Sociology and Social Change

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SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIAL CHANGE "The air does not cease to have weight," writes Durkheim, "although we no longer feel that weight."(1) The point is, of course, how do we know that there is that thing called "air" out there if we do not feel its presence? What Durkheim was interested to show, indeed, was that those elements of reality that he came to call social facts(2) were out there, regardless of whether the individuals felt their presence or not. Actually, the individuals are almost never aware of the compelling presence of those social facts, which they have a tendency to take for granted. Sometimes, however, social facts appear unmistakably to the individual who is not even trained sociologically to discover that which is not so…show more content…
The object of Weber's study of history has been the tracing of the process of rationalization of human life. His model of social change entails a multidimensional triumph of reason, which slowly came to pervade every area of social life in the Occident and which has led to the disenchantment of the World, the fall from grace of magic, tradition, charisma, and affectivity in the legitimation of authority and wisdom. Social change, thus, was at the core of the foundation of sociology as a discipline. The preoccupation with social change, moreover, prompted the early sociologists to conceive of developmental schemes to account for the transformation of society. We should bear in mind that the impressive advances of biology during the 19th Century, coupled with the impact of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, must have paved the way for the conception of society as an entity that goes through a succession of developmental stages. For a while, the developmental approach to the study of social change was circumscribed to the analysis of the Western European nations in which sociology was founded -namely, Germany, France, and England. Later on, however, development studies also came to mean the contrasting analyses of
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