WHO I AM: I am a sociologist and professor of conflict analysis and resolution with interests in democratic process, social theory, and empirical social science. Having joined the University of Chicago at too young an age, I fell in love with the history of science and of social thought, and this has lead to a life of excessive examination, the fruits of which I will share with you here.
THE BLOG: Confrontations is a forum for the regular investigation into the root causes of conflict. It is a place where the classroom goes viral, providing a space for my students (both physical and virtual) to get a sense of how I see the world. I will focus special attention on a phenomenon I describe in my first book that I describe with the concept the eclipse of equality, a phenomenon that I believe defines our political moment and points to the future stakes of conflict in the United States and around the world. Put simply, it is the idea that we Americans, as a group, have allowed one of the canonical categories of the moral imagination, equality, to atrophy. Accordingly, we no longer even see equality unless it comes packaged with what sociologists call ascriptive images. This explains what is otherwise a maddening puzzle, how we can have progressed so far in the promotion of diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism while falling so far behind along any measure of non-ascriptive inequality.
WHAT YOU WILL FIND HERE: Because I believe our lives amount to more than just a system of random variables evolving over time, I will pay attention to contingencies in the course of human events with emphasis on the dramatic impact of political ideas on patterns of conflict. I call this attitude communicative practice and develop it here. This blog is a setting in which I explore the ways that social mechanisms are positioned in cultural space. What that means is that you can learn here how I think institutions, policies and practices find themselves transformed in public discussion through what we all now recognize as narrative processes. Just as twentieth century social science was dominated by the concept of the attitude and its measurement, the twenty first has embraced the narrative revolution. My goal is to play a part to make sure that we take our stories seriously while recognizing that social and political life has an objective rhythm and structure that defies our capacity to dramatize it.