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Measuring Social Change ALBERT J. REISS, JR. INTRODUCTION Surely among the most influential models of social change was that developed by William Fielding Ogburn (1922b). Ogburn described a process of invention followed by cultural change, followed by social disorganiza- tion, and finally social adjustment (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:8771. Ogburn concluded that public policies and interventions meant to guide modern social change would depend heavily upon the development of a unified national statistical system to collect and process information about social trends (Ogburn, 1929:9581. Although Ogburn's vision of a unified statistical system has not been realized, he may well have regarded this as but a lag in adjustment to which all inventions give rise. This essay does not attempt to assess systematically Ogburn's (1922b) theory of social change, his contributions to our understanding of social trends (1928-1935, 1942), or the development of statistical systems (Og- burn, 1919; President's Research Committee on Social Trends, 19331. But it draws heavily upon that vital heritage. Three major questions are addressed: (1) How do inventions, especially those of the behavioral and social sci- ences, affect social changes and adaptations? (2) How do social changes affect measurement? And, (3) How do contemporary behavioral and social science models, concepts, and methods affect our understanding of society and how it changes? SOCIAL INVENTIONS In Ogburn's view, inventions, particularly mechanical ones, are the source of all cultural growth and evolution. Inventions also cause disruptions in 36
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 37 related parts of culture and in social organization, necessitating adaptations and adjustments. But these adjustments take time, and Ogburn therefore called them cultural lags, noting that "Over the long course of social evolution, measured in thousands of years, cultural lags are invisible. At any particular moment, however, they may be numerous and acute" (Og- burn in Duncan, 1964:301. Although Ogburn emphasized that social inventions can cause social change (1934: 162), his theory and his own work gave priority to mechanical inventions (1922b:76-77; Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:809-8101.~ This be- nign neglect of social inventions is coupled with Ogburn's firm conviction that the behavioral and social sciences can shorten cultural lags. Nowhere did he summarize this belief better than in his chapter on invention in Recent Social Trends (President's Research Committee on Social Trends, 1933:166~: Society will hardly decide to discourage science and invention, for these have added knowledge and have brought material welfare. And as to the difficulties and problems they create, the solution would seem to lie not so much in discouraging natural science as in encouraging social science. The problem of the better adaptation of society to its large and changing material culture and the problem of lessening the delay in this adjustment are cardinal problems for social science. Ogburn concluded an essay on trends in social science with these obser- vations (1934:2621: The greatest obstacles to the development of science in the social field are complexity of the factors and the distorting influence of bias. These are formidable, but certainly the trends of the present century are most encouraging, and we may look forward, because of social science, to a greater control by man of his social environment. The relatively lesser emphasis that Ogburn placed on Me role of social as compared win material technology persists to this day. Even social and behavioral scientists tend to overlook their role in processes of social change. In fact, it is quite plausible that social inventions, especially those of the behavioral and social sciences, are a major cause of change, as well as key elements in society's adaptation to change. The selective perception that limits recognition of the role of behavioral and social science inventions may indeed count as a cultural lag. ~Ogburn's interest in social inventions, their effects, and lags in adapting to them preceded the writing and publication of his classic study, Social Change (1922b). His doctoral dissertation (1912) was on child-labor legislation. While teaching at Reed College in Oregon, he became interested in the initiative and referendum as methods of direct legislation (1914, 1915). Still later, he was interested in the consequences of women's suffrage (Ogburn & Goltra, 1919). As Duncan concludes, however, this early interest in social inventions arose, in part, from political sympathies with social problems and reforms.
