Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Article on CCTV and Public Sociology

Coming soon in CJS 35, 3 (Summer 2010):
Dan Lett, Sean P. Hier, and Kevin Walby  “CCTV Surveillance and the Civic Conversation: A Study in Public Sociology”

The captivating idea of ‘public sociology’ has recently been debated across the social sciences. Although the debate has raised significant questions about the status of sociological knowledge production, insufficient attention has been devoted to thinking about how sociologists concretely enter into a civic conversation through the research process. Addressing this gap in the public sociology literature, we present partial findings from a Canada-wide investigation of how public-area streetscape video surveillance systems are implemented in various communities to think through some of the implications of actually doing public sociology. Data gleaned from focused group interviews in the City of Kelowna, British Columbia are presented to explore the challenges of facilitating a civic conversation about public policy on streetscape video surveillance. Read more

Article on Globalization and Labour Market Outcomes

in CJS 35, 3 (Summer 2010):
Heather Zhang and Michael R. Smith, “Exposure to Global Markets, Internal Labour Markets, and Worker Compensation: Evidence from Canadian Microdata”

Because of the fact that globalization seems, in aggregate, to be associated with rising inequality, much of the sociological literature treats the process very critically. Our results suggest a more nuanced approach. Prolonged exposure to export markets is associated with higher pay and both prolonged exposure to export markets and foreign ownership are associated with higher total compensation. Pay is substantially tied to productivity, probably through exposure to international best practices. At the same time, the presence of internal labour market traits is also associated with higher pay and higher total compensation. We conclude that it makes little sense to oppose productivity and power explanations of labour market outcomes; rather, they should be regarded as joint influences on compensation determination, consistent with the broad lesson of a "post" new structuralist sociology of labour markets. Read more

Article on Same-Sex Spouses

in CJS 35, 3 (Summer 2010):
Adam Isaiah Green, “QUEER UNIONS: Same-Sex Spouses Marrying Tradition And Innovation” 

Same-sex civil marriage is a focal point of debate among social conservatives, feminists, queer critics and lesbian and gay assimilationists. In this paper, I draw on in-depth interviews of thirty same-sex married spouses to explore how actual same-sex marriages relate to these debates. Among these spouses, civil marriage is perceived to provide significant legal, social and psychological resources that, in effect, consolidate the nuclear family and the institution of marriage. Yet, conversely, these spouses do not uniformly embrace traditional norms of marriage, but, rather, adopt a range of nontraditional norms and practices that, in effect, destabilize the traditional marital form. In sociological terms, however, their complexity is not surprising, as contemporary lesbians and gay men are dually socialized in the dialectic of a dominant “meaning-constitutive” tradition (Gross 2005) that valorizes (heterosexual) marriage and kinship, on the one hand, but a queer-meaning constitutive tradition that promotes sexual freedom and nontraditional gender relations, on the other. In this sense, one important sociological question for the future is the extent to which the increasing availability of same-sex marriage will transform the dialectic, eroding the structural conditions that underpin a distinctive queer meaning-constitutive tradition and, in turn, same-sex marital innovation. Read more

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Philippe Couton on Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora

Margarita A. Mooney, Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009, 302 pp. $US 21.95 paper (978-0-520-26036-8), $US 55.00 hardcover (978-0-520-26034-4)

Faith Makes Us Live is the result of an ambitious, multisite ethnography of the Haitian Diaspora in Miami, Paris and Montreal. The author, whose Ph.D. dissertation led to this book, spoke with 150 Haitian expatriates in those three cities. The result is an original, richly detailed study of one the world’s great diasporas, and one that makes a clear, well-supported argument about the role of ethnic and mainstream religious institutions in the lives and adaptation of immigrants in three very different social settings. … Read more

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Andrew McKinnon on The Promise of Salvation

Martin Riesebrodt, The Promise of Salvation: A Theory of Religion. Translated by Steven Rendall. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009, 228 pp. $US 37.50 hardcover (978-0-226-71391-5)

General sociological theories of religion are uncommon; good general theories of religion, even rarer. This alone means that sociologists of religion are apt to be talking about Martin Riesebrodt’s most recent book for a very long time. The most recent previous attempt at such an ambitious undertaking was Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge’s A Theory of Religion in 1987 … Read more

Monday, August 23, 2010

Compte rendu: La politique de la stupéfaction

Nicolas Carrier, La politique de la stupéfaction. Pérennité de la prohibition des drogues. Coll. Le sens social. Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2008. 376 p. 19 € (ISBN 978-2-7535-0591-9)

