Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Books

Sociological takes on recent news and research.

What They’re Watching

A "list" of what six social scientists are watching on television and film. Read More

Is Marriage for Anyone?

Two recent books on marriage—Is Marriage for White People? by Ralph Richard Banks and Unhitched by Judith Stacey—are considered in this review essay by sociologist Micki McGee. Banks argues that the decline of marriage among African American women constitutes a social problem that could be remedied if more women from this group opted for interracial marriages. Stacey's cross-cultural study contends that marriage is an institution that attempts the near impossible task of reconciling the goals of domesticity with those of erotic life, and that in the process an extraordinary range of marital arrangements have emerged. Taken together these arguments ask us to consider who marriage serves. Read More

Beyond “Post 9/11”

Sociologist Erik Love reviews the books Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and Terrifying Muslims. Each move beyond “post 9/11” explanations for anti-Muslim sentiment, showing how Islamophobia is best understood not as a temporary backlash, but rather as stemming from longstanding and durable forms of racial bigotry and colonialism. Read More

The Chattering Class

Sociologist Michael Schudson reviews Ronald Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley’s The Space of Opinion. He argues that this full-length study of opinion journalism in the United States makes a strong case that the mix of diverse opinions, formats, and personalities in our era of op-ed pages, talk radio, and cable TV helps engage citizens with politics and improves democratic deliberation. Read More

Religious Origins

Eduardo Mendieta reviews the book Religion in Human Evolution. He reflects on Robert Bellah's massive book on the role of religion in human evolution up to the Axial Period, and the emergence of second order cognitive and moral reflexivity. Read More

Breakthrough Books: Education

Scholars sound off about the books that shaped how we think about education. Read More

Breakthrough Books: Race and Racism

A "list" of what five sociologists consider breakthrough books about race and racism. Read More

Immigrant Dreams

Sociologist Smitha Radhakrishnan reviews the books The Managed Hand and The New Entrepreneurs. Each illustrates the opportunity and systematic discrimination faced by immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States. These works push us to reconsider the importance of minority business owners in continuing to make the American dream real for all of us. Read More

Rethinking Sexual Violence

Sociologist Nacy Whittier reviews the books Sex Panic and the Punitive State, At the Dark End of the Street, and Unspeakable. Each differently addresses sexual violence in relation to race, class, and criminalization. Read More

Thinking in Context

The book Thinking, Fast and Slow is reviewed and shows what sociologists could learn from Daniel Kahneman's work on behavioral economics by extending this knowledge to cover the study of social interactions. Read More