New books

You can find the complete list of new acquisitions on the New books page. The list includes all English-language books bought by the Library in the last two month (and published in the last five years), the books are grouped according to theme and title.

Here you can read selected book recommendations from the list of the new books.

Mastering 'metrics: The path from cause to effect

Mastering 'metrics: The path from cause to effect / Joshua D. Angrist, Jörn-Steffen Pischke
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2015. 282 p.

Applied econometrics, known to aficionados as 'metrics, is the original data science. 'Metrics encompasses the statistical methods economists use to untangle cause and effect in human affairs. Through accessible discussion and with a dose of kung fu–themed humor, Mastering 'Metrics presents the essential tools of econometric research and demonstrates why econometrics is exciting and useful.

The five most valuable econometric methods, or what the authors call the Furious Five--random assignment, regression, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity designs, and differences in differences--are illustrated through well-crafted real-world examples (vetted for awesomeness by Kung Fu Panda's Jade Palace). Does health insurance make you healthier? Randomized experiments provide answers. Are expensive private colleges and selective public high schools better than more pedestrian institutions? Regression analysis and a regression discontinuity design reveal the surprising truth. When private banks teeter, and depositors take their money and run, should central banks step in to save them? Differences-in-differences analysis of a Depression-era banking crisis offers a response. Could arresting O. J. Simpson have saved his ex-wife's life? Instrumental variables methods instruct law enforcement authorities in how best to respond to domestic abuse.

Wielding econometric tools with skill and confidence, Mastering 'Metrics uses data and statistics to illuminate the path from cause to effect.

  •     Shows why econometrics is important
  •     Explains econometric research through humorous and accessible discussion
  •     Outlines empirical methods central to modern econometric practice
  •     Works through interesting and relevant real-world examples

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In-your-face politics: The consequences of uncivil media

In-your-face politics: The consequences of uncivil media / Diana C. Mutz
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2015. 263 p.

 

Americans are disgusted with watching politicians screaming and yelling at one another on television. But does all the noise really make a difference? Drawing on numerous studies, Diana Mutz provides the first comprehensive look at the consequences of in-your-face politics. Her book contradicts the conventional wisdom by documenting both the benefits and the drawbacks of in-your-face media. "In-your-face" politics refers to both the level of incivility and the up-close and personal way that we experience political conflict on television. Just as actual physical closeness intensifies people's emotional reactions to others, the appearance of closeness on a video screen has similar effects. We tend to keep our distance from those with whom we disagree. Modern media, however, puts those we dislike in our faces in a way that intensifies our negative reactions. Mutz finds that incivility is particularly detrimental to facilitating respect for oppositional political viewpoints and to citizens' levels of trust in politicians and the political process. On the positive side, incivility and close-up camera perspectives contribute to making politics more physiologically arousing and entertaining to viewers. This encourages more attention to political programs, stimulates recall of the content, and encourages people to relay content to others

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The invisible hand? How market economies have emerged and declined since AD 500

The invisible hand? How market economies have emerged and declined since AD 500 / Bas van Bavel
Oxford, GB: Oxford Univ. Press, 2016. 330 p.

 

The Invisible Hand offers a radical departure from the conventional wisdom of economists and economic historians, by showing that 'factor markets' and the economies dominated by them — the market economies — are not modern, but have existed at various times in the past. They rise, stagnate, and decline; and consist of very different combinations of institutions embedded in very different societies. These market economies create flexibility and high mobility in the exchange of land, labour, and capital, and initially they generate economic growth, although they also build on existing social structures, as well as existing exchange and allocation systems. The dynamism that results from the rise of factor markets leads to the rise of new market elites who accumulate land and capital, and use wage labour extensively to make their wealth profitable. In the long term, this creates social polarization and a decline of average welfare. As these new elites gradually translate their economic wealth into political leverage, it also creates institutional sclerosis, and finally makes these markets stagnate or decline again. This process is analysed across the three major, pre-industrial examples of successful market economies in western Eurasia: Iraq in the early Middle Ages, Italy in the high Middle Ages, and the Low Countries in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, and then parallels drawn to England and the United States in the modern period. These areas successively saw a rapid rise of factor markets and the associated dynamism, followed by stagnation, which enables an in-depth investigation of the causes and results of this process.

