Primary text for courses in Social Change. Social change is usually understood to be mainly a matter of recent trends. The authors believe that trends and recent events need to be understood in their world historical context if we are to know their implications for action. The framework presented in this book allows the reader to see the trends and events of the recent past in terms of the patterns of social change that have been occurring for decades, centuries and millennia. By tracing the growth of settlement systems and interaction networks we can explain the processes of institutional transformation - the development of technology, information systems, moral orders, markets, and political structures -- that have made it possible for us to live in large and complex societies. The theoretical framework is based on the comparative world-systems perspective, a macrosociological approach to world history that examines groups of interacting societies rather than individual societies as if they were in isolation from other societies.