The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation recently withdrew its grant funding for a Planned Parenthood program that provided over 170,000 clinical breast exams annually—and the move spiked a severe backlash, including threats of resignation from a number of Komen’s own board members. But it’s not the first time the politics of pink have come into question (nor will it be the last). Today’s reading list item will help provide nuance and context as you watch the Komen kerfuffle unfold in the coming days.

In a way, we can simply let The Nation’s review do the work on why you should read this book. David Scheffer writes:

I have long awaited the day when empirical research would help make the case for why the pursuit of international justice over the last two decades has been a worthy instrument not only of punishment, but also of deterrence. Now that day has arrived with Kathryn Sikkink’s important book. It fills a yawning gap in the literature of atrocity crimes.

But should reinforcement be necessary, let us add that The Justice Cascade is great scholarship gaining the wide—and glowing—reviews it deserves.

Prof. Penny Edgell at the U of M uses this insightful book in her sociology of culture class because the author takes on the talk show’s success as part of a culture of pain and suffering (and the power to transcend that suffering and victimization). Along the way, Illouz draws on many social scientific theories to explore why Oprah and her eponymous show were so popular for so long. Appropriate reading for Ms. Winfrey’s birthday!

This article, published online in advance, makes a convincing case that climate change could become a driving force of crime rates over the next century. Agnew argues that changes in climate—heat, extreme weather events, food/water shortages—are likely to increase crime by increasing strain and conflict, weakening social supports and social controls, and increasing criminal opportunities.

As the national conversation takes shape around racial coding in politics (this time around, it’s Newt Gingrich and the “food stamp president”), The Race Card is a particularly useful text. Mendelberg uses the famous Willie Horton ads from the 1988 election as her jumping-off point into the murky pool of rhetoric, race, and politics.

Mitchell Duneier, Sidewalk, 1999

A public speaking engagement Friday night found me invoking this text as I discussed a 1980s photo of an infamous Minneapolis streetcorner. In the grand tradition of urban sociology, Sidewalk introduces the workings of life and commerce of New York streets (as well as to dozens of images from Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Ovie Carter). The book remains as relevant for students and scholars today as it does for, well, a south Minneapolis art gallery crowd on a snowy weekend night.

Benjamin I. Page and Lawrence R. Jacobs, Class War? What Americans Really Think about Economic Inequality, 2009

One of the main points of this 2009 book is that, in spite of frequent political allusions to “class warfare,” Americans—even rank-and-file Republicans—have both a reasonable awareness of inequality and a desire to minimize it through policy. As Occupy Wall Street and other movements continue alongside election season, it will be interesting to see how inequality takes shape as a voters’ issue.

The Civil Rights Movement reached far beyond MLK, influencing everything from public discourse to, as Andrews explores in this article, the implementation of “war on poverty” policies. For more on this, you can also listen to our recent podcast with Prof. Joe Soss, who discussed his new book on race, poverty, and America today.

Following up some years later, Aldon D. Morris’s 1999 ARS piece takes a broad look at the civil rights movement literature in the social sciences and pays special attention to its larger lessons for subsequent social movements and policy formation.

In addition to celebrating charismatic leaders, sociologists who study social movements tend to want to call attention to the historical conditions and organizations that help a leader like MLK emerge and foster their impact. This 1986 classic focuses particular attention on the black church, reminding us of the broader movement and key institutions and organizations that made the movement as well as the man.