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Can incrementalism work? Show more Show less
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Incrementalism is when changes occur gradually. Most often referring to the policy of social change happening in degrees. The use of the term incrementalism is first attributed to Lindblom (1959) and then Wildavsky (1964). According to them, people break down complex problems into manageable steps. They simplify the process. From its inception, there has been a debate on whether incrementalism works to create change or if it actually detracts from change.

No, incrementalism does not work. Show more Show less

Incrementalism detracts from progress. It stops people from demanding change and is an unfit response to a crisis.
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Achieving small changes stops people from demanding big changes.

Accepting limited changes halts the momentum of a movement which leads to accepting half-measures and no longer demanding progress.

The Argument

Incrementalism is a slippery slope. By accepting limited changes, we halt the momentum of a movement. This leads to us accepting half-measures. Then we have to fight to keep these changes and we stop demanding progress. We unconsciously lower our expectations for change. Small changes are heralded as victories that lull people into complacency. We provide legitimacy to incrementalism and the unsubstantial changes. Eventually, we begin to accept repackaging the same status quo as change. An example of this is the Paris Climate Agreement. It was praised as a success, with some even going so far to say that it was the solution to climate change. After years of incremental progress, the achievement of reaching an agreement made it seem like a success. Even the countries and non-governmental organizations that thought that it was an inadequate response, legitimized it because an incremental agreement was seen as better than no agreement (which could have been what happened if they tried to hold out for a better agreement). [1].

Counter arguments

Proponents

Premises

[P1] By accepting limited changes, we halt the momentum of a movement. [P2] This leads to us accepting half-measures. [P3] Then we have to fight to keep these changes and we stop demanding progress.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. http://doi.org/10.1162/glep_a_00488
This page was last edited on Sunday, 17 May 2020 at 17:19 UTC

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