Curvilinear relationship sociology definition of social status

Curvilinear principle - Wikipedia

curvilinear relationship sociology definition of social status

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The transformation of medieval society into the Western nations of the 20th century may be conceived in terms of several interconnected long-term one-directional changes. Some of the more important of these changes include commercialization, increasing division of labour, growth of production, formation of nation-states, bureaucratization, growth of technology and science, secularization, urbanizationspread of literacy, increasing geographic and social mobilityand growth of organizations.

Many of these changes have also occurred in non-Western societies. Most changes did not originate in the West, but some important changes did, such as the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism.

Types of Relationships

These changes subsequently had a strong impact on non-Western societies. Additionally, groups of people outside western Europe have been drawn into a global division of labour, with Western nation-states gaining dominance both politically and economically. The extent to which these changes are part of a global long-term social development is the central question of social evolution. Although knowledge concerning this question is far from complete, some general trends may be hypothesized.

One trend is seen in the technological innovations and advances in scientific knowledge that have harnessed natural forces for the satisfaction of human needs.

curvilinear relationship sociology definition of social status

Among these innovations were the use of fire, the cultivation of plants, the domestication of animals dating from about bcethe use of metals, and the process of industrialization. These long-term developments, combined with long-term capital accumulation, led to rising production and paved the way for population growth and increasing population density.

Energy production and consumption grew, if not per capita, then at least per square mile. Another trend stems from production methods based on the division of labour and social differentiation. The control of natural forces, and the ensuing social progress, was achieved only by utilizing the division of labour—and the corresponding specialization of knowledge—to raise productivity beyond natural limits.

One consequence of this growth of productivity and technological innovationhowever, was social differentiation. More people, in other words, could specialize in activities that were not immediately necessary for survival. Growth in the size and density of populations and increases in social differentiation heightened the interdependence of more and more people over longer distances.

In hunting-and-gathering societies people were strongly interdependent within their small bands, depending on very little from outside their groups. They have had the tendency, however, to spread whenever they occurred. For example, once the set of transformations known as the agrarian revolution had taken place anywhere in the world, their extension over the rest of the world was predictable. Societies that adopted these innovations grew in size and became more powerful. As a consequence, other societies had only three options: Something similar might be said of the Industrial Revolution and other power-enhancing innovations, such as bureaucratization and the introduction of more destructive weapons.

The example of weapons illustrates that these transformational processes should not be equated with progress in general. Explanations of social change One way of explaining social change is to show causal connections between two or more processes.

This may take the form of determinism or reductionismboth of which tend to explain social change by reducing it to one supposed autonomous and all-determining causal process. A more cautious assumption is that one process has relative causal priority, without implying that this process is completely autonomous and all-determining.

What follows are some of the processes thought to contribute to social change. Natural environment Changes in the natural environment may result from climatic variations, natural disasters, or the spread of disease. For example, both worsening of climatic conditions and the Black Death epidemics are thought to have contributed to the crisis of feudalism in 14th-century Europe.

Changes in the natural environment may be either independent of human social activities or caused by them. Deforestation, erosion, and air pollution belong to the latter category, and they in turn may have far-reaching social consequences.

Demographic processes Population growth and increasing population density represent demographic forms of social change. Population growth may lead to geographic expansion of a society, military conflicts, and the intermingling of cultures. Increasing population density may stimulate technological innovations, which in turn may increase the division of labour, social differentiation, commercialization, and urbanization. This sort of process occurred in western Europe from the 11th to the 13th century and in England in the 18th century, where population growth spurred the Industrial Revolution.

On the other hand, population growth may contribute to economic stagnation and increasing povertyas may be witnessed in several Third World countries today. Technological innovations Several theories of social evolution identify technological innovations as the most important determinants of societal change. Such technological breakthroughs as the smelting of iron, the introduction of the plow in agriculture, the invention of the steam engineand the development of the computer have had lasting social consequences.

Economic processes Technological changes are often considered in conjunction with economic processes. These include the formation and extension of markets, modifications of property relations such as the change from feudal lord-peasant relations to contractual proprietor-tenant relationsand changes in the organization of labour such as the change from independent craftsmen to factories. Historical materialismas developed by Marx and Engels, is one of the more prominent theories that gives priority to economic processes, but it is not the only one.

Indeed, materialist theories have even been developed in opposition to Marxism. Ideas Other theories have stressed the significance of ideas as causes of social change.

Weber regarded religious ideas as important contributors to economic development or stagnation; according to his controversial thesis, the individualistic ethic of Christianity, and in particular Calvinismpartially explains the rise of the capitalist spirit, which led to economic dynamism in the West.

Social movements A change in collective ideas is not merely an intellectual process; it is often connected to the formation of new social movements. This in itself might be regarded as a potential cause of social change.

Examples include Jesus, Napoleon, and Hitler. Recently, however, the concept of charisma has been trivialized to refer to almost any popular figure. Political processes Changes in the regulation of violence, in the organization of the state, and in international relations may also contribute to social change. For example, German sociologist Norbert Elias interpreted the formation of states in western Europe as a relatively autonomous process that led to increasing control of violence and, ultimately, to rising standards of self-control.

Social change

According to other theories of political revolution, such as those proposed by American historical sociologist Charles Tilly, the functioning of the state apparatus itself and the nature of interstate relations are of decisive importance in the outbreak of a revolution: Each of these processes may contribute to others; none is the sole determinant of social change. One reason why deterministic or reductionist theories are often disproved is that the method for explaining the processes is not autonomous but must itself be explained.

