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Theory of Social Evolution

'Evolution' was one of the exciting ideas of the 19th Century. Its most influential sponsor was the naturalist Charles Darwin. He developed the concept of 'evolution' in his 'Origin of Species' in 1859. His theory stated that “the human race had gradually evolved from lower orders of life as a result of progressive adaptation to the environment through the survival of biological forms best adapted to a competitive struggle”. Spencer, the sociological giant of the second half of the 19th Century, was enamoured by "Social Darwinism". He saw social evolution as a set of stages through which all societies moved from the simple to the complex and from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

Three Basic Laws Proposed by Spencer

  1. The Law of Persistence of Energy or Force
  2. The Law of Indestructibility of Matter
  3. The Law of Continuity of Motion

Spenser was of the opinion that the evolutionary principle could be applied to the human society. He treated the human society on organism. His theory involves two inter-related trends.
  1. Changes from simplicity to complexity or simple society to various levels of compound societies.
  2. Changes from military to industrial society.

Societies undergo evolutionary stages of development.

  • Simple society the most primitive society, no complexity
  • Compound society a clan society
  • Double compound society several clans
  • Triply compound society   present society

Evolution proceeds from military to industrial society.

                  Military society                                                  Industrial society
a) characterized by compulsory corporation  
a) characterized by voluntary corporation
b) centralized government
b) decentralized  government
c) state control all social organizations
c) State has very limited functions
d) there will be economic autonomy
d) no economic autonomy

Related Article: Essay on Spencer's Theory of Evolution

Related Article: Spencer's Theory of Evolution

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