Sample Essay on Sociology for the 21st Century

Sociology for the 21st Century


Normally, sociology is defined as study of social life. It is of great importance to realize social life is forever changing. This means if social life evolves, then analysis of social issues transforms as well. In the 21st century, the world has experienced changes that range from technology development and social challenges to family composition in terms of family bond weakening. Such changes in the social world have great impacts on the social, political and economic lives of individuals in society. The major objective of this paper is identifying the fundamental changes in today’s social world that play an essential role in the shaping of societies. What is more, the paper critically evaluates the theories that explain some of the changes seen in the social world.

Fundamental Changes in the Social World


In the modern society, the technological innovations have become a main source of social change. This is especially true when the changes are looked upon in terms of provision of demarcation between the industrial and agrarian societies. It is of great importance to note introduction of new apparatus for technology cannot change the society. The response however by citizens to such changes case great transformation. Technological innovations that characterize the 21st century include development of reliable and fast computers as well as internet and social media development which have proven instrumental in revolutionizing political, economic and social platforms of the society. Sites like Twitter and Facebook for example, necessitate virtual and online communication that has led to changes in mode of interaction of different kinds of platforms (Noor & Hendricks, 2012 4-6).

From a political standpoint, technological innovations have both undesirable and positive effects. Facebook and Twitter for example, are important platforms for politicians for purposes of connecting with their constituents. It is through such sites that companies like Microsoft have developed the social media platform, TownHall, which is designed to serve needs of the political figures. Through such a platform, politicians as well as other political figures also hold online conferences as such, limiting movement and making some savings on the resources available (Biagi, 2010, 335). Social media as well has played a crucial role in organization of political revolutions in the Arab world especially between 2011 and 2013. Libya and Egypt are good examples of states whose political climate has already been altered through mobilizing citizens via social media (Noor & Hendricks, 2012, 7-8).


Globalization entails incorporation of economic, social and political cultures. This is attained through developing a system through which countries can interact for purposes of developing a global economy. Globalization, as such, involves exchanges from varying fronts, largely made attainable by development in infrastructure and communication transport. Since end of World War II in the late 1940s, global societies have experienced a rise of multinational companies (Robinson, 2007, 128). In the 21st century, the companies made investments in different countries leading to increased influence in economic, social and political platforms especially in those countries with major contributors to said economies. Globalization has led to intensified  powers of international bodies like the UN (UN, world Bank and International Monetary fund (IMF), and as such, these bodies play a crucial role in international matters (Robinson, 2007, 129). For instance, the UN has played an important role in mediation for peace in nations such as Ivory Coast, Kenya and most recently, Syria where there was civil unrest.

The influence the civil society has is also increasing and broadening the scope of social, political as well as economic fronts. There are some civil societies advocating for rights of women, those advocating for protection of environment and those assisting the vulnerable in the society (Robinson, 2007, 131). The major role played by these organizations in the 21st century is not one that counters government policies but rather, ensures the government is able to implement and establish policies that are not just sound but beneficial to all members. The increased influence and power of these is caused by realization there is the need to monitor government operations in order to make sure they serve people’s interests. The ever rising influence these organizations have, especially in areas such as environment, human rights, workers and children coupled with growing influence of Multinational corporations and other international bodies ensures there is realization of full potential of a great number of global actors (Robinson, 2007, 132).

Gender Roles

Among the major differences between the 21st century and others is that current generation strives to realize gender equality. Gone are days when the women stayed at home while their husbands went out to the field to work as breadwinners for their families. It is interesting to note women have acquired skills to multitask as employers, mothers, wives and employees. Additionally, the education of the girl child in societies that are make dominated has been emphasized s well and women are now able to attend school as well as acquire good education. The current society, according to Dunleavey (2007, para 10) is comfortable with household where both partners contribute to livelihood. This is now the norm and for some reason, it is now impossible to live in a family that has a single income. This is especially true where the earner is the woman. There are also women earning more than their spouse, according to a survey conducted in 2003 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 1/3 of wives earned more than husbands. Women as well have become breadwinners and in some cases, the men quit jobs so as to take care of the family (Dunleavey, 2007, para 11).

Among contributing elements to change of gender roles in the 21st century is growing ideology of feminism. Women now reevaluate their roles and convert into being more than submissive wives. Change in gender roles does not connote women are more powerful than their male counterparts but it means now women have more roles they can handle within and outside their families (Dunleavey, 2007, para 11). With the existing freedom women enjoy due to gender equality, it is possible for them to take part in platforms of major decision-making. There are also women of great influence in social, economic and political platforms. Therefore, women are not limited to doing what they wish as the possibilities are endless. In these circumstances, they not play essential role in driving their families to success but participate in developing the society.


