Tag Archives: christmas

Book gift ideas for the Family Inequality reader

Here are some book recommendations for the Family Inequality reader or sympathizer on your year-end gift list. This year I opened up my social media accounts for recommendations for books published in 2017. I haven’t read all these, but each of them has been recommended by at least one person (not counting the author). Worth a look!

This list is arbitrary and I’m not the authority on what books to buy or read. Please feel free to add your own in the comments (including your own!).


Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Maybe the most talked-about book in my feeds this year. The New York Times called it “revelatory,” adding: “With great compassion and analytical rigor, Cottom questions the fundamental narrative of American education policy: that a postsecondary degree always guarantees a better life.”

Interrogating Ethnography: Why Evidence Matters, by Steven Lubet. For Contexts, Syed Ali wrote, “Ethnographies are strange birds. Unlike much journalism and other forms of research, they suffer from a lack of replicability… Basically, ethnographic practice is kind of a black box. The output is the book and we’re impressed. But we have no idea how it was made. The ethnographer is asking us to trust them. Lubet says they should trust the readers more and lay everything out as transparently as possible. I agree.” My comments on the book, in audio form, are here.

stuff of family life

The Stuff of Family Life: How Our Homes Reflect Our Lives, by Michelle Janning. I wrote on the back cover: “Stuff and space, and how we interact with and relate to them, are at the intersection of house and home—and at the heart of this wonderful book. They shape our most intimate interactions, and therefore our relationships, our families, and the larger social world that they reflect and create. Michelle Janning leads us on an enthralling sociological journey through the objects and spaces of home—from LEGO and love letters to tables and toilets—to illuminate the social life of families.”

myth of millionaire

The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight: How Place Still Matters for the Rich, by Cristobal Young. The headline on Young’s essay in Commonwealth was, “Taxes Don’t Make Millionaires Move,” which is the bottom line, but how he got there, with great data and analysis, is as important as that take-home message.

Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality, by Ellen Berry, Robert L. Nelson, and Laura Beth Neilsen. Elizabeth Hirsh blurbed: “As the authors convincingly show, rather than enhancing workers’ rights, employment discrimination litigation often reinforces the very hierarchies it was intended to diminish. This is a fascinating study, well researched, written, and argued.”

citizen outsider

Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France, by Jean Beaman. Terri Givens blurbs: “An important contribution to the study of immigration and race in France, bringing the voices of second-generation North Africans into the debates around what it means to be French and what it means to be Maghrébin/Black at a time when the politics of immigration are creating volatile situations in the banlieus (suburbs) of France and fueling support for Far Right politicians.”

Are Racists Crazy? How Prejudice, Racism, and Antisemitism Became Markers of Insanity, Sander L. Gilman and James M. Thomas. Howard Winant blurbs: “They study the deep structures of racism, not only in plunder, privilege, and antipathy for the ‘other,’ but also in the scientific frameworks that seek to explain ‘otherness,’ sometimes affirming it, sometimes denying it. Locating racism within biopolitics, Are Racists Crazy? sheds new light on such varied matters as implicit bias and authoritarian populism. Most important, this book unveils the inescapable political connections between race and science”

kill it to save it

Kill It to Save It: An Autopsy of Capitalism’s Triumph over Democracy, by Corey Dolgon. I remember Corey’s activist folk-singing at Michigan in the early 1990s, and also having my mind blown in a history class with Robin D. G. Kelley, who blurbs: “To understand the popularity of Donald J. Trump and the prevailing logic that turns billionaires into job creators, unions into job destroyers, and climate scientists into godless Communists, we need Corey Dolgon. Clear-eyed and perceptive, Dolgon reveals that the new ‘common sense’ upholding privatization, deregulation, wealth concentration, and the erosion of democracy and civil liberties as the only path to prosperity was not the handiwork of Fox News and wily neocons but the outcome of a deeper ideological and cultural shift.”

