300 episodes

Interviews with Sociologists about their New Books

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    • Social Sciences

Interviews with Sociologists about their New Books

    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
    Iyko Day, "Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism" (Duke UP, 2016)

    Iyko Day, "Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism" (Duke UP, 2016)

    In our efforts to comprehend the systematic dispossession of indigenous peoples in settler colonies such as the United States, Canada, Australia, or Israel, the notion that "invasion is a structure, not merely an event," first articulated by Patrick Wolfe, has become something of a maxim for critical theorists. Part of this structure, as Patrick Wolfe described it, was a logic of elimination: after all, the settler must eliminate the native in order to secure her claim to the native's territory. But whom does the Native/settler binary exclude? And what do we fail to understand about how settler colonialism functions, as a result?
    These are just some of the questions to which Iyko Day speaks in her new book, Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2016). Centering Asian racialization in the United States and Canada in relation to Indigenous dispossession and structures of anti-blackness, Day explores how the historical alignment of Asian bodies and labor with capital's abstract and negative dimensions became one of settler colonialism's foundational and defining features. Romantic anti-capitalism, in turn, allowed white settlers to gloss over their complicity with capitalist exploitation.
    In treating Asian North American cultural production as a transnational genealogy of settler colonialism’s capitalist logic, Day does no less than re-theorize settler colonialism itself: Alien Capital pushes us to consider how settler colonialism functions not within a Native/settler binary, but rather as a dynamic triangulation of Native, settler, and alien positionalities. Listen in for the knitty-gritty.
    Nancy Ko is a PhD student in History at Columbia University, where she examines Jewish philanthropy and racialization in the late- and post-Ottoman Middle East from a global and comparative perspective. She can be reached at [nancy.ko@columbia.edu].
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    • 57 min
    Angela Jones, "Camming: Money, Power, and Pleasure in the Sex Work Industry" (NYU Press, 2020)

    Angela Jones, "Camming: Money, Power, and Pleasure in the Sex Work Industry" (NYU Press, 2020)

    In her new book, Camming: Money, Power, and Pleasure in the Sex Work Industry (NYU Press, 2020), Dr. Angela Jones engages readers in a five-year mixed-methods study she conducted on the erotic webcam industry where she tells a pornographic story about the multibillion-dollar online sex industry that is colloquially known as “camming.”
    Through camming, millions of people from all over the globe have found decent wages, friendship, intimacy, community, empowerment, and pleasure. This interview is full of stories from a diverse sample of cam models from all over the world whom Jones interviewed and observed as part of her five-year mixed-methods study. Cam models, like all sex workers, must grapple with exploitation, discrimination, harassment, and stigmatization. Using an intersectional lens, Jones was attentive to how the overlapping systems of neoliberal capitalism, White supremacy, patriarchy, cissexism, heterosexism, and ableism shape all cam models’ experiences in camming as a new global sex industry.
    This thorough examination of the camming industry provides a unique vantage point from which to understand and theorize around gender, sexuality, race, and labor in a time when workers globally face increasing economic precariousness and worsened forms of alienation, and desperately desire to recapture pleasure in work. Despite the serious issues cam models face, Jones’s focus on pleasure will help people better understand the motivations for engaging in online sex work, as well as the complex social interactions between cam models and customers. In Camming, Jones pioneers an entirely new subfield in sociology—the sociology of pleasure. The sociology of pleasure can provide new insights into the motivation for social behavior and assist sociologists in analyzing social interactions in everyday life.
    Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He earned his doctoral degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Walden University. He researches place and the process of place making as it presents in everyday social interactions. You can find more about him on his website, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst or email him at johnstonmo@wmpenn.edu.
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    • 52 min
    James K. Wellman, Jr., "High on God: How Megachurches Won the Heart of America" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    James K. Wellman, Jr., "High on God: How Megachurches Won the Heart of America" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    In the United States, the number of megachurches increased from 350 in 1990 to over 1,600 in 2011 with that number continuing to grow exponentially in subsequent years. By 2015, a Hartford Institute for Religion Research study showed that over five million people were attending services at a megachurch weekly which accounts for 50 percent of all American churchgoers.
    High on God: How Megachurches Won the Heart of America (Oxford University Press, 2020) by James K. Wellman Jr., Katie E. Corcoran, and Kate J. Stockly, is the first book to delve into why these churches have conquered the churchgoing market of America. Based on nearly 300 transcripts of focus groups and interviews, High on God highlights a commonality in the way attendees liken their religious experiences to that of a drug addiction. Using French sociologist Emile Durkheim's concept of homo duplex, the authors plot the structures that megachurches employ to satisfy the core human craving for personal meaning and social integration, as well as personal identity and communal solidarity.
    High on God is an honest account of the positive role megachurches play on bonding people together to lead lives of integrity, community, and responsibility. This book challenges the megachurch skeptics and shares insight into the experiences attendees have had and tells the history of this church model through present-day.
    Jim Wellman highlights these elements in this interview. Dr. Wellman is Professor and Chair of the Comparative Religion Program in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Wellman's publications include an award-winning book, The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism and Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest; edited volumes: Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence Across Time and Tradition, and Religion and Human Security: A Global Perspective.
    Will Sipling is currently an independent scholar, with published research on religion and psychology, liturgical studies, and Frankfurt School social theory. He was previously a fellow of the Department of Catholic Studies and the Thomas J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) while earning a master’s degree. Will previously studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, writing a thesis on sacramental and liturgical theology. You can follow his work at williamsipling.com or at @WSipling.
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    • 49 min
    Shai M. Dromi, "Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Shai M. Dromi, "Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    How should we understand humanitarian NGOs? In Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector (University of Chicago Press, 2020), Shai M. Dromi, a lecturer in sociology at Harvard University, uses insights from cultural sociology to reframe the history of the Red Cross. The book blends a detailed historical analysis with field theory and the strong programme in cultural sociology to show the longstanding influence of key individuals and texts, as well as accounting for influences of nationalism and Christianity. The historical analysis of the Red Cross presents crucial lessons for our current context, as well as providing the basis for comparisons with other approaches to humanitarian interventions. The book is both an excellent example of the strengths of the strong programme, along with a fascinating analysis of a key element of our modern world.
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    • 44 min
    Matthew Gutmann, "Are Men Animals? How Modern Masculinity Sells Men Short" (Basic Books, 2019)

    Matthew Gutmann, "Are Men Animals? How Modern Masculinity Sells Men Short" (Basic Books, 2019)

    In Are Men Animals? How Modern Masculinity Sells Men Short (Basic Books, 2019), Matthew Gutmann examines how cultural expectations viewing men as violent and sex driven becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dubious interpretations of the scientific study of the effects of testosterone, comparisons to the animal kingdom and the persistence of sex segregation reinforces ideas about what is natural. The idea that masculinity is the result of biology allows the “boys will be boys” excuse and reinforces patriarchal values harmful to women and setting false limits for male behavior. Presenting a cross-cultural survey Gutmann demonstrates how the variations across culture from Mexico to China contradict notions of a fixed masculinity. Seeing masculinity as a product of culture and malleable allows us to reimagine fathering, who is capable of leadership and offers new possibilities for how men and women will relate to each other.
    Matthew Gutmann is professor of anthropology at Brown University.
    Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her most recent book is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her current writing project is on the intellectual history of feminism seen through the emblematic life and work of Simone de Beauvoir.
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    • 1 hr 1 min

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