Though certain types of novels such as “psychological” novels and bildungsromans may most commonly focus on private rather than social or public realms of life, to some extent every novel is a social–or political–novel. Novels that are intensively focused on social forces and public domains appear in many types and are known by many names. It is impossible to classify absolutely any particular novel as a single type, since virtually all novels and works of literature contain a variety of categorical features; nevertheless, classifications and descriptions are useful for thinking about particular works, even if precise definitions of many classifications are not universally or even widely agreed upon.
[Also, see some conventional defintions, below list.]
roman à these
novel with a purpose
novel of engagement
culturally critical novel
novel of ideas
social protest novel
social mystery/crime novel
social morality novel
social philosophy novel
from A Handbook to Literature, Eighth Edition, Harmon and Holman, Eds., 2000:
PROPAGANDA: Material propagated for the purpose of advocating a political or ideological position; also the mechanism for such propaganda. Earlier, in European use, propaganda carried a positive or neutral sense of “distributing information” or “advertising”; since about 1930, however, the connotations have become increasingly negative. [If the PROPAGANDA link fails, click here, then click “Public relations bookshelf.”]
PROPAGANDA NOVEL: A novel dealing with a special social, political, economic, or moral issue or problem and possibly advocating a doctrinaire solution. If the propagandistic purpose dominates the work so as to dwarf or eclipse all other elements, such as plot and character, then the novel belongs to the realm of the didactic and probably cannot be understood or appreciated for its own sake as a work of art. It may be good propaganda and bad literature at the same time. William Godwin’s Things as They Are: or The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794) is an early example. See PROBLEM NOVEL.