1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Social Change

Edited By Richard Ballard, Clive Barnett Copyright 2023
    400 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    1. Apprehensions of Social Change
    2. Richard Ballard and Clive Barnett

      Part I: Living in a world of change

    3. Reactionary anti-globalism: the crisis of Globalisation
    4. Matthew Sparke

    5. The production of surplus populations: informality, marginality, and labour
    6. Nik Theodore

    7. The Anthropocene: representations of change on ‘the human planet’
    8. Noel Castree

    9. Ecologies of infrastructure: materialities of metabolic change
    10. Pushpa Arabindoo

    11. White Victimhood: weaponising identity and resistance to social change
    12. Nicky Falkof

    13. Using rights: European migrant-citizens in Brexitland
    14. Kuba Jablonowski

    15. The COVID-19 pandemic: capitalism, ecosystem crisis, and the political economy of disaster
    16. Bue Rübner Hansen

      Part II: Modes of Change

    17. Reform and revolution: dialectics of causation
    18. Donagh Davis

    19. Crisis and conjuncture: the contested politics of constructing crises
    20. John Clarke

    21. Structural stories: on the transformational dynamics of context
    22. Clive Barnett

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

    25. Prefiguration: imaginaries beyond revolution and the state
    26. Anthony Ince

    27. Catastrophe as usual: learning to live with extremity
    28. Nigel Clark

      Part III: Agents of Change

    29. The state: catching sight of an object and agent of change
    30. Glyn Williams

    31. NGOs as change agents: being and doing change
    32. Diana Mitlin

    33. Parties: the fall and rise of mass party politics
    34. Nick Clarke

    35. The Economy: metaphors and models of social change
    36. Siân Butcher

    37. Knowledge: wellbeing in global public policy
    38. Jessica Pykett

    39. Technology: determinism, automation, and mediation
    40. Samuel Kinsley

    41. The people: between populism and the masses
    42. Anna Selmeczi

    43. Citizen action: participation and making claims
    44. Charlotte Lemanski

    45. Activism: activist identities beyond social movements
    46. Daniel Conway

      Part IV: Approaching Social Change

    47. Imaginations of power: analysing possibilities of change
    48. Kiara Worth

    49. Everyday resistance: theorising how the ‘weak’ change the world
    50. Richard Ballard

    51. Contentious politics: politics as claims-making
    52. Clare Saunders

    53. Civil resistance: theorising the force of nonviolent action
    54. Jonathan Pinckney

    55. Collective action: assembling issues
    56. Gerda Roelvink

    57. Eventful infrastructures: contingencies of socio-material change
    58. Anders Blok

    59. Practices of social change: approaching political action through practice theory

    Daniel Welch and Luke Yates


    Richard Ballard is a Principal Researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (a partnership between the provincial government of Gauteng, the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand) and a visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. He is a geographer with a focus on social and spatial transformation in South Africa.

    Clive Barnett was Professor of Geography and Social Theory at the University of Exeter, UK. His most recent book is The priority of injustice: locating democracy in critical theory (2017).

    "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.