The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Gladwell)
The Tipping Point explores what it takes to spark an epidemic of social change. Read Evelyn’s review below then check out more Books and Films.
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, analyses the ingredients of what makes certain ideas, behaviours and products successful and spark epidemics of social change, whilst others falter and fail.
Written for a general audience and comparing ‘epidemics’ as far reaching as Hush Puppies shoes, to Sesame Street, to smoking, Gladwell draws out some of the key components which came together to create this critical point in an evolving situation which leads to a new and irreversible developments.
The key factors that Gladwell discusses are:
- Firstly, that there are specific types of people who must spark an idea and come together before the critical mass follows, described as the Connectors (‘social glue’), Mavens (‘information brokers’) and Salesmen (who distil the information into a compact, irresistible package).
- Secondly, the idea needs a specific quality that compels people to pay attention to it, and spread the idea in a contagious manner. Gladwell describes this as the ‘Stickiness Factor’.
- Thirdly, Gladwell discusses some of the key environmental factors which can cause an epidemic to tip, including critical mass, peer pressure and social memory. Epidemics such as teen smoking were analysed for the ways in which it spread, as well as a case study on how to curb epidemics such as street crime.
This book got me thinking about what we can do to effectively change the course of social epidemics and/or deliberately start and influence the course of positive epidemics in clinical practice and public health. Through greater consideration of how these different groups and factors operate in our health practice environments and concentrating our efforts in a few key areas, we may be able to bring about dramatically more effective public health interventions and successfully encourage behaviour changes that have a positive impact on health.