Books on Social Change

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Proposed by Chris Dixon, author of Today’s Transformative Movements:

"I feel like we’re living in a time of so much good writing related to social change! There are two types of books that I especially recommend. One is social movement histories. These are books that help us understand past efforts and offer us grounded lessons for current work. For some great examples, check out

  • Reluctant Reformers by Robert Allen and Pamela Allen;
  • Oppose and Propose! by Andrew Cornell;
  • Freedom Dreams by Robin Kelley;
  • Gender and Sexuality by Scott Neigh;
  • Poor People’s Movements by Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward;
  • Freedom is an Endless Meeting by Francesca Polletta;
  • Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy; and
  • A Promise and a Way of Life by Becky Thompson.

I also recommend reading books, especially manuals, about social and ecological justice organizing. These kinds of books help us to reflect on how we do what we do and how we can do it better. Some real gems include Organize! Building from the Local for Global Justice edited by Aziz Choudry, Jill Hanley, and Eric Shragge; Resource Manual for a Living Revolution by Virginia Coover, Ellen Deacon, Charles Esser, and Christopher Moore; Organizing Cools the Planet by Hilary Moore and Joshua Kahn Russell; Instead of Prisons by the Prison Research Education Project; The Troublemaker’s Handbook 2 edited by Jane Slaughter; The Empowerment Manual by Starhawk; and Uses of a Whirlwind edited by Team Colors Collective." (