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The ambivalent internet: Mischief, oddity, and antagonism online

The ambivalent internet: Mischief, oddity, and antagonism online / Whitney Phillips, Ryan M. Milner
Cambridge, GB: Polity, 2017. 246 p.

This book explores the weird and mean and in-between that characterize everyday expression online, from absurdist photoshops to antagonistic Twitter hashtags to deceptive identity play. Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner focus especially on the ambivalence of this expression: the fact that it is too unwieldy, too variable across cases, to be essentialized as old or new, vernacular or institutional, generative or destructive. Online expression is, instead, all of the above. This ambivalence, the authors argue, hinges on available digital tools. That said, there is nothing unexpected or surprising about even the strangest online behavior. Ours is a brave new world, and there is nothing new under the sun – a point necessary to understanding not just that online spaces are rife with oddity, mischief, and antagonism, but why these behaviors matter.

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Branding: A very short introduction

Branding: A very short introduction / Robert Jones
Oxford, GB: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017. 136
p.

Branding is possibly the most powerful commercial and cultural force on the planet. Iconic names such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Manchester United, Harry Potter, and Google are known and recognized by millions of people worldwide. As the market economy spreads across the world, brands are becoming ever more prevalent. The Apple brand has been valued at $98 billion - more than the GDP of Slovakia. Every day, we're exposed to more than 3500 brand messages. And even though people are increasingly brand-aware and brand-sceptical, they are nevertheless seduced by brands. We may reject the whole brand system, but we still wouldn't be parted from our Apple Macs. Brands are impossible to escape.
In this Very Short Introduction Robert Jones discusses the rising omnipresence of brands, and analyses how they work their magic. He considers the incredible potency of brands as a commercial, social, and cultural force, and looks at the many different kinds of brands that exist - from products, services, and artistic properties, to companies, charities, sports clubs, and political parties. Defining what we mean by the word 'brand', he explores both the positive and negative aspects of brands. Finally Jones considers the business of branding, and asks whether the idea of brands and branding is starting to decline, or whether it has a long future ahead.

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For formal organization: The past in the present and future of organization theory

For formal organization: The past in the present and future of organization theory / Paul du Gay and Signe Vikkelso
Oxford, GB: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017. 211 p.

This book focuses on the state of Organization Theory, its purpose, object, and practical relevance. In recent years, disquiet has mounted within the field of organizational analysis, broadly defined, about the overly theoretical and a-or anti-organizational state of Organization Theory and its consequent lack of practical purchase, not least in the light of pressing economic, social and political concerns that are often profoundly organizational in nature.

The book argues that predominant contemporary modes of theorising within the field, and in particular the stance associated with them, have had the effect of occluding and dissolving Organization Theory's core object - formal organization - and, as a consequence, dissipating its practical focus and reach. The book seeks to contribute to the goal of reviving Organization Theory as a practical science of organizing and rehabilitating its core object -formal organization - through a re-examination and re-assessment of the outlook, comportment and attitude - stance - animating its classical antecedents. This ambition is double edged. For not only does it seek to revive Organization Theory through reconnecting it with the practical orientation framing classical organizational analysis, it also seeks to indicate how the historic products of that orientation or stance still have considerable traction for analysing and intervening in contemporary matters of organizational concern. Not least, this 'classical organizational stance' provides those who adopt it with a method with which to orient themselves both in formal organizational thought and in formal organizational life.

It furnishes them with an ethos combining both practical rationality and ethical seriousness. In this sense the book suggest itself both as a guide to doing Organizational analysis and doing practical organization

 

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Jihad as grand strategy: Islamist militancy, national security, and the Pakistani State

Jihad as grand strategy: Islamist militancy, national security, and the Pakistani State / S. Paul Kapur
New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017. 177 p.

