Major changes in the physical environment are very compelling when they happen. The desert wastes of North Africa were once green and well populated.
A population change is itself a social change but also becomes a casual factor in further social and cultural changes. When a thinly settled frontier fills up with people the hospitality pattern fades away, secondary group relations multiply, institutional structures grow more elaborate and many other changes follow. A stable population may be able to resist change but a rapidly growing population must migrate, improve its productivity or starve. Great historic migrations and conquests of the Huns, Vikings and many others have arisen from the pressure of a growing population upon limited resources. Migration encourages further change for it brings a group into a new environment subjects it to new social contacts and confronts it with new problems. No major population change leaves the culture unchanged.
Isolation and Contact:
Societies located at world crossroads have always been centers of change. Since most new traits come through diffusion, those societies in closest contact with other societies are likely to change most rapidly. In ancient times of overland transport, the land bridge connecting Asia, Africa and Europe was the centre of civilizing change. Later sailing vessels shifted the centre to the fringes of the Mediterranean Sea and still later to the north- west coast of Europe. Areas of greatest intercultural contact are the centers of change. War and trade have always brought intercultural contact and today tourism is adding to the contacts between cultures says Greenwood. Conversely isolated areas are centers of stability, conservatism and resistance to change. The most primitive tribes have been those who were the most isolated like the polar Eskimos or the Aranda of Central Australia.
The structure of a society affects its rate of change in subtle and not immediately apparent ways. A society which vests great authority in the very old people as classical China did for centuries is likely to be conservative and stable. According to Ottenberg a society which stresses conformity and trains the individual to be highly responsive to the group such as the Zunis is less receptive to the change than a society like the Ileo who are highly individualistic and tolerate considerable cultural variability. A highly centralized bureaucracy is very favorable to the promotion and diffusion of change although bureaucracy has sometimes been used in an attempt to suppress change usually with no more than temporary success. When a culture is very highly integrated so that each element is rightly interwoven with all the others in a mutually interdependent system change is difficult and costly. But when the culture is less highly integrated so that work, play, family, religion and other activities are less dependent upon one another change is easier and more frequent. A tightly structured society wherein every person's roles, duties, privileges and obligations are precisely and rigidly defined is less given to changes than a more loosely structured society wherein roles, lines of authority, privileges and obligations are more open to individual rearrangement.
Attitudes and Values:
To people in developed nations and societies change is normal. Children there are socialized to anticipate and appreciate change. By contrast the Trobriand Islanders off the coast of New Guinea had no concept of change and did not even have any words in their language to express or describe change. Societies differ greatly in their general attitude toward change. People who revere the past and preoccupied with traditions and rituals will change slowly and unwillingly. When a culture has been relatively static for a long time the people are likely to assume that it should remain so indefinitely. They are intensely and unconsciously ethnocentric; they assume that their customs and techniques are correct and everlasting. A possible change is unlikely even to be seriously considered. Any change in such a society is likely to be too gradual to be noticed. A rapidly changing society has a different attitude toward change and this attitude is both cause and effect of the changes already taking place. Rapidly changing societies are aware of the social change. They are somewhat skeptical and critical of some parts of their traditional culture and will consider and experiment with innovations. Such attitudes powerfully stimulate the proposal and acceptance of changes by individuals within the society. Different groups within a locality or a society may show differing receptivity to change. Every changing society has its liberals and its conservatives. Literate and educated people tend to accept changes more readily than the illiterate and uneducated. Attitudes and values affect both the amount and the direction of social change. The ancient Greeks made great contributions to art and learning but contributed little to technology. No society has been equally dynamic in all aspects and its values determine in which area-art, music, warfare, technology, philosophy or religion it will be innovative.
The technological factors represent the conditions created by man which have a profound influence on his life. In the attempt to satisfy his wants, fulfill his needs and to make his life more comfortable man creates civilization. Technology is a byproduct of civilization .When the scientific knowledge is applied to the problems in life it becomes technology. Technology is a systematic knowledge which is put into practice that is to use tools and run machines to serve human purpose. Science and technology go together. In utilizing the products of technology man brings social change. The social effects of technology are far-reaching. According to Karl Marx even the formation of social relations and mental conceptions and attitudes are dependent upon technology. He has regarded technology as a sole explanation of social change.W.F Ogburn says technology changes society by changing our environment to which we in turn adapt. These changes are usually in the material environment and the adjustment that we make with these changes often modifies customs and social institutions. A single invention may have innumerable social effects. Radio for example has One of the most extreme expressions of the concern over the independence of technology is found in Jacques Ellul's 'the technological society'. Ellul claims that in modern industrial societies technologism has engulfed every aspect of social existence in much the same way Catholicism did in the middle ages. The loss of human freedom and the large-scale destruction of human beings are due to the increasing use of certain types of technology which has begun to threaten the life support systems of the earth as a whole.