300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Public Policy about their New Books

New Books in Public Policy New Books Network

    • Social Sciences

Interviews with Scholars of Public Policy about their New Books

    Steve Suitts, "Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement" (NewSouth Books, 2020)

    Steve Suitts, "Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement" (NewSouth Books, 2020)

    School choice, widely touted as a system that would ensure underprivileged youth have an equal opportunity in education, has grown in popularity in the past fifteen years. The strategies and rhetoric of school choice, however, resemble those of segregationists who closed public schools and funded private institutions to block African American students from integrating with their white peers in the wake of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.
    In Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement (NewSouth Books, 2020), Steve Suitts examines the parallels between de facto segregationist practices and the modern school choice movement. He exposes the dangers lying behind the smoke and mirrors of the so-called civil rights policies of Betsy DeVos and the education privatization lobbies. Economic and educational disparities have expanded rather than contracted in the years following Brown, and post-Jim Crow discriminatory policies drive inequality and poverty today. Suitts deftly reveals the risk that America and its underprivileged youth face as school voucher programs funnel public funds into predominantly white and often wealthy private schools and charter schools
    Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The New Victorians (New Press, 2004), A Peoples History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017).
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    • 31 min
    Virginia Eubanks, "Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor" (St. Martin's, 2018)

    Virginia Eubanks, "Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor" (St. Martin's, 2018)

    The State of Indiana denies one million applications for healthcare, foodstamps and cash benefits in three years―because a new computer system interprets any mistake as “failure to cooperate.” In Los Angeles, an algorithm calculates the comparative vulnerability of tens of thousands of homeless people in order to prioritize them for an inadequate pool of housing resources. In Pittsburgh, a child welfare agency uses a statistical model to try to predict which children might be future victims of abuse or neglect.
    Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems―rather than humans―control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor.
    In Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (St. Martin's, 2018), Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.
    The U.S. has always used its most cutting-edge science and technology to contain, investigate, discipline and punish the destitute. Like the county poorhouse and scientific charity before them, digital tracking and automated decision-making hide poverty from the middle-class public and give the nation the ethical distance it needs to make inhumane choices: which families get food and which starve, who has housing and who remains homeless, and which families are broken up by the state. In the process, they weaken democracy and betray our most cherished national values.
    This deeply researched and passionate book could not be more timely.
    John Danaher is a lecturer the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is also the host of the wonderful podcast Philosophical Disquisitions. You can find it here on Apple Podcasts.
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    • 1 hr 22 min
    Caitlin Frances Bruce, "Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter" (Temple UP, 2019)

    Caitlin Frances Bruce, "Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter" (Temple UP, 2019)

    Public art is a form of communication that enables spaces for encounters across difference. These encounters may be routine, repeated, or rare, but all take place in urban spaces infused with emotion, creativity, and experimentation. In Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter (Temple University Press, 2019), Caitlin Frances Bruce explores how various legal graffiti scenes across the United States, Mexico, and Europe provide diverse ways for artists to navigate their changing relationships with publics, institutions, and commercial entities.
    Painting Publics draws on a combination of interviews with more than 100 graffiti writers as well as participant observation, and uses critical and rhetorical theory to argue that graffiti should be seen as more than counter-cultural resistance. Bruce claims it offers resources for imagining a more democratic city, one that builds and grows from personal relations, abandoned or under-used spaces, commercial sponsorship, and tacit community resources. In the case of Mexico, Germany, and France, there is even some state support for the production and maintenance of civic education through visual culture.
    In her examination of graffiti culture and its spaces of inscription, Bruce allows us to see moments where practitioners actively reckon with possibility.
    Victoria Oana Lupascu is a PhD candidate in dual-title doctoral program in Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her areas of interest include 20th and 21st Chinese literature and visual art, medical humanities and Global South studies. 
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Robert Frank, "Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Robert Frank, "Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Psychologists have long understood that social environments profoundly shape our behavior, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. But social influence is a two-way street―our environments are themselves products of our behavior. Under the Influence explains how to unlock the latent power of social context. It reveals how our environments encourage smoking, bullying, tax cheating, sexual predation, problem drinking, and wasteful energy use. We are building bigger houses, driving heavier cars, and engaging in a host of other activities that threaten the planet―mainly because that's what friends and neighbors do.
    In the wake of the hottest years on record, only robust measures to curb greenhouse gases promise relief from more frequent and intense storms, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and famines. In Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work (Princeton UP, 2020), Robert H. Frank describes how the strongest predictor of our willingness to support climate-friendly policies, install solar panels, or buy an electric car is the number of people we know who have already done so. In the face of stakes that could not be higher, the book explains how we could redirect trillions of dollars annually in support of carbon-free energy sources, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone.
    Most of us would agree that we need to take responsibility for our own choices, but with more supportive social environments, each of us is more likely to make choices that benefit everyone. Under the Influence shows how.
    Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The New Victorians (New Press, 2004), A Peoples History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017).
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    • 29 min
    Jodie Adams Kirshner, "Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promise" (St. Martin's Press, 2019)

    Jodie Adams Kirshner, "Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promise" (St. Martin's Press, 2019)

    In her new book Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promise (St. Martin's Press, 2019), Jodie Adams Kirshner tells the story of the people of Detroit before, during, and after its bankruptcy, offering lessons about urban governance, post-industrial economics, development, and the usefulness of bankruptcy itself as a tool to aid U.S. cities. Join us to hear the fascinating, infuriating, and heartbreaking stories of Detroiters struggling to build better lives for themselves and their neighborhoods.
    Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The New Victorians (New Press, 2004), A People’s History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017).
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    • 28 min
    Kate Lockwood Harris, "Beyond the Rapist: Title IX and Sexual Violence on US Campuses" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Kate Lockwood Harris, "Beyond the Rapist: Title IX and Sexual Violence on US Campuses" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    On this episode of the New Books Network, Dr. Lee Pierce (she/they)--Asst. Prof. of Rhetoric and Communication at the State University of New York at Geneseo--interviews Dr. Kate Lockwood Harris (she/they)--Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota -on the courageous new book Beyond the Rapist: Title IX and Sexual Violence on US Campuses (Oxford University Press, 2019).
    Beyond the Rapists asks how and to what end scholars of communication and the public at large might look “beyond the rapist”--beyond the individuals who perpetuate violence and toward the organizations through whom violence is authorized and distributed. Dr. Lockwood Harris makes the provocative claim that organizations communicate differently but no less impactfully than direct action and advocates for a new perspective on what it means for an organization to do violence along raced and gendered lines in today’s higher education climate.
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    • 1 hr 3 min

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