In this episode, guest host Neeraj Rajasekar talks to Harvard professor Natasha Warikoo about her book The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities. The book centers on conversations with white students and students of color at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford around their understandings of diversity and diversity programs. Through these interviews, Warikoo illustrates how elite students make sense of their positions at elite universities, the merit involved, and the role privilege plays.


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In his new book, To Care for Creation: the Emergence of the Religious Environmental Movement, Professor Stephen Ellingson explores new — and often localized — environmental activism among mainstream religious groups in the United States. Through interviews with over 60 organizations, he tells the story of how activists overcome the institutional, political, and cultural barriers that have typically prevented religious organizations from investing in environmental causes.

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Prior to the 1990s, the sociology of immigration focused mainly on just a handful of major cities where most new arrivals had settled throughout the 20th century. But more recently, immigrants have been moving to new destinations in the rural South and Midwest, drawing scholars like today’s guest, Vanesa Ribas, to closely monitor how race and labor dynamics might be playing out in these smaller communities. Dr. Ribas’ new book, On the Line: Slaughterhouse Lives and the Making of the New South, examines these changes through a case study centered around a meat packing plant in rural North Carolina.

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In this episode, I talk to University of Minnesota Professor and Editor-In-Chief of TheSocietyPages Douglas Hartmann about his book Midnight Basketball: Race, Sports, and Neoliberal Social Policy. This conversation focuses on a 1990s crime initiative, known as midnight basketball, which aimed to curb crime by setting up late night basketball leagues in inner cities. While initially popular with democrats and republicans , including president George H. W. Bush, the program would eventually fall, being attacked by right-wing politicians and radio hosts alike, but it left behind a complex history with many implications for sports, race, and social policy today.

Across the country, sightings of people dressed as “creepy clowns” standing in forests, on roads, in doorways has exploded and captured part of the national imagination. A lot of people were unsure what to make of this odd development. Some call it a clown “invasion”, some call it a clown “uprising”, and some call it the “Great Clown Scare”— yet most agree that it is indeed creepy. In this episode, guest host Ryan Larson talks to University of Delaware professor Joel Best, author of Damned Lies and Statistics and Social Problems. This conversations focuses on the context of the recent clown sightings around the nation, and how they connect to other popular mythologies.

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In this episode, I talk to University of Toronto professor Jooyoung Lee, author of Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central. This conversation focuses on the book as well as Professor Lee’s experiences writing the book. For some context, set in South Central Los Angeles, Professor Lee worked in and around Project Blowed, an open mic venue that functioned as a kind of hub for a large underground hip-hop community in Los Angeles. For some vocabulary, “Blowin’ Up” refers to getting attention/ fame/ money/ recognition in wider society and a “Blowedian” is a member of Project Blowed. Our conversations covers topics from what it means to be an insider in ethnography, to Professor Lee’s experiences ‘defending the block’ from intruders with his dance skills.

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Northwestern University professor Aldon Morris discusses W.E.B. Du Bois and the status of his work in the sociological canon. In this special hour-long episode, we explore the ongoing tension between social justice activism and the scientific features of contemporary sociology, especially as it is experienced by many black scholars today. Morris’ new book is called The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology.

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Office Hours is back for fall semester! We welcome new producer Matthew Aguilar-Champeau, whose soundscaping includes a musical refresh courtesy of The Custodian of Records.

Hosts Sarah Catherine-Billups and Caty Taborda kick things off with Princeton professor Dalton Conley, author of Being Black, Living in the Red and the popular sociology textbook You May Ask Yourself. Their conversation pries into the sometimes controversial, but always provocative intersection between sociology and genetic science.

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In this episode, host Jack Delehanty speaks with Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam, whose 2014 co-authored book Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America traces the roots of polarization in today’s politics back to the national struggle over civil rights in the 1960s. In their conversation, Jack and Doug focus particularly on tensions between modern social movements and the interests of party leaders developing in this year’s presidential election. They consider how the ongoing national conversation about racial inequality might be changing how Americans relate to major political parties.

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New host Allison Nobles interviews Jane Ward, a professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of California Riverside. Dr Ward’s most recent book, Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men, explores the relationship between whiteness, masculinity, and sexuality. She explains how sex between straight, white men actually reaffirms their straightness, rather than calling it into question. In fact, she argues that homosexual acts are a necessary part of heterosexuality and have been since these categories were created. Not Gay clearly illustrates the complexity of human sexuality at the intersections of race and gender. 

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