Nations come into being by stages, marked by the adoption of national symbols and ceremonies that reflect significant events. Nation building can therefore be traced alongside the complex process of adopting, altering, abolishing, re-establishing and inventing flags, anthems and national days. In Symbols of Nations and Nationalism (Palgrave Macmillian, 2011) Gabriella Elgenius identifies distinct symbolic regimes founded on ‘pre-modern’, ‘modern’ and ‘post-imperial’ narratives that, in turn, are linked to specific flag and national day designs. National symbolism usually embellishes the past in order to justify nations and states in the present. However, divisive territorial claims have recently produced post-historical or counter-nationalist narratives that avoid references to the past altogether. National flags and days are central images of nationhood and are used to represent, justify and glorify nations. The use of flags and participation in ceremonies help symbolize commonality and the imagined oneness of nations but such notions can also become highly divisive. National ceremonies and national day design have therefore become of great importance for nation builders and policy makers in multi-national and multi-ethnic states.
Organized crime is spreading like a global virus as mobs take advantage of open borders to establish local franchises at will. That at least is the fear, inspired by stories of Russian mobsters in New York, Chinese triads in London, and Italian mafias throughout the West. In Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories (Princeton University Press, 2011), Federico Varese argues that mafiosi often find themselves abroad against their will, rather than through a strategic plan to colonize new territories. Once there, they do not always succeed in establishing themselves. Varese spells out the conditions that lead to their long-term success, namely sudden market expansion that is neither exploited by local rivals nor blocked by authorities. Ultimately the inability of the state to govern economic transformations gives mafias their opportunity. In a series of matched comparisons, Varese charts the attempts of the Calabrese 'Ndrangheta to move to the north of Italy, and shows how the Sicilian mafia expanded to early twentieth-century New York, but failed around the same time to find a niche in Argentina. He explains why the Russian mafia failed to penetrate Rome but succeeded in Hungary. In a pioneering chapter on China, he examines the challenges that triads from Taiwan and Hong Kong find in branching out to the mainland
A distinctive feature of the conflict in Northern Ireland over the past forty years has been the way Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries have policed their own communities. This has mainly involved the violent punishment of petty criminals involved in joyriding and other types of antisocial behavior. But despite the risk of severe punishment, young petty offenders--known locally as "hoods"--continue to offend, creating a puzzle for the rational theory of criminal deterrence. Why do hoods behave in ways that invite violent punishment? In The Hoods: Crime and Punishment in Belfast (Princeton University Press, 2011), Heather Hamill explains why this informal system of policing and punishment developed and endured and why such harsh punishments as beatings, "kneecappings," and exile have not stopped hoods from offending. Drawing on a variety of sources, including interviews with perpetrators and victims of this violence, the book argues that the hoods' risky offending may amount to a game in which hoods gain prestige by displaying hard-to-fake signals of toughness to each other. Violent physical punishment feeds into this signaling game, increasing the hoods' status by proving that they have committed serious offenses and can "manfully" take punishment yet remained undeterred.
Since the 1970s, countries emerging from dictatorship or civil war have increasingly employed a variety of transitional justice mechanisms to address past human rights violations and to promote reconciliation and democracy. Transitional Justice in Balance: Comparing Processes, Weighing Efficacy (United States Institute of Peace Press, 2010), coauthored by Leigh Payne, is the first project of its kind to compare multiple mechanisms and combinations of mechanisms across regions, countries, and time. It systematically analyzes the claims made in the literature using a vast array of data, which the authors have assembled in the Transitional Justice Data Base. Trials, truth commissions, amnesties, reparations, and lustration policies—the main focus of the literature to date—are among the 854 transitional justice mechanisms, which were implemented in 161 countries from 1970 to 2007 and included in this database. The authors use the database to explore the adoption of transitional justice and its effectiveness in achieving its primary goals.
