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Societal Progress

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Definition: Societal progress is a normative concept and can be defined as the change or advancement of major conditions of societies and people's lives in a direction considered to be desirable based on prevailing values and goals of development. Thus, in the retrospect progress means that present conditions of life and society are considered as an improvement compared to the past, in the prospect it means that future conditions are envisaged to be better than those of present times. While the "demise of the idea of progress" had been noticed several years ago (Sztompka 1994: 33), the concept has seen a surprising and remarkable revival more recently. The renewed interest in the concept of progress is closely related to the currently flourishing debate on measuring well-being "beyond GDP" and thus to alternative approaches of defining and measuring betterments of people's living conditions, societal characteristics and life quality in ways, which are at least not restricted to economic terms. Particularly the "OECD -Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies" as well as recommendations of the so-called 'Stiglitz Commission' on the "Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress" have stimulated a new debate on societal progress and its meaning in our present times.
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... That is, with the advancement of the conditions of urban society and how people live in it based on prevailing norms, values, beliefs, and goals. Societal progress entails that the current conditions of society are improved compared to the past, and that these conditions are envisaged to be better than those of the present (Noll, 2014). ...
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... A European study found that while over 80% of people were satisfied with their lives in all but two of 15 countries, less than 50% were satisfied with society in seven of the countries (with scores ranging from 85% to 25%) (Noll, 2008). Another study of 23 European nations found an average of 50% of people agreed that, for most people in their country, life was getting worse (with scores ranging from 86% to 13%) (Noll, 2014). notes that in a pervasive wave of pessimism, perhaps the longest in American history, ' Americans believe their country is heading in the wrong direction, that [their] values are weathering, that their generation is worse off than their parents' generation, and that their children will be still worse off ' . ...
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“In an age when health policy follows an individualist model of “personal responsibility” this book by Alan Clarke demonstrates with a vast array of evidence, just how much there is such a thing as society. An excellent overall book.”
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Preface. Part I: Concepts and Categories:. 1. Fundamental Concepts in the Study of Change. 2. Vicissitudes of the Idea of Progress. 3. Temporal Dimension of Society: Social Time. 4. Modalities of Historical Tradition. 5. Modernity and Beyond. 6. Globalization of Human Society. Part II: Three Grand Visions of History:. 7. Classical Evolutionism. 8. Neo--evolutionism. 9. Theories of Modernization: Old and New. 10. Theories of Historical Cycles. 11. Historical Materialism. Part III: Alternative Vision: Making History:. 12. Against Developmentalism: Modern Critique. 13. History as a Human Product: Evolving Theory of Agency. 14. New Historical Sociology: Concreteness and Contingenc. 15. Social Becoming: the Essence of Historical Change. Part IV: Aspects of Social Becoming:. 16. Ideas as Historical Forces. 17. Normative Emergence: Evasions and Innovations. 18. Great Individuals as Agents of Change. 19. Social Movements as Forces of Change. 20. Revolutions: the Peak of Social Change. Bibliography
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Over the last three decades, a number of frameworks have been developed to promote and measure well-being, quality of life, human development and sustainable development. Some frameworks use a conceptual approach while others employ a consultative approach, and different initiatives to measure progress will require different frameworks. The aim of this paper is to present a proposed framework for measuring the progress of societies, and to compare it with other progress frameworks that are currently in use around the world. The framework does not aim to be definitive, but rather to suggest a common starting point that the authors believe is broad-based and flexible enough to be applied in many situations around the world. It is also the intention that the framework could be used to identify gaps. In existing statistical standards and to guide work to fill these gaps.
The Concept of Progress
  • J H S Bossard
Bossard, J. H. S. (1931/1932). The Concept of Progress. Social Forces, 10:1/4, 5-14
Comments to Claus Offe: What, if anything, might we mean by “progressive” politics today? 6th conference social reporting in Europe: Measuring and monitoring social progress in european societies – is life still getting better? Villa Vigoni 2011. (www. gesis. org
  • J Kohl