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Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World Hardcover – March 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 402 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393068587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068580
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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From Booklist

The concept of peer pressure connotes the ability of a group to impose its will upon an individual, to coerce a state of being that might not otherwise exist. It�s what encourages teens to take up smoking and entices inner-city youths to join gangs. And yet, harnessed in an entirely different manner, peer pressure can turn the disaffected into the accomplished, the outliers into the overachievers. Pulitzer Prize-winner Rosenberg inventively examines how creative thinking and critical analysis of group dynamics turned some of India�s lowest caste women into successful entrepreneurs and village leaders, how a group of ragtag Serbian students used street theater to topple a repressive dictator, and why a suburban Chicago megachurch finds its doctrine best disseminated one dinner table at a time. This �social cure,� Rosenberg posits, has the power to channel herd mentality into forces that can bring about positive changes for at-risk individuals, whether they are battling AIDS in South Africa or drug abuse in South Carolina. --Carol Haggas

More About the Author

Tina Rosenberg, the winner of a MacArthur grant, is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of three books, one of which (The Haunted Land), won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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It doesn't hurt that Ms. Rosenberg writes well, the book is totally engaging.
Terry Peak
Remedial courses eat up financial resources, do not advance students towards graduation, and add to the very high community-college dropout rate.
Loyd E. Eskildson
I recommend this book to anyone who has interest in finding out why certain societal occurrences happen in the manner they do.
Bassam Tarazi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ubi on March 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
This should have been one of the most fascinating books I've ever read; the premise is groundbreaking, the examples (mostly) of tremendous interest and extremely well-researched, and the author's personal commitment to the subject from her own life experience adds another dimension of insight. Add to that the promise of a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the helm, and you start to wonder whose fault it is that the end result is such a sorry mess. In fact, it kept sending me to sleep, and the only reason I struggled through to the very end was my utter fascination with the subject.
It reads like an early, unedited draft. Why? Firstly, its unnecessarily long. The obsessive attention to detail added nothing to my interest in the subject or my understanding of the argument. Secondly, it reads like two books mixed randomly together. One book (the one you ordered) is about significant social change for good brought about by peer-group pressure. The other book (slipped inside without prior warning) reads like a long-winded promotion for some kind of commercialized evangelical Christianity. Thirdly, its disorganized. With such a complex and ground-breaking idea, drawing examples from so many diverse and contested areas of social conflict, it was always going to be difficult to create a coherent line of argument. Unfortunately, a supporting cast of thousands surges on and off the page in a way that obscures the main characters, the ideas.
There are many important nuggets of wisdom hidden away inside this book. The ideas are brilliant and the argument is convincing and has already changed my perspective on life. It's sad and frustrating that the writing and editing didn't fulfill the potential.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles L. Baker on June 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"join the Club" provides some much needed thinking for Social Workers and others interested in making a difference - especially in such difficult economic and anti-social policy times.

Ms. Rosenburg has explored a number of social problems, both domestic and international and explored how the "social cure," peer pressure as she defines it, can make positive changes. Domestically, the exploration of both teen smoking prevention and study groups for Calculus provide brilliant reporting. The use of professional thinking in marketing to engage teens is particularly helpful, and similar ideas to engage youth in political opposition to corporate manipulation in consumerism, worker exploitation, etc. spring easily to mind.

The international examples are also strong, with powerful stories in Indian, grass-roots health care, the empowerment of women and political action. She also examines the probable peer pressure factors in the success of micro-loans.

While for this reader the overly-long section on the use of groups in a protestant, suburban, mega-church doesn't measure up to the other stories - this book is good food for thought for advocates everywhere.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Weinhold on June 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an absolutely fascinating book. It is a must read for activists, or would-be activists, interested in social change of any sort. But beyond the audience of social-change practitioners, the book will be richly thought-provoking for anyone interested in how individuals, groups, even entire societies can be transformed for good. In a world where so many personal/social problems seem like intractable downward spirals, it's encouraging, even inspiring, to see the real possibility -- even a clear strategy for -- upward spirals ("virtuous cycles") instead.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bassam Tarazi on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's rare when you read a book and learn something new on every single page. Rosenberg's prose sometimes reads like a heart pounding novel. At times I thought I was actually witnessing the revolution in Serbia first hand. Rosenberg has an uncanny way of showing us how peer pressure (both positive and negative) can influence people to continue smoking cigarettes, not take their medication, or be involved in a revolution.

I recommend this book to anyone who has interest in finding out why certain societal occurrences happen in the manner they do. I couldn't put this book down. It is actually shocking to think how some organizations and people have been able to utilize the social cure to conduct unbelievable good while other groups use it to conduct unthinkable harm.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rosenberg's "Join the Club" provides a number of examples of how peer pressure helps solve social ills. Typical attempts to solve social ills focus on giving information, or motivating through fear. "Join the Club" is about changing behavior by helping people obtain the respect of their peers.

The best known example of the social cure is AA; similarly, armies run on unit cohesion - individual soldiers charge the enemy to maintain the respect of their comrades, organized religions rely on the idea that one's relationship with God is deepened when one is also in a relationship with others, weight-loss programs utilize group pressure to improve results. Media campaigns are often key - not in directly bringing about change, but bringing people to the face-to-face programs that do. Similarly, with activity programs (basketball for teens, Salvation army support for the homeless). Sharing personal history, stressing positive things one could accomplish without AIDS, or with an education are also important.

Defensive mechanisms used to resist positive behaviors include rationalization, repression (banishing intolerable information into the unconscious), denial (claiming that unacceptable information does not exist - eg. "I don't have a drinking problem and could quit tomorrow"). Cognitive dissonance is another frequent problem - the stronger our commitment to a belief, the more we are interested in proving it right and seek out information that confirms our beliefs.

Genetic disposition is another problem - eg. children of alcoholics are 4X as likely to become alcoholics themselves. Negative culture (including prejudice) represents the opposite problem source.
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