Accordingly, Social Change means the change those results from all changes that take place in human interactions and relationships over a period of time. Pearson views social change as a process of social evolution from simple to a more complex form of society.
He regards changes in adaptation as a major driving force of social change. Human beings are always involved in the process of adaptation along the changes in their natural, social, cultural, economic and political conditions and in the process, social change comes over a period of time.
Maclver and Page have written, Society is a web of social relationships. Social change implies changes in the nature and functioning of these relationships. Since these relationships are based on social norms and values, social change implies changes in social norms, values, structures, institutions, processes, functions, patters of human behaviour conditions of life and the whole social set up. Social change is a very complex phenomenon.
Sociologists are most interested in understanding changes that influence existing patterns of social instructions and relations. They are concerned with changes in values, norms, roles and institutions. All societies evolve and change over a period of time.
Social change is a natural part of the process of human growth and evolution. Several internal and external factors play a major role in this process. Further, the nature of social change can be progressive or regressive, temporary or permanent, planned or unplanned, unidirectional or multi-directional beneficial or harmful. It can be swift radical and revolutionary or a slow, gradual and evolutionary. “The society has to adjust with swift and radical changes, however it easily absorbs the slow and steady changes which keep on coming continuously over time.”
It must be however clearly understood that social change is different from evolution and revolution. It is a very complex and perplexing phenomenon. Sociologists have been advocating several different theories of social change. Let us define social change and discuss the characteristics factors, patterns and theories of social change.