William Ogburn was an American sociologist who contributed to the study of social change. He believed that social change occurs through a series of processes that can be categorized into three distinct types. In this article, we will discuss these three processes of social change in William Ogburn’s theory.

What is Social Change?

Social change refers to any alteration in the behavior, attitudes, beliefs, values, and structure of society that occurs over time. Social change can be gradual or sudden and can be caused by a variety of factors such as technology, economic conditions, political events, and cultural shifts.

William Ogburn’s Theory

William Ogburn’s theory suggests that social change occurs through three processes: invention, discovery, and diffusion. These processes are interrelated and occur at different rates depending on various factors.

Invention

Invention involves the creation of new ideas or objects that have not existed before. This process is crucial for social change as it brings about significant changes in society. Inventions can range from simple tools to complex technologies and systems.

The invention process is driven by a need or desire for something new or better. This need can come from within an individual or society as a whole. For example, the invention of the printing press in the 15th century revolutionized communication by making it easier to disseminate information.

Discovery

Discovery refers to finding something that already exists but was previously unknown or unrecognized. This process involves exploring new territories or examining existing phenomena from a different perspective.

Discoveries can occur through scientific research or exploration of new territories. For example, the discovery of penicillin revolutionized medicine by providing an effective treatment for bacterial infections.

Diffusion

Diffusion involves the spread of inventions or discoveries throughout society. This process is essential for social change as it allows ideas or objects to become widely adopted and integrated into society.

The diffusion process can be influenced by various factors such as social norms, economic conditions, and cultural values. For example, the widespread adoption of smartphones in the 21st century was facilitated by the development of mobile networks and changes in social norms regarding technology use.

Conclusion

In conclusion, William Ogburn’s theory suggests that social change occurs through three processes: invention, discovery, and diffusion. These processes are interrelated and occur at different rates depending on various factors such as technology, economic conditions, political events, and cultural shifts. Understanding these processes is crucial for understanding how social change occurs and how it can be facilitated.