Thursday, May 30, 2013


Though it is obvious that nobody would like to fall sick, the occurrence of illness sometime or the other seems to be inevitable. We do fall sick now and then. In prehistoric times, human beings lived very much like animals. Everything was left to nature and man knew very little about how diseases were occurring and how to overcome them. With the march of time and scientific advancement man has been trying to ward off sickness and striving to live as long a life as possible.

Gradually through the ages knowledge has been accumulating about the body in health and disease and various specialized sciences have been developing concerning not only man but all other forms of life. Beginning from the ancient systems of medicine invented by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Egyptians, Indians, and Chinese there has been rapid and sustained expansion of the healing arts. Medical science of modern day has unraveled quite a lot of mysteries about the normal and abnormal mechanisms taking place in the human body and the remedial and corrective measures.

In the medieval period and closely following the industrial revolution in Europe a number of discoveries were made which helped in the determination of the causation of many of the infective diseases. Further experimental work has sharpened the epidemiological tools to determine the multiple causes of various diseases affecting mankind. Serious wide-spreading epidemic scourges like plague (Black death) and cholera were wiped out in the European countries in the early part of the century by applying the knowledge gained. From the latter half of the 19th century there has been increasing emphasis on prevention of diseases. In the present day importance is given to 'pro-motive health'.

Health is defined by World Health Organization as "a complete state of physical, mental and social well being. Not merely free from sickness or infirmity.: This definition has been so framed that it reminds one about the need for living a life of robust and sound health by enjoying which diseases should be avoided. All the world over health care services have the goal of attaining a highest level of health. For ensuring a continued state of a high level of health for every human being it is necessary not only to provide adequate and suitable facilities for prompt detection of illness, treatment, rehabilitation, etc., but also to arrange for suitable preventive care and pro-motive facilities.

However much we may cherish the goal of highest health and the necessary facilities are provided to everyone in the community, the actual living of a healthful life depends on each individual and also the community in different forms of groups like family, kinship, caste, communal, etc. It is easy to say that everybody should enjoy good health and observe all practices necessary for healthful living. As already mentioned no one is keen or happy to fall sick. Everyone would like to be healthy. However, in daily life man tends to do many things knowingly or unknowingly by which he makes himself susceptible to disease.

Many of the diseases which are due to infection can be avoided by proper personal hygiene and sanitation and immunization. Nutritional deficiencies can be avoided by eating the proper kind of food in adequate quantity but it is commonly observed that many of the diseases are contracted by not fully observing healthful practices.

Lack of observance of health practices can be seen in any community whether educated, illiterate or literate, rich or poor and so on. Wrong or right practices are the part of the cultural. Habits, customs, traditions are mainly the factors that govern human behavior in any community. They are also influenced by beliefs, values, attitudes, etc.

For people to be made to understand and practice proper ways of living for the maintenance of health and avoidance of illness, there is need to mould the behavior. Suitable education is required to ensure such behavior consisting of proper health practice. Throughout life people have to realize what are the correct things to do and what are the wrong things to be given up or avoided if proper health has to be maintained. The art and science of engaging people in a process of learning for the desired behavior for the preservation of health is 'health education'  

Health education has been defined in many ways by different authors and experts, In a W.H.O. Technical Report it was defined as follows:

Health education like general education is concerned with changes in knowledge, feelings and behaviour of people. In its most usual forms it concentrates on developing such health practices as are believed to bring about the best possible state of well being.

What is to be understood about this definition is that it is a process that aids people to find out their health needs and activate them for suitable behaviour. The behaviour necessary for health in any situation is referred to as health related behaviour. The education given for identifying the health need and matching it with suitable behaviour can be termed as health education.

As has already been mentioned behaviour of people shows that many things concerned with health are not properly known. Even after falling sick many people do not seek treatment promptly. On many occasions the advice given by doctors or nurses or other health personnel is not correctly followed. In other words, the health need even at the time of sickness is not fully appreciated or realized by people. It is to make people understand why they fall sick and what they should do to prevent falling sick or to remedy a sick condition that a health need has to be created in the minds of the people.

The means of fulfilling the need or the necessary action for satisfying the need should also be fully understood by each and every individual. After knowing what can be done and should be done, the individual or the people have necessarily to adopt the course of action that is available and practically feasible.

The entire process of involving people in learning about health and disease and aiding them to act suitably for overcoming illness and preserving a positive health is health education. It may be understood, therefore, that Health Education is not a one time affair or that it is meant for 'X' or 'Y' only; it is required for almost every one in society and is required off and on, in a continuous manner. It is wrong to assume that health education is required for only illiterates or people with a low level of general education. It so happens that even people with a high general education may not know sufficiently on health matters and even if they know, their behaviour may not be fully conducive to good health. For example, the evils of over eating, smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol may be well known to a well educated person but in his daily life he may not be observing enough to care for moderation.

Further it may be appreciated that health education is needed for all ages, both sexes, all classes of community literate or illiterate and in all parts of the world. Even in advanced countries health education becomes important with changing conditions of life. Science helps to find out many new aspects about diseases and health and therefore, health education has to be a never-ending process.

The behaviour part is of considerable importance in health education. Unless proper health behaviour is ensured health education can not be complete. At the same time the knowledge or understanding the reasoning behind a particular behaviour and the formation of a favorable attitude for behaviour are also equally important.

Health education should be an active process of learning and doing by one's self. The individual has to assimilate and internalize the information and ideas and adopt a behaviour necessary for health. The health education process must result in a permanent change or sustained behaviour.

