Princeton University Press

Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology

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Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology

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The Battle for Yellowstone

Morality and the Sacred Roots of Environmental Conflict

Justin Farrell

Yellowstone holds a special place in America’s heart. As the world’s first national park, it is globally recognized as the crown jewel of modern environmental preservation. But the park and its surrounding regions have recently become a lightning rod for environmental conflict, plagued by intense and intractable political struggles among the federal government, National Park Service, environmentalists, industry, local residents, and elected officials. The Battle for Yellowstone asks why it is that, with the flood of expert scientific, economic, and legal efforts to resolve disagreements over Yellowstone, there is no improvement? Why do even seemingly minor issues erupt into impassioned disputes? What can Yellowstone teach us about the worsening environmental conflicts worldwide?

Justin Farrell argues that the battle for Yellowstone has deep moral, cultural, and spiritual roots that until now have been obscured by the supposedly rational and technical nature of the conflict. Tracing in unprecedented detail the moral causes and consequences of large-scale social change in the American West, he describes how a "new-west" social order has emerged that has devalued traditional American beliefs about manifest destiny and rugged individualism, and how morality and spirituality have influenced the most polarizing and techno-centric conflicts in Yellowstone’s history.

This groundbreaking book shows how the unprecedented conflict over Yellowstone is not all about science, law, or economic interests, but more surprisingly, is about cultural upheaval and the construction of new moral and spiritual boundaries in the American West.

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Becoming Right

How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives

Amy J. Binder

Conservative pundits allege that the pervasive liberalism of America’s colleges and universities has detrimental effects on undergraduates, most particularly right-leaning ones. Yet not enough attention has actually been paid to young conservatives to test these claims—until now. In Becoming Right, Amy Binder and Kate Wood carefully explore who conservative students are, and how their beliefs and political activism relate to their university experiences.

Rich in interviews and insight, Becoming Right illustrates that the diverse conservative movement evolving among today’s college students holds important implications for the direction of American politics.

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Contentious Curricula

Afrocentrism and Creationism in American Public Schools

Amy J. Binder

This book compares two challenges made to American public school curricula in the 1980s and 1990s. It identifies striking similarities between proponents of Afrocentrism and creationism, accounts for their differential outcomes, and draws important conclusions for the study of culture, organizations, and social movements.

Amy Binder gives a brief history of both movements and then describes how their challenges played out in seven school districts. Despite their very different constituencies--inner-city African American cultural essentialists and predominately white suburban Christian conservatives--Afrocentrists and creationists had much in common. Both made similar arguments about oppression and their children's well-being, both faced skepticism from educators about their factual claims, and both mounted their challenges through bureaucratic channels. In each case, challenged school systems were ultimately able to minimize or reject challengers' demands, but the process varied by case and type of challenge. Binder finds that Afrocentrists were more successful in advancing their cause than were creationists because they appeared to offer a solution to the real problem of urban school failure, met with more administrative sympathy toward their complaints of historic exclusion, sought to alter lower-prestige curricula (history, not science), and faced opponents who lacked a legal remedy comparable to the rule of church-state separation invoked by creationism's opponents.

Binder's analysis yields several lessons for social movements research, suggesting that researchers need to pay greater attention to how movements seek to influence bureaucratic decision making, often from within. It also demonstrates the benefits of examining discursive, structural, and institutional factors in concert.

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Disrupting Science

Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945-1975

Kelly Moore

In the decades following World War II, American scientists were celebrated for their contributions to social and technological progress. They were also widely criticized for their increasingly close ties to military and governmental power--not only by outside activists but from among the ranks of scientists themselves. Disrupting Science tells the story of how scientists formed new protest organizations that democratized science and made its pursuit more transparent. The book explores how scientists weakened their own authority even as they invented new forms of political action.

Drawing extensively from archival sources and in-depth interviews, Kelly Moore examines the features of American science that made it an attractive target for protesters in the early cold war and Vietnam eras, including scientists' work in military research and activities perceived as environmentally harmful. She describes the intellectual traditions that protesters drew from--liberalism, moral individualism, and the New Left--and traces the rise and influence of scientist-led protest organizations such as Science for the People and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Moore shows how scientist protest activities disrupted basic assumptions about science and the ways scientific knowledge should be produced, and recast scientists' relationships to political and military institutions.