In the 21st century, families appear in different forms. Factors like cohabitation, remarriage, single parenthood, Proofreading-Editingdivorce and parenting out of wedlock etc. have led to nuclear families been the exception instead of the norm. Precisely half a century ago, children got raised in families that were characterized by two biological parents and they enjoyed necessary support from immediate extended families. In the first 2 years of the 21st century however, the nuclear family has become part of the threatened species list. It is intriguing to note even in these families, the breadwinner and homemakers roles have been revised and now, it is quite difficult to designate and define what an ideal family is (Munhall & Fitzsimons, 2001, 48).

Another change that is outstanding is the network and support parents once enjoyed while they raised children. It was normal for extended family members like the uncles and grandparents to reside close to each other. In the modern American society, more grandparents seek alternative places where they can stay after retiring while they leave the young ones to fend for themselves. With such a trend stretching families throughout the globe, there are fewer in-built support networks within the community and families (Munhall & Fitzsimons, 2001, 50). Disintegration of the nuclear family as such has led to loss of sense of community. In the 21st century, neighbors are looked upon as enemies. There are fewer Americans who attend churches and join groups that are church related as such, the support of the congregation is limited and in some instances, non-existent. The busy schedules characterizing operations of most families lead to reduction of opportunity for parents to build strong relationships with children. Majority of kids in urban societies are socialized by peer groups and schools. The family is viewed as the primary socialization agent and this makes it essential in part for overall growth of the child. It is important to note in most households, house helps play a crucial role in of acting as socialization agent due to busy schedules followed by parents due to the hard economic times (Munhall & Fitzsimons, 2001, 55).

In the modern society, the number of families with single parents has risen. This can be attributed to the fact majority of families are characterized by divergent values and divorce. Children who are raised and born in such families face a lot difficulties due to absence of the other parent and this has a great impact on their grooming and wellbeing (Munhall & Fitzsimons, 2001, 58).

Theories that explain fundamental Social Change in the 21st Century

Modernization theory

This school of thought attempts to understand effects of modernization processes on human communication. According to this theory proponents, Rostov and Anthony Giddens, it has evolved in 3 stages. The first modernization theory stage is traditional where the communities use technological innovations only existing on an ad hoc basis (Kendall, 2012, 229). This happens since there is insufficient knowledge of the constant development and application of modern technology and science. The second stage according to Rostov is economic growth stage. In this case, the society undergoes several processes of change which help construction of the conditions of take-off and growth (Kendall, 2012, 229).

The most fundamental and last stage is known as take-off since it is applicable to social change in the 21st century. It is characterized by intense economic growth that results from stimulus of political, economic and technological innovations and developments. Current technological developments have made it possible for society to be driven by self-sustaining economic developments (Kendall, 2012, 229). Social sites like Twitter and Facebook also have modern society stretching further across time and space as a result of interactive and mass media use. This is quite unlike traditional society based on direct contact between individuals who reside close to each other (Kendall, 2012, 230). Also, it explains why families within the traditional societies were very united as compared to those in the modern society where the demands of economy and technology have led to segregation of families as well as increase of families with single parents.

Globalization, which has led to strengthening of multinational corporations according to Giddens, is based on increase of industrialization, savings growth and investments. Giddens looks at the current universalization as a vital process of political universal form that is organized along industrialization, capitalism, military power and surveillance. What is more, increased influence of civil societies I majority of countries can be attributed to increase in demand for democratic governments and this is made possible by internet development, which permits the sharing of information as well as mobilization of citizens towards an agenda that is common (Robinson, 2007, 139).

Theory of economic modernity

This school of thought uses the classical approach to development. It takes into consideration increase in democratic leadership and human choice as the direct economic growth outcome. In regard to gender equality, this theory asserts economic growth is vital towards increasing the number of women who are eligible for political power positions (Alexander & Wezel, 2012, 5). Proponents of the theory also argue economic growth in the 21st century is closely related to aspects that are broader like distribution of occupational and educational resources that enable empowerment of women. Increased access to these occupational and educational resources has led to an increase in chances women have in professional development, increased and created the opportunities women have such as in political office. What is more, the high economic growth levels have led to increase in social services within the community through decrease in cost of labor and the tome for day-to-day activities related to care giving. In such a society, women are able to access services that are vital to social, political and economic development. This theory provides development in an approach that is societal feminist (Alexander & Wezel, 2012, 5-6).


In the 21st century, society is experiencing changes that are vital in its wellbeing. These can be attributed to growth in technology, gender role changes, and different forms of families that result from numerous political, economic and social alterations. Additionally, globalization has turned to be a major factor in society transformation. It is crucial to note that modernization theory as it is propounded by Giddens and Rostow explains reasons that changes take place in society in the 21st century. Changes in gender roles as well as women empowerment is explained best by the theory of economic modernity, which asserts that favorable economic conditions provide girls and women with platforms that make it possible to access different growth opportunities.

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