In this episode, we have a conversation with William Alexander. He is slightly different type of social theorist than we normally have on the podcast. Will teaches in the English Department at the Minnesota College of Arts and Design and last November he won the prestigious national book award for his first novel Goblin Secrets and the Earphones Award for narrating his book. Today Will is joining us to discuss the powers and politics of fantasy, and the relationship between fiction and the social world.

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This week we continue our investigation into the world of online politics by talking with Mary Joyce about digital activism. We discuss what qualifies as digital activism, the value of research that focuses on the big picture, and the relationship between these new technologies and more traditional forms of social organizing.

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This week we talk with Gabriella Coleman about her current research on Anonymous and her recently published book, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, which you can download for free under a Creative Commons license. We discuss the rise of Anonymous, how to research a web-based collective whose members hide their identity, the art of “trolling”, and the political significance of the group.

The Society Pages’ Community Page Cyborgology has also written a review of Coding Freedom, which can be read here.

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This week we talk with Joshua I. Newman and Michael Giardina about their recent book [Sport, Spectacle, and NASCAR Nation: Consumption and the Cultural Politics of Neoliberalism]. Our conversation covers topics including the whiteness of stock car racing, religion and rebellion at the race track, and the production and consumption of Southern identity. We also discuss the value of researching NASCAR, sports, and other popular culture activities.

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This week we talk with Shadd Maruna and Fergus McNeill about their documentary project, The Road From Crime. This documentary was produced as part of the larger Discovering Desistance Project, which aims to share knowledge and improve understanding of why people desist from crime. First, we hear a clip from the opening sequence of the film, then we talk with Shadd and Fergus themselves as they describe the process of producing this project.

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In this episode, we talk with University of Pittsburgh School of Law Professor David Harris about his new book Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science. We discuss the cultural and organizational resistance to adopting scientific techniques into police and prosecutorial practices, and what social scientists can do about it.

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This week we talk with Shehzad Nadeem, author of Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing is Changing the Way Indians Understand Themselves. We discuss what it’s like to work at a call center in India, what Indians think about outsourcing, and the social and cultural challenges faced by both labor and management in outsourcing firms.

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In this episode we talk with Michael Schudson, author of The Sociology of News, recently released in its second edition. Schudson is the author of seven books and co-editor of three others concerning the history and sociology of the American news media, advertising, popular culture, Watergate and cultural memory. We discuss the changing nature of journalism, the effect of emerging technology on traditional news practices, and his new research on transparency as American value and policy.

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This episode we speak with Natalie Boero and C.J. Pascoe about their co-authored article, Pro-Anorexia Communities and Online Interaction: Bringing the Pro-ana Body Online. We discuss what a pro-anorexia community is, how members establish authenticity within online groups, and the importance of moving beyond the individual in understanding anorexia.

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This episode we talk with Jay Gabler, sociologist, journalist, and creator of the play, Ivory Tower Burning. The play imagines a meeting between Talcott Parsons and C. Wright Mills where an intense debate about social theory and human nature ensues. We discuss bringing sociology to the theater and the role of sociology in the broader culture.

You can watch a preview clip on YouTube and see the entire play live August 4-11 at the Minnesota Fringe festival.

Download Office Hours #58