6 Important Examples Of Social Change Defined

Social Change, in simple terms, means problem-solving on a large scale. There are many ways to achieve social change, but picking the proper method is key to moving society forward.

Characteristics Of Social Change

It would be best if you had a technical understanding and examples of different social change theories to digest these ideas’ impact on the world. Then you can make the most informed decision on whether to take the call to action.

The following is a list of what you will learn from this article:

  • What Social Change Means
  • The Different Types of Social Change
  • Social Change Examples
  • Theories Of Social Change

What is Social Change

Social change refers to the alteration of social institutions or structures. It can be slow or rapid, depending on the agents involved and the methods used to bring about change.

Social Change Definition

We define Social change as any process that brings about societal transformation. It often gets used in activism, where activists try to bring about an immediate or gradual change in public policy or social attitudes.

There are three essential elements to social change:

  • A problem or need that needs to get solved
  • Solutions or responses to the problem
  • The ability to mobilize people and resources to implement the solutions

The most common goal is not just reform but fundamental changes such as structural changes within institutions or systemic economic shifts from capitalism to socialism.

Related: Activism Meaning

Importance Of Social Change

The importance of social change cannot be overstated. It is essential for the progress of society as a whole and for the individual members of that society. It allows for new ideas and perspectives to be brought to the table and can help improve the overall quality of life for everyone involved.

Sources Of Social Change

There are many sources of social change. Some of the most common include economic recession or expansion and policy changes. Each of these can significantly impact how people live their lives and interact with each other.

An economic recession can change how people spend their money and how they view the future.

A change in government policy can impact the way people are taxed and their services. All of these factors can contribute to social change.

Types Of Social Change

There are four types of social change: evolutionary, revolutionary, paradigm shift, and holistic.


Evolutionary social change is gradual and takes place over a long period. It originates from the idea of progress, where society moves forward in small steps.

This type of social change gets often led by reformers who work within the existing system to make incremental improvements.

Evolutionary social change happens when new ideas and technologies are adopted, and new ones replace the old ways of doing things.


Revolutionary social change is fast and dramatic, based on the idea of rupture, where society completely breaks with the past and starts over from scratch.

This change starts with radicals who challenge the existing system and propose new ways.

Revolutionary social change happens when there is a complete breakdown in the social order, and people must develop new solutions.

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm shift social change is also fast and dramatic, but it is not as violent as revolutionary social change. It centers on the idea of transformation, where society undergoes a fundamental transformation in its operations.

This type of change gets led by visionaries who propose new ways of looking at the world. Paradigm shift social change happens when there is a significant shift in the way people think about things and adopt new ideas and technologies.


Holistic social change is slow and evolutionary, like evolutionary social change, but it centers on the idea of wholeness, where society considers the needs of all its members.

This type of social change gets done by activists who work to create a more just and equitable world.

Holistic social change happens when society adopts new values that promote equity and justice for all.

Theories Of Social Change

Social change in sociology is achieved through theories such as The Conflict Theory, the Functionalist Theory, and the Social Movement Theory.


The Conflict Theory states that society constantly conflicts as different groups compete for scarce resources.

The winners of this competition are those who have power and wealth.

This theory explains why poverty exists and how inequality gets maintained in society.


The Functionalist Theory states that society is a complex system that works like an organism.

Each part of society performs a specific function; when it does not function properly, the community falls apart.

This theory explains why social institutions such as family, education, and government exist.

Movement Theory

The Social Movement Theory states that social change happens when people come together to fight for change.

This theory explains the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, and the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement.

Related: Grassroots Activism Examples

Social Change Examples

More attention has focused on climate change and gender equality in recent years.

More people speak out against injustices and meet these challenges head-on, from the Women’s March to Black Lives Matter. Students have started movements like “March for Our Lives” to protest gun violence.

Parents have taken on poverty and education inequity issues by organizing groups like “Parent 2 Parent.”

These social change examples have shown us just how much ordinary power citizens can wield when they band together to work for something greater than themselves.

Examples Of Social Change In Education

Social change in education is often driven by public pressure and political action. For example, campaigns for abolishing corporal punishment in schools were operated by public outrage at the physical mistreatment of children.

The introduction of free school meals responded to growing concerns about child poverty. The raising of the school leaving age responded to the increasing importance of education in the modern world.

Factors Of Social Change

Social change factors include technological advances, the rise of new leaders, and natural disasters. Each of these can significantly impact how a society functions and cause it to change in meaningful ways.


One of the most significant factors of social change is technological advances. As new technologies are developed, they often profoundly impact people’s lives and work.

For example, the development of new transportation technologies like cars and airplanes has led to a massive increase in the amount of travel and trade around the world.

Similarly, the development of new communication technologies like the telephone and the internet has dramatically impacted how people interact with each other.


The rise of new leaders is another essential factor of social change. When new leaders come to power, they often bring new ideas about how society should function.

This can significantly change how a society is organized and run.

For example, the rise of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in the twentieth century led to significant changes in how their respective countries were governed.


Natural disasters can also have a significant impact on social change. A major disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake can often lead to widespread damage and death.

This can cause people to lose faith in their government or other institutions and can significantly change how a society functions.

Related: Activism Quotes

Social Change Quotes

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.

Karl Marx

All social progress is based on the realization that it is not shameful to be human.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead


Social change is a process of problem-solving that happens on a large scale. Social change gets achieved through different theories such as The Conflict Theory, the Functionalist Theory, and the Social Movement Theory.

Whichever theory you choose, it is vital to understand the definition of social change and its impact on society.


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