In terms of models of social change there are two broad models. On the one hand those,
…which assume that social structures somehow will change by themselves once the individual is saved or correctly trained through religious conversion or secular education. (1)
On the other,
…theories that consider the human being entirely as a product of society, and claim that no improvement is possible unless social structures, especially those related to political and economic power, are changed first. (2)
These two extremes are the commonest attitudes to human change and development within our societies – western and eastern. They may seem innocuous enough but, at their extremes, they are contributory factors to not only disagreement in society but also oppression and suffering.
There are too many examples of participation by the “righteous” and the “highly trained” in the structures of oppression to allow any objective observer of social processes to accept proposals of change based entirely on the redemption of the individual without direct attention to social forces and structures. At the same time, history has already shown the evils of systems that deny individual freedom and derive their moral and social codes from a perception of the necessity of change in the structures of power, a change their proponents believe should be achieved at any cost. (3)
We need a third model – one in which we attend both to change within the individual and also change in society. Because what everybody needs to know about environments for human development is that it’s chicken-and-egg and we all have a part to play in the change.
(1) The Ruhi Institute, Statement of purpose and methods, http://www.ruhi.org/institute/index.php
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- The Naturalness of (Many) Social Institutions: Evolved Cognition as Their Foundation (3quarksdaily.com)
- Portrayal or Betrayal? How the Media depicts women and girls. http://www.onecountry.org/e204/e20410as_Women_and_Media_story.html