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. . . And How it Doesn’t Always Equal Effect

When we try to understand our world, we ask “why” a specific event occured. But this profoundly human question often leads us astray. In Cause, sociologist Gregory Smithsimon brings us a much sharper understanding of cause and effect, and shows how we can use it to approach some of our most daunting collective problems.

Smithsimon begins by explaining the misguided conceptions cause and effect that have given us tragically little insight on issues such as racial discrimination, climate change, and the cycle of poverty.  He then shows unseen causes behind these issues, and how we are hard-wired to overlook them. Armed with these insights, Smithsimon explains how we can avoid these mistakes, and begin to make effective change.

Combining philosophy, the science of perception, and deep research into social factors, Cause offers us a new way to ask, “Why?”, and a hope that we may improve our society and ourselves.

GREGORY SMITHSIMON is a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of September 12: Community and Neighborhood Recovery at Ground Zero (New York University Press, 2011), and co-author, with Benjamin Shepard, of The Beach Beneath the Streets: Exclusion, Control, and Play in Public Space (SUNY Press, 2011). He is an editor of the new online journal Metropolitics, and has written for the Village VoiceDissentIn These Times, and the Daily News. He lives in Brooklyn.

“His descriptions are engaging… and backed by scholarly evidence…. Encouraging.” —Library Journal

“Plenty of behavioral economists have written popular books explaining how our confusion about money affects our wallets. But aren’t we sick of those smug jerks? Greg Smithsimon has done something much, much better. In this spirited and convincing book, he uses sociological concepts to explain why most of us are wrong about why things happens, and the political implications of that confusion for race relations, inequality, and climate change. With the playful clarity of Robert Merton and the conscience of C. Wright Mills, perhaps Smithsimon will revive the sociological tradition of making social theory accessible to the masses. We certainly need it more than ever.” —Liza Featherstone, author of Divining Desire: Focus Groups and the Culture of Consultation

Praise for September 12

“A very successful academic micro-study of one community’s response to our nation’s greatest shock.” —Library Journal

“Scientifically exacting and warmly personal, Smithsimon elucidates the residents’ struggles from survival to recovery, the coalescence of community groups, and the debates over redevelopment and the Ground Zero memorial. A well-illustrated, critical, yet sympathetic study of privilege and catastrophe that ultimately celebrates the vitality and diversity of a great city.” —Booklist

Praise for The Beach Beneath the Streets

The Beach Beneath the Streets is sure to become a standard book on life in late-twentieth-century New York. It features a series of protest movements that found both their medium and their object in urban space itself. It starts with brilliant research into the ways in which real estate developers learned to design public space so as to repel people. It leads into a series of stories of groups of people who learned to fight them, and who—because of the paradoxical nature of modern space—found that they won even when they lost. Shepard and Smithsimon explore the incorporation of creative play as a medium of struggle; they demonstrate people’s genius at ‘reinventing the carnivalesque.’ Even when the first waves of protest are defeated, citizens of the modern city have the power to ‘assign new social meanings to spaces’ and become a public again.” —Marshall Berman, author of All That Is Solid Melts into Air