Rousseau had a couple of overriding goals in writing the book, his third.
One goal was to make the case that technological change, the use of social media and a sense of both economic and personal powerlessness are causing people to turn inward and become increasingly self-absorbed.
“People are much more alone than they need to be,” Rousseau said.
His other goal was to write a book that “is not dull or jargon-filled,” as many sociology texts tend to be, using personal examples and historical perspective.
“I was trying to take a very down-to-earth look at how our society functions,” he said.
In that, he appears to have struck a chord. After reviewing more than 7,000 titles, the American Library Association has named “Society Explained” one of the top 25 academic books of 2014.
Does this book offer one or a few key social forces that explain society today or does it take the typical introduction to sociology approach of looking at numerous subfields? I would expect the former with such a title though I’ve seen enough books to suspect the latter might be true. Alas, society is complex with numerous moving parts and doesn’t have the same kind of universal laws that might be found in the natural sciences. (What is the sociological equivalent of the law of gravity?) Yet, this is precisely what makes the subject so fascinating.