Roosevelt House is pleased to present a discussion of the new book The Peer Effect: How Your Peers Shape Who You Are and Who You Will Become by leading sociologists Margaret M. Chin and Syed Ali. In this important and eye-opening analysis, Chin and Ali illuminate the power of peers, and peer culture, to shape individual behavior and future success. The authors will be in conversation with award-winning journalist and author Ada Calhoun.
For decades, parents across America have asked their kids, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?” As parents well know—and as The Peer Effect so powerfully illustrates—peers have a tremendous impact on who their kids are and who they will become as adults. Through a fascinating and often humorous narrative, Ali and Chin show how highly motivated students can create a culture of influence to achieve success in learning, and in admission to elite colleges, as well as the many other ways that peers influence one another beyond school performance—from “hookup culture” to school bullying and youth suicide.
Ali and Chin begin their exploration of what they call “the peer effect” at the elite high school from which they both graduated: Stuyvesant. Through interviews with Stuyvesant alumni, The Peer Effect investigates the long-lasting effects of high school peer culture—notably around workplace misconduct, the steroid culture in baseball, and the use of excessive force by the police. The Peer Effect offers a new lens through which to understand the power of peer influence, and with it a new approach to resolving the issues peer influence can cause.
Syed Ali is professor of sociology at Long Island University-Brooklyn. He is the author of Dubai: Gilded Cage; co-author of Migration, Incorporation, and Change in an Interconnected World; and co-editor of The Contexts Reader.
Ada Calhoun is the bestselling author of Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me—named by many outlets as one of the best books of 2022. Prior books include Why We Can’t Sleep and St. Marks Is Dead. Like Chin and Ali, she is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School.
Margaret M. Chin is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of the award-winning books Stuck: Why Asian Americans Don’t Reach the Top of the Corporate Ladderand Sewing Women: Immigrants and the New York City Garment Industry.
Special thanks to the Harold Newman Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Andrew J. Polsky for his support of this event.