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Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry

The Politics of Contemporary Social Change

Authors: Nehring, D., Alvarado, E., Hendriks, E., Kerrigan, D.

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About this book

Self-help books aim to empower their readers and deliver happiness and personal fulfilment but do they really live up to this? This book offers a fresh perspective on self-help culture and popular psychology. Research on this subject matter has generally focused on the USA and the Global Northwest. In contrast, this book explores the production, circulation and consumption of self-help books from an innovative transnational perspective. Case studies on Trinidad, Mexico, the People's Republic of China, the UK and the USA explore the roles which self-help's therapeutic narratives of self and social relationships play in the contemporary world. In this context, the book questions the extent to which self-help fulfils its promise of individual autonomy and contentment. At the same time, it addresses debates about contemporary political change under transnational processes of cultural standardization.

About the authors

Daniel Nehring is currently Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Worcester, UK. He has previously worked at Pusan National University, South Korea. Over the past ten years, he has done extensive research on transnational self-help cultures. Recent publications include Sociology (2013) and Intimacies and Cultural Change (2014, with Emmanuel Alvarado and Rosario Esteinou).

Emmanuel Alvarado is Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies at Palm Beach State College in Florida, USA. His research concerns experiences of intimate citizenship among Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants in the USA. Recent publications include Intimacies and Cultural Change (2014, with Daniel Nehring and Rosario Esteinou).

Eric C. Hendriks is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Sociology Department of Peking University, Beijing, China. He investigates the globalization of self-help culture and conducted fieldwork in Germany and China. In 2015, he published the book Knowledge Wars: The Global Competition between Self-Help Gurus and Institutional Authorities.

Dylan Kerrigan is a Lecturer in Anthropology and Political Sociology at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. He is currently developing a manuscript on the Militarisation and Insecurity of Everyday Life in the Caribbean. <

Reviews

“This unique book reviews the transnational growth of the self-help industry in the US, UK, Mexico, China, and Trinidad and Tobago. … the work is unique and valuable in presenting cross-cultural study and understanding of the industry of self-help around the world. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.” (D. L. Loers, Choice, Vol. 54 (3), November, 2016)


[This] is the book we have all been waiting for: Nehring and his co-authors chart the globalization of self-help culture from the US and the UK, to China, Mexico, Trinidad, and Tobago, capturing the hybridization of the form and the spread of therapeutic cultures and neoliberal ideology across the globe. While most studies of self-help culture to date have focused on the genre's prevalence in the Anglophone world, chiefly the US and the UK, Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry reveals just how prevalent the propaganda of entrepreneurial self-improvement has become. For students and scholars of popular culture, cultural studies, global studies, psychology and psychiatry, this is a must read.'- Micki McGee, author of Self-Help, Inc: Makeover Culture in American Life, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies, Fordham University, USA

'Exploring the place of 'self-help' books in contemporary culture, Nehring, Alvarado, Hendriks and Kerrigan provide a fascinating transnational perspective on the therapeutic culture industry. The critical-cultural approach employed by the authors pulls the curtain back on the self-help genre's underlying discourse of neoliberal entrepreneurialism and the freedom of 'the market,' articulated through reoccurring tropes of survivalism, self-affirmation and boot-strap individualism. As they convincingly demonstrate through excellent cases studies from around the world, self-help books operate through an assumption that attitudes, not social-structural constraints, determine upward social mobility, exposing the political dimension of self-help culture. Given its interpretive depth and the insights provided across cultures, this book should be on the reading list of anyone interested in how public discourse shapes ideas about the self and social relationships in an age of diminishing opportunities.' - Patrick D. Murphy, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies, Temple University, USA

'Over the course of the past several years, scholarly attention to self-help literature has tied the popularity of this genre to the abstract trajectories of Western modernizing processes. Attending to the existential or ontological shocks of reflexive modernity and the diminishment of social capital, self-help is the band-aid these societal structures offer to the listless denizens of the Anglosphere. [This book] adds valuable and much needed perspective to this view through a rich account of the specific global contexts of self-help's production, distribution and consumption. Through sustained inquiry and nuanced ethnography, the authors draw out the situated meanings of self-help within particular national cultures from China, Mexico and Trinidad to the US and UK, and the varied hybrid and glocal forms such literatures take in these contexts. Both readable and intellectually provocative, this book captures self help in its specificity, while drawing it together around more the practical and situated effects of neoliberalism, and it's invocation to personal enterprise. [It] will likely open important new doors not just for scholarly approaches to self-help, but for more general understandings of globalization, neoliberalism and the production of the self.' - Samuel Binkley, Associate Professor, Emerson College, USA

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-230-37086-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $100.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-230-37085-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry
Book Subtitle
The Politics of Contemporary Social Change
Authors
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-0-230-37086-9
DOI
10.1057/9780230370869
Hardcover ISBN
978-0-230-37085-2
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 198
Topics