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Indicators of Social Change

Indicators of Social Change: Concepts and Measurements

Eleanor Bernert Sheldon
Wilbert E. Moore
Copyright Date: 1968
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 824
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  • Book Info
    Indicators of Social Change
    Book Description:

    Includes many original contributions by an assembly of distinguished social scientists. They set forth the main features of a changing American society: how its organization for accomplishing major social change has evolved, and how its benefits and deficits are distributed among the various parts of the population. Theoretical developments in the social sciences and the vast impact of current events have contributed to a resurgence of interest in social change; in its causes, measurement, and possible prediction. These essays analyze what we know, and examine what we need to know in the study, prediction, and possible control of social change.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-691-4
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. I. Introduction

      (pp. 3-24)
      Eleanor Bernert Sheldon and Wilbert E. Moore

      The notion that far-reaching change is taking place in the structure of American society is now rather commonplace. However vague our understanding of the basic functioning of our society, we do know that the growth and urbanization of the population, the rising technicality and bureaucratization of work, the general upgrading in standards of living, the spread and increasingly higher attainment levels of education, and the heightened self-awareness and rise of minority groups have created serious social strains. Concomitantly, national concern for the prospects of our society has increased and extended beyond strictly economic considerations—in civil rights legislation, large-scale support...

  4. II. The Demographic Base

      (pp. 27-74)
      Conrad Taeuber

      Growth and change have long characterized the population trends in the United States.¹ Statistical data clearly document the growth of the nation, the settlement of the entire country, the westward migration, the increasing urbanization, and the concentration in metropolitan areas. They reflect the assimilation of the foreign-born, the movement of a large number of Negroes from the rural South to the urban areas of South, North, and West, and the current position in which the Negro population has a higher percentage of urban residents than the white population. They show that the population has increased its proportion of adults and...

  5. III. Structural Features

    • 3. PRODUCTION OF GOODS AND SERVICES: The Measurement of Economic Growth
      (pp. 77-96)
      A. W. Sametz

      Although the “national income and product accounts” for the U.S. are among the best known and reputable economic series, they are not very useful to measure economic growth or welfare. The accounts do, of course, serve the purpose for which they were designed: to measure the current state of the nation, uncover the proximate causes of economic fluctuations, and suggest countercyclical policies. Keynesian economics—essentially a theory of aggregate demand—required, indeed specified, the Gross National Product (GNP) array we have so successfully used for short-run explanation and policy making.

      But change in GNP over long periods of time is...

      (pp. 97-144)
      Stanley Lebergott

      Every forceful change in American society and the American economy has had its impact on the pattern of labor supply and use. Variations in supply and utilization have, in turn, induced changes in the economy, for employees are both the producers and the consumers of the nation’s output. To review that entire set of relationships is clearly impossible. This chapter, therefore, focuses on some of the more striking changes in labor supply and employment since 1900.

      The first section is addressed to the role of the family. Since family income goals turn out to be determinative in shaping labor supply,...

      (pp. 145-246)
      Daniel Bell

      Let us begin with a parable: all the rest is exegesis.

      … the Library is composed of an indefinite, perhaps an infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with enormous ventilation shafts in the middle, excluded by very low railings.…

      Everything is there: the minute history of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, the faithful catalogue of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, a demonstration of the fallacy of these catalogues, a demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on this gospel, the veridical account of your death, a version of...

      (pp. 247-294)
      Joyce M. and William C. Mitchell

      While historians have been assiduous in their quest to describe change in the United States, they have not often tried broader and more systematic estimates ofwhatchanges, at whatrates, in whichdirections, andhow. One result has been a confusion about whether the American polity is one of the more stable or less stable in the world. Facts can be found to support both points of view. The safest course and probably the most nearly correct is to say that some elements of American political life have, indeed, changed drastically, while certain others have changed very little, and...