By health education we mean the process by which one enables any individual or group of individuals to realize the health needs and match them with necessary health related behaviour for the attainment of positive health. It is implied that health education involves people individually in the adoption and practice of patterns of behaviour necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of normal and sound health.

It is the behaviour part which is of considerable importance. At the same time the knowledge or understanding of reasoning behind the behaviour and the formation of favorable attitude to result in a health related behaviour are also equally important.

Sometimes it may happen that people may observe certain hygienic or healthful practices without knowing why they are doing so. They may be imitating some others without realizing the purpose of their own behaviour. In certain circumstances health education will help in given them necessary meaning behind their own actions which are proper and useful. Health education will stabilize the good pattern of behaviour by providing necessary information and creating a positive attitude for the behaviour that has been already formed.

For example, a young child imitates the elders and begins the practice of brushing and cleaning the teeth in the morning. To begin with it may be a matter of pleasure to imitate. If the child is told why the teeth have to be cleaned and how the cleaning has to be done such an education will help the child to know the importance of brushing the teeth and also the methodology and it will do it with the sense of purpose and personal gain, rather than for merely imitating the adult.

In some other circumstances people may know sufficiently about certain health needs and their related behaviour also but at the same time they may not be practicing or manifesting the required behaviour. For example, very often people may be aware of what they are suffering from and also about the scope and possibilities of treatment but still they may be neglecting without going for treatment. In such cases health education will be necessary to make them understand the seriousness or their condition, the possibilities of treatment and the need for relief from symptoms and sickness. By involving them in the learning process about their own condition or the correction of it by treatment health education would have played its part.

Similarly health education may be necessary in some situations to change the attitude. The patient's attitude towards treatment or towards doctors should be essentially favorable. Vice versa the doctor’s attitude towards the patient has necessarily to be kind and sympathetic. For preventive actions like immunization, sanitary precautions, hygienic practice, medical check up, etc., the attitude is as important as acquiring the knowledge or information. Unless there is a desire or tendency to do something for the maintenance of health mere acquisition of knowledge will not help.

Health education, therefore, has to do with knowing the health needs, and the action for fulfillment of those needs. It is a process in which the people are helped to learn what is good for themselves and their health and to adopt patterns of behaviour which will ensure normal health. This process of health education implies that people should be able to do and follow healthful ways of living voluntarily after having understood the need for such behaviour.

To recapitulate health education is education for health or education about health. In health education in the context we refer to the attainment of positive health through adopting primary, secondary and tertiary levels of prevention as applicable to any disease.

Primary prevention in epidemiology refers to health promotion and specific protection. Health promotion means all practices and measures to be observed for maintaining normal health eating the proper type of food in proper quantities, optimum amount of exercise, rest, sleep, good clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, drinking wholesome water, breathing fresh and unpolluted air and such other observances. Specific protection is given by specific immunization for specific diseases, prophylactic drugs, protective appliances like mosquitoes nets, fly proof, etc.

Primary level of prevention is applied before occurrence of any disease. In other words, it is to prevent the occurrence of any disease. Secondary level of prevention refers to curative care or treatment given after the occurrence of any disease. It includes early diagnosis which is necessary for mitigating the effects of sickness.
Tertiary level of prevention refers to the disability limitation prevention of complication and deformity and rehabilitation if any handicap has already occurred.



Social Institutions:
Social institutions are the functional groups that get established in any society from time to time in keeping with the various activities that are required to be done for satisfying individual as well as common group needs. The following are examples of several institutions: (1) Cultural institutions; (2) Recreational institutions; (3) Economic institutions; (4) Commercial institutions; (5) Communication and transport institutions; (6) Political institutions.

Though the community comprises a number of institutions, it has a pattern of interdependence amongst its units and groups. Strictly speaking the smallest unit in community is the individual. But from sociological point of view the smallest unit of the community is the family. Of course this concept has come into common understanding only after man started living as husband and wife and rearing children as belonging to a couple. The family is a cohesive unit marked by a man and woman bound together by physical or emotional union resulting in a multiplication of the size of the unit and also an understanding of living together till death.

Next to the family we have the kinship groups which are bonded together by relationship of marriage. Depending on the locations community is referred to as village community or an urban community. There are many criteria which are used for deciding whether a geographical location is rural or urban. The main consideration are the size of the population, stage of development in different spheres, occupation, literacy, socio-economic conditions, etc. village as well as a town as a unit of social structure is composed of an entire community which will however be broken down into smaller groups according to occupation, caste, religion, etc.

Caste is probably the most important single classifying factor in the Indian context. It governs to a considerable extent the organization of kinship groups.

Villages can be classified as a single settlement village—in which the community shares a compact settlement; and nucleated village—with central settlement as nucleus around which there are small satellite settlements; disbursed village—consisting of disbursed or scattered houses.

Social stratification. We have considered the bondage existing in a family and among the kinship group. The society however consists of a number of families which apart from closeness, or remoteness, depending on the affinal and con sanguine relationship will have a number of other characteristics. Within the family itself the different individuals have different positions and statuses. Similarly the individuals in society differ from one another with regard to their economic status, literacy status, political status and social status and so on. Such differentiation in characteristic in society gives rise to a grading and group of individuals and families. This is known as social stratification.

Stratification  denotes the process of placing any set of items along a continuum according to grades or magnitude and grouping them. Stratification is a very important process in statistics in connection with sampling. In sociology stratification means the process by which families or individuals in a society get arranged in graded strata with varying degrees of power, prestige, property, political standing, educational standing, caste, etc.

