Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Books

Sociological takes on recent news and research.

The World Without Us?

The future of higher education is up for grabs. Diane Pike finds, in two recent books, a call to action for social scientists and academics in the liberal arts. Read More

Gender Norms in the Twilight Series

The hit series Twilight replicates gender stereotypes that sociologists have been debunking for decades. Rebecca Hayes-Smith highlights the gravity of making light of harmful gender messages. Read More

Road Warriors and Water Hogs

While globalization has expanded the flow of goods, environmental movements have worked to constrain these flows by constructing local-based networks. Ted Conover's The Routes of Man traces four routes of globalization, while Kate A. Berry and Eric Mollard shed light on the environmental challenges these routes create in Social Participation in Water Governance and Management. Read More

Kids Today!

Cyber Bullying and The We Generation lament youth incivility in the Internet age. Reviewer Katherine Brown Rosier puts these critiques into historical context and suggests paying attention to privilege--for adults and youth alike. Read More

No News Is Not Good News

In their respective books, Alex Jones and Jack Fuller examine what news is, how traditional journalism has been threatened, and how it can sustain its mission in the future. Lee Konstantinou’s novel brings these theories to life, painting a picture of the “mediasphere" in the not-so-distant future. Read More

From The Music Man to Methland

Methland, a journalist’s portrait of what ails small-town Iowa reveals that rural problems are not so different from those of the big city. Meth in Iowa, reviewer Maria Kefalas says, is linked to larger issues of joblessness and downward mobility in middle America. Read More

The Moslems Are Here—Be Afraid!

Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West argues that Muslim immigrant resistance to assimilation poses a threat to European culture and politics. Reviewer Syed Ali criticizes this analysis as the book as over-simplified rhetoric lacking in counter-interpretations. Read More

Empire of the Games

Two books offer balanced ideas of how video games deliver messages about empire and militarism, but also allow space for resistance. Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games, by Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter. Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games, edited by Nina B. Huntemann and Matthew Thomas Payne. Read More

Carceral Nation

The dramatic expansion of prisons in the United States receives serious sociological investigation in two books that reflect on the decivilizing force of mass incarceration: Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration, edited by Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, and The Prisoners’ World: Portraits of Convicts Caught in the Incarceration Binge, by William Tregea and Marjorie Larmour. Read More

Dissonance and Discovery

Brooke Harrington talks with economic sociologist David Stark about his new book, The Sense of Dissonance, and its reflection on his 30 years of ethnographic field work. Stark advocates the study of situations (rather than institutions) to learn how people understand their worlds and the issues that are most important to them. Read More