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Social Change and the Environment
Chapter Review

      How Social Change Transforms Society

      What major trends have transformed the course of human history?

      The primary changes in human history are the four social revolutions (domestication, agriculture, industrialization, and information); the change from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft societies; capitalism and industrialization; modernization; and global stratification. Social movements indicate cutting edges of social change. Ethnic conflicts threaten the global divisions G7 is working out. We may also be on the cutting edge of a new bioeconomy. Pp. 666–670.

      Theories and Processes of Social Change

      Besides technology, capitalism, modernization, and so on, what other theories of social change are there?

      Evolutionary theories presuppose that societies move from the same starting point to some similar ending point. Unilinear theories, which assume the same path for everyone, were replaced with multilinear theories, which assume that different paths lead to the same stage of development. In cyclical theories, civilizations are viewed as going through a process of birth, youth, maturity, decline, and death. Conflict theorists view social change as inevitable, for each thesis (basically an arrangement of power) contains an antithesis (contradictions). A new synthesis develops to resolve these contradictions, but it, too, contains contradictions that must be resolved, and so on. This is called a dialectical process. Pp. 670–671.

      What is Ogburn’s theory of social change?

      Ogburn identified technology as the basic cause of social change, which comes through three processes: invention, discovery, and diffusion. The term cultural lag refers to symbolic culture lagging behind changes in technology. Pp. 671–673.

      How Technology Changes Society

      How does new technology affect society?

      Because technology is an organizing force of social life, changes in technology can have profound effects. The computer was used as an extended example. It is changing the way we learn, work, do business, and fight wars. The information superhighway is likely to perpetuate social inequalities on both a national and a global level. Pp. 674–679.

      The Growth Machine Versus the Earth

      What are the environmental problems of the Most Industrialized Nations?

      The environmental problems of the Most Industrialized Nations range from smog and acid rain to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect may cause global warming that will fundamentally affect our lives. Burning fossil fuels in internal combustion engines lies at the root of many environmental problems. It is in the interest of the oil companies to keep the internal combustion engine dominant, but alternatives are on the way. Due to the location of factories and hazardous waste sites, environmental problems have a greater impact on minorities and the poor. Pp. 680–683.

      What are the environmental problems of the Industrializing and Least Industrialized Nations?

      The worst environmental problems are found in the former Soviet Union, a legacy of the unrestrained exploitation of resources by the Communist party. The rush of the Least Industrialized Nations to industrialize is adding to our environmental decay. The world is facing a conflict between the lust for profits through the exploitation of the earth’s resources and the need to produce a sustainable environment. P. 683.

      What is the environmental movement?

      The environmental movement is an attempt to restore a healthy environment for the world’s people. This global movement takes many forms, from peaceful attempts to influence the political process to ecosabotage. Pp. 683–686.

      What is environmental sociology?

      Environmental sociology is not an attempt to change the environment, but a study of the relationship between humans and the environment. Environmental sociologists are generally also environmental activists. Pp. 686–687.



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