Change is difference between two points in time. What was at time one and what it is at time two. The difference between two points in time can be called as change.
Time 2 - Time 1 = Difference i.e. change
Social change means the changes in the social structure and social relationships. At macro level we can look at social change at the societal level just like the changes in the population structure of the country. One could look at age structure of the population. As we have already discussed this structure like 43 percent of the population of Kenya is that of children, about 4 percent is that of old people and the rest may be adults. Then you can also look at the rural and urban distribution of people. Educational distribution of people is another angle of population structure; there is lot of shifting from rural to urban areas. One could also look at changing birth rate as an aspect of social change. At the micro level one could also look at the changes taking place in the structure of families in terms of size, authority structure, age at marriage, number of children per woman.
There can be change in the relationships of people. For example there is decline in the neighborliness, there are changes in the employer and employee relationships, there is change in the men and women relationships (women empowerment), and so on.
Similar to social change there is another concept of cultural change, which means changes in the culture of society. This change could be seen in the patterns of behavior of people (norm), in the laws of society, in the technology of the society. Social change and cultural change overlap and sometimes it become difficult to make a distinction between social change and cultural change. Therefore to overcome such an ambiguous situation the two concepts are combined and called as socio-cultural change.
Social change usually does not appear suddenly unless there is some natural catastrophe. It is usually a continuous process. The process of social change has four major characteristics.
Social change happens all the time. Nothing is constant and change is inevitable. The process of change may be slow at one time than another time. One society may be changing faster than the other. Hunting and food gathering societies have been changing quite slowly; members of today's high income societies on the other hand, experience significant change within a single lifetime.
Some elements of culture change faster than the others. The gap between the two has been referred as cultural lag. The concept of cultural lag was given by W. F. Ogburn. This concept may be defined as: when two interrelated parts of culture change at different rate so that one moves faster than the other whereby one is left behind, the gap between the two is called cultural lag. Within the culture, material culture usually changes faster than the non-material culture (ideas, attitudes).
Social change is sometimes intentional but often unplanned. Industrial societies actively encourage many kinds of change. For example, scientists seek more efficient forms of energy, and advertisers try to convince us that life is incomplete without this or that new gadget. So market researchers find out new ways of convincing people to use the new product. Yet rarely one can envision all the consequences of the changes that are set in motion. Automobile has been introduced for mobility and transportation. At the same time there have appeared many unintended consequences like pollution, accidents, and the same autos being used for robbery and other unlawful activities.
Social change is controversial. Social change brings both good and bad consequences. Capitalists welcomed the industrial revolution because new technology increased productivity and increased profits. However, the workers feared that the machines would make their skills outdated and resisted the push for progress.
Look at women empowerment; for some it could be a sign of progress while others may consider it as a sign of decline.
Some changes matter more than others. Some changes (such as clothing fads) have only passing significance, whereas others (like computers) last a long time and may change the entire world. Information technology may revolutionize the whole world just like the industrial revolution.