"It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next." --Charles Dickens, Hard Times.
To sum it up in two words, I would say this:
COMFORT and PROGRESSION
People become comfortable in the society that they live in. They get used to it. That is why the middle classes and the working classes never really rebel; they become comfortable with where they are, and how things are going.
But this doesn't apply to everyone. There are those who want to make the world better. There are people who see the world that they currently live in, and develop new ideas, theories, and inventions, in order to make life better for everyone. Some of these ideas take off. The Crystal Palace.
Electricity. Telephones. The internet. All of these have developed out of our drive, as human beings, to progress.
But what has determined which ideas will "take off", and which ones will end up off the side of the road in the dust?