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.

Download Office Hours #118

Professor Michaela DeSoucey drops in to chat about consumer culture and the many political projects that shape our tastes for cuisine ranging from foie gras to craft beer. She discusses some of the challenges facing ethnographers who study taste, and we also consider how the industrial scale of modern food production may have leveled cultural practices once reserved for the wealthy.

Dr DeSoucey’s forthcoming book is called Contested Tastes: The Politics of Foie Gras in the U.S. and France.

Download Office Hours #108

Famed sociologist Michael Burawoy visits to share his thoughts on the common character of social movements happening throughout the world today. Michael is the former president of both the American and International Sociological Associations, and he is widely credited as a master of placing everyday life in the context of global and historical forces. Our own Erik Kojola asks Michael about his vision for the future of social movement research, as well as the mounting problems that face public universities today.

Download Office Hours #99

In this episode, political scientist Chad Lavin discusses his new book, Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics. Chad’s work explores how our experiences with food shape popular ideas about identity, authenticity, and responsibility. He speaks with us about the political meanings of diet in a globalized society, and some limitations of the local food movement. Chad is a professor at Virginia Tech, where he teaches in the political science department and at ASPECT – the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought.

Download Office Hours #95

In this episode, we talk with John D. Skrentny, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS) at UC-San Diego. His work focuses on public policy, law and inequality. Today we discuss his recent book After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace. 

Download Office Hours #94

This week we talk with Lane Kenworthy, Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Arizona. Lane studies causes and consequences of poverty, inequality, economic growth, and social policy in the United States and other affluent countries, and recently published Social Democratic Americaa look at the current state of inequality in the U.S. and what can be done to fix it. We touch on a number of hot policy issues and discuss the role of the sociologist in producing relevant research and writing for public audiences.

Download Office Hours #91

This episode we speak with G. William Domhoff. Domhoff is author of sociology bestseller, Who Rules America?, and is co-author, with recent Office Hours guest Richard L. Zweigenhaft, of The New CEOs. Today we’re talking with Domhoff about his most article, Pension Fund Capitalism or Wall Street Bonanza? A Critique of the Claim That Pension Funds Can Influence Corporations.

Download Office Hours #71

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.

Download Office Hours #67

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.

Download Office Hours #66

Our guest this episode is Katherine S. Newman, and our topic is her new book, The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition. In the world’s wealthiest countries, an increasing number of adults in their twenties and thirties are moving back in with Mom and Dad. What’s driving this trend, and what are the consequences? Listen in to find out.

Download Office Hours #57