Friday Five: The Straw that Stirs the Drink

The vast majority of social problems cannot be reduced to a single cause. For this reason, much of social science is about establishing the factors that have a meaningful and significant impact on the phenomenon under study. In this week’s first link, I came across the expression “the straw that stirs the drink” and I found that it nicely summed up the research process, for me at least. As academics, we might not be able identify all the components in the “drink” of inequality, for example, but hopefully we can establish a straw that stirs it. This week’s links explore contributing factors:

  • When travel writer Paul Theroux decided to visit the American South, with the same attitude that one approaches a foreign land, he discovered what anyone who has spent time in the South already knows– what it lacks in financial wealth it makes up for in human wealth. @Smithsonian
  • The 50 year old War on Poverty has many fronts. Legal services for low-income communities can be a powerful antipoverty tool but restricting access to these services can also stir the problem @WorkInProgress
  • To say peace talks have stalled in the Middle East seems like an absurd understatement. Assigning blame can be dizzying but looking beyond Israel and the Palestinian Territories, we see that the international community also plays a role @TheNewYorker
  • From your typical sexist tripe to laws regulating their bodies and the habitual mistreatment of sexual assault cases, women are affected by male-dominated matrices. How did women’s worth come to be measured by a barometer set to “dude” @NewRepublic
  • Anyone who followed the World Cup would be safe in assuming that Germany gained the most national happiness but research indicates that Brazil may be the big winner after all @BBC

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