Happy Hour with Cass Sunstein: How Change Happens

A special "happy hour" event with author and Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein! Join us to mingle over light refreshments, hear from the author, and get your copy of How Change Happens signed. Please note the 4:30 pm event time, and feel free to stop by throughout the hour!

"Sunstein's book is illuminating because it puts norms at the center of how we think about change."--David Brooks, The New York Times

How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? Sexual harassment was once something that women had to endure; now a movement has risen up against it. White nationalist sentiments, on the other hand, were largely kept out of mainstream discourse; now there is no shortage of media outlets for them. In this book, with the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on how change happens.

Sunstein focuses on the crucial role of social norms--and on their frequent collapse. When norms lead people to silence themselves, even an unpopular status quo can persist. Then one day, someone challenges the norm--a child who exclaims that the emperor has no clothes; a woman who says "me too." Sometimes suppressed outrage is unleashed, and long-standing practices fall.

Sometimes change is more gradual, as "nudges" help produce new and different decisions--apps that count calories; texted reminders of deadlines; automatic enrollment in green energy or pension plans. Sunstein explores what kinds of nudges are effective and shows why nudges sometimes give way to bans and mandates. Finally, he considers social divisions, social cascades, and "partyism," when identification with a political party creates a strong bias against all members of an opposing party--which can both fuel and block social change.

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. He was the recipient of the 2018 Holberg Prize, one of the largest annual international research prizes awarded to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law, or theology. He is the author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution (MIT Press), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler), and other books.

Event date: 
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Event address: 
Porter Square Books
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140
How Change Happens Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780262039574
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mit Press - April 9th, 2019

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