For This American Life (which happens to be a favorite of The Situationist Staff), cartoonist Chris Ware teamed up with animator John Kuramoto to animate an interview between public radio hosts, Robert Krulwich and Ira Glass, in which Krulwich describes just how unreliable memories that we confidently hold can be.
The television show’s second season debuts at 10 pm ET/PT on Showtime today. Check it out!
Cultural Cognition refers to the disposition to conform one’s beliefs about societal risks to one’s preferences for how society should be organized. Based on surveys and experiments involving some 5,000 Americans, the Second National Risk and Culture Study presents empirical evidence of the effect of this dynamic in generating conflict about global warming, school shootings, domestic terrorism, nanotechnology, and the mandatory vaccination of school-age girls against HPV, among other issues. The Study also presents evidence of risk-communication strategies that counteract cultural cognition. Because nuclear power affirms rather than threatens the identity of persons who hold individualist values, for example, proposing it as a solution to global warming makes persons who hold such values more willing to consider evidence that climate change is a serious risk. Because people tend to impute credibility to people who share their values, persons who hold hierarchical and egalitarian values are less likely to polarize when they observe people who hold their values advocating unexpected positions on the vaccination of young girls against HPV. Such techniques can help society to create a deliberative climate in which citizens converge on policies that are both instrumentally sound and expressively congenial to persons of diverse values.
Examining political, social, and technological change in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present, Tilly attempted to explain the the unprecedented success of the nation-state as the dominant polity on Earth. According to his theory, military innovation in pre-modern Europe (especially gunpowder and mass armies) made war extremely expensive. As a result, only states with a sufficient amount of capital and a large population could afford paying for their security and ultimately survive in the hostile environment. Institutions of the modern state (such as taxes) were created to allow war-making.
Another focus of Tilly’s work is the area of contentious politics. In opposition to individualistic, dispositional analyses of contentious politics, his work emphasizes how social groups organize and contest with each other. In his early years, Tilly also studied migration to cities and American urban phenomena.
In the five-minute video below (part of longer interview available in pieces on youtube), Tilly discusses individualism, social action, and cognitive science.