Social change or social evolution? Arguments for and against social progress in the sociological theory of evolution

Peter Gedeon


Sociological theory adapted an evolutionary theoretical framework for understanding social change in the 19th century. Later on the evolutionary approach has been challenged, modified or refused. This paper examines the controversy between anti-evolutionary and neoevolutionary theories. Anti-evolutionary theories attacked the concept of social progress, neo-evolutionary theories defended it. At present, it seems, macrosociological theory has abandoned the concept of social progress. This paper argues that from an analytical perspective there is no compelling argument to do this. Sociological theory may retain the concept of social change linked to an evolutionary theory if in the light of criticisms it redefines it.

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X