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UnderstandingSociety
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Innovative thinking about social agency and structure in a global world
Innovative thinking about social agency and structure in a global world

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System effects
Quite a few posts here have focused on the question of emergence in social ontology, the idea that there are causal processes and powers at work at the level of social entities that do not correspond to similar properties at the individual level. Here I wan...
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Social mobility disaggregated
There is a new exciting and valuable contribution from the research group around Raj Chetty, Nathan Hendren, and John Friedman, this time on the topic of neighborhood-level social mobility. (Earlier work highlighted measures of the impact on social mobility...
Social mobility disaggregated
Social mobility disaggregated
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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Emotions as neurophysiological constructs
Are emotions real? Are they hardwired to our physiology? Are they pre-cognitive and purely affective? Was Darwin right in speculating that facial expressions are human universals that accurately represent a small repertoire of emotional experiences ( The Ex...
Emotions as neurophysiological constructs
Emotions as neurophysiological constructs
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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Philosophy and the study of technology failure
image: Adolf von Menzel,  The Iron Rolling Mill (Modern Cyclopes) Readers may have noticed that my current research interests have to do with organizational dysfunction and largescale technology failures. I am interested in probing the ways in which organiz...
Philosophy and the study of technology failure
Philosophy and the study of technology failure
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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James Scott on the earliest states
In 2011 James Scott gave a pair of Tanner Lectures at Harvard. He had chosen a topic for which he felt he had a fairly good understanding, having taught on early agrarian societies throughout much of his career. The topic was the origins of the earliest sta...
James Scott on the earliest states
James Scott on the earliest states
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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System safety
An ongoing thread of posts here is concerned with organizational causes of large technology failures. The driving idea is that failures, accidents, and disasters usually have a dimension of organizational causation behind them. The corporation, research off...
System safety
System safety
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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Patient safety
An issue which is of concern to anyone who receives treatment in a hospital is the topic of patient safety. How likely is it that there will be a serious mistake in treatment -- wrong-site surgery , incorrect medication or radiation dose , exposure to a hos...
Patient safety
Patient safety
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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Turing's journey
A recent post comments on the value of biography as a source of insight into history and thought. Currently I am reading Andrew Hodges'  Alan Turing: The Enigma  (1983), which I am finding fascinating both for its portrayal of the evolution of a brilliant a...
Turing's journey
Turing's journey
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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The insights of biography
I have always found biographies a particularly interesting source of learning and stimulation. A recent example is a biography and celebration of Muthuvel Kalaignar Karunanidhi published in a recent issue of the Indian semi-weekly Frontline . Karunanidhi wa...
The insights of biography
The insights of biography
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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Safety culture or safety behavior?
Andrew Hopkins is a much-published expert on industrial safety who has an important set of insights into the causes of industrial accidents. Much of his career has focused on the oil and gas industry, but he has written on other sectors as well. Particularl...
Safety culture or safety behavior?
Safety culture or safety behavior?
understandingsociety.blogspot.com
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