Chapter

The Illusion of Diffusion

Joel Best

in Flavor of the Month

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246263
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520246263.003.0001
The Illusion of Diffusion

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Genuine people do not feel they need to pay much attention to fads. They learn to dismiss fads as trivial, silly, and inconsequential. People tend to pick examples of young people playing: fad toys, dance fads, college students acting up, and the like. These promoters assure that this diet or exercise program will make a real difference, that people can shed those pounds, becoming fitter, and dramatically improve lives. Physicians go through periods when they favor particular diagnoses or therapies; managers adopt and then reject methods for improving business practices; educators devise and then drop teaching techniques. Fads can fool people. The sociologist Emory Bogardus made what was probably the first serious study of fads. He found that most fads did not last long enough to make more than one list; only a few received mention in three successive years.

Keywords: fads; dance fads; promoters; Emory Bogardus; physicians

Chapter.  5783 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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