Social Science Bites

Remember the amazing, spoon-bending Uri Geller? Bruce Hood does. And while Geller is, well, to be kind, controversial, Hood is a quite recognized and reputable developmental psychologist at Bristol University. But he does share one trait with the self-described mystic who fascinated him as a boy -- an interest in the supernatural and how individuals process the potentially paranormal. Rather than collect ectoplasm, Hood focuses on why human beings, starting as children, offer supernatural explanations for natural occurrences.

In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast Hood discusses the subject via his study of essentialism, "the attribution of a hidden dimension to things giving them their true identity." By the broader definition, it not only includes mystical feats like Geller's but includes attaching sentimental value to an object, being superstitious, or even being religious.

Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: Bruce_Hood_on_the_Supernatural.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

Here's an idea: social scientists should reflect critically on the prevailing concepts and categories before launching into empirical work with an existing framework. In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast, sociologist Saskia Sassen discusses that concept, called 'before method,' with Nigel Warburton. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE. A transcript of this and other episodes is available from Social Science Space

Direct download: Saskia_Sassen_on_Before_Method.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00pm PDT

Surnames predict social status with surprising accuracy. In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast Gregory Clark discusses this phenomenon with David Edmonds. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE. A transcript of this and other episodes is available from Social Science Space

Direct download: Gregory_Clark_on_Names.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am PDT

Social scientist Craig Calhoun, Director of the LSE, discusses protest movements including the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast. The interviewer is Nigel Warburton. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: Craig_Calhoun_on_Protest_Movements.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01am PDT

In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast Harvard social theorist Roberto Mangabeira Unger claims that the social sciences need to reorient themselves away from retrospective rationalisation of what exists and focus instead on transformative opportunity. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: Roberto_Unger_on_Whats_Wrong_with_the_Social_Sciences_Today.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:57am PDT

There have been substantial gains in life expectancy in the last two hundred years or so, partly because of improved public health policy. In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast Angus Deaton, whose recent research has focussed on India, discusses  the relationship between health and economic inequality, and the most effective ways to alleviate the effects of poverty. He also discusses how his research sits within the Social Sciences. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: Angus_Deaton_on_Health_and_Inequality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50am PDT

Is there a maximum number of friendships that we can maintain? Does this number apply universally? Robin Dunbar believes there are discoverable patterns in the numbers of close and less close relationships human beings can cope with and that this is reflected in, for example, the structural units of armies. In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast he discusses this phenomenon with Nigel Warburton. A verbatim transcript of this interview is available from www.socialsciencespace.com

Direct download: Robin_Dunbar_on_Dunbar_Numbers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am PDT

Maggots, vomit, faeces, sores oozing with pus, putrid meat - these evoke universal reactions of disgust. But why do we have this Yuk! reaction and how did it evolve? Valerie Curtis of the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine, explains the sources and importance of revulsion in this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: Valerie_Curtis_on_Sources_of_Disgust.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36am PDT

You might assume that deaths increase in a recession, but that doesn't necessarily happen. What is clear, however, is the relation between government austerity responses to recession and an increase in rates of death. David Stuckler explains in this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: David_Stuckler_on_Austerity_and_Death.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36am PDT

Social epidemiologist Kate Pickett, co-author (with Richard Wilkinson) of The Spirit Level: why equality is better for everyone, argues that inequality has bad social effects. She discusses her ideas with Nigel Warburton in this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast. Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE.

Direct download: Kate_Pickett_on_the_Case_for_Equality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:38pm PDT