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Principles of Social Change

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The efforts of social activists and mental health professionals to institute population-level social change, such as reducing poverty, building better schools, and establishing more effective substance abuse programs, often fail. They tend to focus on individuals and not real-life community conditions; they fail to take into account stakeholders' efforts to maintain the status quo; and they do not develop concrete strategies to build coalitions to alter policies. These unsuccessful attempts at change can leave citizens, community groups, and healthcare professionals feeling dispirited and overwhelmed.

Principles of Social Change is written for those who are impassioned and driven by social justice issues in their communities and seek practical solutions. Leonard A. Jason, a leading community psychologist, demonstrates how social change can be accomplished and fostered by observing five key principles: (1) determine the nature of the change desired, (2) identify who holds the power, (3) create coalitions, (4) be patient but persistent, and (5) measure your success. Describing these principles through first-hand accounts of the experiences of people who have worked on a range of social justice issues, Jason gives unique insight and presents a comprehensive approach toward the development of social and community interventions, such as protecting the well-being of children, providing affordable housing, combating abuses of power, and cleaning up the environment. Principles of Social Change provides answers about what citizens and community action groups can do in collaboration with healthcare professionals to address these seemingly intractable problems. It is essential reading for community psychologists, social activists, policy makers, and students and trainees in these fields.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jason shares with us his life-long journey to empirically address and reduce negative social forces. He presents his own cogent insights as well as the wisdom of others. The book gives us concrete steps, hope, and a resolve to redress social injustices while we aspire for a more coherent and just world." — James G. Kelly, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

"Principles of Social Change represents a unique melding of the author's four-decade personal journey and broadly applicable principles of social change. Replete with and smoothly integrating a wealth of examples from both Dr. Jason's own multifaceted community-based research and social activism throughout history, the book demonstrates the applicability and power of five crucial principles of change, as well as obstacles that may arise and ways to stay the course in spite of them. Principles of Social Change is highly readable, engaging, and essential knowledge for those seeking to effect meaningful change." — David Glenwick, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Fordham University

"A view into the processes of an American community psychologist of the first rank. What one finds is a caring and focused scientist and activist who translates his skills into real life results. Feisty, engaging, and insightful." — John Moritsugu, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Pacific Lutheran University

"In Principles of Social Change, readers will find inspiration in the life of Dr. Leonard Jason, an individual who charted a course from political to academic activism, who overcame significant health obstacles, and who has remained singularly dedicated to social justice. Readers will enjoy learning how the field of community psychology (a field built on second-order change) came to be, as well as how small-scale efforts can serve as inspiration for major policy initiatives. This book will prove especially useful for academics who long to effect social change beyond publications. No matter the background of the reader, the rubric for social change has been laid out-it is up to us to follow it." — Neetu Abad, PhD, Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery

"The style is highly discursive, and thus readily accessible to undergraduate students or community activists who might be uncomfortable with the methodological detail and statistical shorthand found in our journals. Graduate students will benefit from the wealth of back-stage detail presented concerning perhaps a half-dozen major success stories in which Professor Jason played an important role, and which are mentioned multiple times throughout the book in conjunction with several of the five principles." — Steven R. Howe, Ph.D., Journal of Community Psychology

"Principles of Social Change is more than an excellent text on social change, it allows us into the thinking and world of Len Jason. The reader can't help but be moved by the author's contributions. Len's passion and doggedness are remarkable, as is his focus and commitment. These are traits too rarely seen in the academic pursuit of social change. His description of the requirements for excellence as a change agent is also wonderful: he notes that these folks will need passion, intuitiveness, endurance, and understanding of principles of social change. He explains that social change agents will endure many assaults and must have 'dogged optimism, community support and spiritual beliefs as a shield.' Len Jason clearly has all of this and more." — Tom Wolff, Global Journal of Community Psychology

"Jason is making the argument for community psychology and contextualised community research and action. The arguments that he makes are not only profound but reflect the importance of the potential of the contributions of a community-based psychology." — Brian Bishop, Curtin University Australia, The Australian Community Psychologist

"... it is informative and well written... Students of community development and activism will appreciate the author's insights as well as the reflective style of writing... There is a good bibliography as well as chapter endnotes. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduate students." — A. A. Hickey, Western Carolina University, CHOICE

"It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Professor Jason, or who knows much about community psychology, or who takes the title of the book seriously, that he advocates for interventions at the system level rather than at the level of the individual, and that the best approach to accomplishing system change is to use a collaborative process that engages the community of persons who are affected by the problems.
The book is unusual for the wide range of audiences who might find it helpful. The style is highly discursive, and thus readily accessible to undergraduate students or community activists who might be uncomfortable with the methodological detail and statistical shorthand found in our journals.
Thus, one great strength of the book is its appeal to multiple audiences, both in community psychology and in related fields." — Guest Reviewer Steven R. Howe, University of Cincinnati, The Community Psychologist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199841851
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/21/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard A. Jason, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Community Research at DePaul University. Dr. Jason has investigated topics such as the prevention of alcohol and substance use disorders within recovery homes, youth tobacco prevention programs, school-based preventive interventions, and the prevalence and treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. He has received more than $26 million in federal grants and published 575 articles, 77 book chapters, and 23 books.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by William L. White
Chapter 1.....................Changing the Rules of the Game
Chapter 2.....................Challenging the Status Quo
Chapter 3.....................Navigating the Maze
Chapter 4.....................Creating Communities to Foster Success
Chapter 5.....................Means to an End
Chapter 6.....................The Root of the Issue
About the Author

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