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Development and Social Change

Development and Social Change
A Global Perspective

Sixth Edition

Other Titles in:
Sociology (General)

May 2016 | 424 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The author is a proud sponsor of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

In this new Sixth Edition of Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective, author Philip McMichael describes a world undergoing profound social, political, and economic transformations, from the post-World War II era through the present. He tells a story of development in four parts—colonialism, developmentalism, globalization, and sustainability—that shows how the global development “project” has  taken different forms from one historical period to the next. Throughout the text, the underlying conceptual framework is that development is a political construct, created by dominant actors (states, multilateral institutions, corporations and economic coalitions) and based on unequal power arrangements. While rooted in ideas about progress and prosperity, development also produces crises that threaten the health and well-being of millions of people, and sparks organized resistance to its goals and policies. Frequent case studies make the intricacies of globalization concrete, meaningful, and clear. Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective challenges us to see ourselves as global citizens even as we are global consumers.

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award

Find out more at
Chapter 1: Development: Theory and Reality
Development: History and Politics

Development Theory

Social Change

Part I: The Development Project (Late 1940s to Early 1970s)
Chapter 2: Instituting the Development Project


Decolonization and Development

Postwar Decolonization and the Rise of the Third World

Ingredients of the Development Project

Framing the Development Project

Economic Nationalism

Chapter 3: The Development Project: International Framework
The International Framework

Remaking the International Division of Labor

The Food-Aid Regime

Remaking Third World Agricultures

Chapter 4: Globalizing Developments
Third World Industrialization in Context

Agricultural Globalization

Global Finance

Part II: The Globalization Project (1980s to 2000s)
Chapter 5: Instituting the Globalization Project
Securing the Global Market Empire

The Debt Regime

The Globalization Project

Global Governance

The World Trade Organization

Chapter 6: The Globalization Project in Practice
Poverty Governance




Global Recolonization

Chapter 7: Global Countermovements


Food Sovereignty

Part III: Millennial Reckonings (2000s to Present)
Chapter 8: The Globalization Project in Crisis
Social Crisis

Legitimacy Crisis

Geopolitical Transitions

Ecological Crisis

Chapter 9: Sustainable Development?
The Challenge of Climate Change

Responses to the Sustainability Challenge

Business as Usual

Public Interventions

Grassroots Developments

Chapter 10: Rethinking Development
Development in the Gear of Social Change

Paradigm Change



Instructor Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Tables and Figures are available in an easily-downloadable format for use in papers, hand-outs, and presentations

“The book does a fantastic job of laying out the history of development, and does so by dividing up different development eras into projects. It is packed with excellent and important information. The "case studies" in the book bring occasionally dry issues to life. And I value the book's overarching attention to inequality at all levels as a way to understand the world.”

Leif Jensen
Pennsylvania State University

“I wanted one book that contained everything that I want my students to know. This book contains it all. The historical continuity woven across chapters allows me to teach development exactly like I want to…I like the emphasis on the environment and climate change, and land grabs / land-based investment.”

Cynthia Caron
Clark University

“The book is very well structured. Difficult concepts are well explained. McMichael makes it very clear what the stages of development are, and brings examples that help students recognize those stages in their own social environment.  While reading, students easily find connections between the theory and their observations.”

Olena Leipnik
Sam Houston State University
Key features


  • Greater attention is given overall to the importance of incorporating an ecological perspective into development theories and practices.
  • Chapter 7 on counter-movements has been substantially rewritten to refocus on interventions that address three key issues: ecological degradation and resource depletion, emphasizing the work of social reproduction as largely performed by women, and the politics of food insecurity – all three foci help to spotlight the shortcomings of identifying development with the market.
  • Chapter 8 has been revised substantially to show the unevenness of globalization across world regions, and how local citizens organize to protect their particular needs in those regions.
  • Chapter 9 dispenses with the idea of the “sustainability project”, rather identifying three strands of “sustainable development” (private, public, grassroots) to underscore the extent and variability of this concept.
  • Includes new coverage of cutting-edge topics such as:
    • New democratic movements
    • Development and the problem of the social/nature separation
    • Austerity politics in the global North 
    • Significance of climate change as a “market failure” and threat to human and environmental security
    • Land enclosure and the re-centering of agriculture as the foundation of human security 
    • Green technologies, climate proofing and business opportunities in global warming 
    • Rising multi-polarity (BRICS, hegemonic disarray) and the new security mercantilism
    • Shared development and de-growth philosophies
    • Re-localization initiatives


  • A world-historical perspective that situates globalization in the declining fortunes of the postwar development project, and considers current global limits and possibilities. 
  • A political perspective that views development and globalization as discursive practices managed by historic elite groupings, as mechanisms of power and world ordering.
  • An ecological perspective drawing attention to the environmental consequences of development and attempts to reintegrate social life in ecological cycles.
  • An emphasis on resistance and social movements as actors shaping the meaning and direction of global development, in addition to building alternatives.
  • A series of case studies that allow in-depth examination of development/globalization as a contested historical process, not simply a taken-for-granted marker of human progress.

New to this edition:

Chapter 7 on Countermovements refocuses on ecosystem degradation and resource depletion, the socially reproductive work performed largely by women, and food insecurity. ,

Chapter 8 adds the latest perspectives the globalization project in several areas: the cumulative social crisis across the world resulting from widespread austerity policies; associated legitimacy questions and initiatives; geopolitical multipolarity as the American century winds down; new developments in India and China; and public health and ecological crises.

Chapter 9, on Sustainable Development, features the climate challenge and three particular forms of response: business as usual, public interventions and grassroots initiatives

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 8

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452275901