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38 ALBERT J. REISS, JR. Underlying the major themes for this first section is a speculation that the relative contributions of the respective sciences and technologies to social change are altering substantially. Modern societies have come to depend heavily on the behavioral and social sciences and their technologies and cannot run without them. As material technology replaces labor, non- material technology may come to dominate social change, if it has not already done so. Major Social Inventions and Their Consequences Ogburn was fascinated by the effect of what he distinguished as major technological inventions such as the ship, the airplane, the internal com- bustion engine, and the elevator. He also devised lists of significant social inventions (1934:162), such as the minimum wage law, the juvenile court, Esperanto, installment selling, and group insurance. Yet he apparently never attempted to differentiate between social and behavioral inventions with potentially major versus those with more limited or minor effects. Some social and behavioral science inventions, nonetheless, have had such sig- nificant and widespread impact that one cannot imagine modern democratic societies operating without them. Two such inventions, noted in the first report of the Committee on Basic Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (Adams et al., 1982) are singled out here: human testing and sample surveys. Human Testing Ogburn (1950) generally attributed invention to three fundamental causes: mental ability, social demand, and the accumulation of cultural elements from which inventions are fashioned. To pinpoint the origins of a particular invention is not a simple task, given the multiplicity of able minds, the variation in the sources of demand, and the different patterns that elements of the cultural base may take. The invention of human testing is usually attributed to a nineteenth- century scientific interest in the study of individual differences. The history of tests of distinctly mental abilities is better documented than other major forms of human testing (Wigdor & Garner, 19821. Tests of mental abilities derived from psychologists' attempts to understand differences in intelli- gence among individuals. Gallon (1869) first devised a series of sensory discrimination tests to shed light on individual differences, followed by Cattell (1890) and others who developed batteries to test sensory and motor abilities. But it was a demand within the French Minister of Education, to distinguish subnormal from normal children in Paris schools, that led Binet, in collaboration with Simon (1905), to introduce the concept of mental age and scales to measure it.
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 39 Ogburn often noted that inventions diffuse more readily where there is a demand for them; the Binet-Simon scale diffused quickly. The test was translated into English by Goddard in the United States in 1908, into Italian by Ferrari in 1908, and into German by Bobetrag in 1912 (Klineberg, 1933:323~. Translation was followed by revision, such as the Stanford- Binet test published by Terman and his collaborators in 1916 (Klineberg, 1933:3241. Although testing has been important to the conduct of research and was a product of psychological laboratories, its development and invention have been highly responsive to social demands arising outside the laboratory, initially by the public schools to sort children and somewhat later by the U.S. Army to screen World War I draftees. Testing is now at least as consequential for the major operating organizations in industrial societies as for the conduct of research. The testing industry is integral to four major organizational tasks: (1) selection of persons as employees or clients; (2) classification of employees or clients according to organizational tasks, (3) assessment of human performance within organizations; and (4) assessment of the "human output" of organizations. Ogburn distingushed primary from derivative effects of invention. Since societies and their organizations do not systematically collect and process information about such effects, even less so for social than mechanical inventions, it is far easier to identify qualitatively than to document the quantitative impact of the invention of human testing. The primary effects are clearly on employment and the management of organizations. Testing occupations generate substantial employment in the U.S. Civil Service, the Armed Forces, public and private school systems, and in large private industrial firms, most of which employ testing extensively in at least one of the four organizational tasks mentioned above, as well as in the devel- opment, production, and marketing of tests themselves. Public controversy and litigation may surround the use of testing in organizational management. Because many organizations base selection and promotion on testing, test information can be influential in legal proceed- ings. The testing industry has been challenged to produce different kinds of tests as a consequence of such litigation. The courts have played a substantial role, for example, in structuring tests for selecting and promoting women and minorities in police and fire departments. Derivative effects of behavioral and social inventions include the spur they often provide to mechanical inventions. The first high-speed printer (essential for modern computers) was developed for a scoring machine by the educational tester Lindquist. In the highly competitive educational achievement testing industry, the rapid scoring and delivery of test results to schools was critical to market shares. As this example illustrates, social
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40 ALBERT J. REISS, JR. invention and mechanical invention are seldom independent of one another. The design of modern control systems necessarily involves both human performance measures and technological components. The displacement of humans by computerized robots is also a replacement of some human skills by other human skills. The machine's displacement of manual or mechanical labor moves the labor force toward the cognitive skills that are most dis- tinctively human. It seems no exaggeration to estimate that the average person in an in- dustrial society encounters the products of the testing industry virtually every year for the first two decades of life and in many cases for much of his or her career. Even where not subject to standardized tests, occupational life is controlled by elementary concepts of ability and achievement de- veloped in testing. Increasingly, testing concepts enter the debate over major issues in society, such as the recent controversy over merit pay for teachers especially whether merit can be based on testing teacher performance. Aside from the considerable effect on every other sector of society, the invention of testing precipitated many new inventions in statistics and other behavioral and social sciences. These inventions have significantly affected the conduct of research, and the results of that research have in turn affected society. The early testing of intelligence and mental abilities led to Spear- man's attention to the reliability of measures and his positing of the G factor in intelligence (Spearman, 1904~; this development gave rise to factor analysis, especially with Holzinger's (1930, 1931) development of the bi- factor method (through a study with K. Pearson and collaboration with Spearman, 19251. A variety of statistical factoring methods were soon invented as the concept of intelligence changed with empirical testing, including multiple-factor methods (Thurstone, 1931, 1935) and principle component methods (Kelley, 1928, 1935; and Hotelling, 1933~. As factor analysis was extended to other human traits and characteristics, e.g., human emotions (Burt, 1915, 1939), attitudes, and opinions, awareness of its limitations led to statistical inventions for discerning latent structures (Gutt- man, 1950; Lazarsfeld, l9SO, 1954, 1967; Rasch, 1968, 1980) and statis- tical interactions (Goodman, 1970~.2 These analytical innovations have shaped theory and hypothesis testing in behavioral and social sciences and, 2The history of social science inventions should become an important part of any sociology of knowledge as well as being integral to the study of social change. The ways that demand shapes intellectual agendas is not well understood. Consider the fact that Lazarsfeld undertook his work on latent structure analysis and Guttman on scale analysis in connection with research for the Research Branch of the Information and Education Division of the U.S. War Department in World War II.
