The concept of the tipping point has reshaped how crisis is perceived and understood in public discourse. We study this trend in selected instances, including the 2005 Iraqi elections, the 2005 flooding in Louisiana, and the climate-change crisis, before situating Malcolm Gladwell's theory of the tipping point in historical context. We discuss how Gladwell interprets key dimensions of the epidemiological approach in an overly selective manner in order to advance a particular political perspective on public policy. This perspective restricts an understanding of the way social inequalities shape the environmental conditions, contexts, and politics of social problems.

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Canadian Review of American Studies
School of Journalism and Communication

Russill, C, & Lavin, C. (Chad). (2012). Tipping point discourse in dangerous times. Canadian Review of American Studies (Vol. 42, pp. 142–163). doi:10.3138/cras.42.2.142