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 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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