Nov 16, 2020 in Literature

Tipping Point Phenomenon

The Tipping Point Phenomenon

The high scale of changes that occur in the contemporary world is one of the most interesting topics for discussion. Moreover, the sudden and gradual but revolutionary changes in the social environment are one of the most popular spheres of modern researches. In this frame, the work written by Malcolm Gladwell made him one of the most successful writers of the last years. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference talks about the series of the most interesting and complex issues that we witness in our everyday life. The fact that a teenage boy can start smoking even though everybody knows and tells about the killing harm of cigarettes, or unknown writer ending up as one of the most readable and famous authors, laws of changes in the crime rates and fashion trends prove the existence of the hidden tools that successfully change the political, economic, cultural, or ethical environment. It is where we start to look for the origins of the number of various tipping points that in the end have brought us to the place where we are now. To explain the nature of success of the small steps that the society makes through the history, Godwell underlines the main features that lead to the creation of the real tipping point: contagiousness, little causes that produce big effects, and dramatic changes. In this frame, it is also necessary to underline three main factors that Godwell considers as the main reasons for the success of the tipping point: the Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context (Godwell 17-22). Law of the Few that is based on the unique characteristics of the particular person who runs the process of spreading the epidemic idea represents the biggest interest for this paper. In the contemporary world, the life order is so quick, and all the activities and spheres involve such a huge amount of people that the value of a single person is unclear. However, in fact, there still exists a power of personal qualities that make the person able to make the idea popular, widespread, and successful. This issue will be studied and analyzed within the paper.


The Law of the Few represents the key purpose of the success of the series of social epidemic that lead to the gradual serious changes within the society (Godwell 12-14). This idea underlines the importance of the person that spreads the idea and the personal features of character and appearance of the messenger. The main idea of the law is that the successful social epidemic requires the involvement of people with the number of specific and usually rare social gifts that determine the success of the tipping point. These specific people are present in any social unity and are around us. Although in the majority of cases, people fail to give them chance to implement their abilities and gain the deserved value. Godwell preferred to identify three main types of such people: mavens, connectors, and salesmen (Godwell 34). Connectors, according to Godwell, are people who bring the society together (Godwell 38-39). There are such kinds of people who seem to know everybody. Such people are usually underestimated, but in fact, they can be extremely useful for us. Such people have an extraordinary ability to make friends and settle relationships with any kind of people in any situation. This huge amount of connections give them an unlimited opportunity to spread the social epidemic as they already have the huge number of acquaintances and in addition, are able to set the new ones easily. They know how to settle the connection worth the big number of society representatives, what do they want and need (Godwell 47). The advantage of mavens lies in the amount of information they have unlike the majority of people. Godwell considers mavens to be unique people who have the knowledge and skill to start the word-of-mouth epidemics (Godwell 67-69), and the way they pass the information supports the wider spreading of the idea. The main purpose of their success in gaining the proper attention of the audience is the reasons they help people as they do this because they really want and are able to help. Mavens in their nature are teachers and students. They try to receive anew information and to spread the one they already have to help people they are surrounded with. However, the important moment to mention is that Mavens are not persuaders; they are like the bank of data that provide all the necessary information. In this frame, we can see connectors as the social glue that brings people together. Nevertheless, the persuasion is also an essential feature to success of social epidemics. For this reason, we need salesmen, people that persuade us when we have doubts about the received information and help us to make the decisive step. They are able to connect to people and make the information they have received work for the idea. In particular, salesmen have the ability to show people that the particular idea or item can be useful for them. All these types of people with specific features and ability to effectively address the audience can guarantee success of the social epidemics that becomes the tipping point.

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Talking about the tipping point within the contemporary society, the most extraordinary and influential phenomena of the cultural industry can be seen. Talking about the things that have changed the social culture in the nearest time, we cannot forget the impact of such outstanding person as Oprah Winfrey. This woman is now one of the richest and influential people on the planet. She is also considered to be the former of the new American and world generation that has been growing up with her famous TV show. The fact that her show has been syndicated in 150 countries all over the planet proves the success of this social epidemic and the fact that the idea of her talk show, as well as her manner and image have been copied by the other TV personalities all over the world shows the change Oprah has brought to the American and world culture, especially within the television industry. According to the New York Post, there is no other person who has influenced the contemporary American culture as much as Oprah Winfrey (Stewart n.p.). The outstanding manner of her behavior, ability to connect to people, amount of topics she chose for the programs, and the way she can persuade people have determined the success of her show. By the way, her activities outside the TV channel have also gained deserved success and have been highly appreciated by people. She is constantly spending money on the variety of charity programs, and she has also built a school for poor children in Africa. Her influence is spreading to all continents and it touches all spheres of social life. Her support of the Eco bags project has changed the social attitude to ecology and settled a new trend within the market (Johnson n.p.). The same refers to the book clubs, problem of mad cow disease, sexual abuse, and the variety of other issues that have become famous with the help of Winfreys TV show. As a result, the TV show of this woman has become a real tipping point of the contemporary culture that has changed our life forever.

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This contemporary example perfectly suits the idea of the Law of the Few represented by Malcolm Godwell as Oprah Winfrey is the living example of the type of people who can change the world with the successful social epidemic they start and maintain. The American journalist who has participated in the new talk show that has finally resulted in the most well-known TV project viewed by the record number of people and the financial success has proved the outstanding features of the single person. The serious number of issues that have gained proper attention and evaluation within the society has been gradually changing modern social culture; now, it can be seen as the most influential TV program in the world (Clifford 2011). Talking about the personality of Oprah Winfrey, we can see that her ability to settle a contact with the variety of people has resulted in the biggest audience of her show. In addition, her ability to feel people and properly relate to them resulted in the uncontrolled growth of contacts with the famous people, politicians and celebrities that have been visiting her show and talking about social problems and their personal issues (Minzesheimer 2011). The amount of her knowledge has been constantly growing everyday as she has always been willing to gain new knowledge and to accept new information. By the way, she is a perfect teacher, mostly known for propaganda of the positive attitude to oneself and the proper evaluation of ones own personality. However, the inspiration she gives has been highly supported by the people. This ability has resulted in the changes her guests and audience have brought to their life. These details, in general, show that Oprah Winfrey has the unique features represented in the Law of the Few that determine her success in launching the social epidemic.

As we can see, the ideas represented in the work of Malcolm Godwell have found the proofs in the real life, and the ideas he puts out talking about the tipping points gain proper success with the three main ideas and in particular, the Law of the few. The example of the tipping point of Oprah Winfrey who has serious impact on the contemporary culture has showed that one person with the unique personal features is able to start the successful social epidemic and change the current order.


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