Sociology

  As the adage goes: home is where the heart is. This may seem self-explanatory, but none of our close primate cousins have anything like homes. Whether we live in an igloo or in Buckingham Palace, the fact that Homo sapiens create homes is one of the greatest puzzles of our evolution.

In Home: How Habitat Made Us Human, neuroanthropologist John S. Allen marshals evidence from evolutionary anthropology, neuroscience, the study of emotion, and modern sociology to argue that the home is one of the most important cognitive, technological, and cultural products of our species’ evolution. It is because we have homes—relatively secure against whatever horrors lurk outside—that human civilizations have been able to achieve the periods of explosive cultural and creative progress that are our species’ hallmark.

  For decades, conversations about poverty have focused on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration. After years of intense fieldwork and study, Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Matthew Desmond has come to believe that something fundamental is missing from that picture: how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty.

Desmond says, “Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors, but nearly all of them have a landlord.” The result of his research is the new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the longest, ongoing hot-and-cold war of the 20th and 21st centuries. It has produced more refugees than any current conflict, generating fully one quarter of all refugees worldwide. Everyone knows that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is important itself, and is also fueling tensions throughout the Middle East. Yet most people shy away from this conflict, claiming it is "just too complicated" to understand.

Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict is written for people who want a point of entry into the conversation. Eve Spangler is a sociologist at Boston College.

  It’s the American dream: get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. But, according to our next guest, during the last twenty-five years we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge.

Harvard University Public Policy Professor, Robert Putnam, says Americans have believed in the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. Putnam says this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.

His new book is: Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Robert Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. Nationally honored as a leading humanist and a renowned scientist, he has written fourteen books and has consulted for the last four US Presidents.

    

  Although our country is still very much identified as “one nation under God,” the truth is the number of nonreligious Americans is precipitously rising. Back in the 1950s, fewer than 5 percent of Americans were nonreligious; today, that figure has jumped to 30 percent.

Drawing on sociological research and extensive in-depth interviews with men and women across the country, sociologist Phil Zuckerman’s Living the Secular Life illuminates this demographic shift with the moral convictions that govern secular individuals.

Dr. Luis Zayas, UT Austin - Latina Suicide Rates

Jun 9, 2014

One segment of the population commits suicide more than any other: Hispanics teens.

Dr. Luis Zayas, Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, shares some numbers and dissects the factors contributing to this troubling trend.

As hip hop culture expands, schools are expanding with it.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, assistant professor of educational administration at Michigan State University, is studying this trend.

Are strict police codes having unintended effects?

Dr. Lawrence Sherman, professor of criminology at the University of Cambridge, examines the nature of certain law enforcement practices.