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Public opinion and energy politics

Dan Farber, professor of law | January 13, 2015

The Pew Research Center published some intriguing polling results on energy issues just before Christmas. Americans have clearly noticed falling prices at the gas pump, but only half realize that U.S. oil and gas production has soared. So far, the changes haven’t affected policy views: a large majority favors expanding use of alternative energy, but … Continue reading »

What do average Americans think about inequality?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | April 10, 2014

Now that economic inequality has become a focus of attention – mentions of “income inequality” in the New York Times went up five-fold in the 2010s compared to the 2000s, 200-fold compared to the 1990s – we know a few things about it clearly. For example: American inequality is unusually great among western societies; it has been … Continue reading »

Which radical ideas come true?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | April 1, 2014

It’s 1974. Richard Nixon resigns the presidency; Barbara Streisand is singing, “The Way We Were” all over the radio (that music-playing thing before the internet); and you could buy a hand calculator that could only add, subtract, multiply, and divide for, in today’s currency, $100. Someone asks you: Here are three pretty radical ideas – which do … Continue reading »

Political responses to the Crash

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | October 9, 2013

Back about a decade or two, as polarization widened among America’s politicians and political activists, most analysts concluded from the initial flurry of research that the general public seemed exempt. Officeholders and activists were taking more extreme positions on hot-button issues like immigration and welfare, but Americans in general seemed to be largely in the … Continue reading »

Why are whites so pessimistic about the future?

Sandra Susan Smith, associate professor of sociology | August 20, 2013

Americans’ collective mood has been souring. But it so happens that trends in outlook vary substantially by race and ethnicity and in seemingly paradoxical ways. According to a new report, AP-NORC_Public Mood White Malaise But Optimism Among Blacks and Hispanics, while whites are becoming more pessimistic, blacks and Hispanics have been relatively optimistic, and especially … Continue reading »

Sexual license, sexual limits

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | April 25, 2013

One clear social change of the last half-century is Americans’ increasing support of sexual freedom. It is all around us: magazines at the check-out counter blaring advice about orgasms, easy-access pornography on the web and soft-core pornography on cable, hooking-up culture on tv programs, and nonchalance about couples “living together” before (or after) marriage (see … Continue reading »

The survey crisis

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | September 13, 2012

At this time in the presidential election cycle, we are inundated by surveys, almost moment-by-moment, battleground state by battleground state. But surveys are far more important than just serving to handicap elections. It is through scientific surveys – that is, asking standardized questions of representative samples of the population – that researchers and policymakers in … Continue reading »

Good news and bad news for higher education

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | December 9, 2010

I am writing this blog post from London, where today, students and faculty mobilized in fierce protest against the British government’s proposed — and now officially passed — plan to raise fees for university, to about $14,000 a year, tripling what fees were up till now. Meanwhile, the education news from California, where annual undergraduate … Continue reading »