W. W. Norton & Company
August 24, 2009
They punctuate our days, but we take them for granted: our barista, our car mechanic, a coworker, a fellow dog-lover. Yet these are the consequential strangers who bring novelty and information into our lives, allow us to exercise different parts of ourselves, and open us up to new opportunities. They keep us healthy and are invaluable when we’re sick. They fuel innovation and social movements. And they are vital in times of uncertainty.
In their unprecedented examination of “people who don’t seem to matter,” Karen L. Fingerman, who coined the term “consequential strangers,” collaborates with journalist Melinda Blau to develop an idea sparked by Fingerman’s groundbreaking research. Drawing as well from Blau’s more than two hundred interviews with specialists in psychology, sociology, marketing, and communication, this book presents compelling stories of individuals and institutions, past and present.
A rich portrait of our social landscape – on and off the Internet – it presents the science of causal connection and chronicles the surprising impact that consequential strangers have on business, creativity, the work environment, our physical and mental health, and the strength of our communities.
Melinda Blau, who specializes in relationships and trends, has written a dozen books, including the best-selling Baby Whisperer series. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Karen L. Fingerman, PhD, the Berner Hanley Professor at Purdue University, lives in West Lafayette, Indiana.