Social Ranking:
Where many forces prevail, the standard shape of the stratification structure has been more pyramidal, the majority of the people ranking very low in their position, status, occupation, wealth, power, etc.

In the modern world a number of fundamental social and cultural changes are resulting in what seems to be a general trend in all societies towards an increasingly diamond shape distribution of roles along many of the dimensions of their social stratification system.
Power groups or power structure in a community refer to the stratification of the  community according to the dimension of power or influence or authority.

The social stratification is of great importance in sociology because it influences to a large extent the behavioral pattern in the society. It is common knowledge that people with superiority either by means of money, political status, education, etc. have a dominating influence on those lower down. Conversely people of a lower strata generally have a moral dependence on the people of higher strata and look up to them for any decision or change of behavior and approval. The opinion of the people in power has generally a binding influence on people of lower strata. This phenomenon is known as social influence.

In addition social influence has another dimension to it. People of higher strata not  only function as opinion givers but also has decision makers for the whole society. Therefore, if people of lower strata differ from any decision taken by the people of higher strata they do not feel bold enough to carry out the decision.  Any new idea or innovation generally catches up with the higher strata in society and the families of lower strata follow suit. It is rare that decisions are first taken in the lower strata and later accepted by the higher strata. This applies to decisions which have something common for the whole society. For example, contraception.
Within each stratum there may be customs and habits in practice which may be the result of decisions taken by themselves. 

Arising out of social stratification there is a variation in the degree of distance or social relationship and sympathetic understanding between individuals or families or groups belonging to different strata in society. This degree or intimacy or aloofness can be observed in the type of social relationship that are manifested. The social distance is a result of attitude and values, prejudice and customs. Prejudice is widening the social distances. Social distance is usually vertical, like castes, color difference, etc., but it can also be horizontal among peers due to personal likes sand dislikes.




Habit denotes any regularly repeated action that is learnt by an individual and is observable any others. From birth till death we develop, a set of ways of actions with regard to eating, drinking, sleeping, movements, ets. Every repetitive action gets formed into what is known as habit. Habits are due to the adjustment of an individual to an environment and because of the conditioning and reinforcement that goes on continuously. There are certain habits which are m ore or less involuntary and are being performed even subconscious or semi consciously. For example, an afternoon nap after lunch, answering calls of nature as soon as one gets up from the bed or only after bed tea.


Custom represents the group behaviour. Custom is a pattern of action shared by some or all members of the society. It is the totality of the behaviour pattern carried by traditions. Habit is a personality trait whereas the custom is a group trait. Customs are very much like habits and represents group practices which get reinforced and stabilised in course of time. By the advantage of experience from a particular practice or behaviour the group tries to follow it again and again and recommends it not only for the present but also for the future. Such repeated patterns of behaviour are known as customs. Customs will mostly be based on beliefs, attitudes, values and also past experience. It is however, possible that succeeding generations may not know of a significance of a particular custom which has been passed on from the previous generation. It may be followed blindly without knowing its rationale or value.

It goes without saying that customs are dynamic and changing, also passing from generation to generation. Customs of one group may differ from the customs of other group. There are, however, possibilities of acculturation and the borrowing and assimilation of customs. For example, systems of marriage, modes of dress, hair style, different customs of eating., celebration of different festivals, etc




As already mentioned culture is a complete whole of patterns of behaviour learnt by a society and standardized, approved and recognized. By repeated process of trial and error and learning, the society sets up expected patterns of behaviour. The expected patterns of behaviour are known as norms. A cultural norm is a concept of what is expected to exist or to take place as human behaviour. It is a set of behavioural expectation and consists of standardized expected ways of felling and acting. The cultural norms are generally derived from the previous generation from the way in which things were done for the good and convenience of the society. When culture is transferred from one generation to another, the norms are included in it. The past generation leaves behind the norms which regard to modes of worship, modes of eating, modes of marriage, etc. The next generation introduces fresh changes and the norms are also changed. A social norm is a type of social behaviour that is valued by the society as appropriate and befitting. A departure from this accepted and valued types of behaviour is socially condemned.

Norms are classified as folkways and mores. Folkways are the customary habitual ways of doing things by society or community. Folkways are norms which are generally practiced but at the same time there is no harm experienced by anybody in the society by these habits or customs not being observed or practiced. For example, greeting one another, wearing a turban. Folkways are so much of a habit that people observe them very often without even knowing the purpose. Folkways help special interaction and give a social psychological satisfaction to individuals when they interact with one another because they are group habits.

Mores are also norms but they are rigid norms and are meant to be followed by individuals for a specific advantage for the society. Mores refer to inflexible standard or ideas of right or wrong which require certain acts to be done and forbid others. They are vitally important to the society from an ethical and moral point of view. What is harmful to the society like for example crime and antisocial acts are mores which are forbidden. Charity and kind acts are mores that are encouraged because they have a positive ethical value.

Assimilation is another term used in sociology which denotes the process whereby a group, generally a minority or immigrant group is through contract absorbed into the culture of another group or groups. It amounts to the integration of one of the cultural traits into another. The smaller group gets assimilated into the bigger group and becomes a part of it. This is a part and parcel of the larger group ultimately with regard to its cultural traits and patterns of behaviour, etc.


