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Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists

Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists
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United States

Description:

Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists

Language:

English


Episodes

Shona Minson on Children of Imprisoned Mothers

10/2/2019
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When a mother with minor children is imprisoned, she is far from the only one facing consequences. Their children can end up cared for in multiple placements, they’re often unable to attend school and they’re stigmatised. These effects on the children of the incarcerated, although predictable, have been poorly understood precisely because almost no one has done that. But Minson, who practiced both criminal and family law before entering academe, did. Following up on issues she’d seen in her...

Duration:00:21:40

Harvey Whitehouse on Rituals

9/5/2019
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One of the most salient aspects of what generally makes a ritual a ritual is that you can’t tell from the actions themselves why they have to be done that way – and that fascinates anthropologist Harvey Whitehouse. By his own admission, what intrigues the statutory chair in social anthropology and professorial fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford is that ritual is “behavior that is ‘causally opaque’ – by which I mean it has no transparent rational causal structure. “[Rituals]...

Duration:00:28:42

Kayleigh Garthwaite on Foodbanks

8/1/2019
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In the most recent 12-month period for which is has data, the Trussell Trust – the largest foodbank trust in the United Kingdom – the trust passed out 1.6 million food parcels, with 500,000 of those going to children. More than 90 percent of the food donated came from the public, often though prompts seen supermarkets, and the remaining 10 percent came from corporations. Social scientist Kayleigh Garthwaite wanted to know more about the people behind those figures. Spurred on by numbers...

Duration:00:17:40

Jonathan Portes on the Economics of Immigration

7/1/2019
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“I cannot count the number of people who’ve told me on Twitter, ‘Of course immigrants increase British unemployment! Of course immigrants drive down wages. It’s just the law of supply and demand.’ And it’s an almost infallible rule that people who say that do not understand basic economics and do not understand supply and demand, because immigration adds to both supply and demand.” So recounts Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics and public policy at the School of Politics & Economics...

Duration:00:27:04

Sam Friedman on Class

6/5/2019
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Is education, by itself, the great equalizer? Will having the same education erase the benefit someone from a higher class has over someone from a lower class? “Education,” says sociologist Sam Friedman, “doesn’t wash away the effects of class background in terms of allocating opportunities. That’s quite profound – I believe there are a lot of people who believe quite strongly that these sorts of educational institutions can and do act as sort of meritocratic sorting houses.” Friedman, an...

Duration:00:27:10

Monika Krause on Humanitarian Aid

5/1/2019
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Humanitarian aid organizations often find themselves torn by reasonable expectations – to address a pressing crisis and to show that what they are doing is actually helping. While these might not seem at odds, in practice, says Monika Krause, they often do. Krause, an assistant professor of sociology at the London School of Economics, is the author of The Good Project: Humanitarian Relief NGOs and the Fragmentation of Reason, an award-winning book from 2014. In her research, she conducted...

Duration:00:17:58

Erica Chenoweth on Nonviolent Resistance

4/2/2019
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You and a body of like-minded people want to reform a wretched regime, or perhaps just break away from it and create an independent state. Are you more likely to achieve your goals by a campaign of bombings, assassinations and riots, or by mass protests which are avowedly peaceful? Erica Chenoweth, a professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, has studied this question in depth, her...

Duration:00:19:15

Gina Neff on Smart Devices

3/1/2019
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Data about us as individuals is usually conceived of as something gathered about us, whether siphoned from our Facebook or requested by bureaucrats. But data collected and displayed by the tracking applications on our iPhones and Fitbits is material we collect by ourselves and for ourselves. Well, maybe, says sociologist Gina Neff, who with Dawn Nafus (a senior research scientist at Intel Labs) wrote the recent book, Self-Tracking. In this Social Science Bites podcast, Neff tells interview...

Duration:00:19:43

Les Back on Migrants

2/1/2019
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Sociologists Les Back and Shamser Sinha spent a decade following 30 migrants in London, a study that forms the narrative in their new book, Migrant City. But the book, which includes the names of three of their subjects as additional co-authors, doesn’t focus the lives of 30 characters, but 31. “In the end,” Back tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “Shamser Sinha and I learned so much about not only the experience of migration, but about London as a space...

Duration:00:24:58

David Halpern on Nudging

1/2/2019
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Placing more nutritious food on a more visible shelf, informing lagging taxpayers that their neighbors have already paid up, or asking job seekers what they plan to do next week (instead of what they did – or didn’t – do last week) – these are all well-known examples of behavioral spurs known as ‘nudges.’ Much of the reason such examples are known is because they emanate from the work of the Behavioural Insights Team – the so-called nudge unit. The United Kingdom’s government set up the unit...

