sociology for the public


In-depth, analytical storytelling about how and why our world works the way it does.

How Rachel Carson and Michael Harrington Changed the World

The 50th anniversary of two pathbreaking books—Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Michael Harrington’s The Other America—that helped change public opinion and public policy about the environment and poverty is discussed. Peter Dreier looks into what contemporary academics, including sociologists, can learn from the lives and careers of these two influential public intellectuals. Read More

Dancing the Body Beautiful

Using accounts from several professional Latin dancers augmented by the author's own experience, Julia A. Ericksen traces the ways bodily perfection has become an important part of dancers’ identities. In addition, Ericksen argues that this is a more extreme form of general cultural pressure to engage in bodywork. Read More

Understanding “Occupy”

Leading social analysts Ruth Milkman, Mohammed A. Bamyeh, Benjamin Barber, William Julius Wilson, Dana Williams, and Deborah B. Gould offer their views of the Occupy Wall Street movement—and its offshoots. Read More

Nature’s Looking Glass

How we see nature is to a large extent a reflection of ourselves. Sociologists Hillary Angelo and Colin Jerolmack use the example of New Yorkers’ fascination with two red-tailed hawks to reveal deep insights about how we represent and understand nature. Read More

Home Cooking: Marketing Meth

Making and selling methamphetamine is a business of personal ties. Henry H. Brownstein, Timothy M. Mulcahy, Bruce G. Taylor, Johannes Fernandes-Huessy, and Carol Hafford provide a nuanced understanding of meth markets, from mom-and-pop to import markets. Read More

Banking on the Poor

Sociologist Dwight Haase explores how one man’s efforts to help his village neighbors evolved into a global corporate market--with unintended consequences. Haase provides insight into how the microfinance movement turned into an industry. Read More

Playing but Losing: Women’s Sports After Title IX

Girls and women have more opportunities since Title IX, but the playing field is still far from level. Cheryl Cooky and Nicole M. Lavoi explore how major inequities remain, especially in terms of media attention, distribution of institutional resources and opportunities to coach and lead in the world of sport. Read More

Stealing a Bag of Potato Chips and Other Crimes of Resistance

Sociologist Victor M. Rios shows in his study how some young men make trouble as means of gaining respect. This is an adaptation from his book Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys. Read More

Learning from Las Vegas

The social analysts, Barbara G. Brents, Michael Ian Borer, Annelise Orleck, Sharon Zukin, and Matt Wray, offer contrasting views of the plastic fantastic city of Las Vegas. Read More

New Ways of Bowling Together

In his 2000 book Bowling Alone, sociologist Robert Putnam argued that American civic engagement was dying. Now, Peter Hart-Brinson uses research on the convergence of the fitness boom and the creative fundraising efforts of nonprofits to show how civic engagement is being revived as civic recreation. Its social roots are examined, along with its implications for community and democracy. Read More