In this episode, host Jack Delehanty speaks with Standford 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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While religious rhetoric pervades everyday American culture and politics, the population of Americans who identify with no organized religion has actually quadrupled in just the last 25 years. Worldwide, the non-religious now make up the third largest “religious” category, following Christianity and Islam. In this episode, guest host Jacqui Frost interviews Dr. Lois Lee, whose new book Recognizing the Non-religious: Reimagining the Secular explores the variety of beliefs and identities found within this growing population. They discuss how atheism, the non-religious identity that receives by far the most media attention, is only one non-religious identity among many. Dr. Lee describes findings from her research on non-religious groups and individuals in Britain and the ways they think about, enact, and even wear their non-religion in daily life.

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This week, David Naguib Pellow drops in for a chat about his latest book, Total Liberation: The Power and Promise of Animal Rights and the Radical Earth Movement. In it, Dr Pellow explores how environmental and animal rights movements raise important questions about the criteria for membership in society. He explains how these questions inform crucial ethical debates in our culture today. Dr Pellow is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Heading into a new presidential election cycle, we reconnect with 2008 guest Dr Andrew Perrin to talk about changes in the American political public. In his new book, American Democracy: From Tocqueville to Town Halls to Twitter, Perrin brings a uniquely sociological approach to the study of democracy. More than polls, candidates, and institutions he shows how major elections become about the performance of certain “publics” as much as they decide which people should lead us.

Find that 2008 episode here, and while you’re at it, check out this 2015 TSP Roundtable in which he talks Tea Party and identity politics.

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In this episode, University of Colorado sociologist Sanyu Mojola discusses her work on HIV rates among young African women. She discusses social mechanisms – specifically the entanglement of love and money – that lead to higher rates of HIV death among African females compared to African males. She also considers why money holds a value for African women above and beyond its economic value, specifically pointing to its cultural power and ability to advance women toward modernity.

Her new book earned the 2015 American Sociological Association’s Sex and Gender Section Distinguished Book Award. It’s
called Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS.

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In this episode, we step into the global market for surrogate mothers with University of Texas sociologist Sharmila Rudrappa. She explains why India has become an increasingly popular destination for American couples searching for affordable pregnancy assistance. She also considers why most Indian women who become surrogates come from working class backgrounds, and how their experiences as wage workers inform what kind of value gets placed on this new form of “labor”. Her book is called Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India.

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Because they suffer from an invisible affliction, people with migraines are sometimes suspected of “making up” their disease in order to avoid performing unwanted duties. Even within psychology, women were once suspected of self-inducing their own migraines as a result of their inability to cope with the chaos of daily life. These days, neurobiological research has helped to establish migraine as a legitimate disease, with causes rooted within the organic structure of certain brains. However, as Rutgers professor Joanna Kempner explains, even this paradigm shift tends to imply that the feminine “migraine brain” differs from the masculine “normal brain” in problematic ways. In Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics of Gender and Health, she explores how cultural assumptions about gender and pain continue to inform how migraines are diagnosed, treated, and stigmatized.

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In this episode, Colorado State professor emeritus Peter M. Hall drops in to talk about his forthcoming memoir, “Growing up Red, White, and Jewish: the Personal and the Political”. We discuss the potential of memoir as a sociological method, and we consider how telling one’s life story helps to reshape identity in the context of place and history. An early draft of Peter’s memoir is available on ResearchGate.

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It’s no secret that shifting economic winds have driven American workers to take on more work and more job changes today than in previous generations. But what does this shift mean in a culture where so many invest so much of their identities in their jobs? In this episode, guest host Lisa Gulya interviews professor Allison Pugh about her new book, The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity. In it, Dr Pugh investigates some of the ways that the precarious conditions in today’s workplace have generated ripple effects in the nature of relationships and family life. She explains how changes in obligations at work shape how we think about obligations and commitment in the most intimate corners of life.

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