Dans un contexte de critique ouverte et abondante du régime de prohibition, la persistance de la criminalisation des usages de drogues intrigue : le système juridico-pénal tient-il compte des contestations qui lui sont adressées et, le cas échéant, comment fait-il pour s’en immuniser ? A partir de cette double question pertinente et actuelle, Nicolas Carrier, professeur à l’Institutute of Criminology and Criminal Justice de Carleton University (Canada), construit un ouvrage à la fois dense et didactique sur les grands enjeux contemporains du contrôle social, de la criminalisation, du droit et du pouvoir. … lire plus

Review: Julie Scott Jones on Constructing Theory in the Field

Antony J. Puddephatt, William Shaffir and Steven W. Kleinknecht, eds., Ethnographies Revisited: Constructing Theory in the Field. New York: Routledge, 2009, 276pp. $US 44.95 paper (978-0-415-45221-2), $US 140.00 hardcover (978-0-415-452220-5).

Ethnographies Revisited sets out to explore and demonstrate how ethnographers generate and apply theory within the process of conducting ethnographic field research. The editors argue that there are numerous books on the “doing” of ethnographic research, particularly those that focus on what we could term “reflexivity.” Indeed, post-Writing Culture, it is de rigeur for ethnographers to engage in discussions of ethical, political, personal and other reflexive and reflective concerns. Such reflexivity provides important insights for researchers, students, and other audiences. However, Ethnographies Revisited takes the view that in this focus on the reflexive, the theoretical has become even more hidden from view. The central aim of the book then is to explore how ethnographers generate their theoretical frameworks and develop theoretical concepts … Read more

Review: Alan Bourke on University Education and Enlightenment

Ian Angus, Love the Questions: University Education and Enlightenment. Semaphore Series, Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2009, 102 pp. $14.95 paper (978-18940337-40-2)

What is the role of the university in contemporary society? What is the purpose of a university education? What are the implications for citizenship and social awareness if their cultivation is no longer safeguarded against the market-oriented functions of the university? In keeping with the spirit of inquiry espoused throughout Love the Questions: University Education and Enlightenment, Ian Angus does not claim to have definitive answers; rather, his aim is to ensure that such questions continue being posed. Angus seeks to avoid another lament for the decline of the university … Read more

Review: Sylvia Peacock on Occupational Prestige in Canada since 1965

John Goyder, The Prestige Squeeze: Occupational Prestige in Canada since 1965. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009, 236 pp. $34.95 paper (978-0-7735-3611-1), $85.00 hardcover (978-0-7735-3582-4)

The problem John Goyder depicts in The Prestige Squeeze has a long tradition in sociology, going back to Pareto, Sorokin, Marx and Weber: changes in the ranking of occupations and how they come about. With such a lot of historical baggage, new hypotheses are few and far between. Goyder offers some solid and forthright ones, befitting the current state of affairs in this field: 1. education and income are highly connected to prestige, and gender, skills, occupational presentation, and characteristics of the rater influence occupational prestige rankings; 2. higher income inequality disperses prestige ratings (while individualization caps upper echelons); 3. postmodernism has a negative impact on consensus in ratings. … Read more

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Vivian Shalla on Interactive Service Employment and Workplace Identities

Linda McDowell, Working Bodies: Interactive Service Employment and Workplace Identities. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2009, 288 pp. $47.95 paper (978-1-4051-5978-4), $107.95 hardcover (978-1-4051-5977-7)

Working Bodies: Interactive Service Employment and Workplace Identities is testimony to both Linda McDowell’s own expertise as a researcher and theorist of work, and the tremendous output of quality scholarship on service sector employment over the past two decades. Between the covers of this beautifully crafted book is a thoughtful, innovative and thorough analysis of high-touch interactive service work that draws on numerous case studies and ethnographies, mostly from the United Kingdom, and on the author’s own original research. … Read more

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: Jennie Haw on Genetics and Society

Paul Atkinson, Peter Glasner and Margaret Lock, eds., The Handbook of Genetics & Society: Mapping the New Genomic Era.  Genetics and Society.  New York: Routledge, 2009, 500 pp. $US 155.00 hardcover (978-0-415-41080-9)

Appearing a decade since the mapping of the human genome, The Handbook of Genetics & Society provides a timely survey of contemporary social science research on genomics. In contrast to the narrower focus of other recently published collections on the new genomics, this collection provides a comprehensive survey showing the breadth and diversity of the field. In their incisive introduction the editors argue the need to rethink bio-economies and innovation in the new genomic era. … Read more