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 41 as Holzinger noted in 1941, have had major applications in physics, med- icine, and business forecasting (1941:51. Sample Surveys Modern sample surveys rest on early inventions. The principles of random selection, objective probability, and stratified random sampling are well over a thousand years old (Duncan, 1984:iv). Survey modes of data collection also have been around for a considerable time. But the coalescence and systematization of these inventions into the modern stratified probability survey of a population are a product of modern be- havioral and social science, coming mostly within the last 50 years. As in the case of testing, there is a dearth of data to assess the effects of this invention, particularly its role in social change. Yet, we can plausibly argue that, except for institutional data collected as a by-product of orga- nizational routines, the sample survey has become the major mode for linking action to intelligence in modern democratic societies. Even news organizations do not any longer claim to speak for the aggregate except in a metaphorical sense; but the opinion poll is accepted as doing so. It is difficult to trace all of the ways that the sample survey has come to dominate organizational and individual decisions and operations. A few examples are offered simply to illustrate how pervasive it has become and how instrumental it is in changing behavior. Perhaps nowhere has the invention of sample surveys altered the pattern of activity as much as in American electoral politics. Despite an abundance of skepticism about candidate and opinion polls, no candidate runs for major political office without a private polling operation. Media coverage of elections compares candidates in terms of their poll status; legislative and executive action is responsive to poll information; and political issue and candidate polls are a substantial American industry. A second major area where surveys dominate is in providing intelligence for government decisionmaking. Much of the information for operating the government comes from sample surveys. The IRS, for example, has used sample surveys in its Audit Control Programs since 1948, and as an estab- lished part of its Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program (TCMP) since 1962 (Long, 1980:551. These surveys of tax returns and filing com- pliance in the general population have become a principal means for the IRS to set its enforcement strategy. Major short-term policy indicators on unemployment and the cost of living are based wholly or in part upon sample surveys. The Survey Division of the Bureau of the Census has become one of its largest, quite apart from many other divisions within the bureau also operating sample surveys or collecting information through them. The Current Population Survey annually reaches about 1 in 1,000
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42 ALBERT J. REISS, JR. households. No organization of any size remains unsurveyed by some gov- ernment organization (though not always by sample surveys). A third major area for sample surveys is marketing. Market research may be the dominant sector in sample surveying, surpassing the resources al- located to surveys by governments though data for precise comparisons are lacking. There are several kinds of market research. Sample surveys affect product development and sales strategies. They locate territories or populations for marketing a particular good or service. Surveys estimate the demand for new products or satisfaction with existing ones. The mass media, which rely on sample surveys for news, rely even more heavily on them for market information. No industry is more sensitive to the sample survey than tele- vision, in which ratings of network programs determine advertising revenues and the fate of writers, producers, and stars. As a fourth major consequence, the sample survey has become the major means of developing social indicators in postindustr~al society. Sample survey information is aggregated into indicators in two different, albeit related, ways. Surveys are used cross-sectionally at a point in time-to evaluate relative performances or outputs, as in the Nielsen ratings of television programs, or to compare electoral candidate strengths. Social indicators are also used to forecast, monitor, control, or respond to the course of change over time. For example, the monthly Current Population Survey estimates unemployment, residential tenure, and vacancy rates; the semiannual National Crime Survey examines victimization rates; the Annual Housing Survey reports characteristics of housing units; and the National Health Survey examines illness, use of health care services, and health- related expenditures. Sample surveys are also important in applied social science research, especially by nonacademic organizations. Not only has evaluation research become a substantial private industry, but major organizations such as the Armed Forces have developed a considerable in-house capability for sample surveys; it has been said that the most surveyed population in the world is the Armed Forces of the United States; certainly the American soldier in World War II served the most surveyed military in history (Stouffer et al., 1950). Finally, the sample survey is one of the major methodological foundations of the modern behavioral and social sciences. Despite widespread use in government and by profit and nonprofit organizations, major innovations and inventions in sample surveying continue to stem mainly from the ac- ademic social science community. Exceptions occur, primarily in the de- velopment of efficient means of surveying, such as computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI); yet even when such innovations occur outside the
