New Reviews of RSF Books Hard Bargains, Engines of Anxiety, and Redefining Race

November 29, 2017

The latest issue of Law and Society Review features a review of the RSF book Hard Bargains, by Mona Lynch. In Hard Bargains, winner of the 2017 Michael J. Hindelang Award, Lynch reveals how the convergence of tough-on-crime politics, stiffer sentencing laws, and jurisdictional expansion in the 1970s and 1980s increased the powers of federal prosecutors in unprecedented ways. She documents how prosecutors use punitive federal drug laws to coerce guilty pleas and obtain long prison sentences for defendants—particularly those who are African American—and how these laws perpetuate deep injustices in the federal courts. The Review calls Lynch’s investigation “an exceptionally compelling account” and states, “This multi-method, multi-site, historically situated analysis is precisely what is needed in order to grapple productively with the complexities of the process and substance of law. Indeed, her methodology is a contribution in and of itself.” Read more about the book or purchase a copy.

Engines of Anxiety, by Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder, was also recently reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books and the American Journal of Sociology. The Los Angeles Review of Books praises the book as an “admirable” contribution to the growing literature on rankings and other forms of quantification for school. In their book, Espeland and Sauder delve into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education, and show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools. As the American Journal of Sociology notes, “Such an examination begs for qualitative data, and the authors draw on an array of sources, including interviews with law school students, deans, admissions staff, and career services staff, law school marketing materials, law school applicants’ chat room discussions, media coverage of rankings, and their field notes from site visits and professional meetings.” Read more about the book or purchase a copy.

The American Journal of Sociology also recently reviewed Redefining Race, by visiting scholar Dina Okamoto. “Okamoto’s rigorous unpacking of the Asian American panethnicity reveals the cultural, political, and institutional mechanisms of racial and ethnic boundary formation in post-1965 U.S. society,” the review states. In Redefining Race, Okamoto traces the complex evolution of “Asian American” as a panethnic label and identity, emphasizing how it emerged as a deliberate social achievement negotiated by group members, rather than an organic and inevitable process. The Journal concludes, “Redefining Race unquestionably makes key contributions to a number of fields within sociology, including race and ethnicity, immigration, boundary theory, organizational studies, social movements, and social inequality.” Read more about the book or purchase a copy.

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