Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World

Tina Rosenberg, Norton, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-06858-0
The ability of peer groups to affect behavioral change takes on positive connotations when applied to social activism in this ambitious, evocatively written treatment of what the author calls "the social cure." Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Rosenberg (The Haunted Land), recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, explores join-the-club strategies for progressive causes: South Africa's AIDS-awareness group, loveLife; Serbia's student-led anti-Milosevic democracy movement, Otpor; India's rural health-worker program in Jamkhed; a Christian faith-building community in suburban Chicago; and a teen-driven antismoking campaign in Florida. Overcoming the limited efficacy of the usual models—for instance, information-dispersing approaches to behavioral modification—these cases all successfully employ peer groups and in-group lifestyle campaigns in service of their respective social and political goals. Results range from decreases in teen smoking to the overthrow of oppressive governments. Citing a Brixton-based drop-in center aimed at young British Muslims, she explores the degree to which the fight against terrorism might itself be amenable to a peer group approach. Rosenberg's immersion in the issues and considered reflections on the power of peer groups to shape personal and social action brings an urgency to a strategy as old as any in civilization's arsenal. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-93455-0
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