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Bob Russell on Women in India’s Call Center Industry

Reena Patel, Working the Night Shift: Women in India’s Call Center Industry. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010, 208 pp. $US 21.95 paper (978-0-8047-6914-3), $US 60.00 hardcover (978-0-8047-6913-6)

It will be difficult for anyone who has not recently conducted research in India to appreciate the massive social changes which the outsourcing revolution has brought to that society.  Reena Patel’s excellent ethnography, Working the Night Shift does, however, succeed in conveying to readers a sense of what is involved when new customer service industries originating in the West explode on the local scene. … Read more

Review: Benjamin Muller on Surveillance

Sean Hier and Joshua Greenberg, eds., Surveillance: Power, Problems, and Politics. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009, 296 pp. $32.95 paper (978-0-7748-1612-0), $85.00 hardcover (978-0-7748-1611-3)

Surveillance studies have emerged as a vibrant interdisciplinary field of scholarship, and Canadian scholars have made significant empirical and theoretical contributions to this field. Consistently paying more than just a casual nod to Lyon’s notion of “social sorting,” Haggerty and Ericson’s “surveillant assemblage,” and Haggerty, Ericson, Hier, and others’ accounts of surveillance and “visibility,” which are essential Canadian contributions to this field of research, this collection advances Canadian surveillance studies. … Read more

Review: Mark Stoddart on Environmental Justice in Canada

Julian Agyeman, Peter Cole, Randolph Haluza-DeLay and Pat O’Riley, eds., Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009, 292 pp. $32.95 paper (978-0-7748-1619-9), $85.00 hardcover (978-0-7748-1618-2)

Speaking for Ourselves brings together scholars from across the environmental social sciences to examine the multiple forms that environmental justice takes in Canada. Prior research on environmental justice focused predominantly on the United States, where the concept gained sociological attention through research on racialized patterns of exposure to environmental risks and the social movements that organized against environmental racism. Like much American research on environmental justice, one of the recurring themes in Speaking for Ourselves is that the social justice dimensions of environmental politics often go unexamined by mainstream environmental organizations. However, the editors and contributors argue for a different understanding of environmental justice in Canada than in the United States. … Read more

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: David Lyon on Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age

Michael Warner, Jonathan VanAntwerpen and Craig Calhoun, eds., Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010, 352 pp. $US 45.00 hardcover (978-0-674-04857-7).

This book is a series of appreciative but trenchant responses to Charles Taylor’s intellectual blockbuster, A Secular Age (2007). While, like Taylor, they deal in philosophical issues, the specific perspectives include anthropology, history, political studies, sociology and theology. The challenge to sociology is profound. The new ways of conceiving the “secular,” expounded at length by Taylor, are variously explored, probed, questioned, criticized and affirmed by the authors, … Read more

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: John Myles on Religion, Class Coalitions, and Welfare States

Kees van Kersbergen and Philip Manow, eds., Religion, Class Coalitions, and Welfare States. Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 318 pp. $US 24.99 paper (978-0-521-72395-4), $US 80.00 hardcover (978-0-521-89791-4)

Religion, Class Coalitions and Welfare States is undoubtedly the most interesting and useful analysis of the formation of modern welfare states I have read in many a year. Once begun, I found it difficult to put the volume down and, for whatever reason, I find that is increasingly rare. As Andrew Gould writes in his cover blurb: “If you think you know everything about class coalitions and social policies, think again.” My reaction when I put the book down was: “How could we have ignored all this for so long?” … Read more

Review: Avi Goldberg on How Ordinary People Change the Middle East

Asef Bayat, Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009, 320 pp. $US 21.95 paper (978-0-8047-6924-2), $US 60.00 hardcover (978-0-8047-6923-5)

In this book on social change within Arab and Muslim societies in the Middle East, Asef Bayat brings together the empirical cases and theoretical positions with which he has been engaged throughout his scholarship. Addressing debates about social development and democratization that are germane to the fields of social movements, Middle East/Islamic studies, and international relations Bayat argues that everyday social dynamics are altering societies in the Middle East in ways that are usually unacknowledged by onlookers in the West and undesired by authoritarian holders of power in the region. … Read more

Review: Axel van den Berg on Economists and Societies

Marion Fourcade, Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain, and France, 1890s to 1990s. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009, 416 pp. $US 35.00 hardcover (978-0-691-11760-7)

