Archives for August 2013

A Mathematics Course for Political and Social Research

A Mathematics Course for Political and Social Research by Will H. Moore & David A. Siegel “Moore and Siegel provide an exceptionally clear exposition for political scientists with little formal training in mathematics. They do this by emphasizing intuition and providing reasons for why the topic is important. Anyone who has taught a first-year graduate course in political methodology has heard students ask why they need to know mathematics. It is refreshing to have the answers in this book.”–Jan Box-Steffensmeier, Ohio State University

A Mathematics Course for Political and Social Research
by Will H. Moore & David A. Siegel

Political science and sociology increasingly rely on mathematical modeling and sophisticated data analysis, and many graduate programs in these fields now require students to take a “math camp” or a semester-long or yearlong course to acquire the necessary skills. Available textbooks are written for mathematics or economics majors, and fail to convey to students of political science and sociology the reasons for learning often-abstract mathematical concepts. A Mathematics Course for Political and Social Research fills this gap, providing both a primer for math novices in the social sciences and a handy reference for seasoned researchers.

The book begins with the fundamental building blocks of mathematics and basic algebra, then goes on to cover essential subjects such as calculus in one and more than one variable, including optimization, constrained optimization, and implicit functions; linear algebra, including Markov chains and eigenvectors; and probability. It describes the intermediate steps most other textbooks leave out, features numerous exercises throughout, and grounds all concepts by illustrating their use and importance in political science and sociology.

  • Uniquely designed and ideal for students and researchers in political science and sociology
  • Uses practical examples from political science and sociology
  • Features “Why Do I Care?” sections that explain why concepts are useful
  • Includes numerous exercises
  • Complete online solutions manual (available only to professors, email david.siegel at duke.edu, subject line “Solution Set”)
  • Selected solutions available online to students

Endorsements

Table of Contents

Sample this book:

Preface [PDF]

Chapter 1 [PDF]

Request an examination copy.

 

Working for the (Labor Day) weekend: PUP’s holiday reading recommendation

It’s been an American tradition for over a century. Here in PUP’s home state of New Jersey, we started celebrating the working man and woman more than 120 years ago. This year, readers can observe Labor Day with a look back at how the workforce has developed in that time.

Nelson Lichtenstein’s State of the Union: A Century of American Labor surveys the history of the American workforce and examines how trade unionism has waxed and waned in the nation’s political and moral imagination, among both devoted partisans and intransigent foes. From the steel foundry to the burger-grill, from Woodrow Wilson to John Sweeney, from Homestead to Pittston, Lichtenstein weaves together a compelling matrix of ideas, stories, strikes, laws, and people in a streamlined narrative of work and labor in the twentieth century.

PUP has j9780691160276ust released a revised and expanded edition of this award-winning book, which includes a new preface and two new chapters by the author. Lichtenstein engages with many of those who have offered commentary on State of the Union and evaluates the historical literature that has emerged in the decade since the book’s initial publication. He also brings his narrative into the current moment with a final chapter, “Obama’s America: Liberalism without Unions.”

Here’s more on this thought-provoking read:

The “labor question” became a burning issue during the Progressive Era because its solution seemed essential to the survival of American democracy itself. Beginning there, Lichtenstein takes us all the way to the organizing fever of contemporary Los Angeles, where the labor movement stands at the center of the effort to transform millions of new immigrants into alert citizen unionists. He offers an expansive survey of labor’s upsurge during the 1930s, when the New Deal put a white, male version of industrial democracy at the heart of U.S. political culture. He debunks the myth of a postwar “management-labor accord” by showing that there was (at most) a limited, unstable truce.

Lichtenstein argues that the ideas that had once sustained solidarity and citizenship in the world of work underwent a radical transformation when the rights-centered social movements of the 1960s and 1970s captured the nation’s moral imagination. The labor movement was therefore tragically unprepared for the years of Reagan and Clinton: although technological change and a new era of global economics battered the unions, their real failure was one of ideas and political will. Throughout, Lichtenstein argues that labor’s most important function, in theory if not always in practice, has been the vitalization of a democratic ethos, at work and in the larger society. To the extent that the unions fuse their purpose with that impulse, they can once again become central to the fate of the republic. State of the Union is an incisive history that tells the story of one of America’s defining aspirations.

 

For a look at the history of Labor Day, including facts about its start, visit http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm.

