Chapter

Why We Embrace Novelties

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/9780520246263.003.0002
Why We Embrace Novelties

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Americans have always had to deal with change, and they often worried about it—such as those modern railroads, which, for example, critics warned impelled people at unnatural speeds that threatened their health. Undoubtedly, every change, every new invention, new law, or new social arrangement motivates opposition, or at least anxiety. There are always critics, doubters, and worriers who warn that a given change will make things worse. The most intense forms of doubts about change involve doomsday scenarios—ecological devastation, economic collapse, war, plague, and famine—but people also hear warnings about plenty of less apocalyptic threats, such as the declining middle class, growing immorality, increasing political apathy, and so on. Even the most common changes present challenges. New inventions, such as cell phones today, change personal relationships, business transactions, and who knows what else. Faster transportation and communication make it simpler to reach new ideas and new products, but also generate new diseases and new problems.

Keywords: Americans; devastation; apocalyptic threats; immorality; political apathy

Chapter.  6058 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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