What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America
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Updated 28 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

Edited by Andy Baker, Barry Ames, and Lucio Renno

In Latin America’s new democracies, political parties and mass partisanship are not deeply entrenched, leaving many votes up for grabs during election campaigns. In a typical presidential election season, between one-quarter and one-half of all voters—figures unheard of in older democracies—change their voting intentions across party lines in the months before election day. Advancing a new theory of Latin American voting behavior, Persuasive Peers argues that political discussions within informal social networks among family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances explain this volatility and exert a major influence on final voting choices.

Relying on unique survey and interview data from Latin America, the authors show that weakly committed voters defer to their politically knowledgeable peers, creating vast amounts of preference change as political campaigns unfold. Peer influences also matter for unwavering voters, who tend to have social contacts that reinforce their voting intentions. Social influence increases political conformity among voters within neighborhoods, states, and even entire regions, and the authors illustrate how party machines use the social topography of electorates to buy off well-connected voters who can magnify the impact of the payoff.

Persuasive Peers demonstrates how everyday communication shapes political outcomes in Latin America’s less-institutionalized democracies.


What We Are Reading Today: The Virus in the Age of Madness by Bernard-Henri Lévy

What We Are Reading Today: The Virus in the Age of Madness by Bernard-Henri Lévy
Updated 25 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Virus in the Age of Madness by Bernard-Henri Lévy

What We Are Reading Today: The Virus in the Age of Madness by Bernard-Henri Lévy

In The Virus in the Age of Madness, world-renowned philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy interrogates the many meanings and metaphors we have assigned to the pandemic — and what they tell us about ourselves.

With medical mysteries, rising death tolls, and conspiracy theories beamed minute by minute through the vast web universe, the coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably altered societies around the world. 

Drawing on the philosophical tradition from Plato and Aristotle to Lacan and Foucault, Lévy asks uncomfortable questions about reality and mythology. He rejects the idea that the virus is a warning from nature, the inevitable result of global capitalism; he troubles the heroic status of doctors, asking us to think critically about the loci of authority and power; he challenges the panicked polarization that dominates online discourse. 

Lucid, incisive, and always original, Lévy takes a bird’s-eye view of the most consequential historical event of our time and proposes a way to defend human society from threats to our collective future.


What We Are Reading Today: War

What We Are Reading Today: War
Updated 24 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: War

What We Are Reading Today: War

Author: Margaret MacMillan

Margaret MacMillan’s War contemplates the existence of war: Why it occurs, and what it says about human nature.
War is always with us, even in peace. It has shaped humanity, its institutions, its states, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out the most vile and the noblest aspects of humanity.
MacMillan reveals the many faces of war — the way it shapes our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves.
The book looks at the ways in which war has shaped human history and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight.
The book also looks at much-debated and controversial issues as when war first started; whether human nature dooms us to fight each other; why war has been described as the most organized of all human activities and how it has forced us to become still more organized.


What We Are Reading Today: Religion, Identity and Power: Turkey and the Balkans in the Twenty-First Century

What We Are Reading Today: Religion, Identity and Power: Turkey and the Balkans in the Twenty-First Century
Updated 23 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Religion, Identity and Power: Turkey and the Balkans in the Twenty-First Century

What We Are Reading Today: Religion, Identity and Power: Turkey and the Balkans in the Twenty-First Century

Author: Ahmet Erdi Ozturk

This recently published book explores, from a historical perspective, Turkey’s current political maneuvers and religious leverages in the Balkans under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It presents Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia as case studies of Turkey using soft and hard policy instruments in the region.

Author Ahmet Erdi Ozturk, an associate professor at London Metropolitan University and Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow at Coventry University in the UK and the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, wrote the book after a study in several Balkan countries that took more than three years to complete and included interviews with almost 130 high-ranking individuals.

It suggests that Turkey insistently interferes in Balkan politics using religion, state power and imaginary identities, dubbed by some as neo-Ottomanism, and that this presence gradually becomes a threat to the secularism and sovereignty of the countries it targets.

The book, published by Edinburgh University Press, not only aids understanding of Turkish-Balkan diplomatic relations, but also the complex relationship between the regime in Ankara under Erdogan and the Muslim communities in the three countries.

Beyond that, it is about more than just Turkey and the Balkans; it also deepens our understanding of how religion can be used as a form of soft power in global affairs. It examines a number of political parties, for example Besa in Macedonia, that are linked to the regime in Ankara and the ways in which they interact with Turkish state apparatus.

The underlying strategy behind the construction of new mosques across the Balkans as a way to turn these countries toward Turkey rather than West is also examined in detail.
 


Huda Kattan gushes over Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s memoir

Huda Kattan is the founder of cosmetics empire Huda Beauty. File/Getty Images
Huda Kattan is the founder of cosmetics empire Huda Beauty. File/Getty Images
Updated 22 February 2021

Huda Kattan gushes over Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s memoir

Huda Kattan is the founder of cosmetics empire Huda Beauty. File/Getty Images

DUBAI: Bollywood sensation Priyanka Chopra Jonas recently released her memoir “Unfinished” and this week sent a copy to Dubai-based Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan.

The entrepreneur and founder of Huda Beauty took to her Instagram Stories to share a video of herself flipping through Chopra Jonas’s memoir and gushing about the film star.

“First of all, Priyanka Chopra thank you so much for your book – and you signed it. Oh my God, Priyanka Chopra knows who I am, I’m so excited,” gushed the Iraqi entrepreneur in the video.

‘I’m so excited to read her story and see the ins and outs of her life and the deepness of what makes this amazing woman’ said Kattan. Instagram

 “(Priyanka Chopra) was one of the only brown girls that I ever knew as a kid as a beauty icon and I looked up to her so much,” said Kattan, who has been pretty vocal about how she struggled with self-confidence due to bullying about her ethnicity while growing up in a small Baptist town in the US.

“I’m so excited to read her story and see the ins and outs of her life and the deepness of what makes this amazing woman,” said the 37-year-old.

The “White Tiger” actress may have just released her memoir, but it is already in the New York Times Best Sellers list. 

“Soooo this happened...in less than a week... The New York Times Best Sellers list!!Thank you so much to everyone who has supported #Unfinished. Endlessly grateful (sic),” wrote Chopra Jonas on Instagram.

In her memoir, the former Miss World opens up about her multiple rhinoplasty surgeries, endorsing skin-whitening products early in her career and the grief she felt after the loss of her father.

The 38-year-old actress has been quite busy promoting her new autobiographical book.

Recently, she appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and was also a speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival. 

Additionally, she recently launched her own hair care line. Named Anomaly, the brand is vegan, eco-friendly and in the affordable price bracket

The hair care brand is formulated with clean ingredients packaged inside bottles made out of 100 percent recycled plastic from oceans and landfills.


What We Are Reading Today: Outliers; The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

What We Are Reading Today: Outliers; The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Updated 22 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Outliers; The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

What We Are Reading Today: Outliers; The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success is the third nonfiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell. 

Generally well received by critics, Outliers was considered more personal than Gladwell’s other works, and some reviews commented on how much Outliers felt like an autobiography. 

In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. 

Gladwell takes readers on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers” — the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful.

Gladwell argues that success is tightly married to opportunity and time on task. 

He asks the question: What makes high-achievers different? His answer is that people pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: That is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. 

Along the way, he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.