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.