Evolution Versus Revolution: The Paradoxes of Social Change, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Evolution Versus Revolution

The Paradoxes of Social Change, 1st Edition

By Melvyn L. Fein


468 pages

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Hardback: 9781412857130
pub: 2015-10-30
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Revolutionary and evolutionary theorists have very different views about change; Fein writes in favour of evolution. He proposes an integrated model of social evolution, one that accounts for the complexity, inconclusiveness, and impediments that characterize social transformations.

This multi-dimensional approach recognizes that change is always saturated in conflict. Major changes are rarely initiated by conscious decisions that are automatically implemented; power and morality generally control the direction that significant alterations take. Fein explains how the social generalist dilemma places our need for both flexibility and stability in opposition to each other such that non-rational mechanisms are needed to produce a solution. He also describes how an "inverse force rule" dictates that small societies are bound together by strong social forces, whereas large ones are secured by weak forces. This suggests that social roles are likely to become professionalized over time.

If social change is, in fact, analogous to natural rather than artificial selection, we may be in the midst of an only partially predictable middle class revolution. Indeed, the current impasse between liberals and conservatives may be evidence that we are in the consolidation phase of this process. Should this be the case, a paradigm shift, not a classical revolution, is in our future.

Table of Contents


1 The Strangeness of Social Change

2 Classical Theories of Social Change

3 Revolution versus Evolution

4 Integrated Social Evolution

5 The Multidimensional Objects of Social Change

6 The Impetus to Social Change

7 Adaptive Radiation

8 Resistance to Social Change

9 Semi-Functional Social Selection

10 Patterns of Social Change

11 The Inverse Force Rule

12 Consolidating Social Change

13 The Middle-Class Consolidation

14 Conclusion: A Third Way



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General