Book reviews

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.

Book Review | Government by Referendum by Matt Qvortrup

Book Review | Government by Referendum by Matt Qvortrup

In Government by Referendum, Matt Qvortrup makes the case that rather than pose a challenge to democracy, referendums are a force for good and can work to enhance it, provided they are not exploited opportunistically by governments and politicians. This concise book contains many thought-provoking observations and factual details, finds Chris Stafford, that serve to underscore its key message that referendums should be embraced by the public and demanded more regularly. 

Book Review | The Good Politician: Folk Theories, Political Interaction and the Rise of Anti-Politics by Nick Clarke et al

Book Review | The Good Politician: Folk Theories, Political Interaction and the Rise of Anti-Politics by Nick Clarke et al

In The Good Politician: Folk Theories, Political Interaction and the Rise of Anti-Politics, Nick Clarke et al offer a long-view account of the growing negative perception of the activities and institutions of formal politics in the UK and consider how citizens evaluate politicians. This is a rich, multi-layered and original take on the rise of anti-political sentiment, recommends Peter Allen, which sheds particular light on the myriad tensions shaping today’s political landscape. 

Book Review | The People vs Tech: How the Internet is Killing Democracy (and How We Can Save It) by Jamie Bartlett

Book Review | The People vs Tech: How the Internet is Killing Democracy (and How We Can Save It) by Jamie Bartlett

In The People vs Tech: How the Internet is Killing Democracy (and How We Can Save It), Jamie Bartlett offers an incisive account of the key challenges that Western democracy faces in light of the growing power of technology companies, presented alongside twenty suggestions for how to save it. While it could attend more to the role of capitalism in fostering such behaviour, the book will help readers formulate the questions that need to be asked of the technology surrounding us, recommends Kevin Seidler. 

Book Review | The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment edited by Julian Zelizer

Book Review | The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment edited by Julian Zelizer

With The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment, editor Julian Zelizer brings together contributors to reflect on different aspects of the Obama administration, from social, economic and legal issues to foreign policy. Jonny Hall explores how the volume grapples particularly with the themes (and frustrations) of Tea Party obstructionism, Obama’s failure to live up to the expectations established by his 2008 campaign and the potential impact of the Trump presidency on his predecessor’s legacy. 

Book Review | Striking Women: Struggles and Strategies of South Asian Women Workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet by Sundari Anitha and Ruth Pearson

Book Review | Striking Women: Struggles and Strategies of South Asian Women Workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet by Sundari Anitha and Ruth Pearson

In Striking Women: Struggles and Strategies of South Asian Women Workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet, Sundari Anitha and Ruth Pearson offer an in-depth examination of two strikes – the Grunwick strike of 1976–78 and the strike at Gate Gourmet in 2005 – to highlight how South Asian migrant women have contributed to the struggle for workers rights in the UK. Praising the book’s incorporation of the wider social and historical context, Amal Shahid finds this an informative and accessible read for those passionate about the history and sociology of labour, gender and migration studies. 

Book Feature: Interview with Nine Dots Prize winner James Williams on new book Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy

Book Feature: Interview with Nine Dots Prize winner James Williams on new book Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy

Are digital technologies making politics impossible? This question launched the Nine Dots Prize in October 2016, a new award for creative thinking in the social sciences that seeks to encourage innovative, interdisciplinary responses to the pressing issues of our time. Chosen from over 700 applicants, James Williams was announced as the inaugural winner last year with his resulting book, Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy, published on 31 May 2018 by Cambridge University Press in hard copy and open access formats. We spoke to James about the book and becoming the first recipient of the Nine Dots Prize. 

Book Review | Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility by Jo Littler

Book Review | Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility by Jo Littler

In Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility, Jo Littler offers a rich analysis that intricately teases out the grasp ‘merit’ and ‘meritocracy’ have on everyday cultural and social narratives of value and power in contemporary society. This is a rewarding contribution to the shared work of challenging hegemonic, neoliberal myths that uphold the status quo, recommends Sarah Burton, and to the building of a better and fairer world. 

Book Review | The UK after Brexit: Legal and Policy Challenges edited by Michael Dougan

Book Review | The UK after Brexit: Legal and Policy Challenges edited by Michael Dougan

In the edited collection The UK after Brexit: Legal and Policy Challenges, Michael Dougan brings together contributors to explore the key challenges facing the UK legal system and broader public policy environment following the UK Brexit vote and resulting de-Europeanisation process. This comprehensive work gives prime insight into the profound restructuring of the UK’s institutional landscape that may be on the horizon, writes Jim McConalogue.