I've been thinking and writing about peers for years.
The Peer Effect, coming out in November 2023, is the culmination of that. The book looks at how peers can influence one another beyond school performance, from hookup culture to school bullying and youth suicide. It also examines the extent to which the peer effect can last, taking a deep dive into the long-lasting effects of Stuyvesant High School's peer culture. I also examine the peer effect in post-high school settings, notably around workplace misconduct, including the use of excessive force by the police. The Peer Effect ultimately offers ways to understand the power of peer influence and apply this understanding to resolving issues around schools, college graduation rates, workplace culture, and police violence.
You should buy it and read it. These people give good reasons why:
"The Peer Effect offers persuasive and refreshing perspectives on some of the the toughest cultural conversations today—from school demographics to diversity initiatives in corporate America,
racism in law enforcement to the (who knew?) futility of hands-on parenting. Syed Ali and
Margaret Chin combine academic authority with a forthright style that makes them seem like
people who’d actually be a joy to have as peers."
~Ada Calhoun, New York Times-bestselling author of Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis
"Ali and Chin knock down the myth that parents determine everything for kids and break down
how peer pressure is not only about things that affect kids negatively. The Peer Effect helps readers understand segregation, economics, and one of the most valuable lessons of our pandemic era: that how we succeed in the world depends on the reinforcing success of our peers. A must-read for any parent, educator, or former student for understanding, not just schools, but how we can socialize one another into being better people."
~Steven W. Thrasher, author of The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide
"Ali and Chin have written a stunning book on the power of our peers in shaping who we are and how we interact in the world. Challenging the myth that change comes from heroic individuals, willpower, or top-down commands, Ali and Chin argue that peer cultures encouraging positive norms can help fix pressing social problems. The Peer Effect is a rare book—cutting-edge research written with verve, humor, and committed to improving the world."
~Victor Ray, author of On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters & Why You Should Care
"By asserting that peers make all the difference, The Peer Effect introduces a provocative idea into a stale discourse. Surprisingly intuitive, exhaustively researched, and delightfully written, it has profound implications for everyone and every part of life. A must-read for anyone who belongs to anything!"
~Lisa Wade, author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus
"With an engaging mix of biography and research expertise, Ali and Chin present strong arguments for the connections between inequality, communities, and individual well-being. Peers matter. This is a really witty and compelling read!"
~Prudence L. Carter, author of Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, and Inequality in U.S. and South African Schools
"Ali and Chin write with passion about the influence of peers in a variety ofdomains—education, policing, and the workplace. They bring a wide range of sociological insights and a good dose of humor into this wide-ranging book."
~Natasha Warikoo, author of Race at the Top: Asian Americans and Whites in Pursuit of the American Dream in Suburban Schools
"The Peer Effect is a refreshingly honest evaluation of political and family dynamics that have driven personal and systemic educational decisions in NYC and around the country. This is a must-read for anyone interested in better understanding the educational landscape."
~Akil Bello, Senior Director of Advocacy and Advancement at FairTest
"There's a certain allure to agency—to the idea that we make our own destinies or, in the case of parents and educators, that we can dictate how our kids' lives will turn out. The reality, however, as The Peer Effect, with its propulsive style and its engaging blend of personal anecdotes and research-based evidence makes clear, is that our agency is both created and constrained by the groups to which we belong."
~Jessica McCrory Calarco, author of Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School
"Whether you’re an educator, policymaker, or organizational leader, this book will challenge you to account for the social dynamics that shape our lives and transform the places where we learn and work."
~Sam M. Intrator, co-author of The Quest for Mastery: Positive Youth Development Through Out-of-School Programs
"This highly convincing and totally readable book gives readers an inside tour of the ups and downs of the U.S. educational system."
~Robert Crosnoe, author of Fitting In, Standing Out: Navigating the Social Challenges of High School to Get an Education
"Authors Ali and Chin take on the issue of school reform and diversity initiatives and weave an argument around how the effect of individual peers has greater influence than top-down structural attempts at change."
~Hillary Anger Elfenbein, John K. Wallace, Jr. and Ellen A. Wallace Distinguished Professor, Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis
(Photo: Dime Savings Bank and water towers, Downtown Brooklyn.)