Exploring Social Change: America and the World
a book by Charles L. Harper and Kevin T. Leicht
(our site's book review)
Harper argues that before attempting to instigate change, one should clarify goals, strategies, sequences, plans, resources and target populations.
Adoption of innovations is made more likely when the idea: is simple, is easy to communicate, has a wide scope of appeal, is compatible with the values of the target group, is divisible (able to be tried out piecemeal), has clear and tangible effects, and is understandable.
“Communication originating with the mass media goes first to people termed opinion leaders before being transmitted to the rank-and-file population.”
Early adopters have been found to be more affluent, more educated, and more likely to be active participants in voluntary organizations than later adopters. They’re also more highly integrated in community and extracommunity social networks. (This is advantageous from the MC’s point of view, since this means that early adopters have fewer changes to make since they’re already more socially connected and open to ideas than most people, so an improvement in the quality and quantity of their web (as Richard Louv calls it) of social connectedness won’t be a stretch, but a natural enhancement. See Why Register for an MC?.)
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Also, member satisfaction and widespread participation in the decision to adopt are positively correlated to adoption by groups and organizations.
Social movements originate from, among other things, relative deprivation, which means there is a significant gap between value expectations and value outcomes, i.e., between what they expect and what they get. People assess this by comparison to their reference groups, the people they compare themselves with to determine their status.
In Smelser’s Value-Added Theory, six conditions are needed before a social movement can develop: structural conduciveness, structural strains, growth of a generalized belief system, precipitating events, mobilization of participants, and activation of forces in the wider society to respond to the movement. In other words, if things are amiss in society, people acknowledge this deficiency, solutions for alleviation are proposed by the innovators and accepted by the target group, dramatic events are utilized to launch the movement, the target group is mobilized effectively, and the larger society responds eventually so that a full-sized movement can evolve; then the movement can and will happen.