Perception is need based. It arises out of past experience and is directed towards future aspirations. Things that matter to an individual or to the group get special significance. In life, we look upon things with relative grades of importance depending on how much they are useful to us or otherwise. At different times and in different situations things have different meaning and significance to us. This applies to ideas, beliefs, objects, persons, living beings and any thing in the world. Every individual places or gives a relative worth to everything around. This worth or preference or judgment or weight age is known as value. A value has been defined as a belief upon which a man acts by preference. It is cognition, a motor, and above all a deeply appropriate disposition.

Value refers not only to the importance given by the mind to a particular thing, the formulations within the mind of the ought and should standards which influence action. Value, therefore, has a strong influence on all actions and behaviour of every man. Value helps individuals and groups to make choices or alternatives for action. Value guides human behaviour.

Values like attitudes can be expressed and put into action. Values therefore can be elicited by questioning or by informing from the behaviour.

As already mentioned values are not stationery or constant change according to the need occurring at different times and situations. Values are learnt and are very much like selective perception. A nice book has no value to an illiterate or to an infant or to a blind person. Value refers to material and non-material. Certain customs and religious beliefs, superstitions, sacred sentiments, etc., have low ethical values. The values that have advantage for the self or for the society are known as positive value. And the value that is harmful and disadvantageous is negative values.

Values are also used with reference to material possessions. We think of the value of children, greater value of male child in the Indian context. The preceptor or teacher has a high value in almost any society. The possession of animals also connotes values. For example, possession of elephant, cattle, fowl, pet animals, etc.


Beliefs like values have an influence on behaviour and attitudes Perception also enables individual and groups to form a certain impression or understanding about objects, persons, events, etc. What the mind continues to think or know about a particular thing or event or a person, etc., becomes a belief. The dictionary meaning of belief is trust or confidence or something regarded by a person as truth. It also refers to a firm conviction or considered opinion or faith in the truth of religious doctines. Beliefs can be defined as a continuing permanent perception about anything in the individual world. Belief is a social product of individual perception as well as group experience. Each society forms and establishes beliefs on all aspects of life. The belief can be tested and if it proves otherwise it will have to be given up. But most of the beliefs are so deep rooted and traditional that the society does not try to question the validity of the belief.

Belief can be true and false. True beliefs would have been verified at some time or the other and those beliefs coincide with reality and can be experienced. False beliefs have no baiss and cannot be verified but they persist in society because of the group support. It may be appreciated that belief is a cognitive phenomenon and therefore gives rise to subjective facts for every individual and for the groups.
. Before science could unravel many things people used to believe in a number of phenomena which had not been tested out or logically proved. In ancient mythology we had a belief that the lunar and solar eclipses were due to a temporary devouring of the moon and sun by demons. Science has later established the causation of eclipse by physics. The belief that smallpox was due to Goddess Mariammal or Mariammal's wrath has now been dispelled after the discovery of the smallpox virus. There are many beliefs with regard to causation of leprosy. Such beliefs have led to different customs in earlier generations to seek relief from such diseases. Treatment by specific medicines was not resorted to because of the wrong beliefs prevailing



Despite the fact that human society seems to continue with its traditions, beliefs, attitudes and cultural patters there is always an under current of change taking place from time to time. The primitive society has not continued to be primitive. Gradually it has given place to changing culture, social structure and functions. Life for the individual has a selfish meaning of survival and satisfaction of various biological and psychological needs. The society also has many needs and aspirations. People in society get into different occupations and formation to satisfy their needs and ego and their positions as members of society.

We have already considered the structure and functions of society. In day to day life society is not static. It is continuing to perform for the productivity, utility and consumption and enjoyment of the society itself. What is further interesting in the society and structure in that there is a continuous change of needs, perceptions, experiences, functions of the society. For example, the aborigines were hunting for food and living either in the open or under trees or in the caves. In fact, primitive man did not have a family life. The formation of family, the customs of living as husband and wife, the institution of marriage, etc., were developments or changes of social structure and functions, language, the spoken word, the written script become means of communication between individuals and these are also social change.

Society has been getting transferred in every part of universe from the agrarian to industrial occupation. Likewise, we have been seeing many kinds of institutions like government, political organization, religious organization, etc., which are also the result of social change. Social change is the significant alteration of social structures, the patterns of social actions and interactions and the resultant changes in behaviour of a society as a whole, characterising it from time to time of particular patterns, along with its cultures, values and symbols, etc. It takes place according to the needs of the society from time to time.

Social change denotes an observed difference from antecedents or previous stages of the social structure, institutions, habits or equipments of a society, etc. Along with such change there are corresponding changes in values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour in a community or a group. It is, therefore, rather difficult to demarcate or differentiate the social change from cultural change. However for a rational and analytical understanding of this concept we can consider social change as the change that occurs in the structure and functions of the society. It takes place mainly due to the needs of the society because the society for its harmonious existence as a group, institutionalizes its own functions, its leaders, its communication, its economics and so on.

The following are some of the examples of social change to understand the change of social structure and functions.

In the beginning, the primitive man lived in small clusters or even alone and did not have much chance for interaction with the rest of the world. Later, movements and migrations increased, lands were discovered and different ethnic groups were formed.

There was no family tie or life as husband and wife in the beginning. The union of man and woman was just like among the animals. Later family system was developed. There have been various marriage customs and systems in different religions in different parts of this world. Monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, remarriage, divorce, etc., have been subsequent changes, in society. Similarly inheritance of property, support of the older generation by the off springs, adoption of children and such institutions have been developed. Socialization through the ages in different parts of the world has brought out a number of changes in the way in which people behave with one another inside and outside family in the community.
Patriarchal systems and matriarchal systems have also been due to social changes and institutionalization.

