David Potter

Aug 12, 2021


Why Things Change

Oxford University Press 2021

Today I talked to David Potter about his new book Disruption: Why Things Change (Oxford UP, 2021).

Disruption is about radical change-why it happens and how. Drawing on case studies ranging from the fourth century AD through the twentieth century, we look at how long-established systems of government and thought are challenged, how new institutions are created and new ideas become powerful. While paying attention to the underlying political, intellectual, economic and environmental sources of social disruption, we will see that no matter what similarities there might be between forces that shake different societies, these underlying factors do not dictate specific outcomes. The human actors are ultimately the most important, their decisions drive the conclusions that we see over time. Through our case studies we can explore successful and unsuccessful decision making, and the emergence of the ideas that conditioned human actions. We'll explore the development of Islam and of Christian doctrine, of constitutional thought, of socialism and social Darwinism. We'll look at how these ideas, all of them emerging on the fringes of society became central.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern Eureaopn history at the University of Florida. He can be reached at crsbb32@ufl.edu or on twitter @craig_sorvillo

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