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Social Change and the Role of Environmental Factors Essay


Environmental forces are factors that affect the growth, operations and survival of a society within a given context. They include the political environment in a society, its cultural beliefs, government regulations, changes in technology, natural disasters and demography factors among others (Charles and Steg, 2007).

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the five major environmental factors that impact on social changes within a society. In order to understand how environmental factors influence the society it is necessary that we understand what the concept of social change entails.

Social change refers to the alteration or change in the social order of a given society or group of people especially with regard to nature, relationships, behavioral patterns in the society and the social institutions that define them. Social change is also used to refer to progress achieved by the society through evolution and revolution that may have been undertaken by members of that society.

Types of Environmental Forces

From time to time, any society will always experience some changes that will bring about alterations of the community settings that influence the activities that the society is engaged and its performance in general. The following are environmental factors that bring about social change in a society or group of people.


The amount and type of resources available to a given society will play a significant role in promoting social change (Crompton & Kasser, 2010). Examples of vital resources include water, land and minerals among others which are used in the production of goods and services. The availability of such resources will determine to a great extent the level of production and output the society has.

If factors of production such as land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship are readily available, the production capacity of a society will definitely be high which implies potential for a stable economy. In this regard, goods and services will be readily available for sale in the market and employment opportunities will be created where people have constant source of income which will improve the overall living standards of the people. This will therefore lead to a social change that is positive as the lifestyle of people in the society will improve.

On the other hand, if there are limited resources in a society, there will be stiff competition for them as everyone will be competing for these limited resources thereby leading to potential outbreaks of conflicts among members of the society. This will possibly lead to depletion of the resources which could bring about more conflicts in the society. Therefore, as we have seen availability of resources in a community plays a significant role in determining whether the social change that takes place is positive or negative.

Disasters or calamities

Natural calamities and disasters will influence to a great extent the nature of social change that occurs in a society. Hunger, earthquakes and civil war usually adversely affect a society in that it leads to displacements, migrations, change in lifestyle of the people and even loss life.

During such cases, people are forced to adapt to new ways of life like constructing new homes, relocating to other places and coming up with new methods of sustenance in order to revert to the original way of life. In most cases, natural calamities usually bring about negative impacts and change in the society while in other cases, people get to reorganize themselves on a more solid foundation while they draw lessons from the calamity to better prepare for the future.

In such a situation, the natural disasters will have promoted social change. A good example is seen when flooding takes place, in such cases some people have their homes swept away and as a result new and better homes are built elsewhere where flooding is unlikely to occur. In that case environmental forces have social change for the better.

Climatic Changes

In recent times, the climatic conditions have become quite unpredictable which has adversely affected farming activities globally. This is a serious concern given that farming as an economic activity especially in the developing countries forms the back-bone of the economy. Most often, such countries rely on agricultural exports as their source of income and therefore large proportion of citizens in such countries practice farming both on small scale and large scale.

This implies that much of their investment centers on farming and in the event of unexpected weather patterns like short or excessive rains the entire produce might eventually fail. On the other hand, if the climatic patterns become predictable farmers will be able to invest more into farming without fear as they know that they will reap much. Some of the produce can then be used for domestic consumption while the surplus can be sold to generate income hence improving the living standards of the society.

Degradation of environment

Severe environmental degradation will lead to change in the lifestyle of people around it as it affects them negatively.

Incidences of air pollution, land pollution and water pollution are most often seen to directly affect the health of the people leading to such diseases like breathing complications and water related diseases (Massicotte, 2009). This can at times trigger mass protests of the community members who might decide to demonstrate against such cases of environmental pollution. In conclusion therefore social change is seen to be caused by all of the above listed factors as well as others not discussed in this paper.


Charles, V & Steg, L. (2007) Environmental Psychology. Journal of Social Issues, 63 (1): 1-19.

Crompton, T & Kasser, T. (2010). Social Aspects. Journal of Environment, 52 (4): 23- 33.

Massicotte, M. (2009). Activism. Globalizations, 6 (4): 411-431.

Reuveny, R. (2009). Environmental Degradation. Social Science Quarterly, 90 (3): 461-479.

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IvyPanda. "Social Change and the Role of Environmental Factors." September 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-change-2/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Social Change and the Role of Environmental Factors." September 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-change-2/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Social Change and the Role of Environmental Factors'. 18 September.

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