Societal Progress

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Physical evolution is a sub-discipline of evolutionary biology that is concerned with the evolution of species including in the universe including intelligent species like the human species on planet Earth. Although the theory of evolution has been discovered by several scientists in the 19th century, the most important scientist associated with this theory is Charles Darwin. In his famous book, Darwin found evidence that all species on planet Earth evolved from a single cell organism into a complex multi-cell organism like animals and human beings. Moreover, Darwin emphasized the fact that the species we see around us have been evolving continuously due to the need to adaptation to the changing environment. Only those who have adapted successfully will survive. For this reason evolution can also be seen as a competition between species and only the fittest will survive. Evolution is also related to the area of evolutionary biology that studies how interactions especially between individuals of the same species, arise, change and are maintained.

The theory of evolution has also inspired the social scientists especially sociologists to apply it to the development of societies. Evolutionary theories are based on the assumption that societies gradually change from simple beginnings into even more complex forms.

Is social change evolutionary or revolutionary?
Social change is the alteration of social order of a society. Sociological theories of change may be divided into theories of social evolution and theories of social revolution. The evolution theories supported by functionalism argue that social change is a natural gradual development process while revolutionary theories mainly argued by believe that change is sudden, rapid and initiated by the members of the society. Functionalist has often been criticized on failing to provide a sufficient explanation on social changes. Social changes can be pictured as a moving equilibrium which has been explained by organic analogy that each part of the society is like an organism that has its role to play in order to maintain social order. Social change can be understood by looking at change in meanings and definitions. Groups, societies, Organizations become real only in so far that the actors believe they are to be real, thus a negotiated consensus about what is real emerges. Society is literally a social construction, an outcome of historical process of interaction and negotiation.

The social theorists of revolutionary change, in turn, argue that societies do not progress in an evolutionary and relatively peaceful manner. On the contrary, societies continuously experience revolutions which propels them to a new state which is usually partly or even completely different. The theory of historical materialism proposed by Karl Marx is perhaps the most evident example of revolutionary change. In the post Cold War era, communism has been put aside by many and most societies nowadays embrace liberal capitalism mixed with democracy and social insurances to maintain welfare and order.