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 43 academic community, assessment of their utility and continuing innovation generally moves within it. This brief review of the pervasive effects of two major behavioral and social science inventions human testing and sample surveys illustrates their major impact on patterns of life in modern societies and draws attention to the possibility that the relatively lower scientific prestige of the behavioral and social sciences rests in part on their not studying the social impact of their inventions. Were there systematic investigations of such inventions and their effects, we might discover that in postindustrial society behavioral and social science inventions are more consequential for social change than material inven- tions. Ogburn developed his theory of cultural evolution by focusing on the material inventions and advances in physical science and mathematics that contributed to the Industrial Revolution. That view scanted the great social inventions of earlier societies, such as bureaucratic administration and empires (Eisenstadt, 1963) and antedated most of modern behavioral and social science.3 The role of economics in setting government policies and in the social control of economies has grown considerably since the work in Recent Social Trends. Although a president had sought the advice of academic social science in the "President's Research Committee on Social Trends," the committee seemed not to have imagined the significant role that behavioral and social science inventions would come to play in corporate organizational life and government in America. Ogburn believed that the cultural base of social invention accumulated less rapidly in modern times Man Tat of mechanical invention (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:7921.4 This slower grown, in turn, slows the rate of new social invention. Yet there appears to be greater accumulation in the behavioral and social sciences Tan Ogburn expected. Rapid expansion of the knowledge base has been especially evident in cognitive psychology and linguistics. A final word may be in order here on the reluctance to examine the impact of behavioral and social science inventions on society and especially on social change. Lags in adaptation due to such inventions may be intrin 30gburn observes en passant: "The fact that technology is at present so powerful a cause of cultural lags, and consequent social disorganization, does not deny that other variables such as social inventions or population changes are creating lags also . . . the lag of social changes behind technological progress is simply a special case of the general phenomenon of unequal rates of change of the correlated parts of culture" (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:893). 4The matter is empirical. It is not clear that the cultural base of social inventions cumulates any less rapidly in the modern world. Boulding (1978) argues that the homogenization of societies throughout the world may lead to less diversity in the cultural base and thus in the long run threaten the survival of culture.
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44 sically shorter than for material inventions. But also, the dominant social theories have conceptualized societies as relatively stable structures, with an emphasis on the ways that such stable structures are maintained.S Models of social structural change seem less well developed, less often tested, and more focused on radical or revolutionary change than on ordered but ac- celerated change.6 The literature on organizations, for example, emphasizes the resistance that organizations display to deliberately contrived interven- tions. This strategy of theory construction and testing downplays the im- portant ways that inventions occur and are diffused in society most often other than by deliberate intervention and promotes the false premise that invention and intervention are ordinarily successful in producing change, except where organizational resistance is powerful enough. The contrary seems to be the case. Most experiments and inventions fail, or succeed in producing entirely unintended effects. We may learn more about how to produce intended effects through social invention by looking to the unin- tended consequences of purposive social action (Merton, 19361. ALBERT J. RElSS, JR. Reduction of Cultural Lags Although Ogburn subordinated the role of behavioral and social science inventions in causing cultural charge, 7 he assigned to these sciences a special role in facilitating Me agitation of society to changing material culture (1934:1661. Ogburn believed Mat Me failure of ~nshtudons to adapt to ad- vanc~ng technology produced nearly all social maladjustment and disorgaru sOgburn (1957b:8-9) concluded that the study of social trends carries two major messages: "The first general message that knowledge of social trends brings to us is that there is much stability in society, even though there be a period of great and rapid social change.... The second lesson we learn from a knowledge of social trends is that there is a sort of inevitability about social trends.... It is difficult to buck a social trend. It may be slowed up a bit, but generally a social trend continues its course.... Success is more likely to come to those who work for and with a social trend than to those who work against it." 6Antipathy toward military institutions, for example, may account for a general neglect of how organizations may change quite rapidly and as a consequence of social inventions. In the history of race relations in the United States, for example, little attention is given to how the U.S. military organizations became egalitarian and at an accelerated rate compared with any other sector of American society (and that religious organizations are among the most recalcitrant to change and racially segregated at the local level). 7In Part VII, "Social Change," of Sociology, Ogburn recognized that assigning a priority to mechanical invention is partly a function of the precision with which an invention can be dated. He also recognized the problem of an infinite regress of causation that complicates assignment of priority in social change. He concluded with a mechanical analogy: "When all the interconnected parts of a culture are in motion, and each part exerts a force on some other part, the origin of the motion cannot be located" (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:866-867).