someone to talk to

Someone To Talk To, by Mario Luis Small. The book “follows a group of graduate students as they cope with stress, overwork, self-doubt, failure, relationships, children, health care, and poverty. He unravels how they decide whom to turn to for support. And he then confirms his findings based on representative national data on adult Americans.” Bernice Pescosolido blurbs: “The reality of who affects our lives through contact is much more complicated, messy, and sometimes even random than contemporary theory and methods suggest. This fascinating book taps into the complex, networked fabric of our lives, revealing ground truth.”

down the up staircase

Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. Look at these blurbs! From Jeffrey Toobin (“combines the big themes of history with the gritty reality of a single family’s extraordinary story”), Dalton Conley (“channels W. E. B. Du Bois to provide a rich sociological portrait of his ‘talented tenth’ family”), Mitchell Duneier (“masterful at linking the small personal details of everyday family and community life to social structure and history”), George Lipsitz (“delineates vividly how poverty and downward mobility do not make people noble, resilient, and resourceful, but instead shatter social ties and self-esteem”).

Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists, by Arlene Stein and Jessie Daniels. A nuts-and-bolts how-to on public engagement, with chapter titles including, Writing beyond the Academy, Telling Stories about Your Research, Books for General Audiences, and The Perils of Going Public.

Also, I have three new books coming in 2018, all available for pre-order now. Check out the updated books page!

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The difference fundamentalists make

Just a quick followup to yesterday’s post about Santa.

Matthew Schmitz, deputy editor of the conservative Christian publication First Things, wrote a funny response, calling me a “Grinch Professor” whose complaint about Santa is “nakedly hysterical.” The piece badly mischaracterizes what I wrote, but I don’t need to get into that. I just want to elaborate on my implication that the problem of large numbers of literal Bible believers in the USA is serious.

I showed a table from Pew reporting that about three-quarters of American adults believe, for example, that Jesus was born to a virgin woman. That’s one kind of belief. Santa is another. And the belief that the Bible is the “actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word,” is another. I don’t know the exact overlap between these beliefs across the life course, but I presume they’re positively correlated (among self-described evangelical Protestants, about 95% believe the Christmas story is literally true). The General Social Survey (GSS) only tells us about the actual word of God (AWG) people, so it doesn’t answer the whole story, but it helps.

Schmitz’s mocks me this way:

The first thing Cohen fears is that Santa will put children on the path toward membership in the Westboro Baptist Church. Belief in the “Christmas story is the soft leading edge of a more hardcore Christian fundamentalism,” he writes, including opposition to “marriage rights for homosexuals.”

Note my “leading edge” comment was about literal belief in the Christmas story, not Santa, and I think it’s a pretty solid hypothesis. In fact, I clarified later:

Of course, teaching children to believe in Santa doesn’t necessarily create “actual word of God” fundamentalists. But I expect it’s one risk factor.

But I want to go back to the Westboro Baptist Church comment. WBC is a fringe hate group. I’m talking about a mainstream fundamentalist movement. The American AWG community in 2012 included 28% of men and 35% of women. I reported that the GSS shows these folks are much more likely to think we put too much trust in science, to oppose gay marriage, to say we worry too much about the environment, and to want women to stay home instead of working.

This is not fringe stuff — these are pretty common right-wing positions. What I didn’t make clear is what a large contribution AWG makes to the prevalence of those views. So here is the percentage of people holding each position who are AWGers. The way to read this is, for example, “69% of people who strongly agree that we put too much faith in science instead of religious faith also believe the Bible is the actual word of God.”


The point is that for trust in science, gay marriage, and women’s employment, the majority of American opposition comes from people who hold fundamentalist Christian views (for thinking we worry too much about the environment it’s just over 40%).

Of course I don’t think, and didn’t say, that belief in Santa causes this problem. But I think it’s likely a risk factor. And it’s never too early to start building the knowledge and critical thinking skills we need to overcome it.

Merry Christmas.



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Shotgun pistol grip, meet tofu marinade (Merry Christmas!)

Merry Christmas!

And the 100 search terms that most closely follow the same pattern across states, according to Google Correlate (all correlations higher than .80, listed in order from high to low).

