Thave grown accustomed to knowing what to expect when we start a course at Abilene Christian University, but with our Persuasion and Social Change course, I had no idea what to expect for our curriculum. Discovering the process of influencing others and group choice has been enlightening for us as a class. Actually, Diffusion of Innovation Theory, which was developed by Rogers in 1962, is one of the oldest social science theories. Diffusion of Innovations seeks to explain how innovations and social changes are taken up with a segmented group of people.
Through knowledge and application of research-based theories, we have grown to understand the different perspectives involved in the evolution of change theories. During this time together, we have studied the use of persuasion as a rhetorical tool that is neither good nor bad in and of itself. It is the application of that tool and the motivations behind its application that determine whether the persuasion is positive or negative.
We also ventured to discuss the diffusion of innovations and social change within a segmented group of people by analyzing a commercial and identifying what qualities make certain innovations spread rapidly than others. Next, we addressed the pro-innovation biases and criticism of diffusion research that should be continually questioned. It is never enough to study the research, but as students, we should recognize higher-level theoretical generalizations that might apply to diffusion research. Lastly, I included the Social Movement paper in my Artifact.
I was inspired to include this assignment, because I found that at times, theory can be applied in an “uneven playing field” for certain segments and groups of people who are trying to advocate for change. The first part of my Artifact is the wiki board post that my group did over the education versus propaganda discussion. I thought this assignment was an excellent way of starting this course, because it provided a baseline of what we should know about rhetoric, education, and propaganda, and how they can be applied to change theory.
Propaganda, in the most neutral sense, means to disseminate or promote a particular idea, but it can also be a form of communication that attempts to achieve a particular response through the use of imploring on people’s emotions, rather than, using rational or logical thought to disseminate information (Jowett, 2006, p 3). Additionally, propaganda can be viewed as putting a “political spin” on a topic by shaping the information. “Spin” is often used with reference to the manipulation of political information.
This can be done by emphasizing positive features and downplaying negative ones Jowett, 2006, p 3). Education is used for the purpose of sharing, explaining, or instructing, and is considered to be good rationale or the “truth. ” Education acknowledges the existence of other perspectives and offers predictions or conclusions to the consequences of accepting the “truth” or denying the truth. Generally, education is thought to be neutral because it is characterized by a very special and limited use. People seek information when they need to understand their world.
Once gained, information tends to reduce uncertainty. Education information differs from other kinds of communication by having the purpose of creating mutual understanding of information that is accurate and based on facts (Jowett, 2006, p 30). The second part of my Artifact is the commercial analysis paper that we completed during our second week. I actually got so much enjoyment from analyzing diffusion research and applying it to the Sasheer Zamata and the American Civil Liberties Union. This exercise helped me work through several keep points that go with diffusion research.
The main point | took from this assignment was the value of peer-to-peer conversations and peer networks during social changes, and assessing and understanding the needs of different individuals in a specific population (Rogers, 2003, p 35-36). Rogers’ notes that “marketing methods like advertising and media stories may spread information about new innovations, but it is the peer conversations that spread adoption” (Diffusion of Innovations, n. d. ). I work as a Career Coach for a local non-profit agency in Fort Worth, Texas.
My agency believes in the value of “coaching” individuals through change; rather than advising or telling the person what action steps they should take. The majority of job requires face-to-face conversations with my client. Up until this point, I had failed to realize how important the face-to-face conversations are, especially with my clients who are going through several changes simultaneously. Face-to-face communication becomes more essential to the decision to adopt an innovation, as innovations spread from early adopters to the majority of the population (Rogers, 2003, p 208).
Over time, face-to-face communication is more influential, versus mass media and marketing tools and that is why several diffusion-style campaigns now consciously attempt to utilize peer networks and well connected individuals (Diffusion of Innovations, n. d. ). Diffusion of innovations is an approach that is highly effective in gaining adoption of many types of innovations across a wide variety of settings, but what is sometimes failed to be recognized is that there are negative consequences for some individual’s in regards to innovations of change.
The third part of my Artifact is the group wiki assignment from the diffusion research biases exercise. It is effective to note that there are certain limitations that come with theory. With diffusion theory, there is an issue of equality, as socioeconomic gaps among the members of a social system are often widened as a result of the spread of new ideas. (Rogers, 2003, P 135). Outlined are four biases that are related to diffusion theory: pro-innovation bias, issues of equality, individual blame biases, and recall problem. One criticism outlined by Everett Rogers in his book is the proinnovation bias.
The pro-innovation bias is the “implication that the innovation should be adopted by all members of the social system,” and that the innovation should have lasting and positive effects on every member in the group, but that usually is not the case (Diffusion of Innovations, n. d. ). Research on diffusion tends to focus on positive experiences were the change was infused into the culture, but rarely does it evaluate the population were the change was not integrated and the reasons for that lack of change. Ethically, changed should be evaluated objectively.
Realizing that some technologies are produced “for and by the power elite” and that “less powerful” individuals can bear a “disproportionate share of the risk. ” low socioeconomic status also correlates with lower education, poverty and poor health, ultimately affect our society as a whole. Inequities in wealth distribution, resource distribution and quality of life are increasing in the United States and globally. Lower socioeconomic groups, either have a harder time implementing change because of their status or that the change may not even occur within their population.
The text discussed that wealthy groups tend to control what is implemented and how rapidly it occurs. And that can leave other groups, who are not wealthy, out of the loop with the social change. Rogers explains that a weakness of diffusion research is the dependence on recall data. This recall will vary depending on the significance to the individual, the length of time of the recall period and on the basis of individual differences in education and memory recall.
Because diffusion research designs consist of correlational analyses of cross-sectional data gathered in one-shot surveys of respondents, the investigator can only measure time through respondents’ recall. Rogers believes this is “a possible week reed on which to base the measurement of such an important variable” (Rogers, 2009). There is an element of human error when gathering information. Analyst and information gathers have to rely on people to recall certain things, but as we all know, memory and perception can vary for each person.
The data and information gathering might be slightly or completely inaccurate to what actually happened in reality. A common error is the tendency to “overstress individual blame in defining a social problem” and “underestimating the system-blame” (Rogers, 2003, p. 119). “The individual-blame bias is a tendency to side with the change agencies that promote innovations rather than with the individuals who are potential adopters. System-blame is the tendency to hold a system responsible for the problems of individual members of the system” (Rogers, 2003, p. 114-115).
More research needs to be done in terms of assessing why individuals choose to not follow a change or an innovation. Like, there is an assumption and a perception, that if the individual did not chose to adapt to the change, they must be uneducated, or poor, or ignorant and resistance to all other changes. Research lacks in explaining actually why some people chose to not follow the innovation. Maybe the change caused dissonance with their personal values or beliefs, or maybe there is not enough financial resources in their household to support implementing the change.
Lastly, is the Social Movement assignment from Module Six that is included in my Artifact. One of the most profound things that I have taken from this course, is that there are groups of populations within our society that feel that Social Movement Theory, and academic theories in general, do not support their population for various reasons. The knowledge from Social movement Theory is intended to be useful for any groups of people who are advocating for change, but often times, individuals committed to social change can be rather reluctant, or impatient, or suspicious