Physical Conversations of Different Kinds

American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus
Lisa Wade

As a young social science student  I took a class sure to be easy. A 200-level course, it promised to use popular culture to illustrate major concepts in sociology.

Piece of cake, I thought. I like to read, it’s popular culture. How hard can it be?

Sixteen weeks later I was  dead from the punishing pace of reading 600-page novels, such as Thomas Mann‘s Continue reading

Light in the Darkness of Insanity

The Economic Consequences of the Peace
John Maynard Keynes

consequencesOnce I read a novel, by Camilo José Cela, that was published under the most wonderful imprint ever to appear on a spine: Lost Books of the 20th Century.  Judging by the number of extant editions, the present work is anything but lost even though I’m thinking of Continue reading

Social Structure Seemed a Simple Thing

Selected Works of Herbert Blumer: A Public Philosophy for Mass Society
Herbert Blumer, Stanford M. Lyman and Arthur J. Vidich, Eds.

Blumer

If you wait long enough, everything comes around again.

At least that’s how it seems to me. Those long gaps between acquiring a book and actually reading it are just me waiting for the zeitgeist to align with the author at hand and my interest of the moment.

So as soon as I picked up Blumer there he was in The New Yorker. Well not him, of course–Herbert George Blumer’s Continue reading

History Never Repeats

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff

this_timeLong ago I took a class in economic history. It was taught in the history department, by visiting faculty not terribly well versed in economics.

Let me qualify that last  bit. Not terribly well versed in the quantitative, equation-driven neo-classical post-Samuleson economics most often taught in the Econ Continue reading

Food for the Thinkers

Young_A-TECHNIQUEA Technique for Producing Ideas
James Webb Young

Like everyone, okay, like many people I know, there are days when I doubt the choices I’ve made. I’m talking about the big choices and among the biggest is what I’ve chosen to do to earn my bread.

On the best of days–and oh how I wish there were more of those–I’m pretty certain I could have made another choice. But I’m also pretty certain that the Continue reading

When the Sun Goes Down on Austin Town

whole-foods-market-logo-2008My cognitive dissonance meter started to peg about the time I reached the fish counter.

In Austin, Texas for a conference (working, not attending), and a retail marketer from way back, I had to visit the flagship store of Whole Foods, the behemoth ($14.2 BB in 2014 annual revenue) organic grocery chain that calls that burg home. I’m glad I did if only to have had an experience that Continue reading

Poor Wayfaring Strangers

Wayward Pilgrims: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance
Kai T. Erikson

PilgrimsThe white spiritual that the above title is drawn from has Appalachian roots. But it strikes me that wayfaring strangers, just like Bunyan‘s pilgrims, are travelers and Professor Eriksons Puritans  traveled some distance to set their city on a hill.

It’s what they did once they got there that’s of interest to the good doctor.

This study, originally published in 1968, is a first-rate example of what I call old-school sociology. What I mean by that is it pre-dates the widespread use of advanced statistical analysis. So while there is data aplenty that data includes the historical narrative as well as facts and figures. The latter Continue reading