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 45 zation (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:8901. In a 1957 addendum to the theory of cultural lags, Ogburn (1957a: 172) reasoned that lags accumulated more rapidly in modern society because of the volume and accelerated rate of technological change. Although acknowledging that lags might be reduced by retarding the development of the natural sciences or following Stamp's (1937) suggestion for a moratorium on mechanical invention, he did not take these suggestions senously, believing that such courses of action required too high a degree of planning and control (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:8901. Although the accu- mulation of lags was thus inevitable, it could still be reduced. For example, wars and revolutions reduce accumulated lags in a society (Ogburn, 1957a:1721. Another less radical way to reduce lags is Trough the technology of the behavioral and social sciences (President's Research Committee on Social Trends, 1933: 1661. But just how to achieve this Ogburn failed to make clear. The answer would have to lie in the production of knowledge-based innovation and invention designed to increase adaptation to cultural changes or to reduce the effects of their accumulation. Below I will illustrate two different ways in which social science- both basic and applied-can function in restructuring societies in consequence of changes in culture. Statistics and Quality Control The invention and diffusion of statistical quality control illustrates how social inventions can cope with the cultural dislocations caused by material and nonmaterial inventions. The coalescence of mechanical inventions into the modern mass production assembly-line factory produced the problem of assuring uniformity and high precision. Departures from strict production standards have consequences ranging from mechanical failure to increased transaction costs; these can be very signif- icant in competitive markets or under other conditions where the tolerance for failure is small. Statistical quality control is Me statistical surveillance of repetitive processes. It is used primarily for two purposes: process control to evaluate future per- formance and acceptance inspection to evaluate past performance (Walks & Roberts, 1956:4951. In either type of control, samples are drawn to make decisions about a population. For process control, We population is an infinite number of expected results from repetitions of Me same process; for acceptance inspection, it is Me quality of a finite set of existing items. The basic invention of statistical quality control was developed in the 1920s by an industrial statesman, Shewhart,8 who invented the statistical quality control chart (1925, 1926a, 1926b, 1927, 1930, 19311. Its wide ~Shewhart dates the invention of the statistical quality control chart as 1924 (1939:4).
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46 ALBERT J. REISS, JR. spread dissemination came in the 1940s and resulted from the demands of the War Production Board, which deemed quality production of military goods essential to winning the Second World War, especially in light of the high quality of the German industrial complex (Walks & Roberts, 1956:495, 5121. Wald's method of sequential analysis (1945), although developed initially for use in scientific research, proved so useful for ac- ceptance inspection that an estimated 6,000 U.S. plants used it within two years of its development in 1943 (Walks & Roberts, 1956:5181. Other organizational innovation accompanied this rapid diffusion. Inten- sive training courses in quality control were developed at Stanford Uni- versity and given in most major industrial centers during the war. Among the many consequences of diffusion was the founding of the American Society for Quality Control, made up largely of applied statisticians working in industrial applications.9 Ogburn concluded from his studies that the acceptance of inventions and their integration into cultures other than the one of origin depended upon the similarity of the cultures involved (Ogburn & Nimkoff, 1940:8291. He was also disinclined to assign causal roles to individuals either in invention or diffusion (Ogburn, 19261. For Ogburn, the existence of independent invention demonstrated that the cultural base predominates over individual ability or uniqueness. Ogburn's view may be correct in the long run, but in the short-run case of quality control, there were key individual disseminators. One of these was W. Edwards Deming, a government statistician originally in the De- partment of Agriculture and later at the Bureau of the Census and on independent government assignment. The introduction and rapid diffusion of statistical quality control in Japan seems largely due to the efforts of Deming. Since 1951, the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers has recognized his importance to Japanese industry by creating a major award, the Deming Prize, for contributions to statistical quality control in industry (American Statistical Association, 1983:11.~° Some believe that the com- petitive margin of Japanese over U.S. products is attributable to a higher integration of statistical quality control in Japanese industry. 9Although statistical quality control was initially developed and applied in industry, the invention has wide applications since it is applicable to any kind of repetitive process, e.g., communicable diseases, medical experiments with human subjects, and accounting processes. Esthete is no Deming Prize in the U.S., although he was honored in 1983 by the American Statistical Association for his contributions to "statistical quality control at home and abroad" with the Samuel S. Wilks Medal Award. Deming also has been decorated for his work in the name of the Emperor of Japan with the Second Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure. Nearing age 83, the peripatetic Deming was absent from the award ceremony, unable to fit it into his schedule without a few months' notice! (American Statistical Association, 1983:1).