Disrupting Science reveals how the scientific community cumulatively worked to unbind its own scientific authority and change how science and scientists are perceived. In doing so, the book redefines our understanding of social movements and the power of insider-led protest.

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Economists and Societies

Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain, and France, 1890s to 1990s

Marion Fourcade

Economists and Societies is the first book to systematically compare the profession of economics in the United States, Britain, and France, and to explain why economics, far from being a uniform science, differs in important ways among these three countries. Drawing on in-depth interviews with economists, institutional analysis, and a wealth of scholarly evidence, Marion Fourcade traces the history of economics in each country from the late nineteenth century to the present, demonstrating how each political, cultural, and institutional context gave rise to a distinct professional and disciplinary configuration. She argues that because the substance of political life varied from country to country, people's experience and understanding of the economy, and their political and intellectual battles over it, crystallized in different ways--through scientific and mercantile professionalism in the United States, public-minded elitism in Britain, and statist divisions in France. Fourcade moves past old debates about the relationship between culture and institutions in the production of expert knowledge to show that scientific and practical claims over the economy in these three societies arose from different elites with different intellectual orientations, institutional entanglements, and social purposes.

Much more than a history of the economics profession, Economists and Societies is a revealing exploration of American, French, and British society and culture as seen through the lens of their respective economic institutions and the distinctive character of their economic experts.

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Elusive Togetherness

Church Groups Trying to Bridge America's Divisions

Paul Lichterman

Many scholars and citizens alike have counted on civic groups to create broad ties that bind society. Some hope that faith-based civic groups will spread their reach as government retreats. Yet few studies ask how, if at all, civic groups reach out to their wider community. Can religious groups--long central in civic America--create broad, empowering social ties in an unequal, diverse society?

Over three years, Paul Lichterman studied nine liberal and conservative Protestant-based volunteering and advocacy projects in a mid-sized American city. He listened as these groups tried to create bridges with other community groups, social service agencies, and low-income people, just as the 1996 welfare reforms were taking effect. Counter to long-standing arguments, Lichterman discovered that powerful customs of interaction inside the groups often stunted external ties and even shaped religion's impact on the groups. Comparing groups, he found that successful bridges outward depend on group customs which invite reflective, critical discussion about a group's place amid surrounding groups and institutions.

Combining insights from Alexis de Tocqueville, John Dewey, and Jane Addams with contemporary sociology, Elusive Togetherness addresses enduring questions about civic and religious life that elude the popular "social capital" concept. To create broad civic relationships, groups need more than the right religious values, political beliefs, or resources. They must learn new ways of being groups.

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A Fraught Embrace

The Romance and Reality of AIDS Altruism in Africa

Ann Swidler

The complex relationships between altruists, beneficiaries, and brokers in the global effort to fight AIDS in Africa

In the wake of the AIDS pandemic, legions of organizations and compassionate individuals descended on Africa from faraway places to offer their help and save lives. A Fraught Embrace shows how the dreams of these altruists became entangled with complex institutional and human relationships. Ann Swidler and Susan Cotts Watkins vividly describe the often mismatched expectations and fantasies of those who seek to help, of the villagers who desperately seek help, and of the brokers on whom both Western altruists and impoverished villagers must rely.

Based on years of fieldwork in the heavily AIDS-affected country of Malawi, this powerful book digs into the sprawling AIDS enterprise and unravels the paradoxes of AIDS policy and practice. All who want to do good—from idealistic volunteers to world-weary development professionals—depend on brokers as guides, fixers, and cultural translators. These irreplaceable but frequently unseen local middlemen are the human connection between altruists' dreams and the realities of global philanthropy.

The mutual misunderstandings among donors, brokers, and villagers—each with their own desires and moral imaginations—create all the drama of a romance: longing, exhilaration, disappointment, heartache, and sometimes an enduring connection. Personal stories, public scandals, and intersecting, sometimes clashing fantasies bring the lofty intentions of AIDS altruism firmly down to earth.

Swidler and Watkins ultimately argue that altruists could accomplish more good, not by seeking to transform African lives but by helping Africans achieve their own goals. A Fraught Embrace unveils the tangled relations of those involved in the collective struggle to contain an epidemic.

