WEEK ONE Assignment questions below:
PERSONALLY ABOUT SOCIAL CHANGE Think about change in a group, organization, or community with which you are familiar (for example, any group or organization in a work place, high school, sports organization, small town or suburb). Ideally, it should be one you know pretty well, yet one that is large enough to be composed of a variety of different people. Now, think about that change in terms of the causal imagery of social change from functionalist, conflict, and interpretive perspectives. Two of these are macro theories, and you cant precisely apply them to micro situations. But we think you can get a sense of how they depict change, even by looking at a small piece of the world that you are familiar with.
Here are some leading questions: 1. Can you see any evidence that the social system you are thinking about changed in order to survive in the environment of other such systems? Were there changes in functional requirements (requisites), like having enough people to keep going, getting economic resources, struggling to maintain orderly relationships between people or factions, or struggling with enough agreement about what the system is for? How did the group or organization get people to conform and participate, even when sometimes they didn’t want to?
2. Thinking about the same social setting, what people or factions instigated those changes? Were they explained to people as being necessary, or were they simply changes instigated by the power or authority of those persons? Which people or kinds of people benefited most directly from the changes? Did other people or factions resist those suggestions and make contrary arguments? Did people or factions grumble and comply without voicing any opinions? Why? Did anyone argue against making changes? Whose ideas were ignored or given less weight? What kinds of skills, resources, or interpersonal connections did the people whose ideas were implemented have? What do your answers illustrate to you about power, conflict, and social change?
3. Thinking about the same social setting, how do the ideas about reality, definitions of things, and values about what is desirable affect what they decided to do or what was imposed on them? How did they modify these ideas as they struggled with changes, either the ones they wanted, or the ones imposed on them? How did such efforts illustrate how people negotiate the meanings of change in everyday life and larger realms? How did these changing ideas and definitions of the situation themselves shape what people did from there on?
4. Can you see changes deriving from or emerging from existing and historical circumstances? What circumstances? Was change happening because of circumstances beyond the control of the group or organization in your example? But wait. Were some changes instigated by forceful personalities or by persons with special experience or insight? How did what they did relate to circumstances? What do your answers illustrate about the interplay of structure and human agency as causes of change?