I think that books can change civilization or social life. In terms of applying it to a modern setting, I lack the vision to see this in our time. Yet, I think this could have been said for other books which emerged on the literary scene and had profound impact. For example, "The Communist Manifesto" was a book that had a huge impact on civilization and social interaction. At the time, individuals might have accepted it or even validated it, but I think few would have foreseen its tremendous impact. While religious texts might be seen differently, these are books which have changed social orders, provided wisdom, and helped to transform society's conception on morality, justice, and notions of self. I do believe that books in these lights can change civilization and social life.
That is interesting question. I would say that books are powerful enough to tap into the human mind and more importantly imagination. So, if a book has a vision of a certain type of pastoral life, then it may change people who read it. If enough people read it, then it can a society. This might sound like something unlikely, but it has happened in the past and continue even today. Just think of any fad in our society.I usually happens when there is a book or movie that taps into people's imagination and runs with it.
Since I don't know what country you are from, I can't really say anything about your particular situation. But here are my thoughts on this general topic.
I do not think that books are what changes a civilization. Instead, it is technology and economic change. As long as a country or region is made up mostly of subsistence farmers, its social life cannot really change. This is because it will not have the resources to change and the people will not have the time to do any new things.
Social change comes when technology gives people more free time. When they have more free time, they discover new forms of entertainment like reading, watching television, or using computers. When they do this, they get new ideas and that is what can change a culture.
I hope that is what you are asking...
I have to say that books have a great deal of influence on a population. They are probably not as influential today as they had been in the past because there are other media forms. Books reflect a society and a society reflects books.
Books can be a powerful voice. For example, Adolph Hitler wrote the book "Mein Kampf" when he was in prison for political crimes. His book helped influence the German tension between Jews and led to a strong feeling of Anti-Semitism and a dictatorship that would eventually take the lives of millions of Jews. However, a book alone could not have been responsible for everything. Germany was having economic struggles and following World War I and there were limited resources.
Upton Sinclair wrote the book "The Jungle" which told about the meat industry and how badly meat was processed and the ill treatment of workers. The book led to the regulation of meat processing and eventually to the development of labor laws.
By looking at these two examples one could draw the conclusion that books can result in the desire of people to make changes no matter what they maybe.