The Theories and Concepts of Change

in psychology •  last year  (edited)

Social Reality: Violence, Power, and Change
The Theories and Concepts of Change

"Change is Participation" - charlie777pt


This post is particularly difficult because there is a difficult task of explaining the concept of change at the individual and group level and its relations with culture and social norms, not forgetting the hidden role of power.
Let us then talk about a interdisciplinary view to understanding the theories of change, what factors influence it, and the kinds of transformations of attitudes and consequently of behaviors at the individual level and on the other side of social mutation at the collective level.

We will address two seemingly contradictory views, the current initiated by Lewin in Social Psychology that focuses little on the affective and unconscious part of the change we will see in the analytic theory.
Social change is a transformation of culture as the social order of a society in nature, structure, institutions, individual behaviors, or social relationships.
The "New World Order" has become a Global Disorder supported by the propaganda of a false Globalization.
The State is the center of regulation of the normative social network, favoring the great capital holders in the conflict against individuals and groups, to maintain the actual asymmetry of social class, wealth, and participation in decision-making processes.

1 - Kurt Lewin

"A change always leaves room for a new change." - Nicolau Machiavelli


The topological psychology of Kurt Lewin sees situations and social functioning as a dynamic field, as a system with a tendency towards the balance of forces in the sense of Physics (inspired by theoretical physics) and the application of the law of states of change as a strong reduction of tensions of the "forces" of the situation.
The reduction of the tension aiming at the equilibrium tendency. is the root of the social change by modification of the attitudes(pre-disposition for behaviors), when there are conditions of participation of all the members in the processes of decision.

A participation and involvement in the decision-making processes in a group, which is maximized by a decentralization of power and seems to be the fundamental vector for the change of attitudes at the intra-psychic level, which are revealed in different measurable behaviors in each person in their interrelationships at the social level.
The change in individual behavior has repercussions on the level of social change, which in turn modify the perceptions, changing the conception of the cultural norms and its prejudices and stereotypes that condition the collective mutations.

Kurt Lewin carried out several experiments, which led him to new visions on the social dynamics, that had great influence in the world of Social Psychology and the vision of social intervention in the paradigm of Change.
People have information about situations, that structure their behaviors (observable) and have attitudes (not observable) determined by perceptions and cultural norms, which create predispositions for human conduct..
It is always necessary to have new information to act on attitudes and perceptions, which will modify behaviors in a process of change that implies learning.

Thus, social change is a group and collective phenomenon that increases the likelihood of changing individual attitudes and behaviors.
For example in a conference, that has very weak in human interaction, we a minimal change in attitudes and conducts and they only retain 5% of the information showing weak learning that seems to be only favored in the intense group dynamics.

Change sometimes can be seen as the process of accommodation, assimilation, and adaptation of human behaviors.
Doob in 1967 discovered the choice of lifestyles based on technology and modernization of society, influence our psychological traits as a reaction to exterior signs.
People looking for new lifestyles are very aggressive and they "can't get satisfaction".
Individuals that are used to adapt to changes are very independent and autonomous, have high self-esteem and low resistance to change

2 - Psychoanalysis

The Psychoanalysis view is based on the isomorphism of personality syndrome constructs, that are inferred from behavioral observable symptoms of "abnormal" behaviors.
New interdisciplinary integrations with the help of neurosciences investigations, will sooner or later confirm or not, with the brain maps if the behavior patterns are structurally similar to validate this assumption of this structural equal forms.
The psychoanalytic view of Change of Freudians is centered in the unconscious processes and conflicts working in human interaction

Amir Levy in 1973 defined change as "work" over our own illusions of controlling and acting over reality, that have nothing to do with the positivist view of learning in organized conduct like a rational and voluntary process.
He saw a change as the conflict of the pulsion of life, connected to compulsions and repetitions related to tension dilution and the return to the inorganic state(to the uterus) of the struggle with the death pulsion.
At the same time the ancient story conflicts of our life, awake in consciousness(from the unconscious) as symptoms of repetition of those ancestral modes.