Natasha Dow Schüll recieves the 2013 Sharon Stephens First Book Prize for “Addiction by Design”

Natasha Dow Schüll – Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
Winner of the 2013 Sharon Stephens First Book Prize, American Ethnological Society

“The Sharon Stephens Book Prize is awarded bi-annually for a junior scholar’s first book. The prize ($1000) goes to a work that speaks to contemporary social issues with relevance beyond the discipline and beyond the academy. Ethnographies and critical works in contemporary theory — single-authored or multi-authored but not edited collections — are eligible.”

From the congratulatory e-mail to Natasha Dow Schull from AES: “The selection committee- Marisol de la Candena, Daniel Goldstein, and Daromir Rudnyckyj, found [the book] ‘deeply researched, very well written, conceptually sound, and absolutely compelling.’” The award will be presented at the AES business meeting at AAA in Chicago this November.

Recent decades hAddiction By Designave seen a dramatic shift away from social forms of gambling played around roulette wheels and card tables to solitary gambling at electronic terminals. Addiction by Design takes readers into the intriguing world of machine gambling, an increasingly popular and absorbing form of play that blurs the line between human and machine, compulsion and control, risk and reward.

Drawing on fifteen years of field research in Las Vegas, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll shows how the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the “machine zone,” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible–even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion. In continuous machine play, gamblers seek to lose themselves while the gambling industry seeks profit. Schüll describes the strategic calculations behind game algorithms and machine ergonomics, casino architecture and “ambience management,” player tracking and cash access systems–all designed to meet the market’s desire for maximum “time on device.” Her account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Addiction by Design is a compelling inquiry into the intensifying traffic between people and machines of chance, offering clues to some of the broader anxieties and predicaments of contemporary life.

Natasha Dow Schüll is associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

 

New Politics and International Relations Catalog

Be among the first to browse and download our new politics and international relations catalog!

Of particular interest is The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present. The current financial crisis is just the latest example of how things continue to go wrong, just when it looked like they were going right. In this wide-ranging, original, and compelling book, David Runciman tells the story of modern democracy through the history of moments of crisis, from the First World War to the economic crash of 2008.

Also be sure to note The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election. In this groundbreaking book, John Sides and Lynn Vavreck tell the dramatic story of the election—with a big difference. Using an unusual “moneyball” approach, they look beyond the anecdote, folklore, and conventional wisdom that often pass for election analysis. Instead, they draw on extensive quantitative data about the economy, public opinion, news coverage, and political advertising to separate what was truly important from what was irrelevant. Combining this data with the best social science research and colorful on-the-ground reporting, they provide the most accurate and precise account of the election yet written—and the only book of its kind.

And don’t miss out on Michael Suk-Young Chwe’s Jane Austen, Game Theorist. Game theory—the study of how people make choices while interacting with others—is one of the most popular technical approaches in social science today. But as Michael Chwe reveals in his insightful new book, Jane Austen explored game theory’s core ideas in her six novels roughly two hundred years ago. Jane Austen, Game Theorist shows how this beloved writer theorized choice and preferences, prized strategic thinking, argued that jointly strategizing with a partner is the surest foundation for intimacy, and analyzed why superiors are often strategically clueless about inferiors. With a diverse range of literature and folktales, this book illustrates the wide relevance of game theory and how, fundamentally, we are all strategic thinkers.

Even more foremost titles in politics and international relations can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your email address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Chicago, IL August 29th through September 1st, come visit us at booth 300, and follow #APSA2013 on Twitter for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

More from Gabriella Coleman on the NSA Leaks

Today in a final post in our ongoing NSA debate between authors Gabriella Coleman and Rahul Sagar,  Professor Coleman, author of Coding Freedom, responds to Professor Sagar’s recent post, offering a historical perspective on intelligence agencies and raising the potential for grave abuse in an era of increased technological capabilities. Read the wrap up post in this fascinating series here:

Gabriella Coleman:

Rahul Sagar’s thoughtful response has prompted me to think through a few troubling questions which have been plaguing me since Snowden’s bombshell revelations. It is without question that intelligence agencies require secrecy to effectively work.  I agree that this issue is not new. But if history is any guide, it also shows that secrecy, while necessary, is also a breeding ground for abuse. In a prior era, a dramatic leak by the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI helped put an end to a 40 year reign of outrageous abuses, such as COINTELPRO, at the helm of J. Edgar Hoover who ruled the FBI with an secretive iron fist.

