The Routledge Handbook of Social Change  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Social Change

ISBN 9780815365471
Published September 30, 2022 by Routledge
400 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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

  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

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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.