The term is used in the study of history , economies, and politics, and includes topics such as the success or failure of different political systems, globalization , democratization, development and economic growth. The term can encompass concepts as broad as revolution and paradigm shift, to narrow changes such as a particular social cause within small town government. The concept of social change implies observation and measurement of some characteristics of this group of individuals. While the term is usually applied to changes that are beneficial to society, it may result in negative side-effects or consequences that undermine or eliminate existing ways of life that are considered positive. Social change overall, however, has resulted in beneficial advances in human society, indicating that humankind is progressing toward a society that will allow all people to live in peace and prosperity.
In 2001 Atwan and Joyce Carol Oates took on the daunting task of tracing that ever-shifting process through the previous 100 years for The Best American Essays of the Century . Recently Atwan returned with a more focused selection for Publishers Weekly : "The Top 10 Essays Since 1950." To pare it all down to such a small number, Atwan decided to reserve the "New Journalism" category, with its many memorable works by Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr and others, for some future list. He also made a point of selecting the best essays , as opposed to examples from the best essayists. "A list of the top ten essayists since 1950 would feature some different writers."