Understanding Social Change. Diffusion Of Innovation, Tipping Point And Critical Mass. Hundredth Monkey Effect And Bandwagon Effect.

Early in the Morning we are all in a hurry to go to work. As we get out of the house take a guess what are the three Must items we should carry along with us? Well Sorry Ladies I talking for Gents say the three must items are Wallet, Keys, and Cell Phone. Years ago it would have sufficed if we just carried our wallet and keys with us. Cell Phone was not a part of the Collective Conscious right then. But now a Cell phone or rather a Smart phone has become a must carry item 24 x 7. So how did it come to this point where a smart phone has been universally accepted as the most important accessory in our lives and how is that humanity as a whole has accepted the importance of a cell phone in our daily lives?If we go back say 20 years back cell phones were still in their infancy and carrying a cell phone was seen as an additional baggage. It has changed to such a point that if we admit we don’t have a cell phone these days we are looked as if we are from an alien planet. That’s how change propagates in the world and holds true in scenarios relating to technological change, social change and political change. Any new Innovation has few takers initially. It’s initially some few Diehard’s who are the first harbingers of change. And on the other side of the spectrum lie the laggards who take eons to accept and adopt innovation in their day to day life. The day laggards accept technological innovation the cycle of technological innovation hits a full circle. The so call called acceptance of a technological innovation in daily life follows the well accepted theory of Diffusion of Innovation.

Diffusion of innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations; Rogers argues that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the participants in a social system. Rogers proposes that four main elements influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation itself, communication channels, time, and a social system. This process relies heavily on human capital. The innovation must be widely adopted in order to self-sustain. Within the rate of adoption, there is a point at which an innovation reaches critical mass. The categories of adopters are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Diffusion manifests itself in different ways in various cultures and fields and is highly subject to the type of adopters and innovation-decision process.As such I have discussed Change in a setting of Innovation where Critical Mass is the Key. Once a technology hits the Critical mass it has ensured it will not see its oblivion any time soon.

Interestingly the same mechanics of change can be applied in the field of sociology where tipping point replaces the so called Critical Mass. Strangely experiments on Monkeys have led us to the understanding of how behavioral change is accepted in a society after hitting a tipping point and the so called Effect is called the Hundredth Monkey effect. The account is that unidentified scientists were conducting a study of macaque monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima in 1952. These scientists observed that some of these monkeys learned to wash sweet potatoes, and gradually this new behavior spread through the younger generation of monkeys—in the usual fashion, through observation and repetition. Watson then concluded that the researchers observed that once a critical number of monkeys was reached, e.g., the hundredth monkey, this previously learned behavior instantly spread across the water to monkeys on nearby islands. Well there are many detractors to this Hundredth Monkey Effect but this Hundredth Monkey Effect has become a favorite for the proponents of the Collective Conscious.


The Bandwagon effect is also similar in a way to the Hundredth monkey effect whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas, fads and trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others. How else can we explain the phenomenal raise of Donald Trump in US Presidential Elections? .So to end it as I started the discussion on the wide use of smart phones the Acceptance of Smart phones as our Universal Companions has to do with a combination of Diffusion of Innovation , Hundredth Monkey Effect and Band wagon Effect.

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RS is a deep thinker. His hobby is to analyze and reanalyze. Out of a passion to analyze he started this blog

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