From the economic point of view or from the point of view of gathering or procuring food and other articles of consumption of daily life, various occupations have emerged and have been changing from time to time. The early man ate what was freely available in nature or killed the animals. It was followed by hunting; later man began to cultivate and grow crops. The agrarian society has further developed into an agrarian-cum-industrial society.

Apart form the security of the family and neighborhood the societies developed forms of government, leadership, defense organizations, armaments, equipments for supply, etc. Education has been an important social change in all societies. Communication through language and transport has also been by itself a social change and also a vehicle of social change. Even in education we have found different systems coming up from time to time. In Hindu culture we hear about the srutis. Later scripts and languages were formed. In ancient days there were Gurukula systems of education in India. Now we have schools, colleges, universities, etc.

We have been witnessing various forms of political organization and movements. We have seen various systems of government administration. All such changes have either been found necessary to adjust for the changing needs of the situation in the society or evolved by thinkers and planners.

An important factor for social change in every society is innovation. Invention or any new idea propounded or put forth by wise persons or experienced or matured persons carries conviction and it is accepted by others for the advancement of the society. Science and technology have made remarkable contribution to social change.

It is necessary to repeat for the sake of remembrance that social change occurs according to the current needs of the society, with regard to the function of individuals and groups and that it is a dynamic process with varying grades of speed depending on the necessitating forces. It must also be remembered at the same time that some social change may mean a reversal of trend or going back to the previous stage after finding that a particular change was less acceptable in practice than the previous stage.

Let us now consider cultural change. Culture as we have already understood is a totality of patterns of behaviour, beliefs, norms, values and attitudes, etc. Culture represents ways of life and the factors influence the pattern of life. We have also considered earlier that culture consists of material and non-material components.

With changing needs, changing perceptions and experiences and also changing beliefs, attitudes, tec., there will be change of culture. Cultural change is, therefore, the change in the way of life of a community which is dependent on the change of perceptive learning and experiences. For example, the caveman changed over to building huts with thatches and then to building of homes with brick and mortar, concrete, wood, iron, etc. All these things were due to the increase in inventions. Early man had no idea of cooking food. Today we talk of various recipes and menus, different food-stuffs and nutritional values and so on and we keep on changing our food habits. These are cultural changes. We make frequent changes in dressing. This is also a cultural change. By and large, introduction of new ideas by way of discovery, invention, etc., will bring out cultural change. We have also non-material changes like fine-arts, marriage systems, functions, ceremonies and education, etc.

It must be appreciated that social change and cultural change are very much inter-linked because both have to do with the structure and functions of the society and the ways of behaviour to lead a meaningful, purposeful and harmonious life.

For the first impression it may appear that social change and cultural change are synonymous. It is true that they are complementary to each other. But from analytical point of view social and cultural changes come about closely through innovation and diffusion. They also happen through social movements, migrations and legislation.

By and large social change, though dynamic, is a gradual process. From generation to generation changes have taken place in keeping with the emerging needs, past experiences, values, attitudes ad inventions and innovations.

Even anthropologically the emergence of mankind is by a process of evolution from the lower order of animals to mammals, primates and ultimately the cave man or aborigines. In sociology we have been able to trace periodical changes in society with regard to its composition and structure and its functions. We have referred to this as social change. Such social change has usually been in graded phases or in a more or less continuous fashion. There have also been reversals of change and sometimes, in history we refer to cyclical changes.

It may be appreciated that socio-cultural changes take place more as a process of evolution than revolution. Revolutionary changes are usually associated with changes in political organizations, changes in governments, ruling parties or wide spread changes in religion, etc. Revolutionary changes are usually associated with political or economic changes or with strong transfer of culture. Social Changes can sometimes take place rapidly after disasters and calamities like war, pestilence, flood, drought, earthquake, etc.


