Monday, 20 February 2006

Plane reading

On the plane trip back from Washington to Durham today, I started reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (in my haste to pack for the trip, I forgot to bring any reading material for the return trip, so I had to make an excursion to Barnes and Noble in Washington to pick up something to read yesterday afternoon), and about 20 pages in felt tempted to exclaim out loud that this sounded a lot like Mark Granovetter’s American Journal of Sociology article on the strength of weak ties—a theory that is surprisingly underdiscussed in the public opinion literature, at least by political scientists. I only came across it in my graduate “classic texts in American politics” seminar taught by Bob Albritton, which I affectionately refer to as the Magical Mystery Tour.

Incidentally, Friday afternoon in my southern politics seminar I brought up another Gladwell theme by talking briefly about Tom Schelling’s work on how patterns of segregation spontaneously emerge from individual actions that aren’t strongly discriminatory on their face.


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Let me know how it is. I plan to read it this summer. Winthrop picked it as the “Common Book” for next year.


Cool… one of the presenters this weekend uses it in his research methods class, which was the immediate impetus for the purchase.

Since I have about four hours on the plane traveling to and from [redacted Midwestern city] this week, I’ll probably have it completely read by the weekend.

Actually, my first choice for a purchase was the Tetlock book, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. I’ll break down and buy it from Amazon in a few weeks I guess.

[Permalink] 3. Michelle wrote @ Mon, 20 Feb 2006, 6:32 pm CST:

I listened to the tipping point on tape—can’t remember if it was abridged or not, but it was interesting. It had a nice beat and I could dance to it.


granovetter’s strength of weak ties is very good. You also might look at some of Barry Wellman’s work on networked communities. I think the reason it gets overlooked is because it’s not specifically about politics, but about getting a job – although the principles are applicable to political science.


I’m most of the way through Gladwell’s book… it’s very good, although it’s obviously pitched at the person with a college education and not people with extensive training in the behavioral sciences.

I should finish it tomorrow on the flight back to RDU; hopefully I can get my Economist read too.


Michelle: I have a rule against drunk commenting, which is hiding around here somewhere…

Besides, I usually read the book and get down using the iPod simultaneously; today’s music of choice was Antigone Rising. I didn’t try to dance to it, though, since those regional jets don’t have a lot of dancing space.

[Permalink] 7. Michelle wrote @ Thu, 23 Feb 2006, 11:48 am CST:


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