Book reviews

Book Review | Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Book Review | Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

In Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, Arlie Russell Hochschild explores the ‘deep story’ behind the rise of the Tea Party and Donald Trump in the USA, drawing on close contact with her research subjects over a five-year period of living in Louisiana. While the book may struggle to ultimately explain the origins of this phenomenon, writes Tim Winzler, Hochschild’s intense immersion in the field and her use of interconnected research methods make it a valuable contribution to sociological understanding of this topic. 

Book Review | The British General Election of 2017 by Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh

Book Review | The British General Election of 2017 by Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh

In The British General Election of 2017, the latest in the venerable Nuffield series on British elections since 1945, Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh explore one of the most extraordinary political events of the young century in the UK: the British general election of 2017. While not able to produce a fully coherent explanation of the results, the volume achieves the same skillful blend of narrative and analysis that we have come to expect from the series, with the help of excellent sourcing and well-chosen specialist contributors, writes Lawrence McKay.

Book Review | Everyday Economics: A User’s Guide to the Modern Economy by Steve Coulter

Book Review | Everyday Economics: A User’s Guide to the Modern Economy by Steve Coulter

For many of us, economics appears too abstract and rooted in assumptions that make individuals seem unfamiliar as human subjects. In Everyday Economics: A User’s Guide to the Modern Economy, Steve Coulter seeks to tackle these perceptions by offering an accessible take on economics that shows how it has relevance to different aspects of our everyday lives, from health to shopping and housing. Coulter does an admirable job of breaking down barriers to the discipline, finds Barton Edgerton.

Book Review | Council Democracy: Towards a Democratic Socialist Politics edited by James Muldoon

Book Review | Council Democracy: Towards a Democratic Socialist Politics edited by James Muldoon

In Council Democracy: Towards a Democratic Socialist Politics, editor James Muldoon brings together contributors to reopen discussion of councilist ideas and movements and to take the scholarship into new realms. While the chapters evidence the continuing tensions within the literature, this is a welcome and important contribution to the revival of this deeply emancipatory form of democratic socialism, writes Babak Amini. 

Book Review | The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems edited by Erik S Herron, Robert J Pekkanen and Matthew S Shugart

Book Review | The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems edited by Erik S Herron, Robert J Pekkanen and Matthew S Shugart

Electoral systems are key components in the operation of representative democracies that vary considerably in their construction, with important consequences for how democracy is implemented. Ron Johnston reviews The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems which provides valuable overviews of many of the important topics studied by electoral system scholars, though he wonders about the relative value of such large and expensive volumes aimed at providing ‘state-of-the-art’ surveys and ‘compelling new perspectives’.

Book Review | Europe and Northern Ireland’s Future: Negotiating Brexit’s Unique Case by Mary C. Murphy

Book Review | Europe and Northern Ireland’s Future: Negotiating Brexit’s Unique Case by Mary C. Murphy

In Europe and Northern Ireland’s Future: Negotiating Brexit’s Unique Case, Mary C. Murphy offers a multi-layered account of the consequences of the Brexit referendum vote for Northern Irish politics and the relationship with the European Union. The book’s analysis shows great sensitivity, intellectual rigour and acute understanding, writes Matthew G O’Neill.

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.