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Ballard, Richard, and Clive Barnett, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Social Change. Taylor & Francis, 2022.


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 ChangeRichard Ballard and Clive Barnett

Part I: Living in a world of change

  1. Reactionary anti-globalism: the crisis of Globalisation – Matthew Sparke
  2. The production of surplus populations: informality, marginality, and labour – Nik Theodore
  3. The Anthropocene: representations of change on ‘the human planet’ – Noel Castree
  4. Ecologies of infrastructure: materialities of metabolic change – Pushpa Arabindoo
  5. White Victimhood: weaponising identity and resistance to social change – Nicky Falkof
  6. Using rights: European migrant-citizens in Brexitland – Kuba Jablonowski
  7. The COVID-19 pandemic: capitalism, ecosystem crisis, and the political economy of disaster – Bue Rübner Hansen

Part II: Modes of Change

  1. Reform and revolution: dialectics of causation – Donagh Davis
  2. Crisis and conjuncture: the contested politics of constructing crises – John Clarke
  3. Structural stories: on the transformational dynamics of context – Clive Barnett
  4. Innovation at the limits of social change: uncertainty and design in the Anthropocene – Lauren Rickards, Kevin Grove, and Stephanie Wakefield
  5. Prefiguration: imaginaries beyond revolution and the state – Anthony Ince
  6. Catastrophe as usual: learning to live with extremity – Nigel Clark

Part III: Agents of Change

  1. The state: catching sight of an object and agent of change –Glyn Williams
  2. NGOs as change agents: being and doing change – Diana Mitlin
  3. Parties: the fall and rise of mass party politics – Nick Clarke
  4. The Economy: metaphors and models of social change – Siân Butcher
  5. Knowledge: wellbeing in global public policy – Jessica Pykett
  6. Technology: determinism, automation, and mediation – Samuel Kinsley
  7. The people: between populism and the masses – Anna Selmeczi
  8. Citizen action: participation and making claims – Charlotte Lemanski
  9. Activism: activist identities beyond social movements – Daniel Conway

Part IV: Approaching Social Change

  1. Imaginations of power: analysing possibilities of change – Kiara Worth
  2. Everyday resistance: theorising how the ‘weak’ change the world – Richard Ballard
  3. Contentious politics: politics as claims-making – Clare Saunders
  4. Civil resistance: theorising the force of nonviolent action – Jonathan Pinckney
  5. Collective action: assembling issues – Gerda Roelvink
  6. Eventful infrastructures: contingencies of socio-material change – Anders Blok
  7. Practices of social change: approaching political action through practice theory – Daniel Welch and Luke Yates

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.