Archive for the ‘books’ Category
Hi, everyone! As the year winds up, I’d like to announce two book fora:
- March 2017: Catherine Turco’s Conversational Firm.
- May 2017: Mark Granovetter’s Society and Economy.*
Please order the books now!**
* Holy smokes, yes, the Granovetter book is coming out. We have heard of this sacred text for years and now… my precious… my precious…
** And yes, editors who read this blog should send me free copies!!
So there are a thousand reasons Trump won the election, right? There’s race, there’s class, there’s gender. There’s Clinton as a candidate, and Trump as a candidate, the changing media environment, the changing economic environment, and the nature of the primary fields. It’s not either-or, it’s all of the above.
But Josh Pacewicz’s new book, Partisans and Partners: The Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society, implies a really interesting explanation for the swing voters in the Rust Belt—the folks who went Obama in 2008, and maybe 2012, but Trump in 2016. These voters may make up a relatively small fraction of the total, but they were key to this election.
Well, it’s the scariest time of year. For some, the scariest stuff reaches its apotheosis on Election Day, Nov. 8, while for others, Halloween is the celebration of choice. For a sociological take on the Oct. 31st festivities, check out Sociological Images’s compendium of Halloween blog posts.
I’ve been counting down these weeks to recommend reading Margee Kerr‘s book Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear (hat-tip to a neuroscientist friend for the rec), about the mechanisms underlying fear among humans. In her book, Kerr takes readers on a worldwide journey to investigate fear in different contexts, from a derelict prison where inmates served their time in solitary confinement to Japan’s notorious Suicide Forest.
Kerr is also a practicing sociologist who also designs and refines an experimental haunted house, ScareHouse, located in Pittsburgh. In chapter 8 of her book, she describes how people want to bond with others after being scared and how she and colleagues have channeled that intense emotional energy with an anonymous “confessional” room where people can unload secrets. Overall, Kerr’s experiences shows how sociology and related research can directly inform and shape experiences.
Now for some of our social scientists’ fear… Trigger warning !!! after the jump, courtesy of Josh de Leeuw.
Dear friends and readers,
This coming Winter, Columbia University Press will publish my next book, Theory for the Working Sociologist. The book is my attempt to present social theory in a way that is accessible to upper division social science students, graduate students, and any reader who just wants to know what sociology is up to these days.
The book has an intuitive organization. I choose four major themes of social theory and explain the general ideas (“theory”) that motivate concrete empirical studies and explanations (“mechanisms”). For example, the first section of the book is about power and inequality theory. I illustrate how theoretical ideas about habitus and intersectionality are represented in empirical research and how they grow from earlier approaches to power and inequality. I also have sections on social construction, values/structures/institutions, and strategic action theory (i.e., social capital, structural holes, rational choice and other ways sociologists talk about purposeful action).
The book is short and designed to be used in many contexts. In my undergraduate theory course, I used the draft of the book to supplement original texts. After reading various inequality theorists from Marx to Patricia Hill-Collins, I assigned chapter 2 to provide an overview of how inequality theory has developed.
Due to its short length, it is also well suited for a quarter course on contemporary theory or as the text you read after you plow through the classics. I can also imagine that graduate students might enjoy it because it offers a brief survey of the major theories of sociology. Many sociologists start in related fields, like political science or economics, and need a “tour guide” to help them find their place.
Finally, I want to thank the readership of this blog. I acknowledgments list many readers who read the text and improved it and the readers who encouraged me to write it in the first place.
If you are thinking of assigning this book in your course, please email me and I will send you the (almost) final draft.
One of the nice things about summer is getting to read stuff you don’t have to read. Matt Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City was excellent, and deserves the great deal of attention it received. The sociology is largely implicit, but it is absolutely there, and Desmond paints a compelling portrait of flawed but comprehensible individuals caught in a web of exploitative institutions from which it is very, very hard to escape.
But you know the good stuff is always in the footnotes, right? And my favorite footnote is not about Lamar, the neighborhood father figure whose legs froze off when, high on crack, he passed out in an abandoned house; or Lorraine, who tries to find a little joy in her otherwise grinding poverty by spending her food stamps on lobster.
According to Google Scholar, there are more than 4,800 scholarly articles and books in which the phrase “Moving to Opportunity” appears in the text. This neighborhood relocation initiative designed to move families out of disadvantaged neighborhoods was a bold and important program—which served roughly 4,600 households. In other words, by now every family who benefited from Moving to Opportunity could have their own study in which their program was mentioned.
Ouch. Point very much taken.
Orgheads, take note, I am thrilled to introduce a guest post by M. Pilar Opazo, who has just published an exciting new book, Appetite for Innovation: Creativity and Change at elBulli (2016, Columbia University Press), on the much lauded, three-star Michelin restaurant elBulli.
The name elBulli is synonymous with creativity and innovation. Located in Catalonia, Spain, the three-star Michelin restaurant led the world to “molecular” or “techno-emotional” cooking and made creations, such as pine-nut marshmallows, rose-scented mozzarella, liquid olives, and melon caviar, into sensational reality. People traveled from all over the world—if they could secure a reservation during its six months of operation—to experience the wonder that chef Ferran Adrià and his team concocted in their test kitchen, never offering the same dish twice. Yet elBulli’s business model proved unsustainable. The restaurant converted to a foundation in 2011, and is working hard on its next revolution. Will elBulli continue to innovate? What must an organization do to create something new?
Appetite for Innovation is an organizational analysis of elBulli and the nature of innovation. Pilar Opazo joined elBulli’s inner circle as the restaurant transitioned from a for-profit business to its new organizational model. In this book, she compares this moment to the culture of change that first made elBulli famous, and then describes the novel forms of communication, idea mobilization, and embeddedness that continue to encourage the staff to focus and invent as a whole. She finds that the successful strategies employed by elBulli are similar to those required for innovation in art, music, business, and technology, proving the value of the elBulli model across organizations and industries.
Glowing reviews of the book and its contributions to organizational studies and our understanding of creativity, penned by organizational sociologists Walter Powell and Diane Vaughan, urban sociologist Sharon Zukin, food scholars Priscilla Ferguson and Krishnendu Ray, and others are available here.
Forbes also listed Appetite for Innovation as one of 17 books recommended for “creative leaders” to read this summer.
M. Pilar Opazo is a postdoctoral research scholar at the Columbia Business School. She is the coauthor of two Spanish-language volumes, Communications of Organizations and Negotiation: Competing or Collaborating, and her journal publications include Sociological Theory and the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. For more information about Pilar, see www.mpilaropazo.com