4. The Trial Stage. In the evaluation stage he has not yet had an opportunity to try it out by himself. He has only been able to know about it from others. So in the trial stage he ventures to give it a trial and learns from that experience whether to accept the idea or not. Taking the example of the house construction he makes a beginning with some architectural design. If things are encouraging he gets convinced about the utility. Otherwise, he has to give it up an think of a new idea which may require another trial. In the case of tuberculosis patient he subjects himself to the treatment and finds out for himself whether there is any relief of symptoms. This helps him to make up his mind to continue with this treatment. If on the other hand his condition does not improve or it worsens then the danger is that he will not accept it.
5. The  Adoption Stage. It is clear from the above stages that after a fair trial the individual adopts new idea or behaviour. It has also influenced by the individual's awareness, perception, attitude, value, evaluation, and trial. On the other side the individual is also influenced by the group or his significant others.
For example, in the acceptance of a sanitary latrine the individual's like or desire to have it is not enough. He wants to be sure that his neighbors do not criticize him. He has to find means of explaining to his neighbors why he adopted a latrine. In fact, this is the main dilemma of every innovator. The innovator adopts some things which he has found of genuine utility. It does take time for others in the group or community to understand and appreciate that utility. As things go on there is a chance for everyone in the community to perceive, to learn, to interact and finally understand why a particular innovation came into existence and how much it is useful. The spread of this information or idea is known as diffusion. It is this diffusion which can help in the multiplier effect of adoption.
The extension educator in any developmental program has to understand the different stages by which a person adopts a new idea. The educational effort has, therefore, to be aimed at reinforcing the ideas at each level of adoption process so that a good and useful idea gets more and more concretized and strengthened rather that reversed and dissipated.
It is in this context that we talk of rum ours. Rum ours may be genuine or good or may be bad. A rum our is any information which is passed on without any basis of factual information or verification. The rum our may be passing around as hearsay. A good rum our or a rum our that means well for the people should be. Verified for its source and credibility and used for the good purpose for which may create unnecessary disturbances, doubts or fears in the minds of the people unnecessary disturbances, doubts or fears in the minds of the people should also be traced for its source and put down immediately and sufficient mass education should be undertaken immediately to overcome the rum our.
Among  adapters in any programs we come across early or quick adaptors who take an idea without much hesitation and late adaptors who take some time.
Early adaptors either have sufficient information and background experiences from what they see elsewhere or have seen or head elsewhere and are therefore fully convinced in a short time. Late adaptors take some times to go through the different stages of adoption and are, therefore, relatively late in adopting. There are eligible couples in any community who accept contraception very soon after marriage whereas some couples accept contraception after having 5 or 6 children.
Innovators are even earlier than the adaptors. The categories of adaptors are classified as innovators, early adaptors, early majority, late majority and laggards. The innovator is one who takes a bold decision to try out something really new which has not earlier been tried or experienced by any one in the society. When proved successful the innovation gets approbation. It is at this stage that the early adopters follow. There is a slight diffusion and people who happen to see the innovation show greater interest and seek information and also pass through the trial and evaluation stage and finally adopt.
The innovator is the frame of reference for the early adaptors. The people in the early majority from the usual bulk of the society which takes some time for the trial and evaluation stage. For one thing they may be sceptical even after having seen the early adaptors. They may have inadequate resources. They may have inhibitions and reservations and doubts about the utility. Therefore, they just continue to watch to see how the innovators and early adaptors fare and also how the rest of the community views the innovations. After sufficient deliberation and repeated interactions with individuals and groups and also with the early adaptors, they get gradually motivated. It is only after they get fully convinced about the personal utility and the group approval and also the feasibility, economic as well as practically that they plunge into a decision and become adaptors. The usual phenomenon in any society is for a number of people to take a unanimous decision and adopt a particular new idea. This group consisting of a large number of people is categorized as early majority.

A common example in every day is the number of transistor buyers. First in a rural community one person may have a transistor and for some time people may even be criticizing him as a snob or spend thrift or a pleasure lover, etc. Later after having seen the use of transistor some more of his friends and relatives may also buy transistors. This will gradually diffuse into the society and after some time it will become a fashion or a norm for quite a number of people who have the means to buy transistors. This group will be the early majority.

As against this there will be a set of people in the society who will still not be in favor of transistors. Again it may be due to traditional values or lack of resources or aversion to anything new. They may have many reasons to rationalize their lack of interest or inability to buy and use a transistor. However, in due course their perception will change because of their constant experience of the use of transistors by others in the society. Various influences like status symbol, pressure from the family members, influence from friends, etc. Will play on their minds and they will also feel inclined to buy, use, and enjoy the transistor. Such people who take quite a long time to fall in line with the rest of the society in adopting a new practice are called late majority.

The last group is known as laggards. The laggards are those people who are influenced strongly by traditional values, beliefs and customs and therefore do not yield to any influence for a change even if they are mentally convinced of any advantages or utility of an innovations. Their fast adherence to tradition and blind beliefs do not permit them to change. Examples can be given for adaptors of different categories and laggards in situations like, widow remarriage interacts marriage; adoption of contraception; dress; and dowry system.

We have so far discussed about stages of adoption and categories of adoption. It must be remembered that adoption is also not a final event and permanent one. In some cases it may so happen that the adoption may be maintained for sometime and later discontinued. This is called discontinuance. Discontinuance is a decision to cease the use of an innovation after previously adopting it. It may be due to various reasons like dissatisfaction, impracticability, disapproval by others, high cost, failure, etc. For example, discontinuance of condom use, discontinuance of latrine and discontinuance of medicine, treatment, etc.

Rejection, on the other hand, is a decision not to adopt an innovation, after having gone through the different stages for adoption. However, it is also possible sometimes that a summary rejection may later give rise to an adoption. This may again be due to the fact that the individual passes through the stages of evaluation and trial once again after getting further information from various resources.
If the individual decides after trial not to adopt due to dissatisfaction or doubt or fear or lack of group support or lack of resources or lack of practicability, etc., the idea not to adopt is called rejection.
The new innovations are generally more acceptable in a community if the innovations are having the

following characteristics:
1. Simplicity,
2. in keeping with the local tradition and culture,
3. Communicability,
4. Divisibility,
5. Economical, and
6. Practically feasible.

The adoption of an innovation takes time for diffusion and completion in a society. The length of time required for an individual to pass through the adoption process from awareness to adoption is pass through the adoption process from awareness to adoption is known as the adoption period. This has to be found out by interrogation or interview. It is very difficult to find out because no individual will be clearly able to recollect and say when he exactly become aware of a thing and how long it took him to adopt.



So far we have considered how human behaviour is guided and directed by perception, learning, socialization, attitude and also by values, beliefs, and customs. Socialization includes perception and learning and helps the individual to regulate his behaviour in such a manner as to be accepted as a member of the society. We have also considered how motivation is responsible for decision making and behaviour. For the many day to day activities that we are engaged in our behaviour is mainly influenced by socialization. We try to do things by imitations or by compliance.