But this surveillance apparatus strikes as technologically and thus historically distinctive. It can be gravely abused with or without a Hoover. Never in our history have we had in place a surveillance infrastructure as extensive and powerful as we do now, nor administrations who have refused so systematically to declassify information. (One does wonder what Nixon could have done with the surveillance methods that the government has at its disposal today).  With enough computer power, it is frighteningly easy for the government to gather data. This ease will likely push them to seek questionable or ex post de facto justifications for their actions. This was put rather cogently and succinctly by civil liberties lawyer Jennifer Granick when “Of course, we see mission creep – once you build the mousetrap of surveillance infrastructure, they will come for the data.” It is not only that they have this power, but as sociologists and others, have noted, secrecy is alluring and really hard to give up/ This state of mind was put best by physicist Edward Teller who wrote, “secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction.”

There might be a very good reason to have the surveillance methods that the NSA has now, but until that reason is disclosed, there is no reason for them to have such awesome technical (and questionable) legal powers currently at their disposal. The problem is we have these programs and our government could use them as a tool of oppression (in fact the mere fact of their existence serves to stifle dissent). Even if abuses are not so grave today, what is so troubling is how these programs enable any future person who might gain control of them to utilize these tools for serious oppression.

We as a society have to ask whether this is a gamble we are willing to take. Since the stakes for the future are so high, the decision about the scope and depth of eavesdropping cannot and should not be an undertaking that is decided by the President, the FISA court, or even all the three branches of government acting in agreement. Only we as a people, who hold the truths described in the constitution as self-evident, are allowed, by that very constitution, to make changes to these rights. “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men [and Women et al.], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” At some point, the actions of the government go too far, and it is up to us to sound the alarm. The Pentagon Papers, the COINTELPRO leaks, the Tet Offensive, these are many instances when citizens have not trusted our elected officials and with good reason.

It is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable, although we  can only effectively do so with the aid of a free press. Journalists help keep whistle-blowers accountable. Snowden worked with journalists, from independent film maker Laura Poitras to Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post. The fact that respected news organizations accepted the leaks, filtered the information, and wrote extensive and thoughtful stories demonstrates the validity and responsibility of Snowden’s actions. If his leaks posed such a grave threat to the state of security, I trust these media establishments would not gone public with them.

Finally, I would like to clarify Snowden’s statements on Nuremberg. He is not equating the NSA with Nazi Germany, he just simply referencing a principle. He is also not saying that this principle exonerates him in any US court, but simply that it justifies his actions on a moral level. Snowden is saying that there are times where it is not only moral to break the law, but that it is immoral and wrong to not break the law. Further, it might be interesting  engage  in a thought experiment about how Snowden’s actions also might relate to the Nuremberg Principles.  For the purposes of this experiment, we would submit some undisputed facts about The United States. The United States continues to torture and cause substantial suffering to 44 people who are still held against their will in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, via forced nasal intubation twice daily. In the past, they were tortured by electrocuting their genitals, and simulated drowning through waterboarding. The US has forcibly rendered people to other countries for purposes of torture, and deprive them of their liberty without charge or due process, calling them “detainees”. If we look how Nuremberg Principles defines a “crime against humanity” the United States has committed over half of the abuses on that list. The programs that Snowden has revealed likely were involved in the capture and detainment of many of these people.

In the end I, like everyone else, wants to live in a state of security. This means not only  thwarting terrorism—though it invariably includes it—but means having the security to engage in dissent, thus the security to call out the grave human rights abuses—such as those at Guantanamo Bay—which our elected officials have allowed to transpire and to raise red flags about programs, such as Prism, which might lead to grave abuse in the future.

 

 

Comparative Biomechanics

Comparative Biomechanics by Steven Vogel “I tried skim-reading Steven Vogel’s Comparative Biomechanics . . . But was compromised: the volume has so many little gems scattered throughout that my eye got caught by the glitter and couldn’t escape. In earlier books, Vogel introduced biomechanics piecemeal. Now he has written an integrated textbook on the subject.”–Julian F. V. Vincent, Science

Comparative Biomechanics:
Life’s Physical World (Second Edition)
by Steven Vogel

Comparative Biomechanics is the first and only textbook that takes a comprehensive look at the mechanical aspects of life–covering animals and plants, structure and movement, and solids and fluids. An ideal entry point into the ways living creatures interact with their immediate physical world, this revised and updated edition examines how the forms and activities of animals and plants reflect the materials available to nature, considers rules for fluid flow and structural design, and explores how organisms contend with environmental forces.

