Book reviews

Book Review | The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialisation and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Book Review | The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialisation and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

In The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialisation and Far Right Youth Culture, Cynthia Miller-Idriss explores how far-right ideology has infiltrated contemporary mainstream German culture through commercial products that are coded with extremist messages. Using a digital archive containing thousands of historical and contemporary images as well as data from interviews with young people, Miller-Idriss reminds us that while the commercialisation of the far right is not a new phenomenon, it is gaining currency. Katherine Williams recommends this book to readers interested in sociology, history and far-right extremism in its many guises.

Book Review | Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan

Book Review | Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan

In Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy, Siva Vaidhyanathan explores the paradoxically disconnective and antisocial character of social media, with a particular focus on Facebook.  Commendably accessible, this book will benefit anyone looking to understand the social-mediatised world in which we are deeply immersed, writes Ignas Kalpokas.

Book Review | Making a 21st Century Constitution: Playing Fair in Modern Democracies by Frank Vibert

Book Review | Making a 21st Century Constitution: Playing Fair in Modern Democracies by Frank Vibert

In Making a 21st Century Constitution: Playing Fair in Modern Democracies, Frank Vibert explores the current state of constitutions, outlining why they have become outdated and suggesting ways in which they can be reworked to better meet the needs of democracies today. While readers may not agree with all of the book’s arguments, it provides interesting insight into how constitutions can overcome their democratic weaknesses and is a welcome addition to this increasing body of scholarship, finds Elyse Wakelin.

Book Review | Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing by John Boughton

Book Review | Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing by John Boughton

In Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing, John Boughton offers a compelling and grounded biography of council housing in England, enlivened by his deep familiarity with the developments he describes. While more convinced by the historical analysis than the more polemical aspects of the author’s arguments, John P. Houghton finds the book a worthy addition to understandings of council housing. 

Book Review | The Political Class: Why It Matters Who Our Politicians Are by Peter Allen

Book Review | The Political Class: Why It Matters Who Our Politicians Are by Peter Allen

In The Political Class: Why It Matters Who Our Politicians Are, Peter Allen lays out the case for and against the dominance of formal politics by a narrow social group – as well as pointing to the ways we could and should change things. Diverse audiences will find much in Allen’s balanced and thoughtful book, recommends Lawrence McKay, which retains an impressive clarity through its engaging style.

Book Review | How Democracy Ends by David Runciman

Book Review | How Democracy Ends by David Runciman

Is democracy in crisis? In How Democracy Ends, David Runciman offers a compelling and convincing account of the state of democracy today, separating clear threats from alarmism in an accessible, well-written and thoughtful book. Sean Kippin recommends this to anyone seeking to understand our current predicament and the future paths for democracy – if any – ahead. 

Book Review | Welfare, Inequality and Social Citizenship: Deprivation and Affluence in Austerity Britain by Daniel Edmiston

Book Review | Welfare, Inequality and Social Citizenship: Deprivation and Affluence in Austerity Britain by Daniel Edmiston

In Welfare, Inequality and Social Citizenship: Deprivation and Affluence in Austerity Britain, Daniel Edmiston offers insight into how austerity and inequality impact upon citizen identities, showing that low-income individuals are excluded from dominant narratives of citizenship. Heather Mew recommends this structural account for evidencing how austerity in the UK is intensifying the gulf between social and welfare rights available to low- and high-income citizens. 

Book Review | English Nationalism: A Short History by Jeremy Black

Book Review | English Nationalism: A Short History by Jeremy Black

In English Nationalism: A Short History, Jeremy Black offers a new history of English nationalism, exploring the distinctive aspects of England’s legal, institutional and religious structures and how these have shaped its national self-conception. While the work is an admirably thorough history, its neglect of the relationship between Brexit and Englishness makes it less convincing as a commentary on the role of English nationalism in contemporary debates surrounding identity, race, ethnicity, the Constitution and Europe, finds Ben Margulies.

Book Review | For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe

Book Review | For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe

In For a Left Populism, Chantal Mouffe argues that our contemporary ‘populist moment’ represents an opportunity for democratic reinvigoration through the formation of a left populism in the name of radical democracy. The book marks an important intervention, most especially in its work on the political role of affect, finds Matthew Longo, but he remains unconvinced as to whether Mouffe’s vision of agonistic contestation will pave the way for a return of the political. 

Book Review | Democracy Under Threat edited by Surendra Munshi

Book Review | Democracy Under Threat edited by Surendra Munshi

In Democracy Under Threat, editor Surendra Munshi brings together twenty contributors to explore the challenges facing democracy globally. While the collection largely avoids examining the role of capitalism in undermining democracy, this is a well-edited, stimulating and distinctive book that is highly recommended by Luke Martell.