      (pp. 295-348)
      William J. Goode

      In the field of the family, analysts have for generations been concerned with the problems of social change. Like sociologists in other subfields, however, they have not been able to overcome the difficulties of achieving precise measurement and fruitful theory. Indeed, one might argue that a preoccupation with one of the major problems of family change—“the impact of industrialization”—has dominated this subfield to the detriment of its adequate theoretical and mensurational development. Consequently, a careful analysis of both types of difficulties, each of which is a function of the other, may help to illuminate the field of social...

      (pp. 349-446)
      N. J. Demerath III

      One of the fundamental ingredients of any meaningful religion may be a confidence that it has undergone and is still undergoing change. Few would doubt that American religion has changed since the nineteenth century, but few would agree on the patterns, and certainly sociologists have provided little basis for unanimity. Ask any question and our response is likely to be a contemplative silence, a scholarly scowl, and finally a long list of methodological conundrums leading to that ultimate conclusion: “It all depends.”

      But, of course, changes in American religion have hardly been ignored. Historians, both theological and academic, have frequently...

  6. IV. Distributive Features

      (pp. 449-524)
      Milton Moss

      In a very broad sense all that is required to upgrade the economic well-being of everyone in American society is an expanding economy supplemented by selective policies to overcome economic hardship. Living standards could be improved for all households if growing incomes were provided. For the poor, increases in income and earning capacity would mean more nutritious and varied foods, improved health care, upgraded housing, and better education for their children. Even for families well above a poverty line, much of the growth in incomes could be expected to be used to upgrade these basic necessities.

      The proportion of income...

      (pp. 525-572)
      Philip H. Ennis

      Of all the great categories of life, leisure is surely one of the most untidy. As individual experience or as behavior of large numbers of people, it is more diverse, more resistant to secure definition and measurement than most other aspects of social life. The variety of everyday words relating to leisure—recreation, relaxation, idleness, fun, play, games, entertainment, and diversion—underscores the complexity of the subject.

      Expressive behavior is also a puzzling category. Its familiar forms—art, entertainment, and sports—are almost too multifarious for continuous monitoring; but insofar as they are manifested in leisure they become one more...

      (pp. 573-600)
      Iwao M. Moriyama

      The average life expectancy at birth in the United States increased from 47.3 years in 1900 to 70.2 years in 1964. The remarkable increase in longevity is frequently presented as evidence of health progress made by the general population in the United States.

      What these figures conceal is that the increase in expectation of life has not been uniform over the age scale. For example, in the period 1900 to 1964 the increase in the expectation of life of white males at age sixty-five is only 1.5 years, whereas at age one it is 13.8 years. Actually, a large part...

      (pp. 601-672)
      Beverly Duncan

      The amount of knowledge that an individual can command is not limited by the amount of knowledge held by other individuals, except insofar as their aggregate holdings are the sum of what is known. The primary mechanism for transmitting knowledge from one individual to another, however, is schooling. The amount of schooling that one individual receives can be increased only by reducing the share of another individual or by increasing the aggregate amount of schooling provided by the society. Although to an extent the amount of schooling provided can be increased, a limit does exist. A society in which all...

  7. V. Aggregative Features

    • 13. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION AND MOBILITY: Problems in the Measurement of Trend
      (pp. 675-720)
      Otis Dudley Duncan

      The spatiotemporal frame of reference for this chapter is the United States since about the end of World War I. For the purpose of sketching movements in the state of opinion on the topic—the first task of the chapter—a further restriction is advisable. We will not miss much that is important in the literature of the interwar period if we take note only of Cooley’s “Opportunity and Class” (1918)¹ and Sorokin’sSocial Mobility(1927).² The era of modern research begins with 1942, when Sibley’s “Some Demographic Clues to Stratification”³ was published. Cooley and Sorokin are of permanent value...

      (pp. 721-804)
      Ida C. Merriam

      Welfare is a summing-up concept—appropriately placed at the end of a volume on social change. Growth in population, changes in technology, in work and play, in family relations and social organization (or disorganization) all have welfare aspects. A large part of the meaning of welfare is to be found in the issues surrounding the questions “how much,” “what quality,” “for whom,” that must be asked with respect to each separate component of social life and social change. But this cannot be the total meaning. For these parts are interacting and potentially conflicting. And the human mind—no matter how...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 805-822)