An integrative framework for transformative social change: A case in global wildlife trade
To achieve a sustainable future, it is imperative to transform human action and underlying social structures. Decades of research in social sciences have variously offered insights into understanding how such bold transformations might occur. However, these insights remain disjunct and of limited scope, providing only partial explanations on the processes of change required for solving global environmental challenges. Reductionist approaches tend to focus on micro-level changes within the
... dual, largely assuming that social structures and norms would shift incrementally as a result of individual behavior change. On the other hand, holistic, social structural approaches tend to describe how macro-level changes occur, while generally glossing over individual differences in terms of values, motivations and personal characteristics. There is an urgent need to integrate these two approaches in order to understand how individual actions influence and are in turn influenced by social structures and norms. In this paper, we synthesize a range of insights across these two different schools of thought and integrate them in a novel framework for transformative social change. One key distinction we make to bridge individual and collective perspectives lies between individual actions that comprise the practice itself and those that push for a broader societal change in practice. Our conceptual framework explains the interconnected relationships among individual behaviors, collective actions, and social-structural arrangements and suggests how these interdependent processes can together instigate both behavioral and societal change. We apply this general framework in the context of global wildlife trade and identify a variety of pathways towards transformative change.