Islamist militants based in Pakistan have played a major role in terrorism around the world and pose a significant threat to regional and international security. Although the Pakistan-militant connection has received widespread attention only in recent years, it is not a new phenomenon. Pakistan has, since its inception in the wake of World War II, used Islamist militants to wage jihad in order to compensate for severe political and material weakness. This use of militancy has become so important that it is now a central component of Pakistani grand strategy; supporting jihad is one of the principal means by which the Pakistani state seeks to produce security for itself. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the strategy has not been wholly disastrous. It has achieved important domestic and international successes, enabling Pakistan to confront stronger adversaries and shape its strategic environment without the costs and risks of direct combat, and to help promote internal cohesion to compensate for its weak domestic political foundations. Recently, however, these successes of Pakistan's militant strategy have given way to serious problems. The militant organizations that Pakistan nurtured over the decades are increasingly exceeding its control; continued support for jihad diverts scarce resources from pressing domestic projects, impeding the country's internal development; and the militant campaign's repeated provocations have led India to adopt a more aggressive conventional military posture. As Paul Kapur shows in Jihad as Grand Strategy, these developments significantly undermine Pakistani interests, threatening to leave it less politically cohesive and externally secure than it was before. Thus, despite its past benefits, the strategy has outlived its utility, and Pakistan will have to abandon it in order to avoid catastrophe. This will require not simply a change of policy, but a thoroughgoing reconceptualization of the Pakistani state.

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Understanding the digital world: What you need to know about computers, the internet, privacy, and security

Understanding the digital world: What you need to know about computers, the internet, privacy, and security / Brian W. Kernighan
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2017. 238 p.

Understanding the Digital World explains how computer hardware, software, networks, and systems work. Topics include how computers are built and how they compute; what programming is and why it is difficult; how the Internet and the web operate; and how all of these affect our security, privacy, property, and other important social, political, and economic issues. This book also touches on fundamental ideas from computer science and some of the inherent limitations of computers. It includes numerous color illustrations, notes on sources for further exploration, and a glossary to explain technical terms and buzzwords.

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The happiness riddle and the quest for a good life

The happiness riddle and the quest for a good life / Mark Cieslik
London, GB: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 235 p.

This book examines the meaning of happiness in Britain today, and observes that although we face challenges such as austerity, climate change and disenchantment with politics, we continue to be interested in happiness and living well. The author illustrates how happiness is a far more contested, social process than is often portrayed by economists and psychologists, and takes issue with sociologists who often regard wellbeing and the happiness industry with suspicion, whilst neglecting one of the key features of being human – the quest for a good life. Exploring themes that question what it means to be happy and live a good life in Britain today, such as the challenges young people face making their way through education and into their first jobs; work life-balance; mid-life crises; and old age, the book presents nineteen life stories that call for a far more critical and ambitious approach to happiness research that marries the radicalism of sociology, with recent advances in psychology and economics.

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The news media: What everyone needs to know

The news media: What everyone needs to know / C. W. Anderson, Leonard Downie, Michael Schudson
New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2016. 188 p.

The business of journalism has an extensive, storied, and often romanticized history. Newspaper reporting has long shaped the way that we see the world, played key roles in exposing scandals, and has even been alleged to influence international policy. The past several years have seen the newspaper industry in a state of crisis, with Twitter and Facebook ushering in the rise of citizen journalism and a deprofessionalization of the industry, plummeting readership and revenue, and municipal and regional papers shuttering or being absorbed into corporate behemoths. Now billionaires, most with no journalism experience but lots of power and strong views, are stepping in to purchase newspapers, both large and small.
This addition to the What Everyone Needs to Know® series looks at the past, present and future of journalism, considering how the development of the industry has shaped the present and how we can expect the future to roll out. It addresses a wide range of questions, from whether objectivity was only a conceit of late twentieth century reporting, largely behind us now; how digital technology has disrupted journalism; whether newspapers are already dead to the role of non-profit journalism; the meaning of "transparency" in reporting; the way that private interests and governments have created their own advocacy journalism; whether social media is changing journalism; the new social rules of old media outlets; how franchised media is addressing the problem of disappearing local papers; and the rise of citizen journalism and hacker journalism. It will even look at the ways in which new technologies potentially threaten to replace journalists.

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