In every generation, there are social movements that surface in an attempt to alter a society. Social movements are well-organized groups who work tirelessly to make positive changes. Along with social movements, there are other agents that generate change, for example, advances in technology, population growth, environmental changes, the struggle for economic power, changes in beliefs, etc. Dunfey (2017) defines social change as “changes in human interactions and relationships that transform cultural and social institutions. These changes occur over time and often have profound and long-term consequences for society.
” Some changes are often good and others, unfortunately, are not. All changes that have occurred in the past have been influenced by great leaders who weren’t satisfied with what society was becoming. Three individuals who fit that criteria were Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Auguste Comte. All three of them had different definitions of social change and ways of accomplishing it Marx believed social change was necessary and was only possible through class conflict.
Most of Karl Marx writings were influenced by his beliefs in human emancipation. He longed for a way to set people free from all economic, social, and political constraints. Such limitations keep individuals away from reaching their full potential. The growth of the industrial revolution was something Marx was not happy about. To him, the industrial revolution created social inequalities between two classes; the bourgeoisie and the proletarians. The bourgeoise were capitalists who owned the means of production. Most of them consisted of bankers, factory
owners merchants and lawyers.
The bourgeoisie had no compassion when exploiting the proletarians. Marx recognizes that the labor produced by the proletarians have assembled great wealth for the bourgeoisie. He hated that, he wanted a classless society. He saw the profit the capitalists were making as theft. He claims they are stealing from their workforce from all their hard work and talent. The working conditions in these factories were awful. The workers would have no rights. They were organized like soldiers, constantly doing the same work over and over again. Working in a receptive motion can have severe consequences. Human bodies can only work so fast. After a while, they can start breaking down, which can lead to accidents in the workplace and slower production of goods. As Marx claims, workers become an appendage of the machine. The machines enslave workers by stripping them from their character and charm. His views about capitalism were nothing but negative. Most of his critiques were noted in his book Communist Manifesto. In the book, he talks about the emergence of capitalism, its effects, and also predicts their future. He believes they won’t last if the working-class unites. He explains that the bourgeoise class relies heavily on the proletarians in order to survive and keep flourishing. One piece of the Communist Manifesto that stood out to me was when Marx quotes, “Workers of the world unite; You have nothing to lose but your chains.” Proletarians in a sense had nothing, they were born poor. All they had was their labor power, which they sold to survive. His ultimate goal was to make the working-class realize that at the end of the day, they were the ones who had the power. Marx’s writing helped me understand the world we live in. He argues that capitalism destroys human values, encourages corruption, and is vulnerable to uprisings. We currently still see all that chaos happening around the globe today. Capitalism exploits workers from all
different countries. One popular place you would find these individuals working at are sweatshops. The working conditions in these settings are the same as Marx described in the Communist Manifesto. They make their employees work long extensive hours and pay them very little. Marx would be disappointed to know what he worked so hard to prevent is still happening. Wilson (2013) mentions in his article that capitalist and consumers are the ones to benefit from sweatshops. He claims “consumers are partly responsible for dangerous conditions in garment assembly plants..since they are not willing to accept paying for higher quality clothing. He also mentions capitalists always try to find a way to make extra money..by cutting wages that are already really low. He concludes by stating the ultimate goal for these sweatshops: to make the superrich even richer.” Auguste Comte had a significant impact on early sociological thought. He was one of the first theorists to realize the importance of relating sociology and science. He focused his attention on the study of change, development, and evolution of human society (Shah 2013). Comte always wanted social change, he saw it as a passage toward something better. He opposed a feudalistic society, he did not want to be governed by Kings or Queens. What he envisioned was a new “organic” social system where only highly trained experts were the best to make rational decisions about society..since they had a scientific understanding of it (Garner 27). Comte was the founder of the concept known as Positivism. Positivism is a philosophical technique deeply rooted in mathematics and science. Some of his work also analyzed the evolution of knowledge. He believed each branch of knowledge passes through three stages: theological, metaphysical and positive/scientific. Overall, he thought these three stages would cumulatively set people to be more intelligent.
Comte was an expert when it came to explaining evolution. He believed human societies are slowly progressing into using more of the scientific approach. To him, that was the key to holding a society together. His work helped me understand how our society has evolved. Society has changed significantly these past generations. An example of this would be children in the school setting. Children in school now rely heavily on technology as compared to about twenty years ago. In classrooms now, it is extremely common to see children in younger grades using tablets for homework and classroom work. Now, they are able to use outside sources online for help compared to actually going to use a thesaurus or encyclopedia. An article by the Kindergarten Prep Child Care Center suggest that “When it is used properly, technology can increase the social and cognitive skills of children. Developmentally appropriate digital resources can create interactive environments where children are engaged in mastering specific skills at their own individual rates. Children are able to be challenged and become more proficient through technology that offers prompts to high levels of engagement.” Friedrich Nietzsche was a master when it came to suspicion. He is known for his condemnatory writings on religion, morality, and values. He opposed religion, especially Christianity. Nietzsche viewed religion as not making a difference to humanity and thought people used it as a scapegoat for their suffering. He wanted people to be free thinkers and make decisions on their own about morality. He coined the phrase “God is dead.” Not that he believed that God was actually dead, but to him, God, in general, was never a physical being in the first place. Nietzsche’s writings focus a lot on individualism. He claims all individuals craft their own identity through a process called self-realization. He wanted people to have the will to power to
strive to be in the highest position in life. Nietzsche argues, that the only way to achieve, his so-called “will to power”, was to accept responsibly of your actions and to continue taking risks. In his book, On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche has a lot to say about morality. He argues that there are two types: master and slave. Master morality focus on those who are wealthy, have power and are above everyone else. They see themselves as “good”, but their counterparts say otherwise. Donald Trump exhibits all the qualities of a modern-day master morality (Sjloria 2016). As the master, he sits in such high ranking position and can make decisions that can affect the slaves. Slave morality is those who are weak, oppressed, and abused. Some of their concerns consist of equality, fairness, and justice. Protesters would be a great example of slave morality. They are organized groups who work together to promote equality and minimize power imbalances in society. Just this year alone, there have been numerous amounts of protest all over the country. Social change is a phenomenon we can not prevent. Every generation experiences different kinds of changes, it’s like an on-going cycle. There are different factors that determine the nature of social change, for example, social movements, advances in technology, struggle for economic power, changes in beliefs, etc. These factors can often strengthen a society, or deteriorate it. For social change to be successful, it requires great leadership. Karl Marx, Auguste Comte, and Friedrich Nietzsche were great leaders who desired social change. They all had a vision to change society in their own unique way.