed out and whether another theory is better suited to explain the turnaround.

I think this question makes sense because, in my opinion, there is a lot of justified criticism of modernization and I think that when Geissler explains social change in Germany with the concept of modernization, it is important to pay attention to the pitfalls of the theory.

I hardly think it is possible not to idealize the West with its concept.

As a second theory, I have chosen the principle of the “take-off phase” from Walt W. Rostow and will compare it with that of Geißler.

In the following, however, I will first explain Geißler's concept and then criticize it.

First he sheds light on the importance of the modernization concept for explaining social change, but also directly names the disadvantages.

He says that the concept runs the risk of idealizing modern states, and claims that he will still pay attention to these disadvantages and that the theory should therefore be applied to the changes after the fall of the Wall (Handbuch zur Deutschen Einheit 1999: p. 681).

Geissler's most important assertion is that the East, in contrast to the West, is backward in many areas. He describes the arrears in the east as "modernization deficits" and the upheaval as "catching up modernization". He further claims that “the driving force behind modernization is the increase in the performance of a social structure” (ibid., P.681).

He then names the 10 most important deficits, including the “East-West prosperity gap”, meaning that the West is richer than the East, as well as the excessive concentration of power (due to a large power elite, no partial elites could come about, so power was on few people concentrated). In addition, the link between social advancement and political solidarity and the backward service sector. Further deficits are too few self-employed people due to political guidelines and thwarted, highly qualified professional groups. The relaxed work discipline was also deficient. Finally, he mentions the lower life expectancy, the high pressure to emigrate and the poor chance for children from the lower classes to get a university education (ibid., Pp. 682-683).


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