Differences between “Social Change” and “Social Progress”–Explained

It is retrogressive when it leads to downfall, setback or retardation or degradation of society. Sometimes, change can be upward and sometimes downward. If social change comes through planning, it can lead to progress, but if it is brought by some destruction or war, it is always harmful for the society.

(2) According to Giddings, the difference between social progress and social change is that progress is planned, while social change can be planned as well as unplanned. It is believed that progress cannot exist without substantial and proper planning.

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According to Hobbhouse, Social progress consists in the realization of ethical order in society. He even believed that only moral development leads to social progress. But in case of social change, it may lead to the development of moral values or a degeneration of moral values.

(3) According to R.M. Maclver, progress is a vague term and hence cannot be defined. It cannot be stated precisely as to which should be the criterion of progress. There are some social thinkers, who are of the opinion that social progress can be explained from the stand­point of economic progress. However, some others go to the extent of saying that economic progress can never be equated with social progress. In this way, we find that a change which is regarded to be progress by a few persons or by a group may be regarded as downfall of society by others.

(4) In contemporary times, while some people say that society is progressing, some others say that it is going from bad to worse. Therefore, the term ‘progress’ cannot be fully defined and we cannot decide unanimously whether a society is progressing or not.

However in case of social change, this is not a big problem. Any change, whether it is regarded as bad or good constitutes a change in social relations. In other words, there is little confusion or controversy regarding the nature of social change.

Moreover, social change includes social progress within itself. Some social scientist like Ward, believe that social change should be fully planned, should be equated with social progress.