Flipping the Diffusion of Innovations Paradigm: Embracing the Positive Deviance Approach to Social Change
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAsia Pacific Media Educator. 2019, 29 (2), 151-163. 10.1177/1326365X19857010
The classical diffusion of the innovations paradigm has faced criticism for reifying outside-in, expert-driven approaches to solving problems and for overlooking and rejecting local solutions. In this article, we argue that diffusion scholars should pay more attention to approaches such as positive deviance (PD) that enable communities to discover the wisdom they already have and then to act on it. PD is an asset-based approach that identifies what is going right in a community to amplify it, as opposed to focusing on what is going wrong in a community and fixing it with outside expertise. In the PD approach, the change is led by internal change agents who, with access to no special resources, present the social behavioural proof to their peers that problems can be solved. Given that the solutions are generated locally, they are more likely to sustain and be owned by potential adopters.