Theories of Social Chang, Dialectic & Cyclic Theory

Sun, 10/14/2012 - 08:45 -- Umar Farooq

Since the dawn of recorded history we find many scholars and social philosophers who made contributions in this field. Keeping aside the versatile ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Hindu, Chinese and Persian scholars there were many intellectuals who appeared after tenth century and tried to explain the phenomenon of social change. Following are the theories of social change

  1. Cyclic Theory of Social Change
  2. Dialectic Theory of Social Change

Cyclic Theory of Social Change

One of the most outstanding supporters of this theory was Ibn-e-Khaldun, a product of Muslim Spain. He propounded that the changes in human society follow the clockwise pattern and this circle is repeated after about 120 years in the same society: He observed that there are fixed definite clear and standardized stages in this cycle. These stages are growth, development and decay each having the age of 40 years. The characteristics of each stage are discussed as follows.

Also Read:      Sources of Social Change      Social Mobility Definition & Types      Planning Social Change

First Stage of Cyclic Theory

The society is in the stage of growth, the individuals are not fully united and the creative leadership is emerging. The people have primary group relations in most of their daily situations. There is no regular military force and an established state. There is solidarity and unity among the members of society.

Second Stage of Cyclic Theory

At the second stage of development Ibn-e-­Khaldun says that society becomes stronger in economic, political, social and in such other fields. The population is not a liability and there is a strong Government with a well-organized military, force. The society is strong to face any outside aggression, but the people try to extend their political powers over the neighboring societies.

Third Stage of Cyclic Theory

At the third stage Ibn-Khaldun says that the society enters in the process of decaying. The Commoner starts feeling the taxes as burden. And the rulers and chiefs do not have the real political hold over an average person. Thus unity and cohesion are slackened. At this stage the people start thinking individually. There is a decline in all the social institutions of the society. Thus ultimately the societies attain the same position from where it started 120 years back.

Criticism on Cyclic Theory

Following are the main points of the criticism on cyclic theory of social change.

  • Historical facts do not very frequently support the validity of this theory.
  • It is not necessary that every society must face all the three stages with regular time interval.
  • It is an over simplification because human society is not so simple, clear and sure that it should wait for the cyclic change.

Dialectic Theory of Social Change

The dialectic form of social change comes from the Western group and the followers or the founders of this theory are Spencer Karl Marx and Hegel. They were of the view that the change in society follows a set pattern. The pattern involves three concepts which are as follows.

  1. Thesis: Thesis concept is of new ideas or any other novelty in a given society.
  2. Antithesis: Antithesis is any other idea or behavior against thesis in the society which is contract to the thesis.
  3. Synthesis: After a good deal of time with interaction of thesis and antithesis a midway group arises in the society which is called synthesis, the new concept which is extracted of thesis and antithesis. The process of dialectic theory works in every society.

Criticism on Dialectic Theory

The scholars criticized dialectic theory saying that no doubt dialectic theory is comprehensive and explain the phenomenon of social change to a certain extend. But there are certain other factors working for bringing social change in a society. Thus to understand the phenomenon of social change we are supposed to see the factors like time, causes, control and effectiveness of social change which arc difficult to measure with the help of dialectic theory.


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