America is becoming a container landscape of big boxes connected by highways. When a big box store upsizes to an even bigger box "supercenter" down the road, it leaves behind more than the vacant shell of a retail operation; it leaves behind a changed landscape that can't be changed back. Acres of land have been paved around it. Highway exits lead to it; local roads end at it. With thousands of empty big box stores spread across America, these sites have become a dominant feature of the American landscape.
Although social scientists generally agree that technology plays a major role in the economy, economics and technology have yet to be brought together in a coherent framework that is both analytically interesting and empirically oriented. This book draws on the tools of science and technology studies and economic sociology to reconceptualize the intersection of economy and technology, suggesting materiality—the idea that social existence involves not only actors and social relations but also objects—as the theoretical point of convergence.
The United States, home to five percent of the worlds' population, now houses twenty-five percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate—at 714 per 100,000 residents and rising—is almost forty percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). More pointedly, it is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan.
How can you know when someone is bluffing? Paying attention? Genuinely interested? The answer, writes Sandy Pentland in Honest Signals, is that subtle patterns in how we interact with other people reveal our attitudes toward them. These unconscious social signals are not just a back channel or a complement to our conscious language; they form a separate communication network. Biologically based "honest signaling," evolved from ancient primate signaling mechanisms, offers an unmatched window into our intentions, goals, and values.
Thirteen million people in the United States—roughly one in ten workers—own a business. And yet rates of business ownership among African Americans are much lower and have been so during the last 100 years. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, businesses owned by African Americans tend to have lower sales, fewer employees and smaller payrolls, lower profits, and higher closure rates. In contrast, Asian American-owned businesses tend to be more successful.
Agriculture in the United States today increasingly operates in two separate spheres: large, corporate-connected commodity production and distribution systems and small-scale farms that market directly to consumers. As a result, midsize family-operated farms find it increasingly difficult to find and reach markets for their products. They are too big to use the direct marketing techniques of small farms but too small to take advantage of corporate marketing and distribution systems.
The message of this book is simple: the mobile phone strengthens social bonds among family and friends. With a traditional land-line telephone, we place calls to a location and ask hopefully if someone is "there"; with a mobile phone, we have instant and perpetual access to friends and family regardless of where they are. But when we are engaged in these intimate conversations with absent friends, what happens to our relationship with the people who are actually in the same room with us?
Our morning cups of coffee connect us to a global industry and an export crisis in the tropics that is destroying livelihoods, undermining the cohesion of families and communities, and threatening ecosystems. Confronting the Coffee Crisis explores small-scale farming, the political economy of the global coffee industry, and initiatives that claim to promote more sustainable rural development in coffee-producing communities.
The use of information and communication technology in scientific research has been hailed as the means to a new larger-scale, more efficient, and cost-effective science. But although scientists increasingly use computers in their work and institutions have made massive investments in technology, we still have little idea how computing affects the way scientists work and the kind of knowledge they produce.
Every year, nations and corporations in the "global North" produce millions of tons of toxic waste. Too often this hazardous material—linked to high rates of illness and death and widespread ecosystem damage—is exported to poor communities of color around the world. In Resisting Global Toxics, David Naguib Pellow examines this practice and charts the emergence of transnational environmental justice movements to challenge and reverse it.