Category Archives: books

american democracy

My new book on American Democracy is out (hooray!). I tried to write it as an accessible argument for understanding democracy as essentially a social and cultural achievement: the back-and-forth interactions among citizens and institutions of government, structured through rules, ideas, and technologies that foster the formation of publics. Below the break are a few […]

becoming a master student.

I often tell my students that the course that changed my life was Introduction to Sociology. Today I realized that I’ve been lying to them, or to myself, all this time. The class that truly changed my life was Human Development 100.

biernacki, “reinventing evidence”

OrgTheory’s current book forum is on Richard Biernacki‘s Reinventing Evidence in Social Inquiry. I provide my views here to contribute to the discussion. Biernacki attempts a wholesale indictment of the practice of “coding” texts as a social scientific technique. Through careful attempts to replicate three studies, Biernacki seeks to show that the attempt to bridge […]

kloppenberg, reading obama

This is the next in the series of posts on what I read this summer. A friend had given me a copy of James T. Kloppenberg‘s Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition a while ago, but I hadn’t cracked it till this summer. It’s an engaging, sophisticated account of Obama’s intellectual pedigree […]

butler, parting ways: jewishness and the critique of zionism

This is another in a series of notes on things I read this summer. Toward the end of the summer I read Judith Butler‘s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (Columbia UP, 2012). Then, as I was preparing to write these thoughts about it, I ran across the Jerusalem Post’s attack on Butler’s […]

wedeen, peripheral visions

This summer I read Lisa Wedeen’s 2008 book, Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen (University of Chicago Press). I’d read her earlier book on Syria, Ambiguities of Domination, as well as her APSR article on adapting sociological approaches to culture to the study of political science. Both of these were worthwhile: the book, […]

the 2012 asa blog party: covered in awesomesauce

Please join us at the annual ASA blog party: Saturday, August 18, 2012 8-10pm Harry’s Bar in the lobby of the Magnolia hotel 818 17th street between Stout and Champa Streets (just 2.5 blocks from the convention center) This year, Jenn Lena and Gina Neff have graciously invited us to join their party to celebrate […]

bageant, rainbow pie

I very much appreciated Joe Bageant‘s previous book, Deer Hunting With Jesus, so eagerly looked forward to reading Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. Bageant, who died last year, was a political and social commentator whose overall goal in both books was to explain the political and social effects of white working class despair. Deer Hunting […]

relevant reading assignment.

This semester, I’m teaching the second iteration of a senior seminar I created last year. The class, Socialization and the Life Course, explores social influences on our lives from before birth to after death. The class was wildly successful last spring and it’s shaping up to be just as good – although quite different – […]

reed, interpretation and social knowledge

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of notes on things I’ve read recently. This one opens discussion of Isaac Ariail Reed’s Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the Use of Theory in the Human Sciences (Chicago 2011), a small but very ambitious book by one of the most interesting young […]

ginsberg, the fall of the faculty

A few weeks ago I had a long plane ride and used it to read Benjamin Ginsberg‘s The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why it Matters. Ginsberg, a distinguished political Scientist at Johns Hopkins, made headlines with this book and excerpts appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and […]

a beautiful method

Steven J. Tepper sent out  a request to various people looking for advice on “particularly good and compelling examples of creative, parsimonious scholarship.” Here’s what he and those who responded came up with. (compiled by Steven Tepper: Thanks to Shaul Kelner, Heather Talley, Karen Campbell, Eszter Hargittai, Terry McDonnell, Charles Kadushin, Kieran Healy, Bruce Barry, […]

ask a scatterbrain: recent theory books

All right folks, it’s spring break which means it’s also time for me to think about what books to order for fall. On the docket this time around: a revamped introduction to sociology and graduate theory. For graduate theory, I’m looking for recommendations for recent (last 2-3 years) important theory books linked to current practice […]

today’s arrival

Get your copy before they’re gone!

science and morality, harris-style

Sam Harris is back. Since writing The End of Faith, apparently while an undergraduate at Stanford, he wrote Letter to a Christian Nation; he’s also been completing a Ph.D. at UCLA’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program. In his new book, The Moral Landscape, he seeks to bring his new field to bear on one of the thorniest […]

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