Life Advice from Below
Eric C. Hendriks, Peking University
In Life Advice from Below, Eric C. Hendriks offers the first systematic, comparative study of the globalization of American-style self-help culture and the cultural conflicts this creates in different national contexts. The self-help guru is an archetypical American figure associated with individualism, materialism and the American Dream. Nonetheless, the self-help industry is spreading globally, thriving in China and other seemingly unlikely places. Controversy follows in its wake, as the self-help industry, operating outside of formal education and state institutions, outflanks philosophical, religious and political elites who have their own visions of the Good Life. Through a comparison of Germany and China, Hendriks analyzes how the competition between self-help gurus and institutional authorities unfolds under radically different politico-cultural regimes.
“This witty book charms its way through a very serious sociology of the seriously quirky field of self-help books. Read it for its fascinating pop-culture insights and you’ll come away with a deep understanding of contemporary sociological theory. Highly recommended.” - Salvatore Babones, University of Sydney
“Hendriks’ finding that Germany rather than China is more resistant to self-help gurus offers a powerful corrective to the assumption in much of the globalization literature that the greatest cultural divide is between the Anglo-Western European sphere and the rest of the globe.” - Rodney Benson, New York University