Social Science

The Dilemma of the Sharing Economy

Carlo Ratti and Richard Sennett— In 1899, the American sociologist Thorsten Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. The phrase was double-edged: Veblen was critical of the wealthy flaunting their wealth, but he recognized that more ordinary people used goods and services

Continue reading…

Defining the Bigot

Stephen Eric Bronner— Understanding the bigot calls for a phenomenological sketch that explains why prejudice appeals to him, how he chooses his targets, and what impulses are common to his worldview. Quick dabs are necessary to shade his frustrations, brushstrokes highlight his way of thinking about the world, bold lines

Continue reading…

To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

Sasha Handley— Large swathes of the modern industrialized world are in the grip of a sleep-deprivation crisis. So say Jonathan Crary and Ariana Huffington, who represent just two voices in a chorus of recent critical commentaries highlighting the corrosive effects of our globalized 24/7 culture on sleep’s duration and quality.

Continue reading…

The Economic Implications of Citizenship

Andreas Fahrmeir— U.S. citizenship has emerged as an issue several times during this year’s presidential campaign. There were debates on whether birthright citizenship is (and should be) protected by the constitution, and concerning the relationship between birth in the U.S. and descent from a U.S. citizen in determining whether individuals

Continue reading…

Life during the Bangladesh War

Salil Tripathi— I was not yet ten when the first refugees from the country formerly known as East Pakistan began arriving in India. Our parents and our teachers told us how Pakistani military had declared martial law in East Pakistan, and thousands of troops had landed there. Many people had

Continue reading…

What Goes Around Comes Around: Our Faith in Karma

Sam van Schaik— …The logic of the text is causation: If you do x, then y will happen. This is, of course, karma. Every event comes about because of previous events. Moreover, every event sets up chains of causation that produce innumerable further effects. The Buddha’s teachings on karma take this

Continue reading…

The Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Modern Middle East

Neil Faulkner— A hundred years on from Sykes-Picot, the Middle East is in turmoil. These two things are intimately related. Mark Sykes was a British diplomat, François Georges-Picot his French opposite number. They gave their names to a secret agreement to carve up the decaying Ottoman Empire between Britain, France,

Continue reading…

Why Memes Matter for Feminism

Eileen Hunt Botting— Memes are a staple of contemporary popular culture, but most people would be hard pressed to define what exactly they are.  Simply put, memes are widely recognizable yet variously replicated symbols of ideas.  In the twenty-first century, most people associate the meme with social media, in which a

Continue reading…

For Kids with Pain, Attending School Can Help More Than it Hurts

Rachael Coakley— Jessica started her freshman year of high school in great spirts. Then, in early October, she began to get daily headaches after school. Her headaches typically began around 4 PM and persisted through the evening making it difficult for her to complete homework. When Jessica couldn’t finish assignments

Continue reading…

Abolitionists are American Democracy’s Unsung Heroes

Manisha Sinha— Most Americans greeted Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s decision to put Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist heroine of the Underground Railroad, on the front of the twenty-dollar bill and relegate the Indian hunting President Andrew Jackson to its back with approval. The ironies abound. Fugitive slaves like Tubman most feared

Continue reading…