By Tina Rosenberg
W. W. Norton. 288 pp.
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Peer pressure has gotten an undeservedly bad rap, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tina Rosenberg in her breezily enthusiastic new book, Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World. Rather than dwelling on the dark side of peer pressure, with its well-known potential for encouraging antisocial behavior in teen gangs and groups of any age, she advocates focusing on the many ways positive peer pressure can help motivate change for the better in every realm, from public health to political governance to spiritual well-being.
Rosenberg has even coined a catchy term to describe what happens when you do what her title suggests and “join the club” (or join a club) designed to help mend at least one small part of the world: participate and—instead of remaining part of the problem—you become part of what she calls “the social cure.”
In her upbeat attempt to encourage the social cure, Rosenberg clearly has been influenced by behavioral economics and Positive Psychology—not to mention the current trend toward rethinking social issues from the kind of counterintuitive point of view popularized by authors such as Malcolm Gladwell. Countering the current legislative mania for…