Mapping Demands of Social Change


Social change at the macro level confronts individuals with demands that index a new state of affairs as compared to what he or she was accustomed, and thus produces uncertainty that can result in negative effects on individual adaptation. Social change also brings about benefits for the individual which open new opportunities for individual development. This paper analyzes the distribution of the individual load of such demands and benefits in a sample of adults from four federal states of Germany. It is argued that the load of demands and benefits differs as a function of the individual’s occupational and marital status as well as his or her educational attainment. Additionally, the regional distribution of demands of social change is analyzed at the level of NUTS-2 regions in Germany. Finally, correlations are computed between the load of demands and benefits on the one hand, and measures of psychological well-being on the other. The results show that individuals who are unemployed or outside the labour market, who are divorced, separated from their partner or widowed, who have a low educational attainment and who live in the Eastern regions of Germany report a higher load of demands. A higher load of benefits is reported by individuals who are employed, who are single, cohabitating or divorced, and who have medium or high educational attainment. Associations with measures of psychological well-being are correlated as negative with perceived demands of social change, and as positive with its perceived benefits.