review: “postcolonial thought and social theory” by julian go

Last week, my graduate theory students read Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America. Next week, we’re reading The Souls of Black Folk. When I took graduate social theory (twice!), I didn’t read Du Bois. I didn’t even know I wasn’t reading him; that is, his absence from the syllabus went unremarked. Fast forward a decade or so and, thanks especially to the efforts of Aldon Morris, Du Bois is increasingly treated as a central social theorist, worthy of inclusion on equal terms with the old big three (Marx, Weber, and Durkheim). Reading Julian Go’s new book Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory in the middle of our Du Bois unit proved to be both useful and provocative. If you or someone you know is pondering how to broaden the canon in your theory class – to include Du Bois and then to go beyond his work – Go’s book makes for an interesting call to arms.

Continue reading “review: “postcolonial thought and social theory” by julian go”

structure beats culture; culture roars back

In American Democracy, I argued that there are times in American politics when culture beats structure: when the popular will—the democratic culture, as Tocqueville imagined it—is represented even though political and electoral structures seem to interfere with or prevent such representation.

This was not such a case.

Earlier, colleagues and I wrote about four cases of what we called postmodern electoral crises. These events are characterized by actors strategically deploying structural tactics designed for unusual situations in the service of normal politics. Thus tools designed to represent the demos are used to shape or distort it.

This was closer to such a case.

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the “not-all-manosphere”: masculinity and the online alt-right


The following is a guest post by John Bailey.

Donald Trump will enter office in 2017, in large part, due to the votes of white men. While the dismissal of his candidacy was a constant refrain for most commentators, Trump’s ascendancy was always treated as inevitable in one space in particular: online communities of far-right white guys.

Trump’s startling victory has provoked some soul-searching about what the internet means for white guys, often using the word radicalization. It’s an apt term, given that Trump’s campaign was built through radical posturing on race (explicitly) and gender (in ways only slightly more coded). But this didn’t start with Trump. The diffuse architecture of identities, communities, and digital techniques that bolstered his campaign has been floating around the untrammeled internet long before they became embodied in the president-elect’s chief strategist. What explains the emergence of this specific form of alt-right masculinity, and why has it become so durable?

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normalization of extremism: steve bannon edition

Here’s NPR story about Steve Bannon’s appointment as Chief Strategist. It’s just one of many that fails to note how extreme Bannon is, or downplays his extremism. Here’s how NPR describes him:

“Meanwhile, the inclusion of Bannon, the former head of the far-right outlet Breitbart News, suggests another direction entirely. Rumored to be have been considered for chief of staff himself, Bannon “would have been the insurgent choice” for the top aide job, Eyder says. He is “known for his no-holds-barred approach to politics and his popularity among the alt-right,” as NPR’s Sarah McCammon reported last week.”

Here’s how they could have described him:

Steve Bannon is a white supremacist, anti-semite, and a domestic abuser.

Not saying those things – instead saying that he’s “far-right” and “insurgent” – is what normalization looks like.

the polls are alright

I am going to take Dan’s invitation to consider one aspect of the polls that I don’t see getting a lot of attention right now, but that I think could be important: undecided voters could explain much of the polling error being discussed.

Oliver Tacke, FlickrIn other words, I don’t think that the polls were that wrong. I know that this view puts me in the minority, even among people who think about these things for a living. What we have, I think, is a failure to really consider how we should interpret polls given two very unpopular candidates and a possible “Shy Tory” effect where Trump supporters reported being undecided to pollsters.

Let’s break down the vote share by breaking it into its component parts: Continue reading “the polls are alright”

some quick fact checks on the election

The election’s over. Trump won. The GOP won the Senate, and kept the House. That’s all the grim truth. No one fully knows how bad this will be for the next four years and for all the years to come, but we have some educated guesses and it’s bad.

Some of the other claims flying right now – about how this happened, who’s responsible, how we missed this, and so on – are misleading or false. This post isn’t a detailed analysis, it’s just a quick attempt to get everyone on the same page. It’s also my meager attempt to deal with the emotional fallout this morning by doing what academics do best: post-hoc analysis and contemplation.

Continue reading “some quick fact checks on the election”

what’s next?

There is not a lot of silver lining tonight. But here’s one bit: assuming the projections hold, more Americans voted for Clinton than Trump. We live in a messed up system that denies votes to many (Puerto Ricans, disenfranchised felons, etc.), and disproportionately weights the votes of others (the electoral college). So Clinton loses the Presidency despite winning the most votes. But she did win them. The next four years are going to be awful. I am afraid for what will happen to Muslims, to immigrants, to people of color, to women, to anyone targeted by the immense and unaccountable national security state. Elections have consequences, and this one’s consequences rate to be terrible. I shudder especially to think about what this means for tackling climate change – a problem that gets worse every year we fail to act. But at least we can say that most Americans did not vote for this.

So, to that majority of Americans who did not vote for this: What’s next?

asa 2017 call for papers

**Update: The ASA now has a clear link listed on their website. Visit their website for the most up-to-date information**

Because it wasn’t immediately clear where the ASA’s Call for Papers was when I followed the link the ASA is tweeting, I provide it here. Hopefully someone benefits from having it presented in its typical format rather than having to navigate the submission portal to even consider where you might submit something.