- The Physics of Ice: It All Begins with Nucleation
- Centralized nucleation in online networks leads to high social inequality
- SOCIAL NETWORKS AND COLLECTIVE HUMAN BEHAVIOR
Nucleation is a general term that I use to describe a specific repeated tactic where localized advocacy initiatives are used to maximize global response to the initiative. I know that sounds like a mouthful, so let me explain.
Nucleation is a general term for how, for example, ice crystals grow around dust particles in the air. When there is more than one particle, there are more places for ice crystals to begin to grow.
A nucleation tactic starts an advocacy initiative in several separate locations in a coordinated way without letting the local targets know that there are multiple initiatives. Because bureaucracies have limited resources, their response to advocacy initiatives is to match their resistance to the initiative to the perceived threat level to the local system. This threat is perceived as less significant if it is local and not regional or statewide.
Such an approach allows an advocacy network to test tactics and makes it more likely that one of the initiatives will succeed. That success can serve as a template or a learning opportunity for a broader less local advocacy effort. Advocates often use this kind of technique intuitively. But a nucleation tactic can be well-planned for a bigger advocacy initiative.
Nucleation can be done over time as well. For example, nucleation was used in many locations throughout Michigan over a period of several years to learn how to break classrooms segregated by disability to increase inclusion. The learnings from each attempt were shared among advocates to increase the effectiveness of each new attempt.