Another review of Stromberg's "Collective Excitement and Lapse in Agency: Fostering an Appetite for Cigarettes"
by Moe Prince
Stromberg was looking at the reasoning why “smart” college students were taking up smoking in such high numbers, when most smart people recognize the health issues associated with the practice. He considers this to be an example agency in that it’s not something that these people would typically participate in, but they find themselves doing it anyway. He found two main reasons why college students attributed their smoking. The first one is that majority of them see it as a social occasion. Smoking is often introduced in high excitement environments, like parties. This can lead to smoking being associated with these high excitement periods and more, leaving a positive impression. Another reason college kids pick up smoking has a historical backing as well. Smoking used to be done by men looking to establish elegance and climb the social ladder. Men who were able to handle their cigarettes in elegant ways were able to more effectively climb the social ladder. These ideals carried over and even today smoking is seen as a way to make someone look or feel cool. Testimonials from college kids showed that it even helped them feel like something they weren’t. It made them feel cooler or even “sexier” and that was worth participating for them.
What I found confusing about this chapter is that, though Stromberg claimed multiple times that the mystery behind collective effervescence wasn’t so much of a mystery anymore due to our better understanding of the brain, I don't fully understand how exactly the neurology behind it all works. I don’t exactly see where he explains the processes in depth so that the reader can actually see how everything comes together. It’s almost like he makes the claim that it all fits and just expects you to trust him. It was a little confusing to me.