This episode we talk with Eszter Hargittai, from the Communication Studies department at Northwestern University. Popular myth has it that the youth of today are calm, competent masters of the internet, but Hargittai’s research points to significant gaps and inequalities in the level of internet skills possesed by so-called digital natives. What skills are lacking, why does this matter, and what should we do about it?

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This episode, we talk with Keith Hampton about his research on wireless internet and public spaces. Does public wifi encourage a stronger public sphere or diminish public life by encouraging everyone to live inside their own private digital bubble? Hampton argues it’s more complicated than that, and public WiFi can, in fact, encourage many different kinds of social interaction, both online and offline.

To learn more about Hampton’s research, check out his Fall 2010 Photo Essay in Contexts, as well as his new article published in the Journal of Communication.

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This episode is kind of an experiment. The Office Hours podcasters are working with Contexts magazine to try something new: an audio reading of the free feature article in the new issue of Contexts, Heroes, Presidents, and Politics by Jeffrey Alexander.

If you like what you hear, let us know! This may just be a one time experiment…or not.

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This episode, Jesse visits with Robert M. Groves, Director of the United States Census Bureau. Topics include why our census takes a full sample and how we pull it off, how we count tough populations like undocumented migrants and the homeless, and controversies over racial identification and the role of the state in the census.

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Last week, Juliet Schor visited the U of M campus to give two talks about her new book, Plenitude, and her research on values-based consumption. While in town, she sat down with Jesse Wozniak for a great discussion about consumption and sustainability.

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This week, we talk with Jeremy Freese about sociology and genetics. Topics include: why sociology and behavioral genetics need one another, why sociologists have been too hesitant to participate in interdisciplinary research, and how the complexities of gene-environment interdependence are stretching our imaginations as scientists and changing the way we think about causation.

If you like what you hear in this episode, this interview is part of an ongoing series on genetics, health, and sociology here at Office Hours. Past guests include Allan Horwitz, Peter Conrad, and Thomas Bouchard, with more on the way!

And the Society Page of the Week: ThickCulture’s Jose Marchial takes on Malcolm Gladwell’s take on Social Networking and Social Movements.

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This episode we talk with Bryant Simon, author of the Summer 2010 Contexts culture review, Depression Chic — Shopping Our Way To Recovery. Topics include “inconspicuous conspicuous consumption”, the politics of depression in the 1930s and today, Simon’s book Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks, and what historians and sociologists can learn from one another.

Also, Sarah awards The Society Page of the Week to A Public Display of Emotion from Citings & Sightings.

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This episode: Pepper Schwartz on baby boomers and sex, her contribution to the dating site, and her views on doing relevant research. (Thanks to Tim Ortyl and Kia Heise for conducting the interview. An edited version appears in the Summer 2010 issue of Contexts.)

And the Society Page of the Week: Don’t Worry, Be Happy (When You Are Older) on Citings & Sightings.

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Linda J. Waite, author of Sexuality Has No Expiration Date from the Summer 2010 issue of Contexts, separates the facts from the myths and stereotypes about sexuality and aging.

Also: Jesse picks the first Society Page of the Week: A Tale of Two Simulacra: Market Meets Jersey Shore by Brooke Harrington on Economic Sociology.

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We are now Office Hours! Listen in for an explanation behind the name change. (If you’ve already subscribed to our old RSS feed or in iTunes, don’t worry: you will still get the new episodes. As of right now we’re still listed as “Contexts Podcast” in iTunes, but we’re working on changing that.)

This episode features a discussion with Peter Conrad, author of the Spring 2010 Contexts book review, Pills and the Pursuit of Normalcy, which reviews Happy Pills and Normal At Any Cost. Arturo and Peter start off talking about these books, but the conversation turns into a fascinating, wide-ranging discussion of the medicalization of everything from happiness to height. Other books referenced include The Loss of Sadness and The Medicalization of Society.

Download Office Hours #1 now!