Three major classical theories of social and historical change have emerged: social evolutionism (of which social Darwinism is a subset), the social cycle theory, and Marxist historical materialism. Other theories include rational choice theory, conflict theory, structural-functionalism, and contingency theory.
These theories can be used to explain both modern and ancient societies. Modern societies that are still evolving or changing were expected by some scholars to evolve into more complex civilizations as they advanced in technology. Ancient societies that were already stable or changed little over time were usually described as having reached their highest possible level of development using the knowledge available at that time.
How did these theories become important for understanding history? History books often describe different periods in society's past as being dominated by different factors such as religion, economics, or politics, and try to explain how each period differed from the others. The study of history has always been influenced by ideas about how people have tried to make sense of their world, so it is no surprise that many historians have also tried to understand history as a series of developments in social structure and consciousness. Historians have also looked to the works of philosophers and theorists to help them understand what kind of knowledge could exist about past events and to guide them in their research.
Sociologists may explore historical data to better comprehend present changes and movements in their quest to explain social change. They also rely on three fundamental social change theories: evolutionary, functionalist, and conflict theories. These theories help scientists understand why some societies rise up against their rulers while others do not. They also provide clues about possible future upheavals.
Evolutionary theory explains social change by referring to the continuing effects of past events on existing structures. It assumes that people are driven by a need for survival and prosperity which they strive to achieve through social action. The main idea behind this theory is that society evolves over time due to individual decisions which lead to new behaviors being selected over old ones over time. For example, this theory could be used to explain why some societies remain static despite having great resources available to them, while others continue to evolve even though they have no choice but to fight for their existence every day. Historical evidence suggests that violence is often one of the first responses of weak societies to problems arising from within themselves or their environment. However, as strong societies develop more peaceful practices, it becomes an integral part of their structure.
Functionalists believe that society has established functions which it performs according to strict rules. They say that society must perform its functions properly or else it will collapse.
Introduction Ideas, arguments, hypotheses, thought experiments, and explanatory guesses concerning how and why human societies—or aspects or structures of such societies—form, evolve, and grow over time, or vanish, are referred to as social theory. The aim of social theory is always the understanding of social processes and the development of useful ideas for practice.
Ideas that have been proposed as answers to the question of what society is and how it works include: the family state, the market society, civil society, and political society. Other ideas concern specific phenomena or contexts within society such as slavery, feudalism, patriarchy, or racism. Finally, some theories try to explain all or most of society's activities simultaneously while others focus on a particular aspect for explanation.
Social theory can be defined as the attempt to understand social life by analyzing its components (including individual humans) and their interactions. It involves more than just listing facts about society; instead, it is an effort to understand how these things come about and what consequences they have for individuals and groups.
In philosophy, theories are explanations of what reality is like and how it works. They are usually presented as sets of propositions that try to account for various kinds of evidence or observations.