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62 ALBERT J. REISS, JR. in science, individual scientists do not and cannot have a technological base. The neglect of the latter for the former data may account for our being in a disadvantageous position to theorize on and measure social change. Even in our use of cohorts consider the examples used earlier in this paper we usually look at cohorts of individuals, rarely at cohorts of organizations. Bankruptcy is generally expressed in annual rates rather than survival rates in a birth cohort of organizations. The study of social change should focus, then, much more on the primary characteristics of organizations, which should be regarded more in terms of functional subunits than participating individuals. We can readily see that resources (such as laboratories) and relational properties (such as hi- erarchy) are primarily characteristics of organizations, not individuals. We must systematically collect better information on characteristics of orga- nizations and units of material and nonmaterial culture, to use Ogburn's terms, if we are to understand cultural and social change. Individual versus Collective Welfare There is a bias in welfare models of human behavior toward optimizing or maximizing individual welfare rather than the welfare of collectivities such as organizations.20 Trade-offs commonly are seen in terms of individual rather than collective costs and benefits. The quality of life is measured in terms of individual rather than collective units: Is this community a good one for scientists rather than for science? Is the housing stock fit for individual habitation rather than what kind of collective life is possible, given the housing stock? How one asks the question can make a difference. We look at the crime rates of com- munities in terms of victimizations in a population of individuals, neglecting the high rate of victimization of organizations and collective property parks, schools, playgrounds. We look at individual careers in crime rather than at community careers in crime (Reiss, 1982a, 19831; yet the latter may explain much of the former. Concepts such as justice, social cohesion, and social integration are not reducible to the lives of a society's individual members, nor can they be measured simply by summing observations for individuals. Changes in particular social indicators can have collective and individual effects. A change in the divorce rate, for example, is both a change in the status of 20Measures of social welfare as conventionally defined in political economy should not be confused with measures of collective welfare. Measures of social welfare typically are based on the concept of a collective consensus based on individual preference scores. Although such pref- erence measures may be technically infeasible, they presume that consensus measures on welfare preferences optimize or maximize collective welfare, which is an empirical matter.
