Driving Social Change

Has the role of the social entrepreneur been glorified as the primary driver of social breakthrough? Have we neglected the important role that all change agents play? What must be done to create the networks that create so many breakthroughs? How does the breakthrough cycle actually work? How do we strengthen the infrastructure that supports social change organizations in their quest? Driving Social Change is the ultimate introduction to the many steps needed to challenge and replace the prevailing wisdom.

Based on the latest research from author, professor, and Washington Post online columnist Paul C. Light, Driving Social Change confronts head-on the seemingly eternal questions of solving tough, even intractable, social problems. Starting with the definition of social entrepreneurship as a powerful driver of social change, it goes well beyond the concept to a more detailed assessment of the "breakthrough" cycle with several other drivers. Along the way, the book focuses on the need to protect past social breakthroughs from complacency and counterattack.

If our purpose is to change the world, writes Light, we must concentrate on every driver possible, not just the ones we can see. To that end, the book highlights alternative paths to creating social breakthrough and provides actionable advice, exploring:

  • Strategies to broaden the definition of social entrepreneurship
  • Tactics to build strong social organizations and networks
  • Dynamic methods to respond to constant economic and social change
  • The journey from initial commitment to a world of justice and opportunity

As much as social entrepreneurship is a wondrous, inspirational act, even more extraordinary is the creation of durable social impact through whatever means necessary. Driving Social Change tells us that we should be less concerned about the tools of agitation and more concerned about the disruption and replacement of the status quo.

Holding old mindsets up to the light of day, this timely book unflinchingly addresses the change process and challenges us to question our beliefs about how it really works.


"I commend Paul Light's book to anyone dedicated to social change. His questions deserve answers, his insights demand attention, and his faith in the possible will resonate with the future leaders who are already taking the reins of power needed for solving the world's toughest problems."

—CATHERINE B. REYNOLDS, Chairman of the Board, Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, from the Foreword

A revolutionary look at workable strategies for powerful long-term social impact

As an onslaught of urgent problems threatens the very fabric of the world's social, economic, and political systems, creating change remains a difficult task. Without the full engagement of every possible ally, breakthrough will remain well out of reach.

Driving Social Change demands that we take a second look at the way we understand the change-making process and our role in it.

This landmark volume reveals:

  • The underlying assumptions that support our understanding of social entrepreneurship
  • Findings and recommendations for steering the conversation on social breakthrough
  • Three powerful, often neglected drivers of social breakthrough
  • The nine stages of the social breakthrough cycle
  • Lessons learned from the successful breakthroughs of the past

Making it clear that social impact involves more than the power of a good idea, Driving Social Change sets social entrepreneurship within the broader effort to address the urgent issues facing our world. It argues that today's battle is not about the one best plan of action, but about creating and harnessing the ordinary heroism across society to create change so desperately needed.

#2: Link to Social Innovation Article