Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Annenberg School of Communication at UPenn examines a new research paper that attempts to quantify a “social tipping point” when large-scale change actually occurs: 1 in 4 people need to take a stand.
• Does that conclusion seem arbitrary? When did the #MeToo rumblings become a movement? As acknowledged here, real-world dynamics cannot always be boiled down to a single number, but this piece still launches an interesting discussion.
When organizations turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace, how many people need to take a stand before the behavior is no longer seen as normal?
According to a new paper published in Science, there is a quantifiable answer: roughly 25% of people need to take a stand before large-scale social change occurs. This idea of a social tipping point applies to standards in the workplace, and any type of movement or initiative.
Online, people develop norms about everything from what type of content is acceptable to post on social media, to how civil or uncivil to be in their language. We have recently seen how public attitudes can and do shift on issues like gay marriage, gun laws, or race and gender equality, as well as what beliefs are or aren’t publicly acceptable to voice.
Over the past 50 years, many studies of organizations and community change have attempted to identify the critical size needed for a tipping point, purely based on observation. These studies have speculated that tipping points can range anywhere between 10% and 40%.
The problem for scientists has been that real world social dynamics are complicated, and it isn’t possible to replay history in precisely the same way to accurately measure how outcomes would have been different if an activist group had been larger or smaller.
Read the full article about the research that finds tipping point in large-scale social change by Julie Sloane at UPenn’s Annenberg School for Communication.
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