"To change is, therefore, not to be subject to the law of repetition. It is not to return to the same loves, to the same ideas, to the same impasses, to succeed, to open up to a story, to access the unknown, to adventure, to risk. It is indeed a perpetual struggle." - Amir Levy Mastering Organizational Change: Theory and Practice cited by Gustave Fischer
The psychoanalytic perspective on change wants to interpret the desires and conflicts aroused by the situation and the parallel repercussions of other events of life that have been repressed.

3 - Sociology

Sociological perspectives on social change have two perspectives of the functionalist, and conflict approaches.
  • Functionalists don't like disruptions that upset society equilibrium and believe gradual changes in technology, population growth and believe interaction facilitate innovation of thinking and acting in society. Talcott Parsons (1966) is a central theorist of the functionalist theory using equilibrium model for social change.
  • Conflict theory sees society as stratified with social inequality, and believe in social intervention, like protest or revolutions, that are the necessary tools to resolve social asymmetries and emphasizes economic conflict, not based in race/ethnicity, gender, or religion, but this conceptualization have an absolute trust in collective power to influence social change.
"All the transformations observable in time, which affect, in a way that is tentative or ephemeral, the structure of the social functioning or organization of a given collectivity and modify the course of history" - Guy Rocher cited by Gustave Fischer
Social change is a structure that must be permanent in a given period of time that can be related(not always) to collective events that accompany or trigger it, like for example a strike to raise salaries is only a change in equilibrium but it's not really a social change. Elections are a social change in the political structure. Sherif andSherif said social movements are made by collective action to modify a prevailing model of power and set new drives in a system, a notion that looks like the notion of "historic action" studied by Rocher.


How does social change happen?

Last posts in this series on Social Reality: Violence, Power and Change Introduction:

Social Reality: Violence, Power and Change

A - Violence:

An Introduction to Violence The Concepts of Violence, Aggression, and Aggressiveness The Theories on Violence The influencers of Violence -Part One - Culture and Social Context The influencers of Violence -Part Two - Social , Cognitive and Environmental Factors The ascend of Today's Violence

B -Power:

What is Power? - Introduction The Nature of Power The Dynamics of Power:The Effects and Consequences of Power

C - Change:

Change and Culture
The Theories and Concepts of Change - this post

Articles from the next series of posts about Social Reality, Violence, Power and Change:
C - Change:(cont.)

Factors determining Change - Part 1 - Lite version
Factors determining Change - Part 2 - Complex version
The Ways of Change
Social Change

References consulted:

Les concepts fondamentaux de la psychologie sociale - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer
La psychologie sociale - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer
The social-violence dynamics, Power, change - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer, Planeta / ISPA, 1980
Gustave-Nicolas Fischer is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology Laboratory at the University of Metz.

French, J. R. P., and Raven, B.H. (1959). The bases of social Power.
Raven, B. H., and Rubin, J. Z. (1976). Social psychology: People in groups
Castel, R. The metamorphoses of the social question. Voices, 1998.
Moscovici, S. (1976). Social influence and social change. London: Academic Press
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations,
French, J. R. P., Morrison, H. W., and Levinger, G. (1960). Coercive Power and forces affecting conformity
Dahl, R.A. (1957), The Concept of Power.
Giddens, Anthony, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber, 1971.
Grabb, Edward G., Theories of Social Inequality: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives,1990.
Weber, Max, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, 1968.
Lewin, K. (1948) ‘Action Research and Minority Problems’, in G.W. Lewin (ed.), Researching Social Conflicts, New York: Harper and Row
Parsons, T. (1966). Societies: Evolutionary and comparative perspectives.
Levy, A. (1986) Second-order planned change: Definition and conceptualization, Organisational Dynamics,
Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J.H., Fisch, R. (1974) Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. New York, Norton.
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Social cultural change is what everyone must Embrace. Nice post @charlie777pt

How does social change happen? (4:45min Video is Gold for everyone)

Thanks for sharing this post, that's a great social cultural discussion.....

Looking forward for your next post @charlie777pt
Great topic by the way