Sociological Science, Mar 3, 2014
This article models the implications of innovations being nested within categories. In effect, social actors assess the legitimacy of innovations vis-à-vis conformity to categories such that a sufficiently legitimate innovation may be adopted without direct reference to the behavior of peers. However, when innovations lack categorical legitimacy, actors default to proximately peer-oriented heuristics such as information cascades. Eventually, if enough similarly novel innovations achieve widespread popularity, their conventions will become accepted as a legitimate category. Thus density creates legitimacy, but this density can be at the level of the particular innovation or of the category within which it is embedded.