Perhaps the three most powerful sources of social change today are ideas, technology, and institutions. Expressed in more philosophical terms, we could say sources of social change are ideological, material, and structural. In earlier times, a more simple polarity of understanding claimed that meaning (ideas) arose out of belonging or that belonging arose out of meaningful ideas. In either case, ideas and belonging were understood to be the sources of social change.
In earlier centuries, social change was generally regarded as negative. Social order and stability were deemed to be normal, necessary, and not negotiable. Social change was discouraged, negated, put down, or at least limited by established authorities such as kings, religious institutions, tradition, and entrenched powers. The sources of social change were held in check by force and threat of death. Human need and desire, the sources of social change were suppressed.
The cultural forces of the Renaissance, the religious reformation, and the enlightenment era unleashed powerful new sources of social change, challenged unilateral established power, and opened the floodgates for eventual social change. What gradually arose were multiple and competing elites that gained power through new ideas, new technology, and new forms of associational belonging. Sources of social change were multiplied.
Today, sources of social change are related not only to the power of wealth, ownership of property, and inherited social position. Now sources of social change include other forms of power such as elective political office, the control of information, organizational skill, media networks, use of innovative technology, and highly organized collaborative people power.
The new book, Journeys into Justice, describes the growing capacity of collaborative organizations to become powerful sources of social change. Collaboratives recognize the deep human need for constructive social change, build social solidarity, create mutual trust, enable the pooling of resources, focus on specific social change goals, and empower long-term coordinated efforts for achieving substantial social change.
Want to read more about the sources of social change? Get your copy of Journeys into Justice today!