Metta World Peace and his Lakers are out of the running now, but with the NBA playoffs in full swing it’s a great time to take a look at this recent book from one of the leaders in sport sociology. Leonard uses Artest and the infamous melee in Motown as a meditation on how the league goes about the business of packaging and controlling its African American superstars, how we participate in the process, and what it all says about race in contemporary American culture.

Vincent J. Roscigno, “Power, Revisited,” Social Forces, 2011

The title says it all. In this 2011 piece, Vincent J. Roscigno considers dominant and emerging strands of research into power and its myriad dynamics, creating a synthetic theoretical way to conceive of the one thing all these candidates, bureaucrats, and grassroots groups are fighting for—and how it might be useful, should they achieve it.

While Nathan Palmer’s Sociological Sounds strives to provide a great start for those hoping to bring music into their classrooms, this article explores why that’s such a good idea in the first place using a thorough literature review to consider questions from the basic (“What is Music, Sociologically Speaking?”) to the functional (“How do Individuals and Groups Use Music?”).

A recent Cyborgology post got us thinking about NASCAR, one of the biggest sports in America. Commenter and RAND scholar David Ronfeldt points us to his own 2000 piece in the online peer-reviewed journal First Monday (“Social Science at 190MPH“) for a look at complexity theory, social network analysis, and game theory on the track, while Chris Uggen suggests this ASQ article about competitive crowding and risk taking at work in the straightaway.

In conjunction with the larger, more theoretical recommendation of Laub and Sampson’s 2001 article from our previous reading list suggestion, those interested in employment and criminal records might be particularly interested in Devah Pager’s 2003 piece in which the researcher found a prison record reduced the likelihood of a “callback” from an employer by 50% for whites and over 60% for African American job-seekers. The problem clearly goes well beyond Target and began well before last week.

Last week, the U.S.’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a revised guidance encouraging the hiring of individuals with criminal records, going so far as to urge employers to consider research on crime desistance since, as The Crime Report puts it, many often “rely on ill-informed and misguided notions about risk and recidivism.” The EEOC guidelines specifically cite this classic Laub and Sampson article.

Georg Simmel once said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. While cultural sociologist Eva Illouz’s new book might help us understand what Simmel meant, the publisher’s blurb suggests more materialist insights: “This book does to love what Marx did to commodities: it shows that it is shaped by social relations and institutions and that it circulates in a marketplace of unequal actors.”

Colleges and universities all tout the value of diversity on campus, but what’s the real payoff? This brand new study finds that in classroom discussions African American students are more likely to invoke media depictions of race/religion and describe unique personal experiences with them, thus enriching and expanding the quality of teaching and learning on these topics.

The big new blockbuster (and its paper predecessor) is chock full of sociological insight and intrigue, but among the most important and least understood themes are the relationships among authority, injustice, and consent. This classic study of Appalachia—a place with obvious parallels to Katniss Everdeen’s District 12—provides an insightful and compelling overview.

If you were at all interested in this weekend’s atheist march on Washington, you might want to take a look at this paper.

Written and researched by a Minnesota team that included Joe Gerteis, author of the recent TSP White Paper on religion and American political culture, this widely cited study was among the first to document and analyze negative public perceptions of atheists in American public life.  (For a decidedly non-academic take on the paper, see p. 61-62 of Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (and So Can You!).)