Cook, Ian et al. 2004. “Follow the Thing: Papaya.” Antipode 36(4): 642–664.
An excellent, accessible case study into how commodities can be de-fetishized. The authors trace a papaya from its origins on a Jamaican plantation to the fridge of a North London flat. Highly recommended.
Frank, Thomas and David Mulcahey. 1997. “Consolidated Deviance, Inc.” Pp. 72–78 in Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler, edited by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
In this clever and all-too-true piece of satire, Thomas Frank and David Mulcahey present the business strategy of the fictional company Consolidated Deviance, Inc., the “nation’s leader … in the fabrication, consultancy, licensing and merchandising of deviant subcultural practice.”
Giddens, Anthony. 2002. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives. New York: Routledge.
A powerful take on globalization from one of the most prolific theorists of our time.
Harvey, David. 2010. The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press.
Harvey, one of the most influential social theorists living today, brilliantly extends Marx’s insights on capitalism to the recent financial crisis. Also recommended: A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005, Oxford).
Johnson, Steven. 2006. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. New York: Riverhead Books.
Johnson’s book about a deadly cholera outbreak in 1850s London contains vivid prose about the living conditions of England’s working class (the first chapter, “The Night-Soil Men” is particularly good). A great way to illustrate to students the circumstances Marx was writing about in his critiques of capitalism. The story also illustrates the importance of social capital.
Meyer, John W. 2004. “The Nation as Babbitt: How Countries Conform.” Contexts 3(3): 42–47.
This short, accessible essay from the prolific Stanford sociologist of institutions provides a more Durkheimian take on globalization. Likely to stimulate some good discussion when paired with Wallerstein.
Seabrook, John. 1999, September 20. “Nobrow Culture.” The New Yorker. 104.
A cultural critic’s interesting take on cultural capital and the fate of “taste” in America’s consumerist society. A nice addition to the readings from Bourdieu. The full text is available at Seabrook’s website.
Wacquant, Loic. 2004. Body and Soul: Ethnographic Notebooks of an Apprentice-Boxer. New York: Oxford University Press.
This first-hand account of Wacquant’s foray into amateur boxing examines the construction of the “pugilist habitus” in a Chicago gym.
Wolff, Jonathan. 2002. Why Read Marx Today? New York: Oxford University Press.
A political theorist gives great answers to the question of Marx’s relevance for today’s world.
Zinn, Howard. 1999. Marx in Soho: A Play on History. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.
A humorous play imagining what Marx would think if he lived in the Soho neighborhood of today’s New York City. Search for clips on YouTube of the play being performed for “live” footage of Marx in action.