In the course of one's life situations occur now and then when a change may become necessary with regard to a particular behaviour or event. It may so happen that some one in the society has come out with the new ideas which according to his perception and experience may be advantageous not only to himself but to all others. However, being a new idea which has not been known by the others it may not carry conviction or appeal to others immediately as useful. Various discoveries and inventions have occurred in the world in the past and have had an impact on the people.

In the progress of mankind inventions have played a significant part in making life moor productive, more comfortable and more enjoyable. We have seen the introduction of various things like electricity, aero-plane, television, automobiles, etc. introduced for use by us. These are the invention. An invention is defined as a production of a new method of an art or a kind of instrument previously unknown. Similarly there have been many discoveries. Discoveries. Discovery is defined as the unpremeditated finding of something new. It is a shared human perception of an aspect of reality which already exists. For example, discovery of a geographical country, discovery of natural phenomenon in physics, chemistry, natural science, mathematics, etc. In the light of the meaning of discovery, inventing can be understood as a purposeful discovery. It is a new way of doing a thing or finding out a new contrivance or device or article for use.

When new things are brought out to the society they are not immediately accepted and liked by all. In fact very often the discovery or invention may even be looked down upon or criticized and opposed. At that stage the new idea may be considered as something abnormal or contrary to the culture and, therefore, considered as a social deviation. For example, when 'Sati' was an accepted traditional Hindu custom for a long time the reformation brought out by the abolition or Sati by Raja Ram Mohan Ray was immediately considered as sacrilege. It took some time for the society to understand the sense behind the reformation and to accept it as useful and worthwhile. Another similar example of an innovation is the widow remarriage in Hindu society.

The introduction of new ideas for acceptance by others in the society is known as innovation. Innovation is an idea perceived as new; it is any thought or behaviour or thing that is new and different from existing norms. When innovations are made known by any individual or any agency in the community the group as a whole will absorb this idea and utilize it for the necessary change of practice or behaviour is known in sociology as the 'adoption process'. According to the dictionary 'adoption' means to take an idea from some one else. It means the acceptance of a new idea and putting it into practice. There is another meaning in the dictionary for adoption. It refers to taking something as one's own. We are already familiar with this meaning. We had known of adoption of a child, adoption of property, adoption of a village, etc. In sociology or in the context of behavioural sciences adoption means taking of a decision to accept and to continue full use of an innovation.

The adoption process is the mental process through which an individual passes from first seeing or hearing about an innovation to its final adoption by change of behaviour. It may be appreciated that adoption though a mental process to start with, has also a physical aspect attached to it when the behaviour has been manifested.

It may be further appreciated that adoption has a great deal to do with the trying into use or practice of material and non-material cultural traits. To cite and example in a primitive society there was no idea of any writing or drawing, etc. These ideas came later and along with them the materials used for writing were also invented. Both the idea of writing a language as a script and also the use of paper, pencil, pen, black board, chalk piece have been adopted. In the emerging society, the introduction of currency coins and notes was another innovation which has been widely accepted. Society has adopted many means of communication which have been invented. People have migrated to new lands that have been discovered and have adopted the idea of living there after the discovery was made.

Thus we see that anything that is found out as new is perceived by others and after proper judgment about its utility or gain the idea is adopted for future use. Further, in decision making which we have already considered in the previous chapter, adoption includes in it a few stages of mental process. In fact adoption is not dissimilar to decision making because it implies the making of a decision to take up some thing new. The essential factor which influences adoption are the cognitive factor and the analytical and judgment factors. Beside adoption like decision making though an individual affair is largely influenced by the group opinion or group sanction.

Five stages of adoption process have been described in the Roger's model. They are—awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. These stages are only a conceptual model to facilitate the understanding of how an innovative idea can get internalized and accepted or adoption or rejected by an individual. Any idea does not immediately find its translation into action, particularly if it involves a change of behaviour or use of new devices, material, instruments, etc.

The process of adoption is a very complex affair because the mind has to think about it many times and in many stages. For the sake of understanding the mode of working of the mind towards adoption, the Roger's model is usually taken up as a common phenomenon. Whether the mind really goes through these stages or not for every adoption is somewhat questionable. However it would seem logical to understand the process of adoption after going through these stages.

1.     The Awareness stage. For any new idea (innovation or invention) a person has first to be made aware of the emergence of that idea. For example, a person who takes up tennis should first know that there is a game called tennis. He may know it from conversation with others and his peer group or from any printed materials, magazines and books or from cinema, T.V., etc A case of tuberculosis may become aware of the possibilities of treatment by specific drugs and the possibilities of diagnosis by sputum examination, X-ray examination, etc. before that he has also to be aware that the symptoms that he is suffering from may be due to a tubercular infection in him.
2.     The Interest stage. It is natural that a person who has just been exposed to particular information may begin showing ether a positive or negative interest about that fact or information. If he is already opposed to that idea or he has a prejudice against it he will not make any effort to seek further information about it. Whereas if the first information which created the awareness suits his interests and need, he is likely to seek further information to satisfy not only his curiosity but to ensure that the information is of relevance and The person interested in the construction of a building of his desire and choice, goes about meeting people concerned with house-building and tries to collect as much information as possible. Similarly in the second example, the case of tuberculosis who has got already and inkling or an idea that he can be diagnosed and treated makes effort to find out further details about the treatment particulars, the places where such treatment is available, the persons who can give such treatment; the after effects and so on.
3.     The Evaluation stage. Based on the information that has been collected as means to the solution of the problems the individual exercises his mind to analyze various plus and minus points and also the utilitarian gain immediately as well for long-term and above all, the opinion or support that he has to get from the family and community. As has been mentioned on many occasions previously the individual is always worried in his own self and also the significance to others. Therefore, this stage is a very difficult on e for the individual.
Again taking the previous examples in the case of the house the person is anxious that the house he is contemplating to build is not going to be criticized as outlandish or very ultra-modern or ugly or cheap. He will definitely consult others before he finalizes his design. He may not consult it directly but he will make discreet inquiries to know the feeling of others. If any changes are suggested which are appealing to his sense he will immediately make them so as not to give room for any unhealthy criticism later on. Apart from this the evaluation stage will mainly consist of analysis of the costs involved, the type of material to match the financial resources, the architectural beauty, and convenience of the family members and so on.
In the second example of tuberculosis case, the patient consults the doctor or the nurse or Para-medical worker and also cases already under treatment or who have been cured by treatment and will gather all the information necessary to know whether it is worthwhile for him to go in for such a treatment or think of some other way of getting relief. If the doctor or nurse or health worker is able to convince him about a radical cure and recovery of good health at low cost and without much difficulty for collecting medicine, etc., the patient may decide in favor of allopathic.