  • Problem sets at the ends of chapters
  • Appendices cover basic background information
  • Updated and expanded documentation and materials
  • Revised figures and text
  • Increased coverage of friction, viscoelastic materials, surface tension, diverse modes of locomotion, and biomimetics

Endorsements

Additional Reviews and/or Endorsements

Table of Contents

Sample this book:

Preface [PDF]

Chapter 1 [PDF]

Request an examination copy.

 

Political Science Blog the Monkey Cage to Join the Washington Post

Sides_TheGamble3 After more than five years of independence, yesterday the prominent political science blog the Monkey Cage told its readers that it will become part of the Washington Post.

The Monkey Cage has grown in popularity through its unique blend of journalism and academic research, spurred by a group of political scientists’ attempt to “indulge [their] non-academic interests” and cultivate a blog with a “‘personality’ that extends beyond political science,” according to their mission statement.

“[T]he Post offers a tremendous opportunity both to increase and broaden our audience and to improve our content,” said John Sides, cofounder of the Monkey Cage, in a blog post. “We think that it will be a great place to continue the blog’s mission of publicizing political science research and providing informed commentary on politics and current events.”

Sides is coauthor of forthcoming The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election with Lynn Vavreck. Using an unusual “moneyball” approach, they look beyond the anecdote, folklore, and conventional wisdom that often pass for election analysis. Instead, they draw on extensive quantitative data about the economy, public opinion, news coverage, and political advertising to separate what was truly important from what was irrelevant. Combining this data with the best social science research and colorful on-the-ground reporting, they provide the most accurate and precise account of the election yet written—and the only book of its kind.

Garnering posts from various contributors, the blog is maintained by four political scientists in addition to Sides, including Andrew Gelman, author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do.

Stay tuned to the Monkey Cage for more groundbreaking political commentary and Princeton University Press for The Gamble, out next month.

Princeton University Press’s Weekly Best-Sellers

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

 

jacket Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
jacket The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
jacket The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
jacket An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions by Jean Drèze & Amartya Sen
jacket The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
jacket No Joke: Making Jewish Humor by Ruth Wisse
jacket On War by Carl von Clausewitz
jacket Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman
jacket College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco
jacket QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman

Introduction to Mathematical Sociology

Introduction to Mathematical Sociology by Phillip Bonacich & Philip Lu “[T]he volume offers certain important building blocks that can represent a bonus for students willing to learn simulation in the future. . . . Bonacich and Lu’s work brillantly introduces much of what ABM students will be requested to know in their subsequent studies.”–Giangiacomo Bravo, JASSS

Introduction to Mathematical Sociology
by Phillip Bonacich & Philip Lu

Mathematical models and computer simulations of complex social systems have become everyday tools in sociology. Yet until now, students had no up-to-date textbook from which to learn these techniques. Introduction to Mathematical Sociology fills this gap, providing undergraduates with a comprehensive, self-contained primer on the mathematical tools and applications that sociologists use to understand social behavior.

Phillip Bonacich and Philip Lu cover all the essential mathematics, including linear algebra, graph theory, set theory, game theory, and probability. They show how to apply these mathematical tools to demography; patterns of power, influence, and friendship in social networks; Markov chains; the evolution and stability of cooperation in human groups; chaotic and complex systems; and more.

Introduction to Mathematical Sociology also features numerous exercises throughout, and is accompanied by easy-to-use Mathematica-based computer simulations that students can use to examine the effects of changing parameters on model behavior.

  • Provides an up-to-date and self-contained introduction to mathematical sociology
  • Explains essential mathematical tools and their applications
  • Includes numerous exercises throughout
  • Features easy-to-use computer simulations to help students master concepts

Endorsements

Table of Contents

Sample this book:

Preface [PDF]

Chapter 1 [PDF]

Request an examination copy.

 

More from Rahul Sagar on the NSA Leaks

Last week Rahul Sagar, author of Secrets and Leaks, and Gabriella Coleman, author of Coding Freedom, began a fascinating debate on the complex moral and political issues surrounding Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks. You can read professor Sagar’s thoughts here and Professor Coleman’s response here.

