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< Back to question Can incrementalism work? Show more Show less

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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Change requires a big surge of progress, not incrementalism

Both the momentum of a movement and innovation are lost if the agreement that both sides come to is too cautious and measured. Radical policy shifts must occur before society settles back into a new equilibrium.
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The Argument

Substantial change requires an overhaul of the status quo. Wars, revolutions, social movements are all catalysts for massive change. Incremental changes are overall insignificant. Both the momentum of a movement and innovation are lost if the agreement that both sides come to is too cautious and measured. If we think that incremental change is the best that we can achieve then we waste the catalyst and will miss future opportunities for substantial change. Sometimes dramatic change is the only way to halt aggression or show that the parties are serious about making progress. Radical policy shifts must occur before society settles back into a new equilibrium.

Counter arguments

Catalysts can create major change, but their results are unpredictable. Even when the public demands massive change, the resulting negotiations often produce incremental changes.

Premises

[P1] Substantial change requires an overhaul of the status quo. [P2] Both the momentum of a catalyst and innovation are wasted on incremental changes. [P3] Radical policy shifts must occur before society settles back into a new equilibrium.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] Even when the public demands massive change, the resulting negotiations often produce incremental changes.

References


    This page was last edited on Friday, 25 Sep 2020 at 07:38 UTC

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