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  1. Activism and the Academy

    Cornel West wears many hats: He is a professor (currently Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University), author (of 20 books), film actor (including The Matrix Reloaded), artist (three spoken word albums), and activist (more on this below). And this summer, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of West’s influential book Race Matters. Sociologist Janice McCabe sat down with West in Cambridge to talk about activism and the academy. Here are some highlights from their discussion, edited for length and clarity.

  2. Do‐It‐Yourself Urban Design: The Social Practice of Informal “Improvement” Through Unauthorized Alteration

    There are numerous ways in which people make illegal or unauthorized alterations to urban space.

  3. Gentrification in Three Paradoxes

    As recently as 2006, students walked into the first day of my urban sociology course at Brooklyn College without knowing the term “gentrification.” Within a few years, however, even students who lived in neighborhoods that seemed unlikely candidates were claiming that their area was undergoing this transformation. Many point to new residents who are close to their age but visibly different: artists, students, or “hipsters” living on their own rather than with their families, and mostly white.

  4. Why do People get Tattoos?

    As increasingly diverse groups of people get tattoos, popular perceptions are often out of synch with the individual meanings behind them

  5. Modified Brave Spaces: Calling in Brave Instructors

    In recent years, instructors teaching about controversial issues such as race and ethnicity have drawn increasingly on the ideas of “safe” and “brave” spaces to encourage and facilitate dialogue during class discussion. Unfortunately, these concepts have limits when taken out of the dialogic social justice workshop and course contexts where they were initially developed—contexts with very different power dynamics than those in conventional college classrooms.
  6. Not in Your Backyard! Organizational Structure, Partisanship, and the Mobilization of Nonbeneficiary Constituents against “Fracking” in Illinois, 2013–2014

    In the interest of enlarging their constituencies, social movements often broaden mobilization efforts beyond the directly aggrieved, beneficiary populations. The authors examine this process through an analysis of a movement against unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD or “fracking”) in Illinois. Using data on more than 37,000 public comments submitted during a regulatory review of fracking, the authors examine the composition of the antifracking movement’s constituency.
  7. Gay Acquaintanceship and Attitudes toward Homosexuality: A Conservative Test

    Does acquaintanceship with gays and lesbians produce more accepting attitudes toward homosexuality and gay rights? Although most scholars and laypeople would likely answer in the affirmative, previous work has struggled to answer this question because of the difficulty in disentangling social influence from social selection. Using panel data from the 2006 to 2010 editions of the General Social Survey, this study provides a conservative test of the contact hypothesis for gay acceptance.
  8. How and Why Haifa Has Become the “Palestinian Cultural Capital” in Israel

    With the growth of Palestinian original cultural productions and independent performance venues in Haifa, its residents have dubbed it the “Palestinian cultural capital in Israel.” An important cosmopolitan center prior to the loss of its majority Palestinian population in 1948, how have Haifa's Palestinian residents today revived the city and claimed this ambitious new title? What factors have enabled this development to take place specifically in Haifa? And, what can it tell us about Palestinians’ imagination of national space under Israel's dominance?

  9. Call Your Representatives: Connecting Classroom Learning to Real-world Policy Action

    This article presents an in-class exercise that teaches students how to call elected officials about a course-related issue of their choice. The goals are to connect classroom learning with real-life action, to show that contacting elected officials need not be difficult or intimidating, and to help students develop a sense of efficacy that can contribute to ongoing engagement. I describe the exercise and present evidence that it led students to call their elected officials, most for the first time ever.
  10. Featured Essay: Frontlash/Backlash: The Crisis of Solidarity and the Threat to Civil Institutions

    Jeffrey C. Alexander argues for an understanding of the polarizing and excluding forces of Trumpism as sociologically ‘‘normal’’ to the ongoing dynamics of civil spheres.