The Routledge Handbook of Social Change

The Routledge Handbook of Social Change provides an interdisciplinary primer to the intellectual approaches that hold the key to understanding the complexity of social change in the twenty-first century.

We live in a world of intense social transformation, economic uncertainty, cultural innovations, and political turmoil. Established understandings of issues of well-being, development, democratisation, progress, and sustainability are being rethought both in academic scholarship and through everyday practice, organisation and mobilisation. The contributors to this handbook provide state-of-the-art introductions to current thinking on central conceptual and methodological approaches to the analysis of the transformations shaping economies, polities, and societies. Topics covered include social movements, NGOs, the changing nature of the state, environmental politics, human rights, anti-globalism, pandemic emergencies, post-Brexit politics, the politics of resilience, new technologies, and the proliferation of progressive and reactionary forms of identity politics.

Drawing on disciplines including anthropology, human geography, political sociology, and development studies, this is a comprehensive and authoritative introduction to researching key issues raised by the challenge of making sense of the twenty-first century futures.

Table of Contents

Apprehensions of Social Change (Richard Ballard and Clive Barnett)

Part I: Living in a world of change

Reactionary anti-globalism: the crisis of Globalisation (Matthew Sparke)

The production of surplus populations: informality, marginality, and labour (Nik Theodore)

The Anthropocene: representations of change on ‘the human planet’ (Noel Castree)

Ecologies of infrastructure: materialities of metabolic change (Pushpa Arabindoo)

White Victimhood: weaponising identity and resistance to social change (Nicky Falkof)

Using rights: European migrant-citizens in Brexitland (Kuba Jablonowski)

The COVID-19 pandemic: capitalism, ecosystem crisis, and the political economy of disaster (Bue Rübner Hansen)

Part II: Modes of change

Reform and revolution: dialectics of causation (Donagh Davis)

Crisis and conjuncture: the contested politics of constructing crises (John Clarke)

Structural stories: on the transformational dynamics of context (Clive Barnett)

Innovation at the limits of social change: uncertainty and design in the Anthropocene (Lauren Rickards, Kevin Grove, and Stephanie Wakefield)

Prefiguration: imaginaries beyond revolution and the state (Anthony Ince)

Catastrophe as usual: learning to live with extremity (Nigel Clark)

Part III: Agents of change

The state: catching sight of an object and agent of change (Glyn Williams)

NGOs as change agents: being and doing change (Diana Mitlin)

Parties: the fall and rise of mass party politics (Nick Clarke)

The Economy: metaphors and models of social change (Siân Butcher)

Knowledge: wellbeing in global public policy (Jessica Pykett)

Technology: determinism, automation, and mediation (Samuel Kinsley)

The people: between populism and the masses (Anna Selmeczi)

Citizen action: participation and making claims (Charlotte Lemanski)

Activism: activist identities beyond social movements (Daniel Conway)

Part IV: Approaching social change

Imaginations of power: analysing possibilities of change (Kiara Worth)

Everyday resistance: theorising how the ‘weak’ change the world (Richard Ballard)

Contentious politics: politics as claims-making (Clare Saunders)

Civil resistance: theorising the force of nonviolent action (Jonathan Pinckney)

Collective action: assembling issues (Gerda Roelvink)

Eventful infrastructures: contingencies of socio-material change (Anders Blok)

Practices of social change: approaching political action through practice theory (Daniel Welch and Luke Yates)

"This book is a stimulating and thought-provoking reflection on the implications and possibilities associated with living through an era of social change. It brings together such a range of thinkers and thinking that it forces the reader to rethink their own position on a continuing and regular basis. Each chapter makes its own distinctive contribution, but together they begin to define a field, with the help of a powerful editorial introduction. The book is essential reading for all who seek to understand the history of the present and to explore potential futures."

Allan Cochrane, The Open University.

"From activism and the anthropocene to technology and understanding power this is an extraordinary compendium of analytic writing from global contributors and a variety of time frames – with interweaving plot lines involving modes, agents and analytic approaches. And many enlightening pathways for differently minded readers to find and follow."

Ian Gordon, London School of Economics, UK.

"Ballard, Barnett and their fellow authors have done scholars of social change a great service both in synthesizing a wide range of traditions across the social sciences, and in furthering the state of the art. These essays ask where and why social change might happen, who its constituents might be, and how to recognize it without romanticizing it. Any student, indeed any practitioner, of social change will be much the wiser for reading it."

Raj Patel, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.


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