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Four books on contemporary sociology and economics

Books on Contemporary Sociology and Economics
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4. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Malcolm Gladwell [2000]

Ever wonder why a certain product, idea or trend starts out small then suddenly explodes? This National Bestseller seeks to explain why, through patterns of research in innovation and marketing, certain ideas escalate to a momentous tipping point and never turn back. Gladwell uses cases from all fields of experience and finds supporting evidence for every one. Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’ seamlessly blends the worlds of innovation and idea generation. It identifies the initial seed of those award-winning ideas, examines them through the childhood phase and subsequent acceleration to surmounting legacy.

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a trend.” []

Not all patterns make this drastic change, or have the opportunity to make crucial connections in order to do so, but the ones that do enjoy lasting endurance and success. From the story of Sesame Street’s imperative role in spiking children’s literacy rates, to Doc Marten loafers and modern psychology’s “Diffusion of Responsibility” theory, this approach unifies many patterns and explains them with smooth progression. Gladwell’s tipping point phenomenon is changing the way the developed world thinks about selling products, promoting inventions and spreading ideas.

3. Not Quite Adults

Richard Settersten, Ph.D, Barbara E. Ray [2010]

Gone are the days of Grease, where an American high school dropout immediately becomes a beauty queen, the greaser immediately a mechanic with reliable salary to support his kids and a Cadillac, in suburban Levittown. This book seeks to explain the evermore diverse lifestyle paths of America’s 20-somethings. The authors bring to light the very real, diverse life stories of young people from ages 18 to 30. They are awkwardly classified as sinkers, treaders and swimmers, but underneath there is a very real and very human understanding of that void between their current reality and tremendous dreams.

There still remains the predicament of being in over your head, in the case of reoccurring teenage pregnancies and juvenile convicts, to name a few. Though, in this saturated job market, floundering is oftentimes an independent trial and error. No matter the age or situation, people are seeking to find their fit, amidst their relationships, paychecks, and copious experiments, to find steady footing in a lifestyle of their own.

Drawing on almost a decade of cutting-edge research and nearly five hundred interviews with today’s young people, [the authors] shatter these stereotypes, revealing an unexpected truth. The importance of divergent paths, well after high school and even college, makes for a more well-rounded and experienced person, young or old.

2. The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

David Brooks [2011]

The #1 New York Times Bestseller ‘The Social Animal’ sheds a controversial light on the upward paths and downfall spirals of social mobility in stereotypical America. In Brooks’ attempt to, what he calls, “integrate science and psychology with sociology, politics, and cultural commentary,” he creates two mannequin characters, Erica and Harold, so that readers can follow their life paths as they personify these setbacks and milestones.

Although the course Erica and Harold’s life, at times reads like an insipid summary, the direct relation of cause to effect is evident in the understanding of human nature. Framed in a perspective that is solely American, the concourse of events in this unfolding life story is easier understood in this singular context. Because the characters are caught up in the love-hate ladder of success, Brooks fails to mention the simultaneous divergent movement of a decision, the automatic negative side effect produced equally by a positive climb, where subsequently one success is at the expense of another. Yet, the deeply social aspect of the human race—the undying need to connect, and find connection—is palpable and animate throughout.

Check out The Guardian and Wall Street Journal’s reviews here.

1. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

Jonathan Haidt [2012]

“Moral judgment arises from gut feeling, not from reason.”

At first glance the subtitle suggests it all, the tumultuous division of politics and religion, and it extensively delivers. The New York Times hailed this pivotal work as “A landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself.” It declares that “Haidt has done the impossible—challenged conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum.”

There is no evident bias as Haidt cites and accuses all parties: Republicans, Democrats, the religious right wing, New Atheists and more. As the friction ensues, as it always will between politics and religion, Haidt is also searching for something that seems to be found underneath the bloodbath between the left-wing and right-wing stance. He’s searching for something like wisdom. While examining the origins of humanity, this work pours into the age-old quest and desperate question for an ultimate divine being along with an ultimate governing power.

Here’s a review of ‘The Righteous Mind’ in the New York Times.

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