Early adopters: once and for all?

Trends are contagious, and it always amazes me how quickly they disperse across subcultures, generations and country’s borders. When these trends emerge, they only occupy a niche, “a structure formed by a small group of agents that deviate from the regime and that might build up a new regime that is able to break down and replace the incumbent regime” (Geels, 2005).

In other words, a niche questions the status quo, or reigning trends – and aims to stir something up. When a niche starts to travel from its first fans, or early adopters towards other followers, or the early majority, it sets in motion a transition, which is “a radical, structural change of a societal (sub)system that is the result of a coevolution of economic, cultural, technological, ecological, and institutional developments at different scale levels” (Rotmans et al. 2001; Rotmans 2006).

But how can certain niches turn into a transition before you know it (Internet), and are others condemned to their ‘niche-ness’ (organic farming). It remains mysterious what it is that holds back certain niches. Sometimes, growing into a transition means the niche has to give in part of its ‘credibility’, and a division between ‘diehards’ and ‘blenders’ arises – both ways don’t contribute to the survival of the niche.

What would you choose, adapt to disperse yourself to the mainstream, or stick to your uniqueness and remain an early adopter, only acknowledged by your peers?


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