Society is made up of a series of social changes over time that shape and guides the way people interact with one another on every possible level. Historically, change creates resistance because it creates discomfort (Vago, 2003). This resistance, or conflict, is the basis of social conflict theories including those formed and championed by Karl Marx (Vago, 2003).
As foresight specialists, our job is to attempt to anticipate the scope of change, how it will impact the social structure of those impacted and the speed at which change will occur. If these elements can be understood and anticipated, then negative responses to change can be minimized while positive experiences with change can be increased. Whether change is rapid or not, it often contributes to social problems such as bewilderment and disorganization, which creates a negative impact on the change initiative itself (Pittman, 1967).
With the increasing rate of change due to the increasing advancement of technology, there is a danger an increasing number of individuals are going to be lost in the shuffle. It begs the question, should change be allowed to happen at its own rate, or should there be a built-in decrease in the rate of change for the sake of the continuity of society?
As leaders, foresight specialists, and sociologists, it is important for us to understand and educate others on the effects of cultural lag on change. Segments of culture adjust at different rates, and unless properly managed, can create disruption in social balance (Pittman, 1967). Social change normally occurs gradually, but technology is increasing the speed, and forcing social change, which can be dangerous to the essential health and harmony of society as a whole (Fraser & Campolo, 2013).
Outside of catastrophe and tragedy, can change rate be slowed down?
Fraser, D. A., & Campolo, A. (1992). Sociology through the eyes of faith (1st ed). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Freedman, R. (1986). On Underestimating the Rate of Social Change: A Cautionary Note. Population and Development Review, 12(3), 529–532. https://doi.org/10.2307/1973222
Pittman, R. H. (1967). UNEVEN RATES OF SOCIAL CHANGE. Journal of Thought, 2(3), 4–5.
Vago, S. (2003). Social change (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.