The Fad Cycle

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:
The Fad Cycle

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The actual process by which fads are abandoned—purging—is complicated. Tests of effectiveness turn out to be less important than others might imagine; ineffective innovations are not necessarily abandoned. Furthermore, just as institutional fads emerge and surge on the basis of weak evidence for a novelty's value, purging often occurs before there is strong proof of its ineffectiveness. In contrast, other types of institution, such as education, business, and criminal justice, have weaker commitments to the values of science and place less emphasis on research-based evidence. Such research often takes a long time and costs lots of money, so the studies tend to follow, rather than precede, the adoption of innovations. Institutional fads arrive and surge on the basis of weak evidence, generally anecdotal reports of successes, and the news that others have adopted the novelty.

Keywords: innovations; effectiveness; justice; weak evidence; commitments

Chapter.  6450 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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