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 63 individuals and a change in social relationships and organizational structure of society. Most divorces increase the number of single-person households and decrease the number of two-or-more-person households. Divorces alter the relationships of husband to wife, children to parents, insurers to insured, and the taxable income and legal status of the parties, to mention only a few consequences of changes in the divorce rate. Such changes may produce chain reactions. The divorce rate can have a substantial effect on the size and occupancy rate of the housing stock, which may affect the burglary rate (a crime against housing units rather than individuals per se). Understanding social change would thus seem to require understanding of collective as well as individual welfare, and how changes in collective welfare are consequential for individual welfare. We may need to think more about the well-being of science in society, less about the consequences of science for the quality of individual life. Controversies over the risks of science must be viewed not only in terms of the risk to individuals, such as by gene splicing, but also of how the failure to do gene splicing research may affect the state of science in a competitive order of societies. Lags in Measuring Social Change Ogburn edited an annual series of the May issue of The American Journal of Sociology called Social Changes in [Year] from 1928 to 1935 and in May 1934, one entitled "Social Change and the New Deal." In the early volumes, Ogburn made clear that his purpose was not that of editing a conventional yearbook but rather "scientific analyses of social change . . . " (19291. The Great Depression, with its marked social changes, had con- sequences for the publication of his annual series. In his introduction to Social Change in 1932 (1933:823-824) he observed: The American Journal of Sociology has itself been influenced by these economic changes, and a policy of retrenchment in the interests of economy has affected the size of this special issue. We have had to reduce the number of the articles, as it did not seem possible to reduce the length of the articles further and have them of any scientific merit.... In order to do this, some of the topics covered regularly In the annual "Social Change" issue have been omitted.... In some cases the omission of certain topics is not a particularly serious loss because extensive data are not always collected every year in sufficient volume to note significant changes, and a two year interval will show the changes most clearly. This is true, for instance, in the case of social legislation. Most of our state legislatures meet only once in two years. The effect that changes in society can have upon its intelligence system is disclosed here rather dramatically. A second issue is also evident here. With what frequency shall we collect
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64 ALBERT J. REISS, JR. measures of social change? Ogburn calls our attention to the fact that frequency of measurement is in part tied to the social processes themselves. Changes of some kinds especially those he would have characterized as adaptive are institutionalized, such as in the periodic meeting of legis- latures. The response to change will determine in part the scale and fre- quency of measurement and thus the capacity of science to detect and measure such changes. A third point was also mentioned briefly in Ogburn's introduction-the problem of lags in our intelligence on social change. He notes in particular the lag between an event, its measurement, and analytical understanding of it (1933:823-8241: There are few aspects of our social life that have not been markedly affected by this most severe economic depression of modern times. The papers in this volume indicate many of these changes and their effects. The extremely dramatic events, which began in the latter part of February and reached a climax in the most extensive closing of the banks ever known, have particularly significant effects. These, however, are not re- corded in this volume, which is restricted to 1932. Some time has to elapse after an event for the data to be collected and recorded so that it is possible to submit them to scientific analyses. News events are almost simultaneous, but there must be a lag before the scientific analyses can occur. Here we see a major and continuing issue in conceptualizing, measuring, and monitoring social change that of how our intelligence systems can be developed to collect information on events as they take place and how we can reduce the lag between collection of information and scientific analysis. We often fail to collect information rapidly that is essential to scientific analysis while, at the same time, far more information lies in our collection systems than we can process. How to resolve these problems is not altogether clear. A good theory helps, but data collection also depends upon social processes. Forecasting and testing likewise depend upon these processes. Since Ogburn's day, great strides have been made in time-series analysis by developing forecasting models and identifying causal and "leading indi- cator" models. Despite the inevitability of some lags in analysis and model testing, more attention still needs to be given to short-run forecasting as well as long-run theories of social change. Our capacity to measure and monitor social change depends upon using and encouraging all processes that represent investments in knowing about and understanding social change. Economics in particular has both a macro theory of change and methods of short-run forecasting. The theory develops episodically and partly as a consequence of social change; such concepts as stagflation emerge to cope with the inadequacies of the theory and to fit it more closely to a world "out there." Economics may have progressed rapidly precisely because it
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 65 forecasts. Forecasts that fail are crucial steps in learning about theories and discovering where their weaknesses lie. But that means we must build models of social life so that it can be forecast. Both demography and economics have done so and learned much by failed forecasts; other be- havioral and social sciences might well take note. At this juncture of theory building on social change, social change itself is the way to theory building. Thus, theory testing and failed forecasts may be the best paths to scientific understanding of social change. Need for a National Statistical System Although one can easily demonstrate that our national indicators of eco- nomic and social change are more highly developed in some areas than was true on publication of Recent Social Trends, in many areas there has been little improvement. For example, we still have few national indicators of legal change, and we rely almost exclusively on ad hoc surveys to monitor changes in values and value practices such as religious belief and obser- vance. This discontinuity and variability in indicator development, collec- tion, and reporting amounts to a failure to develop the national statistical system Ogburn envisioned. Some of this is due to benign neglect by the social sciences since World War II of macro social change in advanced societies. One of the requirements for developing and testing theories of social change is a set of concepts and their indicators measured over time, within the domain of a national statistical system. I note three salient conclusions about requirements for a national statistical system: First, we require research devoted to building explanatory models of social change in order to structure a national statistical system that can usefully measure and monitor this change. Second, because of the limits of present models of social change and underinvestment in their development and testing, we generally lack data on potential explanatory variables for He trends that are monitored and 2iWorld War II appears to have been a historical dividing point in the study of social change. In the postwar period, the fashion in studying social change shifted to the "third world," the "developing nations," and "economic and cultural development." Modeling efforts shifted to how one might simulate the growth of economies and, increasingly for the noneconomic sciences, to the effects of rapid social change on traditional cultures. Although this latter interest fell within the domain of Ogburn's lag formulation, its shortcomings (see Smelser, in this volume) failed to generate interest in revising the model.