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Gifted Tongues

High School Debate and Adolescent Culture

Gary Alan Fine

Learning to argue and persuade in a highly competitive environment is only one aspect of life on a high-school debate team. Teenage debaters also participate in a distinct cultural world--complete with its own jargon and status system--in which they must negotiate complicated relationships with teammates, competitors, coaches, and parents as well as classmates outside the debating circuit. In Gifted Tongues, Gary Alan Fine offers a rich description of this world as a testing ground for both intellectual and emotional development, while seeking to understand adolescents as social actors. Considering the benefits and drawbacks of the debating experience, he also recommends ways of reshaping programs so that more high schools can use them to boost academic performance and foster specific skills in citizenship.

Fine analyzes the training of debaters in rapid-fire speech, rules of logical argumentation, and the strategic use of evidence, and how this training instills the core values of such American institutions as law and politics. Debates, however, sometimes veer quickly from fine displays of logic to acts of immaturity--a reflection of the tensions experienced by young people learning to think as adults. Fine contributes to our understanding of teenage years by encouraging us not to view them as a distinct stage of development but rather a time in which young people draw from a toolkit of both childlike and adult behaviors. A well-designed debate program, he concludes, nurtures the intellect while providing a setting in which teens learn to make better behavioral choices, ones that will shape relationships in their personal, professional, and civic lives.

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Interaction Ritual Chains

Randall Collins

Sex, smoking, and social stratification are three very different social phenomena. And yet, argues sociologist Randall Collins, they and much else in our social lives are driven by a common force: interaction rituals. Interaction Ritual Chains is a major work of sociological theory that attempts to develop a "radical microsociology." It proposes that successful rituals create symbols of group membership and pump up individuals with emotional energy, while failed rituals drain emotional energy. Each person flows from situation to situation, drawn to those interactions where their cultural capital gives them the best emotional energy payoff. Thinking, too, can be explained by the internalization of conversations within the flow of situations; individual selves are thoroughly and continually social, constructed from the outside in.

The first half of Interaction Ritual Chains is based on the classic analyses of Durkheim, Mead, and Goffman and draws on micro-sociological research on conversation, bodily rhythms, emotions, and intellectual creativity. The second half discusses how such activities as sex, smoking, and social stratification are shaped by interaction ritual chains. For example, the book addresses the emotional and symbolic nature of sexual exchanges of all sorts--from hand-holding to masturbation to sexual relationships with prostitutes--while describing the interaction rituals they involve. This book will appeal not only to psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists, but to those in fields as diverse as human sexuality, religious studies, and literary theory.

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Kingdom of Children

Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement

Mitchell L. Stevens

More than one million American children are schooled by their parents. As their ranks grow, home schoolers are making headlines by winning national spelling bees and excelling at elite universities. The few studies conducted suggest that homeschooled children are academically successful and remarkably well socialized. Yet we still know little about this alternative to one of society's most fundamental institutions. Beyond a vague notion of children reading around the kitchen table, we don't know what home schooling looks like from the inside.

Sociologist Mitchell Stevens goes behind the scenes of the homeschool movement and into the homes and meetings of home schoolers. What he finds are two very different kinds of home education--one rooted in the liberal alternative school movement of the 1960s and 1970s and one stemming from the Christian day school movement of the same era. Stevens explains how this dual history shapes the meaning and practice of home schooling today. In the process, he introduces us to an unlikely mix of parents (including fundamentalist Protestants, pagans, naturalists, and educational radicals) and notes the core values on which they agree: the sanctity of childhood and the primacy of family in the face of a highly competitive, bureaucratized society.

Kingdom of Children aptly places home schoolers within longer traditions of American social activism. It reveals that home schooling is not a random collection of individuals but an elaborate social movement with its own celebrities, networks, and characteristic lifeways. Stevens shows how home schoolers have built their philosophical and religious convictions into the practical structure of the cause, and documents the political consequences of their success at doing so.

Ultimately, the history of home schooling serves as a parable about the organizational strategies of the progressive left and the religious right since the 1960s.Kingdom of Children shows what happens when progressive ideals meet conventional politics, demonstrates the extraordinary political capacity of conservative Protestantism, and explains the subtle ways in which cultural sensibility shapes social movement outcomes more generally.

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