Recent Books by Current Faculty

Cover for the Book "Upsold"Upsold: Real Estate Agents, Prices, and Neighborhood Inequality. Max Besbris (University of Chicago Press, 2020)

In this book, Max Besbris shows how agents successfully upsell, inducing buyers to spend more than their initially stated price ceilings. His research reveals how face-to-face interactions influence buyers’ ideas about which neighborhoods are desirable and which are less-worthy investments and how these preferences ultimately contribute to neighborhood inequality.

Stratification defines cities in the contemporary United States. In an era marked by increasing income segregation, one of the main sources of this inequality is housing prices. A crucial part of wealth inequality, housing prices are also directly linked to the uneven distribution of resources across neighborhoods and to racial and ethnic segregation. Upsold shows how the interactions between real estate agents and buyers make or break neighborhood reputations and construct neighborhoods by price. Employing revealing ethnographic and quantitative housing data, Besbris outlines precisely how social influences come together during the sales process.

Cover page of book "Interviewer Effects from a Total Survey Error Perspective"Interviewer Effects from a Total Survey Error Perspective: Edited By Kristen Olson, Jolene D. Smyth, Jennifer Dykema, Allyson L. Holbrook, Frauke Kreuter,  and Brady T. West (Chapman and Hall/CRC, 2020)

This book presents a comprehensive collection of state-of-the-art research on interviewer-administered survey data collection. Interviewers play an essential role in the collection of the high-quality survey data used to learn about our society and improve the human condition. Although many surveys are conducted using self-administered modes, interviewer-administered modes continue to be optimal for surveys that require high levels of participation, include difficult-to-survey populations, and collect biophysical data. Survey interviewing is complex, multifaceted, and challenging.

In 2019, survey methodologists, survey practitioners, and survey operations specialists participated in an international workshop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to identify best practices for surveys employing interviewers and outline an agenda for future methodological research. This book features 23 chapters on survey interviewing by these worldwide leaders in the theory and practice of survey interviewing. Written for managers of survey interviewers, survey methodologists, and students interested in the survey data collection process, this unique reference uses the Total Survey Error framework to examine optimal approaches to survey interviewing, presenting state-of-the-art methodological research on all stages of the survey process involving interviewers.

Book cover for the book named "City of the good"City of the Good:  Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is Right.
Michael M. Bell (Princeton University Press, 2018)

People have long looked to nature and the divine as paths to the good. In this panoramic meditation on the harmonious life, Michael Mayerfeld Bell traces how these two paths came to be seen as separate from human ways, and how many of today’s conflicts can be traced back thousands of years to this ancient divide.

Taking readers on a spellbinding journey through history and across the globe, Bell begins with the pagan view, which sees nature and the divine as entangled with the human—and not necessarily good. But the emergence of urban societies gave rise to new moral concerns about the political character of human life. Wealth and inequality grew, and urban people sought to justify their passions. In the face of such concerns, nature and the divine came to be partitioned from the human, and therefore seen to be good—but they also became absolute and divisive.

Bell charts the unfolding of this new moral imagination in the rise of Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Jainism, and many other traditions that emerged with bourgeois life. He follows developments in moral thought, from the religions of the ancient Sumerians, Greeks, and Hebrews to the science and environmentalism of today, along the way visiting with contemporary indigenous people in South Africa, Costa Rica, and the United States. City of the Good urges us to embrace the plurality of our traditions—from the pagan to the bourgeois—and to guard against absolutism and remain open to difference and its endless creativity.

Gender:  Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, Second Edition
Lisa Wade and Myra Marx Ferree (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: 2018)

An instant best-seller and now the leading book for the course, Wade and Ferree’s Gender is a sophisticated yet accessible introduction to sociological perspectives on gender. Drawing on memorable examples mined from history, pop culture, and current events, Gender deftly moves between theoretical concepts and applications to everyday life. New discussions of #metoo, toxic masculinity, and gender politics in the Trump era help students participate in today’s conversation about gender.

Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement.
Monica M. White (The University of North Carolina Press, 2018)

In May 1967, internationally renowned activist Fannie Lou Hamer purchased forty acres of land in the Mississippi Delta, launching the Freedom Farms Cooperative (FFC). A community-based rural and economic development project, FFC would grow to over 600 acres, offering a means for local sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and domestic workers to pursue community wellness, self-reliance, and political resistance. Life on the cooperative farm presented an alternative to the second wave of northern migration by African Americans–an opportunity to stay in the South, live off the land, and create a healthy community based upon building an alternative food system as a cooperative and collective effort.

Freedom Farmers expands the historical narrative of the black freedom struggle to embrace the work, roles, and contributions of southern black farmers and the organizations they formed. Whereas existing scholarship generally views agriculture as a site of oppression and exploitation of black people, this book reveals agriculture as a site of resistance and provides a historical foundation that adds meaning and context to current conversations around the resurgence of food justice/sovereignty movements in urban spaces like Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, and New Orleans.

Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought
Chad Alan Goldberg (The University of Chicago Press, 2017)

“In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominent social thinkers in France, Germany, and the United States sought to understand the modern world taking shape around them. Although they worked in different national traditions and emphasized different features of modern society, they repeatedly invoked Jews as a touchstone for defining modernity and national identity in a context of rapid social change. In Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought, Chad Alan Goldberg brings us a major new study of Western social thought through the lens of Jews and Judaism.”–The University of Chicago Press

The Genome Factor: What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals about Ourselves, Our History, and the Future
Dalton Conley and Jason Fletcher (Princeton University Press, 2017)

For a century, social scientists have avoided genetics like the plague. But in the past decade, a small but intrepid group of economists, political scientists, and sociologists have harnessed the genomics revolution to paint a more complete picture of human social life than ever before. The Genome Factor describes the latest astonishing discoveries being made at the scientific frontier where genomics and the social sciences intersect.

The Genome Factor reveals that there are real genetic differences by racial ancestry—but ones that don’t conform to what we call black, white, or Latino. Genes explain a significant share of who gets ahead in society and who does not, but instead of giving rise to a genotocracy, genes often act as engines of mobility that counter social disadvantage. An increasing number of us are marrying partners with similar education levels as ourselves, but genetically speaking, humans are mixing it up more than ever before with respect to mating and reproduction. These are just a few of the many findings presented in this illuminating and entertaining book, which also tackles controversial topics such as genetically personalized education and the future of reproduction in a world where more and more of us are taking advantage of cheap genotyping services like 23andMe to find out what our genes may hold in store for ourselves and our children.

The Genome Factor shows how genomics is transforming the social sciences—and how social scientists are integrating both nature and nurture into a unified, comprehensive understanding of human behavior at both the individual and society-wide levels.–Princeton University Press

The Politics of Value: Three Movements to Change How We Think about the Economy
Jane Collins (University of Chicago Press,2017)

The Great Recession not only shook Americans’ economic faith but also prompted powerful critiques of economic institutions. This timely book explores three movements that gathered force after 2008: the rise of the benefit corporation, which requires social responsibility and eschews share price as the best metric for success; the emergence of a new group, Slow Money, that fosters peer-to-peer investing; and the 2011 Wisconsin protests against a bill restricting the union rights of state workers.

Each case shows how the concrete actions of a group of citizens can prompt us to reflect on what is needed for a just and sustainable economic system. In one case, activists raised questions about the responsibilities of business, in the second about the significance of local economies, and in the third about the contributions of the public sector. Through these movements, Jane L. Collins maps a set of cultural conversations about the types of investments and activities that contribute to the health of the economy. Compelling and persuasive, The Politics of Value offers a new framework for viewing economic value, one grounded in thoughtful assessment of the social division of labor and the relationship of the state and the market to civil society.–University of Chicago Press

History of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Volume 1 and 2
Russell Middleton  (Anthropocene Press, 2017)

Image of cover of the book "History of Sociology at the UW-MadisonVolume 1 of this history profiles the eminent scholars who made the University of Wisconsin-Madison one of the foremost centers of sociology in the early 20th century, including John Bascom, Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, E. A. Ross, John L. Gillin, C. J. Galpin, Howard Becker, and Hans Gerth. It examines the reasons for its declining reputation in the 1930s to 1950s, and tells the story of how a turnaround was accomplished under the leadership of William H. Sewell, Edgar Borgatta, and many others between 1958 and 1980, so that it once more became one of the leading programs in the country. It reviews the history of both the Department of Sociology and the Department of Rural Sociology, including the latter’s development, growth, reorientation and name change to Community and Environmental Sociology. It also tells of the long struggle for academic freedom, Wisconsin student protests and demonstrations in the 1960s, and recent political threats to the university.

 

Volume 2 of this history focuses on changes in organization, programs, and culture that enabled the sociology program at the University of Wisconsn-Madison to become once more one of the leading programs in the country. The 1960s and 1970s was a period of rapid growth, enabling the university to add a large number of new faculty who were research oriented and trained in the newest quantitative methods. The Wisconsin program became the largest in the country and since 1909 has granted 1133 PhDs in sociology—the most of any American university since 1966 and second most since 1895. A major role was played by specialized training programs funded by foundation grants and grants from Federal agencies. This led to the development of strong programs in medical sociology, law and society, demography, economic change and development, methodology, social organization, social stratification, and economic sociology, as well as many other specialties. Forty-five former sociology PhD graduate students from over the last fifty years contribute mini-memoirs of their experiences in the graduate program. Appendices list all regular sociology faculty at Wisconsin since 1874 and all of the PhD sociology graduates since Theresa Schmid McMahon, an ardent feminist and labor activist, received the first PhD in 1909.

You can download a digital version of History of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2017) by Professor Emeritus of Sociology Russell Middleton on this website.  These two volumes are available free if not for commercial use.