Duration:00:20:46

James Robinson on Why Nations Fail

12/3/2018
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Metrics on the average living standards from the best-off countries in the world (say, Norway) to the worst-off (perhaps the Central African Republic) vary by a factor of 40 to 50. So notes James Robinson, the Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict at the University of Chicago and author, with Daron Acemoglu, of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. What explains the living-standards gap? In this Social Science Bites podcast, interviewer...

Duration:00:18:18

Nick Adams on Textual Analysis

11/1/2018
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Fake news, whether truly phony or merely unpalatable, has become an inescapable trope for modern media consumers. But apart from its propagandist provenance, misinformation and disinformation in our media diets is a genuine threat. Sociologist Nick Adams, in this Social Science Bites podcast, offers hope that a tool he’s developed can improve the media literacy of the populace. That tool, known as Public Editor, allows trained volunteers to do one of seven assessment tasks within 15 minutes...

Duration:00:16:23

Andrew Leigh on Randomistas

10/1/2018
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Andrew Leigh would take a daily a multivitamin, he says, until he learned that a randomized controlled trial, or RCT, found no increase in lifespan linked to taking them. So he stopped. Leigh isn’t a nutritionist, he’s an economist. But more to the point, Leigh is also an unrepentant ‘randomista,’ which is what he calls researchers who use RCT’s to tackle thorny issues of public concern. (Leigh is also a politician, 2010 sitting since as the member of Australia’s Parliament for the Division...

Duration:00:18:46

Diane Reay on Education and Class

9/4/2018
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Diane Reay grew up in a council estate in a coal mining part of Derbyshire in England’s East Midlands. Those working-class roots dogged her from the start of her formal schooling. “I had to fight not to be in the bottom set; I was told that girls like me don’t go to university,” Reay, now a renowned Cambridge University education professor, tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. “I think that spurred a strong interest in class inequalities and I became, like...

Duration:00:18:24

Mahzarin Banaji on Implicit Bias

8/2/2018
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Explicit statements of prejudice are less common than in the past (even if they are still easily found). “I see that as a mark of progress,” says social psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji, the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University. But peer a little below the surface, she adds, “even though you might reject an explicit bias, you actually have the implicit version of it.” “The brain is an association-seeking machine,” she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this...

Duration:00:26:54

Richard Wilkinson on How Inequality is Bad

7/3/2018
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While generally accepted that inequality is a bad thing, how exactly is that so? Beyond philosophical arguments, what is it about inequality that makes it bad? That’s a question that Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett examined at a societal scale in their 2009 book The Spirit Level and have continued at an individual level with their newest book, The Inner Level. The volume’s subtitles help explain the evolution; Spirit’s is “Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” while Inner’s is...

Duration:00:17:17

Celia Heyes on Cognitive Gadgets

6/1/2018
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How did humans diverge so markedly from animals? Apart from physical things like our “physical peculiarities,” as experimental psychologist Celia Heyes puts it, or our fine motor control, there’s something even more fundamentally – and cognitively -- different. “I suppose at the broadest level,” Heyes tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “we differ from animals because we are so ultra-social, so intensely cooperative. And as a result, we’ve transformed our...

Duration:00:19:16

Alison Liebling on Successful Prisons

5/1/2018
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In determining what makes a successful prison, where would you place ‘trust’? Alison Liebling, a criminologist at the University of Cambridge and the director of the Institute of Criminology’s Prisons Research Centre, would place it at the top spot. As she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, she believes what makes a prison good is the existence and the practice of trust. As this recording makes clear, these aren’t starry-eyed recommendations from a novice...

Duration:00:27:04

David Spiegelhalter on Communicating Statistics

4/2/2018
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While they aren’t as unpopular as politicians or journalists, people who work with statistics come in for their share of abuse. “Figures lie and liars figure,” goes one maxim. And don’t forget, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." But some people are the good guys, doing their best to combat the flawed or dishonest use of numbers. One of those good guys is David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk in the Statistical Laboratory in the...

Duration:00:19:04

Sander van der Linden on Viral Altruism

3/1/2018
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Use social media for any amount of time and eventually you will come across something that’s designed to both appeal to the angels of your better nature and asking to make a (small) effort to support or propagate this appeal. The prime example of recent years is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. When these charitable appeals take off, that’s when social psychologist Sander van der Linden perks up. He studies ‘viral altruism,’ and in this Social Science Bites podcast he details to host David...

Duration:00:20:27