Resisting Social Change

Some people resist social change. In the midst of continual technological breakthroughs, some people harbor vested interests (financial or otherwise) in maintaining the status quo. These people lose something in response to social change. For example, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has lobbied incessantly to prevent clinical psychologists from gaining prescription privileges. Other people may feel insecure about trying to adapt to an ever‐changing society.

Economic factors take a hand in resisting social change. Conflict theorists complain that capitalistic systems encourage owners to protect their assets at the expense of workers. Protecting their assets may mean ignoring safety standards or putting pressure on government officials to lessen state regulations.

Cultural factors also play a central role in resistance to social change. When technology enters a society, non‐material culture must respond to changes in material culture. Culture lag refers to the time during which previous aspects of a society still need to “catch up” to cultural advances. For example, certain religious groups, such as the Roman Catholic Church, promote large families and regard contraceptive methods that limit family size as immoral. In other words, a lag exists between aspects of non‐material culture (religious beliefs) and material culture (reproductive technologies).

Social movements typically question a culture's established state of affairs. In the United States today, both the gay rights and feminist movements challenge society's definitions of “natural order”—that heterosexuality is the only sexual standard and that females should submit to males. Resistance to such social movements remains predictably strong.