You are here

Ways of Social Change

Ways of Social Change
Making Sense of Modern Times

Second Edition

Other Titles in:
Sociology (General)

October 2015 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Ways of Social Change is very readable and has great discussion questions and suggested activities. It is one of the few books where I have had students volunteer praise for the book!”  
- Connie Robinson, Central Washington University  

The world is at our fingertips, but understanding what is going on has never been more daunting. Ways of Social Change is a primer for making sense of both rapidly moving events and the cultural and structural forces on which social life is built, while teaching critical thinking skills needed to understand social change. With an approach that is fresh, timely, challenging, and engaging, Ways of Social Change shows students how social change is both a lived experience and the result of our actions in the world. It invites the reader into the realm of social science, where clarification, understanding, and inquiry provide for both informed opinions and a path to effective involvement. The core of the book focuses on five forces that powerfully influence the direction, scope and speed of social change: science and technology, social movements, war and revolution, large corporations, and the state. A concluding chapter encourages students to examine their own perspectives and offers ways to engage in social change, now and in their lifetime.
Chapter 1. The Personal Experience of Social Change
A Twentieth-Century Life: Iris Summers

Personal Change and Social Change

The Rise of Civilization and the Two Master Trends in Modern Times

Iris Summers' Time and Place in Global Context

The More Things Change ...

Drivers of Social Change

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 2. Recognizing Social Change
Ways of Recognizing Social Change

Inquiry Into Social Change

Generations and Social Change

Cohort, Age, and Period Effects of Social Change

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 3. Understanding and Explaining Social Change
First Steps in Understanding Change

Society as an Evolving System

Society as the Site of Conflict, Power, and the Resolution of Contraditions

Making Sense of Modern Times

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 4. Technology, Science, and Innovation: The Social Consequences of New Knowledge and New Ways to Do Things
The Technology of Literacy

Changing Technology and Centuries of Change

Technology as an Agent of Social Change

The Science-Technology Nexus

Innovation and Social Change

Technology and the Question of Western Expansion

Technology and Social Change in the Periphery

Resistance to Technology or Resistance to Change?

Technology Transfer: The Global Spread of Technology

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 5. Social Movements: Social Change Through Contention
Politics by Other Means

What Is a Social Movement?

Linking Social Movements to Social Change

Social Movements and Resistance to Social Change

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 6. War, Revolution, and Social Change: Political Violence and Structured Coercion
War as Coercive Politics

Not All Wars Are the Same

War as an Instrument of Social Change

Revolution and Social Transformation

War, Revolution, and Resistance to Social Change

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 7. Corporations in the Modern Era: The Commercial Transformation of Material Life and Culture
Large Corporations in Modern Times

The Corporation's History of Transformation

How Large Corporations Direct Social Change

Large Corporations and Resistance to Social Change

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 8. The State and Social Change: The Uses of Public Resources for the Common Good
Strong States and Social Change

Public Health: Reducing Disease and Accidental Death as a Public Good

National Progress Through the Control of Nature

The Judicial Road to Civil Rights

State-Driven Social Change in Modern China

Resistance to State-Directed Social Change

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Chapter 9. Making Social Change: Engaging a Desire for Social Change
Three Contrasting Visions

The Future – Predictable and Otherwise

Using Your Human Agency

Vocations of Social Change

Agency and Ethical Responsibility

Activism as a Part of Life

Social Change Happens

Topics for Discussion and Activities for Further Study

Name Index
Subject Index


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

Continues to challenge students thinking and reasoning

Mr Timothy Wallis
Health , University Campus Oldham
August 9, 2016

An excellent read and an excellent teaching resource. Covers all aspects of social change.

Dr Nicola Margaret Banks
Institute of Development Policy and Management, Univ. of Manchester
November 4, 2015

This book is highly recommendable for students who start dealing with the topic of social change. It has a strong historically based process orientation and focuses on the relationship between individual and society in time which seems much more promising than analysing more or less isolated factors of social change in various fields. Connections between the discussed main drivers of social change like state, corporation, war and technology are often made visible.
Stressing the importance of reflecting theoretical and methodical basics is another advantage of the book, because very often students at the beginning of their studies have some difficulties in shifting from everyday thinking to a more scientific, meaning theoretical-abstracting thinking. Therefore the author shows the necessity and ways of doing so. But this strength is as well a weakness, because in some parts chapter two (methods) and three (theory) seem like an overall but strongly shortened introduction into theoretical thinking and methodically led scientific analysis. Together with the many exemplifications, which illustrate the discussed topics very well, the book seems to have some potential for shortage and getting straighter to the point. Nevertheless the book provides many interesting perspectives, for example the last chapter which focusses the making of social change, accompanying the more historical oriented analytical chapters before giving a more practical point of view.
My overall conclusion is to recommend this book to my students for further reading to get a deeper and wider understanding of social change, happing in different contexts of our life all the time, but in different ways and with more or less chances for us to influence the direction and the speed of these change processes.

Mr Christoph Stamann
Faculty I, Weingarten University of Education
October 6, 2015

Very readable and engaging textbook suitable for introductory sociology class

Ms Elizabeth Anthony Cotterell
September 30, 2015

This is a well considered and interesting book. I used it to introduce my Law students to other approaches to knowledge and learning and to allow us to consider the implications of social change on professional practice.

Dr Richard William Whitecross
Accounting, Finacial Services and Law, Edinburgh Napier University
September 30, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

SAGE Knowledge is the premier social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press book, reference and video content.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.