 

The Landscape of Rural Service Learning, and What It Can Teach Us All.
Nicholas Holton, Charles Ganzert, and Randy Stoeker, Editors (Michigan State University Press,2016)

Up until now, the majority of literature about service learning has focused on urban areas, while comparatively little attention has been paid to activities in rural communities. The Landscape of Rural Service Learning, and What It Teaches Us All is designed to provide a comprehensive look at rural service learning. The practices that have developed in rural areas, partly because of the lack of nonprofits and other services found in urban settings, produce lessons and models that can help us all rethink the dominant forms of service learning defined by urban contexts. Where there are few formal organizations, people end up working more directly with one another; where there is a need for services in locations where they are unavailable, service learning becomes more than just an academic exercise or assignment. This volume includes theoretical frameworks that are informed by the rural, concrete stories that show how rural service learning has developed and is now practiced, practical strategies that apply across service learning contexts, and points to ponder as we all consider our next steps along the path of meaningful service learning.–Michigan State University Press

An Invitation to Environmental Sociology, Fifth Edition
Loka Ashwood and Michael M. Bell (Sage Publishing, 2016)

“This is not only the best environmental sociology text I’ve used, but it is the best text of any type I’ve used in college-level teaching.” –Dr. Cliff Brown, University of New Hampshire

Join author Mike Bell and new co-author Loka Ashwood as they explore “the biggest community of all” and bring out the sociology of environmental possibility. The highly-anticipated Fifth Edition of An Invitation to Environmental Sociology delves into this rapidly changing and growing field in a clear and artful manner. Written in a lively, engaging style, this book explores the broad range of topics in environmental sociology with a personal passion rarely seen in sociology textbooks. The Fifth Edition contains new chapters entitled “Money and Markets,” “Technology and Science,” and “Living in the Ecological Society.” –Sage Publishing

Understanding Class.
Erik Olin Wright (Verso Books, 2015)

Few ideas are more contested today than “class.” Some have declared its death, while others insist on its centrality to contemporary capitalism. It is said its relevance is limited to explaining individuals’ economic conditions and opportunities, while at the same time argued that it is a structural feature of macro-power relations. In Understanding Class, leading left sociologist Erik Olin Wright interrogates the divergent meanings of this fundamental concept in order to develop a more integrated framework of class analysis. Beginning with the treatment of class in Marx and Weber, proceeding through the writings of Charles Tilly, Thomas Piketty, Guy Standing, and others, and finally examining how class struggle and class compromise play out in contemporary society, Understanding Class provides a compelling view of how to think about the complexity of class in the world today.–Verso Books

American Society: How it Really Works, Second Edition
Erik Olin Wright and Joel Rogers (W.W. Norton, 2015)

“In American Society: How It Really Works, Erik Olin Wright and Joel Rogers ask several key questions: What kind of society is America? How does it really work and why is it the way it is? In what ways does it need changing, and how can those changes be brought about? To answer these questions, Wright and Rogers identify five core social values that most Americans affirm in one way or another: freedom, prosperity, efficiency, fairness, and democracy. The authors then challenge readers to question to what degree contemporary American society actually lives up to these values and suggest how we might make progress in solving some of the social problems that confront America today.” — W.W. Norton

Planning Democracy: Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal
Jess Gilbert (Yale University Press, 2015)

Late in the 1930s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture set up a national network of local organizations that joined farmers with public administrators, adult-educators, and social scientists. The aim was to localize and unify earlier New Deal programs concerning soil conservation, farm production control, tenure security, and other reforms, and by 1941 some 200,000 farm people were involved. Even so, conservative anti–New Dealers killed the successful program the next year. This book reexamines the era’s agricultural policy and tells the neglected story of the New Deal agrarian leaders and their visionary ideas about land, democratization, and progressive social change.

This book won the 2016 Theodore Saloutos Award from the Agricultural History Society for the best book on agricultural history of the United States.

The Racial Order
Mustafa Emirbayer and Matthew Desmond (University of Chicago Press, 2015)

“Proceeding from the bold and provocative claim that there never has been a comprehensive and systematic theory of race, Mustafa Emirbayer and Matthew Desmond set out to reformulate how we think about this most difficult of topics in American life. In The Racial Order, they draw on Bourdieu, Durkheim, and Dewey to present a new theoretical framework for race scholarship. Animated by a deep and reflexive intelligence, the book engages the large and important issues of social theory today and, along the way, offers piercing insights into how race actually works in America. Emirbayer and Desmond set out to examine how the racial order is structured, how it is reproduced and sometimes transformed, and how it penetrates into the innermost reaches of our racialized selves. They also consider how—and toward what end—the racial order might be reconstructed. In the end, this project is not merely about race; it is a theoretical reconsideration of the fundamental problems of order, agency, power, and social justice. The Racial Order is a challenging work of social theory, institutional and cultural analysis, and normative inquiry.” — University of Chicago Press

An Invitation to Qualitative Fieldwork: Context is Everything
Jason Orne and Michael M. Bell (Routledge, 2015)

In an attempt to cope with the profusion of tools and techniques for qualitative methods, texts for students have tended to respond in the following two ways: “how to” or “why to.” In contrast, this book takes on both tasks to give students a more complete picture of the field. An Invitation to Qualitative Fieldwork is a helpful guide, a compendium of tips, and a workbook for skills. Whether for a class, as a reference book, or something to return to before, during, and after data-collection, An Invitation to Qualitative Fieldwork is a new kind of qualitative handbook.