Tue Dec 3, 2002

Sociology Sneaks In

Malcolm Gladwell is one of a few popular magazine writers who takes an interest in sociological research. Much of his book, The Tipping Point draws on research on social networks and contagion. His essay on Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg (which is also in the book) is good for introducing undegraduates to some basic ideas about networks. A little while ago, he published a short essay built around Eric Kleinenberg’s Heat Wave. And most recently, in last week’s New Yorker, he has an essay showing how ideas about creativity and social groups worked out in Randall Collins’ gargantuan The Sociology of Philosophies illuminate why Saturday Night Live was so good in the ‘70s.

The more of this sort of thing the better, I say. Good on ya, Malcolm.