Economists and Societies offers an institutionalist account of the national differences in the way economics is practiced, perceived and institutionalized in the US, Britain and France. It operates at the cross-roads of several recently flourishing research areas: neoinstitutionalism, the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of the professions, and economic sociology. With the latter it shares the fundamental commitment to offer “a critique of economics’ universalizing discourse.” But in this case the usual critique of the economists’ alleged one-size-fits-all approach to the real world is extended to the discipline’s own supposed universalism. … Read more

Review: Elaine Power on Children, Food and Identity

Allison James, Anne Trine Kjørholt and Vebjørg Tingstad, eds., Children, Food and Identity in Everyday Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 208 pp. $US 85.00 hardcover (978-0-230-57599-8).

Both childhood and food are the objects of considerable anxiety in the contemporary public sphere; these anxieties have been interwoven and accentuated by concerns about rising rates of childhood obesity. Public health attention has thus turned to issues such as the school food environment, children’s exposure to marketing, and children’s access to fast food. Implicit in public health debates about childhood obesity are assumptions about the nature of childhood and children’s agency (or lack thereof); the relationship between the child and the family, and the child and society; ideas of risk and responsibility; and the ways in which notions of health are implicated in contemporary constructions of identity … Read more

Review: Jeff Shantz on Global Justice Networks

Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers, Global Justice Networks: Geographies of Transnational Solidarity. Perspectives on Democratic Practice. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2009, 224 pp. $US 84.95 hardcover (978-0-7190-7685-5)

What have been called the global justice or alternative globalization movements have been identified by numerous commentators as the most significant development in anti-capitalist or anti-systemic politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism. Especially since the events of Seattle in 1999 (but dating at least to 1994's Zapatista uprising) the global justice movements have challenged the “End of History” triumphalism of neoliberal capitalism and posed prospects for an alternative global future based on justice and solidarity rather than profit and competition … Read more

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Becki Ross on Mindy S. Bradley-Engen's Naked Lives

Mindy S. Bradley-Engen, Naked Lives: Inside the Worlds of Exotic Dance. Excelsior Editions. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2009, 146 pp. $US 14.95 paper (978-1-4384-2606-8), $US 45.00 hardcover (978-1-4384-2605-1)

In this slim, 146-page volume, Mindy Bradley-Engen contributes insights to a field that has expanded swiftly over the past ten years. Now a sub-genre of sexuality studies, “exotic dance” has stirred the imagination and desire of feminist sociologists, many of whom draw on personal experiences in the strip trade. Bradley-Engen adds to recent historical works and a flurry of contemporary case studies a unique focus on interaction processes and structural features … Read more

Review essay by Neil McLaughlin: Totalitarianism, Social Science and the Margins

Peter Baehr, Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, and the Social Sciences. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010, 248 pp. $US 55.00 hardcover (978-0-8047-5650-1)

We can always count on wide historical learning, deep theoretical insight, close textual reading, graceful writing and sensible judgments on contemporary political issues when encountering essays, articles and books by Peter Baehr. Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism and the Social Sciences is certainly no exception. Organized around the engagement of sociologists David Riesman, Raymond Aron and Jules Monnerot with Arendt’s 1951 classic The Origins of Totalitarianism, Baehr’s concise, well-written book raises big questions about Nazism, Communism, social science and, in the final, speculative chapter, radical Islam. Read more …

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Fiona Kay on Tamara Relis's Perceptions in Litigation and Mediation

Tamara Relis, Perceptions in Litigation and Mediation: Lawyers, Defendants, Plaintiffs and Gendered Parties. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 304 pp. $US 85.00 hardcover (978-0-521-51731-7).

Tamara Relis has crafted a profoundly astute book addressing the central question: How do professional and lay actors understand and experience litigated case processing leading up to and including mediation in legal disputes? Her book offers a wealth of empirical insight to current debates on styles of law practice, formal justice versus informalism, motivations underlying why plaintiffs sue, and dispute transformation debates … Read more

Review: Gerardo Otero on William I. Robinson's Latin America and Global Capitalism

William I. RobinsonLatin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective. Johns Hopkins Studies in Globalization. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, 440 pp. $US 55.00 hardcover (978-0-8018-9039-0)

William Robinson's goal in Latin America and Global Capitalism is to develop a theory of global capitalism, with Latin America as his empirical referent. Because “transnational or global space is coming to supplant national spaces” (p. 7), he treats this system as if it were a world-nation-state: a global, transnational production system …  Read more