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.

chapter 1|16 pages

Apprehensions of Social Change

ByRichard Ballard, Clive Barnett

part I|82 pages

Living in a world of change

chapter 182|15 pages

Reactionary Anti-Globalism

The Crisis of Globalisation
ByMatthew Sparke

chapter 3|8 pages

The Production of Surplus Populations

Informality, Marginality, and Labour
ByNik Theodore

chapter 4|11 pages

The Anthropocene

Representations of Change on ‘The Human Planet’
ByNoel Castree

chapter 5|14 pages

Ecologies of Infrastructure

Materialities of Metabolic Change
ByPushpa Arabindoo

chapter 6|10 pages

White Victimhood

Weaponising Identity and Resistance to Social Change
ByNicky Falkof

chapter 7|10 pages

Using Rights

European Migrant-Citizens in Brexitland
ByKuba Jablonowski

chapter 8|12 pages

The Covid-19 Pandemic

Capitalism, Ecosystem Crisis, and the Political Economy of Disaster
ByBue Rübner Hansen

part II|80 pages

Modes of change

chapter 1009|16 pages

Reform and Revolution

Dialectics of Causation
ByDonagh Davis

chapter 10|12 pages

Crisis and Change

The Contested Politics of Constructing Crises
ByJohn Clarke

chapter 11|13 pages

Structural Stories

On the Transformational Dynamics of Context
ByClive Barnett

chapter 12|12 pages

Innovation at the Limits of Social Change

Uncertainty and Design in the Anthropocene
ByLauren Rickards, Kevin Grove, Stephanie Wakefield

chapter 13|12 pages


Imaginaries Beyond Revolution and the State
ByAnthony Ince

chapter 14|13 pages

Catastrophe as Usual

Learning to Live with Extremity
ByNigel Clark

part III|114 pages

Agents of change

chapter 18015|10 pages

The State

Catching Sight of an Agent and Object of Change
ByGlyn Williams

chapter 16|16 pages

NGOs as Change Agents

Being and Doing Change
ByDiana Mitlin

chapter 17|12 pages


The Fall and Rise of Mass Party Politics
ByNick Clarke

chapter 18|13 pages

The Economy

Metaphors and Models of Social Change
BySiân Butcher

chapter 19|12 pages


Wellbeing in Global Public Policy
ByJessica Pykett

chapter 20|10 pages


Determinism, Automation, and Mediation
BySam Kinsley

chapter 21|13 pages

The People

Between Populism and the Masses
ByAnna Selmeczi

chapter 22|12 pages

Citizen Action

Participation and Making Claims
ByCharlotte Lemanski

chapter 23|14 pages


Activist Identities beyond Social Movements
ByDaniel Conway

part IV|80 pages

Approaching social change

chapter 29424|8 pages

Imaginations of Power

Analysing Possibilities of Change
ByKiara Worth

chapter 25|12 pages

Everyday Resistance

Theorising how the ‘Weak’ change the World
ByRichard Ballard

chapter 26|11 pages

Contentious Politics

Politics as Claims-Making
ByClare Saunders

chapter 27|11 pages

Civil Resistance

Theorising the Force of Nonviolent Action
ByJonathan Pinckney

chapter 28|10 pages

Collective Action

Assembling Concerns
ByGerda Roelvink

chapter 29|14 pages

Eventful Infrastructures

Contingencies of Socio-Material Change
ByAnders Blok

chapter 30|12 pages

Practices of Social Change

Approaching Political Action Through Practice Theory
ByDaniel Welch, Luke Yates