1st Edition

Fearless Change and Social Action in Difficult Times Exploring Sociological Insights for Social Transformation

By Paula Donnelly Roark Copyright 2024
    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    Our divided politics, unable to solve the challenges we face concerning society’s hierarchies of injustice, poverty, endless war, and climate change, are now backtracking to even more division. But the reality goes far deeper than the simple politics of left and right. For true change we need something more profound: a culture shift, a collective change of consciousness.

    Fearless Change and Social Action in Difficult Times argues that culture shifts don’t just happen, they require a strong focus on social and cultural human connection which neither political nor economic power can provide alone. It is only deep participation and social integrative power which have the capacity to create these necessary cultural and societal transformations. Developing awareness in participatory groups of thought-worlds which remain out-of-sight but give cover to the implicit rules of culture and society is the first step to creating shared awareness of constructs and negative thought-worlds that subconsciously support inequality. Consciously putting aside those that are negative allows the emergence of new positive realities and social movements. Thus, the real revolution is of the mind. It does take courage, but this is the process by which better futures are created.

    Offering significant contributions to sociology and social theory, this book promotes an understanding that societal change is rooted in social power and cultural shifts. Inclusive in its presentation, students, professors, NGO professionals, volunteers, activists, and interested observers will find this book of high interest.

    1.    Introduction

    Part I: Investigating the Four Ancient Wrongs

    2. Injustice: The Malice of Racism
    3. Injustice: The Tyranny of Gender
    4.  Injustice: The Invisibility of Class
    5. Endless War
    6. Suffering of Poverty
    7. Planet Plunder

    Part II: Activating Social Power

    8. Why Social Power?
    9. What We Say Is Not What We Do
    10. Our World View No Longer Fits Reality
    11. Solving the Unsolvable

    Part III: Culture Shift Action

    12. Exiting the Circle of Indifference
    13. Deep Participation Practice
    14. Organizing for Culture Shifts


    Paula Donnelly Roark is a social science researcher, writer, and activist. She previously served as a senior social scientist at the World Bank, and as an advisor to the British government, the United Nations, and UNICEF. She is the author of Social Justice and Deep Participation: Theory and Practice for the 21st Century (2015).

    This book addresses current societal challenges such as injustice, poverty, war, and climate change. The conceptual and methodological issues that form the basis for this book are centered around the idea that societal challenges require a culture shift and a collective change of consciousness. The author argues that developing awareness in participatory groups is key to creating new positive realities and social movements. In this, it offers a unique and significant contribution no other text currently on the market cover. It will be a must-have for students, activists, and organizers who want to make real and lasting change.

    Christopher Pieper, Senior Lecturer of Sociology, Baylor University

    This book offers a vital contribution to the subject of sociology by promoting an understanding that societal change is rooted in cultural and consciousness shifts. The author’s approach to examining the depth of societal issues through the lens of social and cultural human connections proposes an innovative pathway to address contemporary challenges. This can be especially significant for students, who are often at the forefront of social movements and are looking for more profound theoretical and practical frameworks to make sense of and impact their world.

    James Stobaugh, Associate Professor of Sociology, Arkansas Tech University

    We need this book more than ever!  In a time of intense political and cultural polarization, Donnelly Roark enters the fray not as another contentious voice but as a cultural healer.  Confronting directly what she calls the “four ancient wrongs” of injustice, endless war, poverty, and climate crisis, she offers a truly novel analysis of both the root causes and the solutions to these wrongs.  The analysis turns traditional sociological analysis on its head and starts with belief systems, cultural change, social solidarity, mutual trust, and deep participation as keys to institutional change.

    Stephen Valocchi, Professor of Sociology, Trinity College, author of Social Movements and Activism in the USA (Routledge)

    A lively book that analyses the intersections of injustice and offers tools for transformation. Based on a lifetime of international experience working for social justice, Donnelly Roark proposes a way forward.

    Lesley J. Wood, Associate Professor of Sociology, York University