What I’m Reading: September 23rd, 2016

    • (1) Sociologist Arlie Hochschild has published an incredibly intriguing and insightful study of blue-collar, white America titled “Strangers in their Own Land.” Vox has two good interviews with Hochschild, one by Brad Plummer in text and one with Erza Klein in audio via his podcast. The deeply interesting insight of Hochschild is looking at her subject without normative judgement, and instead providing ethnographic survey of sorts of their beliefs as they are and to be understood irrespective of their external, objective validity. A key quote on white’s sense of injustice and a potential insight into the motivation of the Trumpian moment :
  • “So the deep story I felt operating in Louisiana was this: Think of people waiting in a long line that stretches up a hill. And at the top of that is the American dream. And the people waiting in line felt like they’d worked extremely hard, sacrificed a lot, tried their best, and were waiting for something they deserved. And this line is increasingly not moving, or moving more slowly [i.e., as the economy stalls].
  • Then they see people cutting ahead of them in line. Immigrants, blacks, women, refugees, public sector workers. And even an oil-drenched brown pelican getting priority. In their view, people are cutting ahead unfairly. And then in this narrative, there is Barack Obama, to the side, the line supervisor who seems to be waving these people (and the pelican) ahead. So the government seemed to be on the side of the people who were cutting in line and pushing the people in line back.”
  • (3) Foreign Policy Magazine has published an incredible inside look into the creation and early days of ISIS/The Islamic State/Daesh from an active, current insider of the group. The account is heavily vetted for credibility and the result of dozens of hours of intensive, deep-dive interviews. Part One considers the formation of the group and related split from al Qaeda, Part Two on seizing a chemical weapons stockpile, and Part Three considers the ISIS-al Qaeda split more deeply. Not only insightful but well written—a great read.
  • (4) The Economist has ran a special report recently on large, multi-national firms. They look a global changes in these firms, the implication in the rise of these firms to innovation, and various public policy concerns. From the opening article of the series, the world’s largest firms in 2006 and 2016 charted below:



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