Sociology

Audio from Laura J. Miller’s BookExpo appearance

June 26, 2006
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Audio from Laura J. Miller’s BookExpo appearance

At one of the panel presentations at BookExpo America, the annual book publishing trade show, Publishers Weekly editor-in-chief Sara Nelson interviewed Laura J. Miller, author of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Miller responded to questions from Nelson and the audience on the history of bookselling, the conflict between chain and independent bookstores, and her sense of where the industry is headed. The audio of the discussion is available on a BookExpo site that collects podcasts from the show. Miller earlier wrote an essay for our blog. We also have an excerpt from her book. . . .

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Author event: Harcourt on WBEZ

June 5, 2006
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Author event: Harcourt on WBEZ

On Monday, June 5, Bernard E. Harcourt, author of Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy appeared on Chicago Public Radio’s morning talk show Eight Forty-Eight. Listen to the segment as posted to the WBEZ Web site. Harcourt is also the author of Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age, which we will publish in the fall. . . .

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Review: Goldfarb, The Politics of Small Things

May 31, 2006
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Review: Goldfarb, The Politics of Small Things

PopMatters recently reviewed Jeffrey C. Goldfarb’s The Politics of Small Things: The Power of the Powerless in Dark Times. From the review by Vince Carducci: "The Politics of Small Things is a modest book— the main text runs less than 150 pages. But it’s long enough to make the case that the phrase ‘reach out and touch someone’ is more than some derelict advertising slogan. Not a revolutionary idea perhaps, but certainly the place to start in terms of living in truth." In The Politics of Small Things, Jeffrey Goldfarb provides an innovative way for understanding politics, a way of appreciating the significance of politics at the micro level by comparatively analyzing key turning points and institutions in recent history. He presents a sociology of human interactions that lead from small to large: dissent around the old Soviet bloc; life on the streets in Warsaw, Prague, and Bucharest in 1989; the network of terror that spawned 9/11; and the religious and Internet mobilizations that transformed the 2004 presidential election, to name a few. In such pivotal moments, he masterfully shows, political autonomy can be generated, presenting alternatives to the big politics of the global stage and the dominant narratives of . . .

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Press release: Richerson, Not By Genes Alone

May 26, 2006
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Press release: Richerson, Not By Genes Alone

Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution. What makes us human, renowned scholars Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd demonstrate, lies in our psychology—more specifically, our unparalleled ability to adapt. Building their case with such fascinating examples as the Amish rumspringa and the gift exchange system of the !Kung San, Not by Genes Alone throws aside the conventional nature-versus-nurture debate and convincingly argues that culture and biology are inextricably linked. Read the press release. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Author event: Timmermans on BBC Radio 4

May 24, 2006
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Author event: Timmermans on BBC Radio 4

Earlier today, Stefan Timmermans, author of Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s "Thinking Allowed" program. You can listen to an audio file of the program on the Thinking Allowed Web site. Postmortem goes deep inside the world of medical examiners to uncover the intricate web of pathological, social, legal, and moral issues in which they operate. Stefan Timmermans spent years in a medical examiner’s office, following cases, interviewing examiners, and watching autopsies. While he relates fascinating cases here, he is also more broadly interested in the cultural authority and responsibilities that come with being a medical examiner. . . .

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Paul Collins on Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption

May 23, 2006
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Paul Collins on Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption

Paul Collins has a very interesting article in the Village Voice that discusses Laura J. Miller’s Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption and speculates on the future of chain bookstores. Collins says: “Chain superstores, notes Laura J. Miller’s fascinating new study … are the latest manifestation of a centuries-old struggle between bookselling Davids and Goliaths.” Although Collins takes note of the current strength of the chains—”Barnes & Noble’s latest quarterly report shows no debt and a staggering $373 million in cash”—he does not think the future necessarily belongs to the Goliaths. Print-on-demand technology just might be a smooth stone sailing through the air. We have an excerpt from Miller’s book. . . .

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Books: A Different Kind of Commodity

May 15, 2006
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Books: A Different Kind of Commodity

An essay by Laura J. Miller, author of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. This past March, the Massachusetts press generated a flurry of reports that Cambridge’s Grolier Poetry Book Shop had found a new owner. The tone of these articles was one of great relief since Grolier, one of the few remaining all-poetry bookstores in the country, had been on the verge of going under for some years. Louisa Solano, Grolier’s long-time owner, was worn down by ill health and the financial difficulties of running a small, independent bookshop in a neighborhood with some of the most expensive commercial real estate in the region. While both local residents and poetry lovers across the nation were cheered by the turn of events, it is actually a rare success story in the recent annals of independent bookselling. This has been another bad year for independent bookstores. Most weeks I read about bookshops that have or will soon shut down; some are places known primarily in their local communities, while others have national reputations. Among those closing in the last six months were Tatnuck Booksellers of Worcester, Massachusetts, the Athena Bookstore of Kalamazoo, Biblio of Tucson, and Dutton’s Bookstore of . . .

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Review: Stefan Timmermans, Postmortem

May 11, 2006
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Review: Stefan Timmermans, Postmortem

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Stefan Timmermans’s Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths. From the review: "Controversial award-winning sociologist Timmermans looks at the work of medical examiners in this intriguing study, which serves as a welcome antidote to the almost endless stream of true-crime memoirs by MEs across the country.… Some of the writing is not for a mass audience ("a meta-analysis of clinical trials trumps a randomized, double-blind clinical trial…"), but Timmermans’s detailed look at the notorious Louise Woodward ‘nanny trial’ and other topical subjects (such as organ donation) make this a must-read for anyone interested in learning what postmortems really involve." . . .

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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

May 3, 2006
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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

Library Journal recently reviewed Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers: "Poignant and heartbreaking…. Ohnuki-Tierney refutes simplistic stereotypes and offers readers the human face of what she defines as a ‘colossal tragedy.’ Well researched and written, this book is highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries." Kamikaze Diaries presents diaries and correspondence left by members of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during World War II. Outside of Japan, these kamikaze pilots were considered unbridled fanatics and chauvinists who willingly sacrificed their lives for the emperor. But the writings explored here by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney clearly and eloquently speak otherwise. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Pacyga discusses immigrant movements on WBEZ

May 3, 2006
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Pacyga discusses immigrant movements on WBEZ

Yesterday, Dominic A. Pacyga appeared on WBEZ radio’s Eight Forty-Eight program to give his perspective on this week’s immigrant rally and how it compares to past immigrant movements in Chicago. Pacyga, an expert on immigrant and labor history, is author of Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side, 1880-1922. This book explores the lives of immigrants in two iconic South Side Polish neighborhoods—the Back of the Yards and South Chicago—and the stockyards and steel mills in which they made their living. Listen to an audio file of the program by scrolling down to May 2, 2006. . . .

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