Recommended recent books in the social sciences?
November 8, 2005 10:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm doing some acquisitions (read: buying) for a small public library, and looking for recommended works in the social sciences. Please note: this is in Ontario, Canada so I don't need a ton of books on American politics or culture (although we do cover those areas). If they're older than five or ten years, they'd really need to be a 'classic' to be considered. I have looked elsewhere, and I'm not being lazy here - I just know that the AskMeFi crowd will have some undiscovered gems for me. Thanks in advance!
posted by stinkycheese to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
That's a really broad question. Can you narrow down what you're looking for?
posted by duck at 11:24 AM on November 8, 2005

Influence Robert Cialdini (orig. published 1984, last revised 1998, a 'classic')
Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (recent)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2005

I recommend Social Science as Sorcery, by Stanislav Andreski (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1972)
posted by WestCoaster at 11:29 AM on November 8, 2005

Harry Specht, Unfaithful Angels

David Shipler's The Working Poor

anything by Jonathan Kozol, esp. The Shame of the Nation (recent), Savage Inequalities, Death at an Early Age, Ordinary Resurrections and Amazing Grace

Katherine Newman's No Shame in My Game is supposed to be excellent

David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise

Niall Ferguson's Colossus

Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed

Doug Henwood's After the New Economy

James Lerner's You Got Nothing Coming

Mike Davis' City of Quartz & Ecology of Fear

Edward Soja's Postmetropolis

and of course you should have everything by Jane Jacobs.
posted by luriete at 11:30 AM on November 8, 2005

Response by poster: To get really specific duck, I'm looking at 300-309 in the Dewey decimal classification.

Just to give you a sense from going down the shelves (this is actually a fairly sizeable section of our library, though a lot of things are outdated), I'm talking about media, gender, women's issues, racial issues, social histories, sex & gender study, marriage, father/motherhood, parenting, and divorce.

I'm not going to be put off if I get suggestions that go outisde that however. This whole area of study is really up my alley, so I'm always looking for newer titles in related topics too. I have two small children at home, and unfortunately this has meant I'm rather out of the loop as far as what's been published in the last few years, etc.

On preview: luriete has a great list. Thanks also Zed_Lopez and WestCoaster!
posted by stinkycheese at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2005

women's issues

Ehrenreich is editor of a new book out on women in the globalized workforce Global Woman. It's not Nickel and Dimed, but it's a good introduction to issues of migrant women and labor. On the other end of women and jobs is Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing.

Mismeasure of Women: Why Women are not the better sex, the inferior sex, or the opposite sex is another interesting intro to women's issues book. It's the kind that you read part of and go "wow, I want to learn more," more than an authority of its own.

father/motherhood, parenting
After getting some rave recommendations for it from MeFi, professors, and other sources, I really liked We're Friends, Right?, an anthropologist's look at children and their friendships, play, and creativity that includes study in Italy, inner-city Oakland(?) and a suburban school.

You might also want to consider books that cover childhood from different angles, too. Both from how it has changed over the years (e.g. The Children's Culture Reader) or recent changes brought on by new media (e.g. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat is sort of a classic on kids and gaming, but there are others out there that are more general).

Slightly outside of or overlapping on your lists is Daughter of Persia, biography of a woman who basically started social work in Iran. It covers cultural history, social issues, women's and race issues, and everything, because they are so intertwined. More importantly, it's a really really good book in both educational and enjoyable factors.
posted by whatzit at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2005

Response by poster: Jeepers, I'm on the second page after less than 24 hours. Aw well, thanks whatzit & thank you everyone. These have all been very helpful suggestions.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:18 AM on November 9, 2005

Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam -- in depth exploration of the decline in social capital in America, its causes and effects.
posted by claxton6 at 7:45 AM on November 10, 2005

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