Essay on Social Changes Worldwide

Different societies and the influence of traditions

Different standards, customs, beliefs, and traditions are linked to different societies. These are typically the underlying ideas that provide rules on how members of a community should act or go about particular tasks. Most of the time, civilizations follow and respect their traditions in order to maintain their social standing. America used to be populated by several groups of people from various cultural backgrounds. Every group adhered to its culture to the letter and did not want it to disappear. Native Americans were one of these groups. They are distinguished from the competition by their distinctive institutional structure and culture. They primarily resided in California. Before their interaction with the Europeans, they lived in peace and strictly observed their culture. However, social change is sometimes inevitable. This involves the change concerning how communities or groups of people carry out their activities as well as their beliefs, traditions, and culture. It is commonly referred to as the change in the social structure of a given society. There are three major concepts associated with social change: worldview, institutional differentiation, and cultural differentiation. The concept of worldview can be defined as the mental framework within which people see and interpret nature, laws that govern human relationships, and purpose and nature of human life. Cultural differentiation refers to the differences in culture among various groups of people. In most cases, culture involves religious practices, traditions, and customs. Lastly, institutional differentiation deals with the various institutions that are associated with a given group of people. They include courts, governments, kinship, and economic institutions. These are very important in defining the social status of a given community.

Worldviews and social change

People have different worldviews. This is despite the fact that some may not be aware of them. Worldviews shape how individuals perceive, understand, interpret, and even respond to the realities surrounding them. It means that worldviews determine how we think and make judgments on what we see to be normal or abnormal. Native communities are recognized for their powerful views of human relations and community. The American Indian societies in California viewed things in their own way. They settled in the area a long time ago, and since then, their culture has been changing slowly. Most of these changes occurred in the colonial times. Some of the changes were implemented through force while others were consensual. It is clear that for better implementation, a change needs to be self-directed and accepted by the people. Considering the concept of worldview, there are different Native American religions with different views concerning sacred objects, rituals, creation stories, and particular relations with the sacred. The American Indians have various beliefs, understanding and cultural norms which are essential in defining their culture and how they view things. Considering what the culture of Native Americans, it has similarities with Weber’s argument of Calvinist doctrines. Some of the major arguments by Weber which can be compared with those of Native Americans include an emphasis on other-worldliness, a radical dualism of this-worldliness and other-worldliness, individual salvation, God’s will, and guilt and sin. There are so many bases on which the analysis of American Indian culture can be analyzed. However, here, the important aspects that will be considered are the ones associated with cultural orientation and which push for change and innovation, or those that motivate strict adherence and commitment to a given culture.

Native American culture and worldview

American Indians worldviews contain some radical dualism or its denigration of this world. They view the world as a primary world given to us as a gift from the Creator. Despite the suffering, deaths, and hunger, the Native Americans held ceremonies that were meant to offer thanks for various achievements. Those who did not attend such ceremonies would no longer enjoy the favors as well as protection from the Creator. Instead, they would be met with misfortunes such as deaths, diseases, injuries and much more. The culture also advocates for peaceful coexistence among creatures living in the universe. Thus, only animals and plants that are necessary for human subsistence should be harvested. As such, there are strong incentives that are aimed at encouraging people to strictly uphold the sacred law, traditional law, and community norms. In most Indian cultures, institutional orders are viewed as being sacred and have to be respected. Indians are very conservative and are not motivated to control, dominate, or implement changes in this-worldly ceremonies, cultural organization, or institutions. They are guided by various norms and traditions which make then respect the world as a gift from the Creator, and thus, show respect through neglecting any possible changes. Even when Europeans invaded the country and tried to force some changes in the lives of the American Indians, they remained stubborn and strictly upheld their culture.

Cultural differentiation and its impact on change

Culture differentiation is another important concept in analyzing social changes. It involves the analysis of culture and whether any change can be implemented in the culture of a given community. Culture differentiation involves specialization and autonomy of cultural elements such as morality, religion, causality, art, and ceremony. According to the concept, when the cultural elements are less differentiated, the cultural change is inhibited and is not likely to occur. It means that greater differentiation gives room for more changes and creativity to take place. When the cultural elements are undifferentiated, it means that morality, religion, causality, ceremony, and art are fused together. They cannot be differentiated which means that it is difficult to focus on one element and probably try to change it. On the other hand, when they are highly differentiated, they tend to be distinct from one another. This makes it easy to implement a social change to such a community. For the American Indians, their religion involves upholding high moral values. Also, there are several ceremonies in their culture. Most of them are associated with their religion. For instance, thanksgiving ceremonies which are conducted to give room for appreciating for various achievements. Every individual is expected to attend such ceremonies. Those who do not attend are viewed as traitors and may lose the protection and favors from their Creator. The Indian religion also advocates for morality. This means that the cultural elements are less differentiated, hence making implementation of a change difficult.

Institutional differentiation and its role in social change

Institutional differentiation involves means of conceptualizing relations among major societal institutions which include economy, polity, culture, and community. Most social institutions are interrelated to some extent. However, some of the institutional relations are prone to changes more than others. According to the theory, the institutional orders that are highly differentiated, those in which economy, polity, culture, and community are relatively specialized have a greater tendency to change and adaptation than those which have less differentiation. These are the ones in which there is overlapping of institutions and less autonomous from one another. Also, they are associated with less specialization. In other words, undifferentiated cultures will have the less general capacity to generate change. Differentiation in institutions involves specialization and autonomy of major institutions such as economy, culture, polity, and community. Culture involves theater, religions, ethics, art, and physics. Polity deals with legislative, judiciary, local civil society, executive, and political community. Community involves norms, citizenship, and nuclear families. Then lastly, the economy is associated with labor, retail, capitalism, markets, manufacturing, wholesale, and service sector. These are the major institutions in various societies. In the American Indians, the institutions were similar to the ones listed above. Concerning the economy, they participated in various economic activities, mainly business. They had shops, both retail and wholesales which were outlets for various goods. They respected and observed the rule of law. They respected the various arms of the government and value order in their lives. They are associated with clans and kinship which makes them be divided into several groups with slightly different views. Regarding culture, they strictly observed their religious beliefs and moral values. Even though they worshiped different gods, the American Indians’ worldview was similar, and they viewed the world as a gift from the Creator. Their institutional differentiation was less, and this is why there was less capacity to change. However, with the invasion of the Europeans, some changes were implemented.


In conclusion, social changes are determined by various factors. They include worldview, institutional differentiation, and cultural differentiation. Worldview involves how different people or groups view the world, think, and view human life. Cultural differentiation involves specialization and autonomy of cultural elements. Less differentiation leads to resistance to change. On the other hand, institutional differentiation consists of specialization and autonomy of various institutions. When they are highly differentiated, there is a higher capacity of implementing social change. American Indians are strict to their worldview and differentiation in their culture and institutions is less. This makes it difficult to implement social changes. However, the conservative argument fails to critically analyze each element separately and the possibility of a change.


Champagne, Social Change pp. 9-24,

Trafzer, San Manuel, pp. 15-37.

Champagne, Social Change, pp. 221-251.

Bean, Native Californians, pp. 407-420.

Champagne, Social Order, Chapters 1 & 2.

Champagne, Social Change, pp. 25-44, 242-284.

Champagne, Social Change, pp. 66-106.

Bean Native Californians, pp. 19-48.

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