Stanford sociologist Marianne Cooper is a leading expert in the field of gender and family dynamics. Her latest book, Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times, details her efforts to understand how families representing an array of social classes perceive and manage contemporary economic anxieties. She and guest-host Sarah Catherine Billups discuss the many ways that these problems often fall to wives and mothers, even amongst those who have transcended gender boundaries in professional life.

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With the election of Donald Trump, much has been made about the construction of barriers to entry along the US border with Mexico. But while Trump has placed particular emphasis on the image of a wall designed to limit illegal movement across this border, thousands of workers travel lawfully from cities like Tijuana into the US — and back again — every day. In today’s episode, I talk with Rice University’s Sergio Chávez about his new book Border Lives: Fronterizos, Transnational Migrants, and Commuters in Tijuana, an ethnographic product of many years spent traveling (and waiting to travel) across the border with commuting workers. Dr. Chávez describes the incredible strain that border controls and bureaucracies place on low wage workers, but he also provides a remarkable account of the way that many workers leverage these difficulties into relationships and livelihood strategies. We also explore the implications of his findings for a relatively new approach to the scholarship on immigration, which social scientists call transnationalism.

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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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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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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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