1. (noun) An idea or object that is new.

2. (noun) The act of creating something new or innovating.

Example: A new type of cancer drug.

Audio Pronunciation: (in·no·va·tion)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: innovations
  • Innovations typically confront customs and norms.
  • Numerous types of innovation exist including component innovation: improving one part of system; financial innovation: creating or modifying fiscal instruments; product innovation: creating or improving an existing product to sell; process innovation: making an existing product cheaper; religious innovation: changes in the practice of religious belief
  • Sociologist are interested in the diffusion of innovation across societies, cultures, and nations. Everett M. Rogers (1931–2004) developed diffusion of innovations theory in Diffusion of Innovations (1962) and coined the term early adopter. Called an innovation wave, innovations move from their originating location which are typically highly populated urban areas to other areas. Businesses rely on innovation strategies to market their products and manipulate the innovation wave.
  • Discontinuous innovation is introducing an entirely new product to market such as the original personal computers and continuous innovation is improving existing products such a new versions of software. Access to the internet is challenging traditional notions of innovation waves and the process of innovation.
  • Innovation occurs in all realms and sociologists have studied agricultural innovation, economic innovation, organizational innovation, and systems innovation among others.
  • Also called invention.
  • Social acceptance is the process of learning about, accepting, and adapting to an innovation.
  • An (noun) innovator or (noun) innovationist (verb) innovates by (verb) innovating (adjective) innovational or (adjective) innovatory ideas, products, or methods that (adverb) innovatively exhibit (noun) innovativeness.
  • Innovation used in a sentence: The innovation of the internet changed everything, you can now look up sociology definitions in seconds.

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Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

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Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (

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How to Cite the Definition of Innovation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “innovation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 20, 2019 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

innovation. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “innovation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 20, 2019.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“innovation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 20 May. 2019. <>.