New Books on the Bookshelf
Five cool books with the blurbs on each.
1. “From Social Movement to Moral Market” by Paul-Brian McInerney
Paul-Brian McInerney explores what happens when a movement of activists gives way to a market for entrepreneurs. This book explains the transition by tracing the brief and colorful history of the Circuit Riders, a group of activists who sought to lead nonprofits across the digital divide. In a single decade, this movement spawned a market for technology assistance providers, dedicated to serving nonprofit organizations.
In contrast to the Circuit Riders’ grassroots approach, which was rooted in their commitment to a cause, these consultancies sprung up as social enterprises, blending the values of the nonprofit sector with the economic principles of for-profit businesses. Through a historical-institutional analysis, this narrative shows how the values of a movement remain intact even as entrepreneurs displace activists. While the Circuit Riders serve as a rich core example in the book, McInerney’s findings
speak to similar processes in other “moral markets,” such as organic food,
exploring how the evolution from movement to market impacts activists and enterprises alike.
“The Color of Success” tells of the astonishing transformation of Asians in the United States from the “yellow peril” to “model minorities”–peoples distinct from the white majority but lauded as well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, and exemplars of traditional family values–in the middle decades of the twentieth century.
3. “The Bilingual Mind: And What It Tells Us about Language and Thought” by Aneta Pavlenko
If languages influence the way we think, do bilinguals think differently in their respective languages? And if languages do not affect thought, why do bilinguals often perceive such influence? For many years these questions remained unanswered because the research on language and thought had focused solely on the monolingual mind. Bilinguals were either excluded from this research as ‘unusual’ or ‘messy’ subjects, or treated as representative speakers of their first languages.
Only recently did bi- and multilinguals become research participants in their own right. Pavlenko considers the socio-political circumstances that led to the monolingual status quo and shows how the invisibility of bilingual participants compromised the validity and reliability of findings in the study of language and cognition. She then shifts attention to the bilingual turn in the field and examines its contributions to the understanding of the human mind.
4. “Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution” by Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd
“Not by Genes Alone“ offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem from a psychology uniquely adapted to create complex culture… Drawing on work in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, and economics—and building their case with such fascinating examples as kayaks, corporations, clever knots, and yams that require twelve men to carry them—Richerson and Boyd convincingly demonstrate that culture and biology are inextricably linked, and they show us how to think about their interaction in a way that yields a richer understanding of human nature.
5. “Unrecognized States: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Modern International System” by Nina Caspersen
Unrecognized states are places that do not exist in international politics; they are state-like entities that have achieved de facto independence, but have failed to gain widespread international recognition. Since the Cold-War, unrecognized states have been involved in conflicts over sovereign statehood in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, South Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the South Pacific; some of which elicited major international crises and intervention, including the use of armed force.
Featured Image: “The Tower of Babel,” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.