Moreover, social processes are often so intertwined that it would be misleading to consider them separately. For example, there are no fixed borders between economic and political processes, nor are there fixed boundaries between economic and technological processes. Technological change may in itself be regarded as a specific type of organizational or conceptual change. The causal connections between distinguishable social processes are a matter of degree and vary over time.

Mechanisms of social change Causal explanations of social change are limited in scope, especially when the subject of study involves initial conditions or basic processes. A more general and theoretical way of explaining social change is to construct a model of recurring mechanisms of social change. Such mechanisms, incorporated in different theoretical models, include the following. Mechanisms of one-directional change: Because human beings are innovative, they add to existing knowledge, replacing less adequate ideas and practices with better ones.

As they learn from mistakes, they select new ideas and practices through a trial-and-error process sometimes compared to the process of natural selection. According to this theory, the expansion of collective knowledge and capabilities beyond a certain limit is possible only by specialization and differentiation. Growth of technical knowledge stimulates capital accumulation, which leads to rising production levels. Population growth also may be incorporated in this model of cumulative evolution: Mechanisms of curvilinear and cyclic change: More specifically, it is often assumed that growth has its limits and that in approaching these limits the change curve will inevitably be bent.

Ecological conditions such as the availability of natural resources, for instance, can limit population, economic, and organizational growth. Shorter-term cyclic changes are explained by comparable mechanisms. Some theories of the business cycle, for example, assume that the economy is saturated periodically with capital goods; investments become less necessary and less profitable, the rate of investments diminishes, and this downward trend results in a recession.

After a period of time, however, essential capital goods will have to be replaced; investments are pushed up again, and a phase of economic expansion begins. Conflictcompetition, and cooperation Group conflict has often been viewed as a basic mechanism of social change, especially of those radical and sudden social transformations identified as revolutions.

Marxists in particular tend to depict social life in capitalist society as a struggle between a ruling class, which wishes to maintain the system, and a dominated class, which strives for radical change. Social change then is the result of that struggle.

These ideas are basic to what sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf has called a conflict model of society. The notion of conflict becomes more relevant to the explanation of social change if it is broadened to include competition between rival groups. Nations, firms, universities, sports associations, and artistic schools are groups between which such rivalry occurs.

Competition stimulates the introduction and diffusion of innovationsespecially when they are potentially power-enhancing.

Thus, the leaders of non-Western states feel the necessity of adopting Western science and technology, even though their ideology may be anti-Western, because it is only by these means that they can maintain or enhance national autonomy and power. Additionally, competition may lead to growth in the size and complexity of the entities involved. The classic example of this process, as first suggested by Adam Smith, is the tendency in capitalism toward collusion and the establishment of monopolies when small firms are driven out of the competitive marketplace.

Another example came from Norbert Elias, who suggested that western European nation-states were born out of competitive struggles between feudal lords. Competition also dominates theories of individualism, in which social change is seen as the result of individuals pursuing their self-interest. Game theory and other mathematical devices, however, have shown that individuals acting in their own self-interest will in certain conditions cooperate with one another and thereby widen the existing social networks.

Tension and adaptation In structural functionalism, social change is regarded as an adaptive response to some tension within the social system.

When some part of an integrated social system changes, a tension between this and other parts of the system is created, which will be resolved by the adaptive change of the other parts.

Social Research Methods - Knowledge Base - Types of Relationships

An example is what the American sociologist William Fielding Ogburn has called cultural lagwhich refers in particular to a gap that develops between fast-changing technology and other slower-paced sociocultural traits.

Diffusion of innovations Some social changes result from the innovations that are adopted in a society. These can include technological inventions, new scientific knowledge, new beliefs, or a new fashion in the sphere of leisure. Diffusion is not automatic but selective; an innovation is adopted only by people who are motivated to do so. Furthermore, the innovation must be compatible with important aspects of the culture.

One reason for the adoption of innovations by larger groups is the example set by higher-status groups, which act as reference groups for other people. Many innovations tend to follow a pattern of diffusion from higher- to lower-status groups. More specifically, most early adopters of innovations in modern Western societies, according to several studies, are young, urban, affluentand highly educated, with a high occupational status. Often they are motivated by the wish to distinguish themselves from the crowd.

After diffusion has taken place, however, the innovation is no longer a symbol of distinction. This motivates the same group to look for something new again.

curvilinear relationship sociology definition of social status

This mechanism may explain the succession of fads, fashions, and social movements. In general people who are good in one may have a greater tendency to be good in the other; those who are poor in one may also tend to be poor in the other. If this relatioship is true, then we can say that the two variables are correlated. But knowing that two variables are correlated does not tell us whether one causes the other. We know, for instance, that there is a correlation between the number of roads built in Europe and the number of children born in the United States.

Does that mean that if we want fewer children in the U. Or, does it mean that if we don't have enough roads in Europe, we should encourage U. At least, I hope not. While there is a relationship between the number of roads built and the number of babies, we don't believe that the relationship is a causal one. This leads to consideration of what is often termed the third variable problem. In this example, it may be that there is a third variable that is causing both the building of roads and the birthrate, that is causing the correlation we observe.

Introduction to Sociological Concepts: Status and Roles

For instance, perhaps the general world economy is responsible for both. When the economy is good more roads are built in Europe and more children are born in the U.

The key lesson here is that you have to be careful when you interpret correlations. If you observe a correlation between the number of hours students use the computer to study and their grade point averages with high computer users getting higher gradesyou cannot assume that the relationship is causal: In this case, the third variable might be socioeconomic status -- richer students who have greater resources at their disposal tend to both use computers and do better in their grades.

It's the resources that drives both use and grades, not computer use that causes the change in the grade point average. Patterns of Relationships We have several terms to describe the major different types of patterns one might find in a relationship. First, there is the case of no relationship at all.