India's society, economy, and polity have been transformed at a gathering pace since the early 1990s, and India's growing role on the world stage makes it imperative to understand the roots and consequences of these changes. Diversity and Change in Modern India: Economic, Social and Political Approaches (Oxford University Press, 2010) provides systematic, macro-level studies of economic, demographic, social, and political change in India but also micro-level analyses of the detailed mechanisms 'on the ground' of how Indian society is being re-shaped. This rare combination of micro- and macro-level analyses thus gives a rounded picture not only of national trends but also of the underlying processes of change. Anthony Heath coedits the volume and also contributes a chapter on caste and social mobility.
How does cultural hierarchy relate to social hierarchy? Do the more advantaged consume ‘high' culture, while the less advantaged consume popular culture? Or has cultural consumption in contemporary societies become individualised to such a degree that there is no longer any social basis for cultural consumption? Social Status and Cultural Consumption (Cambridge University Press, 2010) brings together leading scholars to systematically examine the social stratification of arts and culture. Besides editing the volume, Tak Wing Chan contributes the introduction, a chapter on consumption across different domains of culture (both with John Goldthorpe), and the conclusion.
Analytical sociology is a strategy for understanding the social world. It is concerned with explaining important social facts such as network structures, patterns of residential segregation, typical beliefs, cultural tastes, and common ways of acting. It explains such facts by detailing in clear and precise ways the mechanisms through which the social facts were brought about. Making sense of the relationship between micro and macro thus is one of the central concerns of analytical sociology. The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology (Oxford University Press, 2009) is coedited by Peter Hedström; he also coauthors two introductory chapters. There is a chapter on signalling theory by Diego Gambetta, and one on self-fulfilling prophecies by Michael Biggs.
Diego Gambetta's Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate (Princeton University Press, 2009) shows that as villains balance the lure of criminal reward against the fear of dire punishment, they are inspired to unexpected feats of subtlety and ingenuity in communication. Gambetta uncovers the logic of the often bizarre ways in which inveterate and occasional criminals solve their dilemmas, such as why the tattoos and scars etched on a criminal's body function as lines on a professional résumé, why inmates resort to violence to establish their position in the prison pecking order, and why mobsters are partial to nicknames and imitate the behavior they see in mafia movies. Even deliberate self-harm and the disclosure of their crimes are strategically employed by criminals to convey important messages.
Ekaterina Hertog'sTough Choices: Bearing an Illegitimate Child in Japan (Stanford University Press, 2009) provides the first systematic study of single motherhood in contemporary Japan. Seeking to answer why illegitimate births in Japan remain such a rarity, Hertog spent over three years interviewing single mothers, academics, social workers, activists, and policymakers about the beliefs, values, and choices that unmarried Japanese mothers have. Pairing her findings with extensive research, she considers the economic and legal disadvantages these women face, as well as the cultural context that underscores family change and social inequality in Japan. This is the only scholarly account that offers sufficient detail to allow for extensive comparisons with unmarried mothers in the West.
Focusing on confessions to acts of authoritarian state violence, Leigh A. Payne's Unsettling Accounts: Neither Truth Nor Reconciliation in Confessions of State Violence (Duke University Press, 2008) asks what happens when perpetrators publicly admit or discuss their actions. While mechanisms such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission are touted as means of settling accounts with the past, Payne contends that public confessions do not settle the past. They are unsettling by nature. Rather than reconcile past violence, they catalyze contentious debate. She argues that this debate—and the public confessions that trigger it—are healthy for democratic processes of political participation, freedom of expression, and the contestation of political ideas. The book draws on interviews, unedited television film, newspaper archives, and books written by perpetrators to analyze confessions of state violence in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and South Africa. Each of these four countries addressed its past through a different institutional form—from blanket amnesty, to conditional amnesty based on confessions, to judicial trials.
Unequal Chances: Ethnic Minorities in Western Labour Markets (Oxford University Press, 2007), co-edited by Anthony Heath, is the first major cross-national study of ethnic minority disadvantage in the labour market. It focuses on the experiences of the 'second generation', that is of the children of immigrants, in a range of affluent western countries (western Europe, north America, Australia, Israel). Standard analyses, using the most authoritative available datasets for each country, enable the reader to make precise comparisons. The study reveals that most groups of non-European ancestry continue to experience substantial ethnic penalties in the second (and later) generations. But the magnitude of these penalties varies quite substantially between countries, with major implications for social policy.