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.

part I|82 pages

Living in a world of change

chapter 182|15 pages

Reactionary Anti-Globalism

The Crisis of Globalisation

chapter 3|8 pages

The Production of Surplus Populations

Informality, Marginality, and Labour

chapter 4|11 pages

The Anthropocene

Representations of Change on ‘The Human Planet’

chapter 5|14 pages

Ecologies of Infrastructure

Materialities of Metabolic Change

chapter 6|10 pages

White Victimhood

Weaponising Identity and Resistance to Social Change

chapter 7|10 pages

Using Rights

European Migrant-Citizens in Brexitland

chapter 8|12 pages

The Covid-19 Pandemic

Capitalism, Ecosystem Crisis, and the Political Economy of Disaster

part II|80 pages

Modes of change

chapter 1009|16 pages

Reform and Revolution

Dialectics of Causation

chapter 10|12 pages

Crisis and Change

The Contested Politics of Constructing Crises

chapter 11|13 pages

Structural Stories

On the Transformational Dynamics of Context

chapter 12|12 pages

Innovation at the Limits of Social Change

Uncertainty and Design in the Anthropocene

chapter 13|12 pages


Imaginaries Beyond Revolution and the State

chapter 14|13 pages

Catastrophe as Usual

Learning to Live with Extremity

part III|114 pages

Agents of change

chapter 18015|10 pages

The State

Catching Sight of an Agent and Object of Change

chapter 16|16 pages

NGOs as Change Agents

Being and Doing Change

chapter 17|12 pages


The Fall and Rise of Mass Party Politics

chapter 18|13 pages

The Economy

Metaphors and Models of Social Change

chapter 19|12 pages


Wellbeing in Global Public Policy

chapter 20|10 pages


Determinism, Automation, and Mediation

chapter 21|13 pages

The People

Between Populism and the Masses

chapter 22|12 pages

Citizen Action

Participation and Making Claims

chapter 23|14 pages


Activist Identities beyond Social Movements

part IV|80 pages

Approaching social change

chapter 29424|8 pages

Imaginations of Power

Analysing Possibilities of Change

chapter 25|12 pages

Everyday Resistance

Theorising how the ‘Weak’ change the World

chapter 26|11 pages

Contentious Politics

Politics as Claims-Making

chapter 27|11 pages

Civil Resistance

Theorising the Force of Nonviolent Action

chapter 28|10 pages

Collective Action

Assembling Concerns

chapter 29|14 pages

Eventful Infrastructures

Contingencies of Socio-Material Change

chapter 30|12 pages

Practices of Social Change

Approaching Political Action Through Practice Theory