Convergence or Divergence?

Convergence or Divergence?: Comparing Recent Social Trends in Industrial Societies

Simon Langlois
Theodore Caplow
Henri Mendras
Wolfgang Glatzer
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Convergence or Divergence?
    Book Description:

    Trends in fertility decline, intergenerational relations, religion and secularization, ecological movements, employment and labour-market changes, personal authority, and social conflict are examined. This analysis shows an unmistakable convergence of social trends except in the domain of religion. But when the interconnection of these trends within each national society is examined, unexpected divergences are revealed. There are parallel trends in demography, organization of production, national institutions, social practices, and life style, and divergent trends in social inequality, social movements, and local institutions. Barriers between social classes have eroded and something that might be called multidimensional stratification has emerged, the diminution of violence in social conflicts implies an increasing volume of negotiation, and all forms of personal authority have been weakened. The transformation of the family structure is no doubt one of the most important changes in western civilization.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6517-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction. Convergence or Divergence?
    (pp. 1-22)
    Theodore Caplow and Henri Mendras

    The publication of this volume opens the second phase of an intellectual enterprise begun in May, 1987, when a dozen social scientists from France, the United States, West Germany, and Quebec met in Paris to organize the International Research Group on the Comparative Charting of Social Change (CCSC). All of us had previously been engaged in the study of social change in our respective countries, and as we compared our separate bodies of work, we had the impression of seeing the bits and pieces of a new theoretical model waiting to be assembled, a model that would not view social...

  5. 2 Is There a Single Pattern of Social Evolution?
    (pp. 23-42)
    Yannick Lemel and John Modell

    Even a casual examination of the four national volumes so far prepared by members of the Group for the Comparative Charting of Social Change suggests that between 1960 and 1990 there has been much in common in the patterns of social change in France, West Germany, Quebec, and the United States. This is what one would have expected at the outset. But - in part because the trends are treated in essays rather than mere assemblages of data, and these do not follow exactly the same form from society to society, nor draw upon identical data - a first glance...

  6. 3 Differing Levels of Low Fertility
    (pp. 43-88)
    Gary Caldwell, Karin Stiehr, John Modell and Salustiano Del Campo

    Our purpose in this chapter is not to explain fertility change, but to arrive at a better understanding of the societal context in which such change took place. Specifically, we want to situate fertility change within a number of transformations in the structure of women’s lives in contemporary Euro-American society. Our goal is to use this contextual approach to move toward a typology of fertility behaviour in industrialized societies that can be plausibly related to other dimensions of social change in the same societies. The level of analysis is, then, macroscopic, and the nature of the discussion is inductive rather...

  7. 4 Employment and Labour-Market Change: Toward Two Models of Growth
    (pp. 89-114)
    Heinz-Herbert Noll and Simon Langlois

    Many changes have occurred in the composition of the labour force in the developed industrial societies over the last 30 years. These changes are primarily the result of structural transformation in the labour market and developments in the demand and supply of labour. The modernization and computerization of businesses have resulted in job losses and forced some older workers to retire. The tertiarization of the economy, particularly job growth in the service sector, has created more opportunities for paid work outside the home for women and young people. Increasingly, these changes have also been brought on by social changes outside...

  8. 5 The Changing Bonds of Kinship: Parents and Adult Children
    (pp. 115-172)
    Howard M. Bahr, Jean-Hugues Déchaux and Karin Stiehr

    Our objective is to portray intergenerational relations in the four societies under study in the context of other contemporary trends that may influence the way kinship behaviour is enacted and the forms it takes.¹ We have also reviewed the vast research literature on generational ties in industrial societies, in order to frame our study of change within well-established generalizations from that literature.<

    Theoretically, the number of one’s kindred is a function of the fecundity and mortality histories of one’s family, but in practice these biological constraints are mediated by cultural definitions of what constitutes a “close” or “distant” tie and...

  9. 6 Trends in Religion and Secularization
    (pp. 173-214)
    Bruce A. Chadwick, Madeleine Gauthier, Louis Hourmant and Barbara Wörndl

    Discussions about religion in modern society usually assume that secularization has been an inevitable consequence of industrialization, urbanization, and modernization. The rise of rational thought, the advancement of science, and the emergence of occupational specialization are felt to have reduced both societal and individual dependence on religion. The common-sense wisdom of this industrialization-urbanization– secularization link is so persuasive that most social scientists, as well as the general public, uncritically assume that secularization has occurred in industrial societies. Recently, however, a few social scientists have challenged this assumption and have pointed out religion’s contemporary influence in American and European society (Bacot,...

  10. 7 The Reduction of Personal Authority
    (pp. 215-224)
    Theodore Caplow

    This chapter reports partial findings from a search for major commonalities in the profiles of social trends in four societies developed by the members of the International Research Group for the Comparative Charting of Social Change. Among the trends that appeared in all four of these societies during this period were the following:

    The movement of married women, particularly those with small children, into the labour force; the movement was weakest, but still important, in Germany.

    The legitimation of unmarried, consensual unions.

    A sharp decline in fertility.

    The reduction of paternal responsibilities

    The relaxation of ancient taboos against promiscuity, bastardy,and...

  11. 8 Conflicts and Conflict Regulation
    (pp. 225-246)
    Karl-Otto Hondrich and Theodore Caplow

    This chapter started from the assumption that as national societies become more complex, oppositions of interest and values become more numerous and may or may not develop into overt conflicts. The problem is to understand why some of them do and some do not. The comparative analysis of conflict data from three large industrial societies – France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the United States of America – does indeed disclose a tendency toward the replacement of violent by nonviolent forms of conflict.

    We take for granted that the three societies have had different traditions of conflict resolution, but we expect...

  12. 9 Institutionalization Tendencies in Ecological Movements
    (pp. 247-268)
    Barbara WÖRNDL and Guy FRÉCHET

    In contemporary industrialized societies, there was a sharp increase in initiatives and associations in the environmental field, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The postwar drive for industrialization formed the background for this ecological protest, as the problems of unlimited growth became obvious. The symptoms (growth crisis, oil crisis, etc.) did their part to expose the “limits to growth”; ecologists’ warnings were confirmed by environmental destruction of major proportions, chemical-waste scandals, and nuclear accidents. After 30 years of environmental protest, these problems are now recognized as a political concern. It is commonly agreed that this social consciousness-raising is...

  13. 10 Comparative Structural Analysis of Social Change in France and in Quebec
    (pp. 269-302)
    Michel Forsé and Simon Langlois

    To perform macro-sociological analyses of change for the purposes of comparison is a complex project, and we must find a way to reduce this complexity, for explanation requires simplification. Although the ambition of finding a general theory still haunts the field, the idea has been abandoned. InLa place du désordre,R. Boudon (1984) gave many reasons for this. Social systems do not obey laws of history that can be extended to any group of societies, large or samll, since they do not necessarily produce the same effects. Starting from an a priori reading key, an aspect that we are...

  14. Lexicon
    (pp. 303-320)

    The general introduction to this volume pointed out that one of the main goals of the Comparative Charting of Social Change project is to arrive at comparative analyses of social change in the societies studied. The trends in each individual society, however, have been analyzed on the basis of national data and sociological literature, and the bibliographical references accompanying each trend report are national sociological publications. Therefore, although the national profile volumes are all published in English, they invoke the language and sociological concepts peculiar to each society. In the course of its work, the research group came to the...

  15. Author index
    (pp. 321-324)
  16. Subject index
    (pp. 325-326)
  17. The Authors
    (pp. 327-330)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-331)