I am sitting at the John Wayne Airport (did he build it?) reflecting on the conference I just attended “The Economics of Religion”, held at Chapman University. It was my first economics conference and I thoroughly enjoyed it, perhaps less so because of the material presented (much of it, particularly the modeling components, were way over my head), but just because of all the great people I met and the collegial atmosphere that prevailed.
On June 1, 2021, one hundred and ninety-seven political scientists signed a “Statement of Concern” about “threats to American Democracy.”1 As evidence for the precariousness of democracy in this country, the signatories list the attempts to deligitimize the national election by former President Trump and his allies, voter suppression legislation masquerading as voter ID laws arising from Republican-controlled legislatures, and the continued practice of gerrymandering.2 The authors take the fact that these behaviours are corrosive to democracy as a given.
This year I kept track of both books and movies. Let’s start with books. These were my three favourite books read in 2021: Circe Before Marvel’s horrible multiverse there was the Greek mythoverse. Over generations, the Greeks built a shared collection of stories with reappearing characters and a somewhat orderly timeline. Circe, as a character, appears in the Odyssey, but doesn’t play a particularly large role. In this book, Madeline Miller, who has an MA in Classics and has taught Greek for fifteen years, continues in that tradition of extending their mythical universe.
This summer one of my tasks as a research assistant has been to conduct a literature search on recent articles within political science and sociology that pertain to ethnic diversity and social cohesion or trust. While the literature still appears rather divided, the majority of recent publications appear to take a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and social cohesion as a given starting point, and then move to challenge that apparent consensus (e.
In a previous essay, I speculated on the effect of media on citizens. In this essay, I extend that discussion to consider how social interaction is intertwined with media effects. Furthermore, since reasonable communication and deliberation are norms we associate with republican or deliberative democracy, I also examine how social interaction among citizens affects our views on democracy. Social Interaction as a Political Phenomenon In order to navigate the political world and make decisions that benefit them, human beings need to be able to learn about politics.