Society is full of life. It has a number of interactions. There are many functions of society which are done with common purposes. Society wants to exist and move forward. In this continuous process of activity and interaction a number of things are learnt, practiced and adjusted as good or useful or otherwise. All such things that human society is capable of acquiring are passing on from generation to generation.

Culture is that complete whole which includes knowledge, belief, customs, art, morals, law and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. Otto Klin Berg defines culture as a way of life. The word cultivates means, to use land for rising of crops, to grow, to improve. In bacteriology the term culture is used to refer to the growth of microorganisms in the affected tissues of the body or in artificial media in the laboratory. The growth of bacteria in colons is described as culture. In sociology culture is used with reference to human beings and society. The dictionary meaning of culture is cultivation the education of the mind for improvement and refinement the result of such education possession of correct sensitive taste, rational judgment, refinement of manner and highly developed intellectual outlook. The term culture embraces a wide range of activities and characteristics of individuals as well as groups with regard to their way of life. The general mode of the life with its customs, beliefs and articles and artifacts used for various purposes by societies are all comprehensively known as culture or cultural characteristics.

Every society acquires its own ways of  life. In other words the beliefs, customs, traditions, norms, values, etc., differ from society to society. Some things may also be common among societies. The abstract things like customs, behavioral patterns, etc., form nonmaterial culture. The articles and various kinds of objects and things that are made by man and also available in nature for his use are known as material culture or overt culture. Non-material culture or covert culture refers to patterns of living practices, values, customs, attitude, etc. For example, for material culture house, table, pen, motor car, tractor, jewel, musical instrument, bell, candle and so on. Fro nonmaterial culture religion, respecting elders, marriage systems, customs of burning or cremating of the dead, etc

The development of a culture of society is dependent on the different factors which govern perception and learning and the development of behaviour. Different functions and institutions in societies are need based. In the course of time theygive rise to cultural patterns. In other words, the needs determine many acts and functions and what has been going on is followed from generation to generation or adopted by one society from another. Culture is, therefore, integrated with the socio-economic conditions and also the biological needs. It is not inherited or transmitted biologically. It is through socialization that the culture diffuses, stays and changes from time to time in society. It is passed on from generation to generation through the continuous process of socialization. Since people can give up certain things or practices after finding them useless or after finding better ways of doing things, culture is constantly undergoing a change. Many practices keep on changing with time. Culture is therefore a dynamic ongoing process. Because culture is a complete whole of all ways of life it helps to bind the individuals in society together. Culture becomes therefore a readymade frame of reference for every individual and society with regard to what is acceptable and what is unsocial or harmful or not permitted.

The purpose of culture is to give to the society by continuous process of learning and experience, patterns of behaviour which are found useful for a harmonious existence and smcoth functioning in all occupations and interactions and thereby ensure individual and group survival and perpetuation.

Culture is the integrated social, economic, biological, ethnic, modes of behaviour of a group of a society. It is implied that even the possession of ideas, attitudes, values, etc., form culture. Earlier we have seen that personality is the sum total of the thought and action or attitude and behaviour patterns of an individual. Similarly we can consider culture to be the sum total of the thought and action or attitude and behaviour patterns of society or groups. Otto Klinberg defines culture simply as a way of life which is determined by social environment.


The different parts of culture must get together for the society to function efficiently over a period. People tend to reject disharmonious elements and retain useful characteristics or patterns. Every subculture or any new change in a culture must harmoniously fit into the rest of the culture. This is called cultural integration. If such integration does not take place there will be a disturbance in the cultural equilibrium. For example, abortion is opposed in most of the religions but for reasons of health or socio-economic conditions the practice of abortion gets accepted in the community. This is integrated. Another example is the use of contraception.

Enculturation is defined as the conscious or unconscious conditioning occurring within that learning process, whereby man as child and adult achieves competence in his culture. Enculturation is basically therefore synonymous with the more widely used term socialization.

Acculturation may be defined as that process of culture change in which more or less continuous contact between two or more culturally distinct groups results in one group taking over the elements of the culture of the other group or groups. It is concerned with the result of contact and interaction of at least two distinct cultural groups. It may be appreciated that acculturation can take place within the same community or can be the result of migration or living in a new one group to another can be a two way process. The term Tran culture is specifically used for the transfer of culture from one geographical area to another.

Ethnocentrism is actually due to narrow mindedness and clannishness. It sometimes helps as a defense against one’s inadequacies or maladjustment in a new culture.