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66 ALBERT J. RElSS, JR. measured; the major exception occurs for selected models of the economy.22 Generally, when explanatory variables are collected, their analysis is ad- ministratively segregated from analysis of the trends as such, substantially reducing the ability to test theoretical models. There are substantial problems in linking and analyzing extant information for like units (Tuma & HaDnan, 1979a, 1979b) and myriad problems stemming from lack of standardization. As a result, census variables such as age or years of school completed have to become surrogates for almost every conceivable explanatory concept. Third, we lack an adequate system of indicators of science and tech- nology. The annual report of the National Science Board, Science Indicators (1983), has almost no major indicators to monitor substantive changes in science and technology, much less a set of explanatory variables related to such changes. Most glaring is the absence of indicators for the behavioral and social sciences and technologies based on them. The failure to collect information on the content of science and technology, especially on inven- tions, has two important consequences. One is that we do not measure changes in the rate of behavioral and social science inventions and tech- nology and their contribution to contemporary society. The other, and more important, is that we are unable to measure relative contributions to social change, especially the contributions of behavioral and social science and technology compared to that of physical science and technology. A SUMMING UP The decades since the publication of Recent Social Trends have been a period largely of benign neglect by the behavioral and social sciences in modeling and measuring social change, economics being the major excep- tion. This neglect may owe in part to the reticence of theorists, save for economists, to address matters of social change. But scientific knowledge shapes and is shaped by such change; it becomes practically meaningful in the context of what kind of change is, or seems, possible; and it is tested against these consequences. It may be well to remember that Ogburn, as Duncan (1964:vii) calls to our attention, "saw science primarily as an accumulation of knowledge, but an accumulation whose structure is subject to continual change as new relationships among its parts are perceived or as discoveries shed new light on supposed relationships." Perhaps the period of benign neglect is drawing to a close, in which 22 In acknowledging this, attention is also drawn to the dissatisfaction with the precision of measures of variables estimated in structural equation models of the economy or of leading in- dicators (see Klein, in this volume).
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MEASURING SOCIAL CHANGE 67 event it is essential to attend to the kinds of problems touched upon in this essay. We must understand better the role of behavioral and social science knowledge and inventions in social change. We must examine the effects of social change on theory, concepts, and measures, including their capacity to record and render social change intelligible. Time has favored Ogburn's conviction that statistical intelligence systems have a critical role to play in the processes of science and in society as a whole. * * * I wish to thank Otis Dudley Duncan and Barbara Laslett for their helpful substantive comments. REFERENCES Adams, R., Smelser, N., and Treiman, D., eds. 1982 Behavioral and Social Science Research: A National Resource. Washington, D.C.. National Academy Press. American Statistical Association 1983 AMSTAT News, Number 100. Bancroft, G. 1979 Some problems of concept and measurement. In National Commission on Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Counting the Labor Force: Readings in Labor Force Statistics, Appendix Vol. IlI. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Biderman, A. D., and Reiss, A. J., Jr. 1967 On exploring the "dark figure" of crime. The Annals 374:1-15. Binet, A., and Simon, T. 1905 Methodes nouvelles pour le diagnostic du niveau intellectual des anormaux. L'Anne~e Psychologique X1:191-244. Blumstein, A. 1983 Prisons: population, capacity, and alternatives. Pp. 229-250 in Wilson, J. Q., ea., Crime and Public Policy. San Francisco: ICS Press. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Miller, H. D. 1980 Demographical disaggregated projections of prison populations. Journal of Criminal Justice 8:1-26. Boulding, K. E. 1978 Ecodynamics: A New Theory of Societal Evolution. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage. Burt, C. 1915 General and specific factors underlying the primary emotions. Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 85:694-696. 1939 The factorial analysis of emotional traits. Character and Personality 7:238-254, 285 299. Campbell, D. T., and Fiske, D. W. 1959 Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psy- chological Bulletin 56:81-105. Cattell, J. McK. 1890 Mental tests and measurements. Mind XV:373-380. Cook, E. 1914 The Life of Florence Nightingale . London.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: