There are so many different groups and movements to cover in the social and cultural issues genre. And there are so many different motivations behind covering those groups and movements in social and cultural issues books.
Plain old curiosity.
Let’s face it, if you’re writing in the social and cultural issues genre, there's a good chance you’re out to prove something. Like maybe how disgusting, ridiculous or misguided a particular subset of humanity is (or the group that opposes it).
This might be for political reasons, religious reasons or scientific reasons. And I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons to draw from as well.
That’s fine. There are plenty of communities that aren’t worth being a part of anyway, either because they’re not a good fit for you specifically or because they’re not a good fit for anyone.
For example, as I admitted on Innovative Editing’s Facebook page yesterday, if I was going to write a social and cultural issues book… it would be about people who believe in reptilians.
To be honest, I find them utterly and completely insane in an intriguing sort of way. (There goes any reptilian-believing book-coaching clients I might have otherwise snagged.) But don’t let me color your own opinion on the subject.
Do some digging, starting with this Wikipedia explanation of what a reptilian is:
Reptilians are purported reptilian humanoids that play a prominent role in fantasy, science fiction, ufology, and conspiracy theories. The idea of reptilians was popularized by David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who claims shape-shifting reptilian aliens control Earth by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate human societies.
For the record, I did try to go to David Icke’s website first to get an explanation. But he doesn’t seem to have an “About” button. So Wikipedia it was after its explanation happened to match everything else I’ve read and heard about the reptilian crowd.
Again, I don’t have any personal respect for the guy or the group. Yet if I was ever going to go and compose The Reptilians Among Us – catchy title, right? – I would be ethically obligated to remember the following Writing Rule.
For the record, the same applies to you, no matter your motivation in writing a social and cultural issues book:
You’re dealing with real people.
Whatever subset of humanity you’re writing about in your cultural and social issues manuscript, you’re still writing about human beings.
They may be human beings you find utterly abhorrent, but they’re still human beings. As such, you owe them the courtesy of honestly exploring their world from every angle possible. If all those angles still come together to form something disgusting, then so be it. Just as long as you see them for who they really are.
That bolded header there, “You’re dealing with real people,” is a Writing Rule. There’s no way around it.
However, everything from “As such, you owe them the courtesy of…” onward is a writing challenge. Just a really, really, really important one.
It’s a call for the kind of professionalism and integrity we all need in order to get along a bit better than we currently are.
That means, if I was going to start doing proper research for The Reptilians Among Us, it would be my responsibility to set aside my eye-rolling tendencies and instead treat David Icke's followers like the real people they are.
That’s how one covers the social and cultural issues genre. That’s how to write a social and cultural issues book.
Unless, of course, you just want to make everyone hate everyone more than they already do.