Small-scale and short-term changes are characteristic of human societies, because customs and norms change, new techniques and technologies are invented, environmental changes spur new adaptations, and conflicts result in redistributions of power.
Because of their interrelated nature, a change in one institution will affect other institutions.
Various theoretical schools emphasize different aspects of change.
Tylor postulated an evolution of religious ideas from animism through polytheism to monotheism.
Morgan ranked societies from “savage” through “barbarian” to “civilized” and classified them according to their levels of technology or sources of subsistence, which he connected with the kinship system.
This line of thought has since been disputed and disproved.
Following a different approach, French philosopher law of three stages,” according to which human societies progress from a theological stage, which is dominated by religion, through a metaphysical stage, in which abstract speculative thinking is most prominent, and onward toward a positivist stage, in which empirically based scientific theories prevail.The concept of progress, however, has become the most influential idea, especially since the Enlightenment movement of the 17th and 18th centuries.Social thinkers such as Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot and the marquis de Condorcet in France and Adam Smith and John Millar in Scotland advanced theories on the progress of human knowledge and technology.Social change, in sociology, the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behaviour, social organizations, or value systems.Throughout the historical development of their discipline, sociologists have borrowed models of social change from other academic fields.It is rooted in the flexibility and adaptability of the human species—the near absence of biologically fixed action patterns (instincts) on the one hand and the enormous capacity for learning, symbolizing, and creating on the other hand.