Today Professor Sagar responds once more to Professor Coleman, discussing the flow of information, the morality of foreign surveillance, and how to prevent the abuse of secrecy.

Rahul Sagar:

As I said, Snowden is brave to have revealed his identity. Professor Coleman is right to say that Snowden has not tried to draw attention himself. I would, however, point out that Snowden’s silence may owe more to Vladimir Putin’s instruction that he not cause trouble if he wants to stay on Russia. Hence, our evaluation of Snowden the person must await further evidence.

I am also not sure that Snowden’s actions are the product of the “contemporary historical moment.” It has become commonplace to describe leaking and whistleblowing as a response to the “excessive” secrecy of the Bush and Obama Administrations. The reality is that these practices have existed throughout American history, and they have consistently attracted controversy. So the fact that Snowden is not alone in making unauthorized disclosures does not answer the moral question of whether and when public employees should disclose classified information.

Professor Coleman praises Snowden’s actions because they “open the spigot so valuable information could flow to a thirsty public who holds the right to know.” This is to take the view that the American people themselves should decide when and how electronic surveillance is conducted. This emphasis on a participatory form of democracy is problematic though. National security requires secrecy. If we publicly rule out certain surveillance methods —for example that the government should not spy on Facebook users — then Al Qaeda will start using this channel. It is because we cannot openly discuss surveillance measure that we delegate the management of national security to our chosen representatives.

How, then, to prevent the abuse of secrecy? One way to do so is to rely on the separation of powers. The other is to rely on our own good sense. We cannot see what the President or the FISA court see, but we can appoint to these offices people whose character and judgment we can trust. Professor Coleman dismisses these constitutional measures too quickly. She takes the view that asking whistleblowers and leakers to respect democratically elected officials subject to checks and balances is to urge “blind respect for dubious laws”. But why should citizens believe that unelected and unaccountable individuals like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden are better placed to know what’s good for America, and what should be secret? And how can we undo their actions if their disclosures turn out to have been rash?

I believe we should be more circumspect. State secrecy makes it hard to oversee officials, lawmakers, and judges and to bring them to account. This is frustrating, but the answer is not to encourage unauthorized disclosures on the grounds that this quenches the public’s thirst for information. The public may end up swallowing air instead of water. For instance, there might be very good reasons for why the NSA is using the surveillance methods it uses, but these reasons cannot always be shared with the public. One-sided disclosures like those made by Snowden can leave the public with a distorted sense of what the NSA is up to.

This does not mean that whistleblowers and leakers do not play a valuable role. They aid American democracy when they disobey the law in order to expose serious wrongdoing. But Snowden has not met this standard. Even if his initial disclosures about NSA surveillance had merit, his subsequent disclosures about American surveillance of foreign powers are inappropriate. Snowden has defended these disclosures by citing the Nuremberg Principle. But spying on foreign powers is not a crime against humanity. To equate foreign surveillance with Nazi war crimes betrays a lack of judgment. And to argue that foreign surveillance is immoral while taking refuge in a country that is run by a strongman from the former KGB is doubly odd.


Stuart Mitchner on Princeton University Press: “The University Publisher”

Stuart Mitchner has a very nice piece on Princeton University Press in the most recent issue of Princeton Magazine, which includes mention of several recent books and authors. To give you a feel, here is the introductory paragraph:

Princeton University Press celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005 with the publication of A Century in Books, which showcased 100 volumes that “best typify what has been most lasting, most defining, and most distinctive about our publishing,” according to the introduction by outgoing director Walter Lippincott, who was succeeded in March of that year by the current director Peter J. Dougherty. The co- chair of the search committee at the time was University Provost Christopher Eisgruber, the University’s newly installed twentieth president and the subject of this issue’s cover story. What the provost said about the new director eight years ago could be said by the president today, that he’s looking forward to working with Dougherty “to sustain the healthy relationship between the Press and the University.”

To illustrate the depth of the rest of Mitchner’s piece, here is a slideshow of the important books featured in the article:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

To read Mitchner’s full article in Princeton Magazine, click here.

Amartya Sen on the role of the State in the Indian economy (Live Mint video)

LiveMint posted this video of Amartya Sen addressing the role of the State in improving economic conditions in India. This video is from the launch of An Uncertain Glory, co-authored by Sen and Jean Drèze.