TRADITIONAL                                     VEGETARIAN

CHRISTMAS DINNER                        CHRISTMAS

shotgun pistol grip                            recipe vegetarian

1911a1                                                   lentil stew

glock 21                                                 vegetarian pot pie

mossberg shotgun                           vegetarian stew

shotgun light                                       phthalate free

sword for sale                                    tofu marinade

12 gauge ammo                                 walnut pesto

aarp insurance                                   low voc

kel-tec plr-16                                      attenborough

survival food                                       vegetarian times

guns sale                                              chemex coffee

1911 a1                                                  organic

saiga                                                       vegetarian stuffing

cdnn guns                                            ode magazine

mini 14 folding stock                        vegan christmas

fmg9                                                       bean stew

shotgun pistol                                    metal water bottle

scale rc planes                                    roasted beets

the french foreign legion               vegetarian soup

ammo online                                      lentil dal

glock review                                        recipes vegetarian

buy m4                                                  zen koan

shotgun tactical                                 recipe kale

prescription pill identification      walking meditation

shotgun ammo                                  diet for a small planet

saiga shotgun                                     marinated tofu

dxtbmp                                                 pema chodron

ghost ring sights                                vegetarian thanksgiving

fn fal for sale                                       recipes kale

writers software                               moroccan stew

smith wesson 357                             potato leek

500 pistol                                              the daily show

pistol grip                                             crock pot vegetarian

forend                                                   chodron

88 ford bronco                                   organic cotton

auto sear                                              david attenborough

1911 custom                                        potato leek soup

cleaning kit                                          leek soup recipe

aero commander                              red lentils

survival foods                                     vegetarian slow cooker

shotgun forend                                 shamanic studies

female warrior                                   tart crust

class iii weapons                                vw golf tdi

s&w 357                                                vegetarian epicure

air combat games                             vipassana meditation

wilson combat                                    colbert press

shotgun drum                                    cooking lentils

combat commander                        beet salad

1911 parts                                            zen alarm clock

45 1911                                                  sport wagon

speedfeed stock                               traditional medicinals

flare launcher                                     raw beets

bug out                                                 cooking red lentils

6pr                                                          leek soup

best 45                                                  craniosacral

amt 45                                                   elderhostel

eq2 aa                                                    ted talks

combat rifles                                       vegetarian dinner

cheap land                                           under the nile

custom 1911                                        vegan chocolate cake

tromix                                                    roasted beets recipe

atf forms                                              potato leek soup recipe

gun supplies                                        cooking barley

shotgun accessories                        baked tofu

sig 556 accessories                            foundation for shamanic studies

ak 47 accessories                               colbert bush

glock disassembly                             joy of cooking

norinco ak                                            chemex coffee maker

prop planes                                         zen alarm

glock 45 acp                                         organic chocolate

winchester gun safe                        arugula pesto

best 45 acp pistol                              beet salad recipe

fab defense                                        meditation timer

wilson firearms                                  polenta

belize real estate for sale              spiritual practice

colt ar 15                                               kale chips recipe

ruger p90                                              red lentil dal

full auto                                                chard soup

akita puppies                                      eating beets

lasermax                                               buckwheat gluten

kel tec shotgun                                  vegetarian christmas dinner

best 45 acp                                          organic bed

knoxx specops                                   off gassing

1911 slide                                             the weeping camel

37mm launcher                                  botanical drawing

norinco ak 47                                      walnut bread

kel tec ksg                                            weeping camel

m4 for sale                                           youth hostels

45 handgun                                         cat diet

survival gear                                        creme fraiche

desert eagle 50                                  recipes quinoa

online gun sales                                 youtube tina fey

magnum revolver                             paul hawken

tactical shotgun                                 couscous recipe

smith & wesson                                 curried cauliflower

police shotgun                                   eurythmy

war dialer                                             bill moyers show

saiga 12 gauge                                    tonglen

45 carbine                                            youtube jon stewart


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