I’m teaching Weber next week in my social theory class. This afternoon I uploaded some of the recommended reading to the class website—a longish excerpt from the first volume of Michael Mann’s The Sources of Social Power, a book which made a big impression on me when I read it as an undergraduate. It didn’t turn me in to a Big Structures/Huge Comparisons guy, if for no other reason than the ambition it entailed seemed so gigantic, but of all the products of the so-called “Golden Age” of macro-sociology, *Sources*—and the first volume in particular—seemed to come closest to fulfilling Weber’s vision for what really big-picture sociology could be.
The current issue of Accounts has an interesting article by Dan Wang called “Is there a Canon in Economic Sociology?”. It’s a study of the contents of more than fifty Econ Soc syllabuses looking to discover which authors are most often assigned. (I don’t remember seeing the call for the data, which is odd.) There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, including a variety of measures of “canonicity” and different ways of counting the importance of different texts and authors.
Michael Dorf and Sid Tarrow have an Op-Ed piece today on CNN titled “How the right helped launch same-sex marriage movement.” It’s a clever argument about the role that the conservative movement played in galvanizing and even decisively re-orienting the direction taken by one of its antagonists, to its likely long-run cost: How, in less than a decade, did America go from being a country in which some states punished gay sex with criminal penalties to one in which the highest elected official in the land now champions the right of same-sex couples to marry?
We are pleased to present a short excerpt from the long-anticipated new work by the leading historical biographer of our time. The Path to the Kitchen When he was young—back on his family’s small homestead in Cork, Ireland—Kieran Healy came down the stairs for breakfast with his mother, who would light the tiny gas heater (this was the 1970s; Ireland had yet to convert fully to nuclear power) in the damp, early morning chill.
I’ve been using the Readmill ebook reader on-and-off. I like it quite a bit. Using it prompted me to make an ebook of my own. Because I moved this entire blog over to Octopress a little while ago, everything I’ve ever written on it going back to 2002 is now in Markdown format. So over lunch today I took advantage of John MacFarlane’s amazingly useful Pandoc, which can make EUPB format ebooks out of markdown files, selected thirteen posts from the Archives and made a little anthology called Books I Did Not Read This Year.
It’s Bloomsday, or Christmas for intolerable Joyceans everywhere. The Wall Street Journal explains the literary background: What is it about Joyce’s novel about a day in the life of a fictional Jewish mayor of Dublin, Leopold Bloom, that has inspired an international literary event cum pub crawl cum Halloween parade? What other Interesting Facts about Ulysses have I been unaware of, I wonder? While I wait for you to enlighten me, I will perform the sacred Bloomsday ritual of genuflecting solemnly before the Poster of Great Irish Writers.
The current issue of New Left Review has an article by Franco Moretti applying a bit of network analysis to the interactions within some pieces of literature. Here is the interaction network in Hamlet, with a tie being defined by whether the characters speak to one another. (Notice that this means that, e.g., Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do not have a tie, even though they’re in the same scenes.) And here is Hamlet without Hamlet: I think we can safely say that he is a key figure in the network.
This morning I listened to an interesting interview on one of Dan Benjamin’s shows. He was talking to Erin Kissane about her new book, The Elements of Content Strategy. Say you are using a website to communicate something to someone, or enable communication between a group of people, or both. The something you are conveying or facilitating is your content. According to Kissane, the job of a “content strategist” is to figure out how best to make sure that content is assembled, presented, and maintained in a way that’s appropriate to its audience.
Lucien Karpik’s Valuing the Unique: The Economics of Singularities came out with Princeton University Press recently. From the book jacket: Singularities are goods and services that cannot be studied by standard methods because they are multidimensional, incommensurable, and of uncertain quality. Examples include movies, novels, music, artwork, fine wine, lawyers, and doctors. Valuing the Unique provides a theoretical framework to explain this important class of products and markets that for so long have eluded neoclassical economics.
Erik over at The Monkey Cage points me towards the excellent Better Book Titles, where you can find numerous contemporary and classic works slightly altered in a way that the title is more informative about their actual content. In closing he says, If you can do anything like this with a political science book, I’d consider putting it on the Cage. So what he’s looking for are titles that better convey the core of the argument of academic monographs.