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August 17, 2017 1:18 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite long magazine features (or books) on topics related to psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology? Looking for work that blends serious reporting with excellent writing.
posted by Mystical Listicle to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it is right in the center of my interests, but I found Christian Smith's Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers fascinating, and I have returned to his concept of Therapeutic Moral Deism again and again in my work.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:30 PM on August 17, 2017

Three anthropological classics from Natural History magazine, very often reprinted in readers for undergrads:
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:05 PM on August 17, 2017

Anything by Susan Sheehan
posted by Morpeth at 4:26 PM on August 17, 2017

Are long book-books okay, or are you looking specifically for something that has a journalistic feel?
posted by clawsoon at 4:28 PM on August 17, 2017

Seeing Like A State by James Scott is one of the best books about society I've ever read.
posted by escabeche at 7:16 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Clawsoon, book books are good, too!
posted by Mystical Listicle at 7:58 AM on August 19, 2017

You might enjoy some of the stuff in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series, though much of it isn't exactly in the areas you've mentioned.

For anthropology+economics, Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years is great. It's not the final word on anything, but it's a fascinating journey.

More anthropology: Chen Village under Mao and Deng (newer version: Chen Village: Revolution to Globalization) is solid, though I don't remember it being quite as gripping as Fanshen and Shenfan.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York was a can't-put-down book written by a great reporter who's trying to dig into how political power actually functions, which might slip in at the very edge of sociology or anthropology. It's biography, though, really.

Economics+sociology: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is a classic about class.

Economics: Marx's Capital is a snooze right up until he starts talking about primitive accumulation, at which point the book lights up. All of his work has been argued about endlessly, of course, but in those chapters you see the combination of research and outrage and rhetoric that fired him. "...the capitalised blood of children..."

There's a lot of shitty evolutionary psychology out there. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy is worth reading as an antidote. Pick a book, any book, though I can vouch for Mother Nature and Mothers and Others. The research is solid, and the writing is excellent. Joan Roughgarden's Evolution's Rainbow also has some fascinating stuff in it, though I found it uneven; parts of it zipped along, and parts of it were a slog.
posted by clawsoon at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2017

Oh, and anything by Oliver Sacks, but that goes without saying.
posted by clawsoon at 8:21 PM on August 19, 2017

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