This week we talk with David Garland about his new book, Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition. Garland discusses why capital punishment persists in the US while it does not in other Western countries, from the structure of our political system to the role of public opinion.

Our Teaching TSP team has also written up a series of classroom questions and exercises to be used alongside this interview. You can check them out here.

Download Office Hours #49

This episode we talk with Suzanne Mettler about her new book, The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy. Mettler explains how indirect incentives, subsidies, and tax breaks have come to dominate US social policy, but remain unseen and underappreciated by most Americans.

Download Office Hours #48.

This episode we catch up with Gregory Hooks and Brian McQueen about their article, American Exceptionalism Revisited, winner of the ASA Political Sociology section Best Article award. Our conversation touches upon racial migration, defense spending, and how the post-World War II era was a critical juncture in the American social welfare state.

Download Office Hours #46

In this epsiode, we talk with Neal Caren and Sarah Gaby about their research on the Occupy Movement’s presence on social networking sites. Topics include the methodological promises and challenges of studying popular sites like Facebook as well as the potential of online social networking for fostering social change. This conversation was part of a Roundtable discussion on The Society Pages on social scientists studying social movements.

Download Office Hours #41.

In this episode we discuss the social science of political humor with Heather LaMarre. This conversation is part of our latest Roundtable.

Download Office Hours #40.

This week we thought we’d dig back into the Office Hours archives a bit and revisit an interview we did with Theda Skocpol from 2009 on media, the Internet, and civic participation in the 2008 election. A few years later, we’reright in the middle of another election cycle and questions about the impact of traditional media and online social media are as pertinent as ever, so we thought it’d be a good time to think back to a time when a younger Barack Obama was striding into office with the promise of a new post-partisan era of American political engagement…

If you’re interested in what Skocpol has been up to in the time since this interview, check out her new book, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism.

Download Office Hours #38

Baby Marx in production
Baby Marx in production

This week we talk with Bartholomew Ryan from the Walker Art Center and co-curator of the Baby Marx exhibition. We chat about what happens when you combine social theorists, puppetry, and a trip to Occupy Wall Street.

Download Office Hours #36.

This week we talk with Gary Alan Fine. We discuss his recent article in Contexts, Uncertain Knowledge, on how rumors shape our world and explain why some people still think we have a Kenyan President.

Office Hours #35.

Today we talk with Joe Soss, author of the forthcoming book, Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race, co-authored with Richard C. Fording and Sanford F. Schram. Soss traces the major changes and continuities in welfare provision and poverty governance in the United States over the past 40 years, and the racial, political, and economic factors in creating these policies.

Download Office Hours #34.

This week we talk with Corey Shdaimah, author of Negotiating Justice: Progressive Lawyering, Low-Income Clients, and the Quest for Social Change. Shdaimah examines how the themes central to progressive lawyering—autonomy, collaboration, transformation, and social change—look on the ground, in the legal services office. We discuss the ethnographic methods she used for this research, and how lawyers and clients navigate their relationships with one another.

Download Office Hours #33