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Development and Social Change

Development and Social Change
A Global Perspective

Sixth Edition
Additional resources:

February 2016 | 424 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Proud sponsor of the 2019 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

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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

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