Watson faculty book contributions in 2023

A number of Watson faculty published books in 2023 on a wide range of topics from domestic violence laws, immigration, school reform, and political backlash in the United States to the sociology of development, the holocaust, and the politics of Brazillian crime film. Explore books published by Watson faculty in 2023 below.

Coming December 26: Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy Eric Patashnik will publish "Countermobilization: Policy Feedback and Backlash in a Polarized Age."

Published by University of Chicago Press, the book looks at how and why backlash movements are inherent to U.S. policymaking.


The most successful policies not only solve problems. They also build supportive coalitions. Yet, sometimes, policies trigger backlash and mobilize opposition. Although backlash is not a new phenomenon, today's political landscape is distinguished by the frequency and pervasiveness of backlash in nearly every area of U.S. policymaking, from abortion rights to the Affordable Care Act.

Eric M. Patashnik develops a policy-centered theory of backlash that illuminates how policies stimulate backlashes by imposing losses, overreaching, or challenging existing arrangements to which people are strongly attached. Drawing on case studies of issues from immigration and trade to healthcare and gun control, "Countermobilization" shows that backlash politics is fueled by polarization, cultural shifts and negative feedback from the activist government itself. It also offers crucial insights to help identify and navigate backlash risks.



Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs and Director of Academic Programs Susan Moffitt co-authored "Reforming the Reform: Problems of Public Schooling in the American Welfare State."

Published by University of Chicago Press, the book is an expansive study of the problems encountered by educational leaders in pursuit of reform, and how these issues cyclically translate into future topics of reform.

Reforming the Reform

School reform is almost always born out of big dreams and well-meaning desires to change the status quo. But between lofty reform legislation and the students whose education is at stake, there are numerous additional policies and policymakers who determine how reforms operate. Even in the best cases, school reform initiatives can perpetuate problems created by earlier reforms or existing injustices, all while introducing new complications. In "Reforming the Reform," political scientist Susan Moffitt, education policy scholar Michaela Krug O’Neill and the late policy and education scholar David K. Cohen take on a wide-ranging examination of the many intricacies of school reform.

With a particular focus on policymakers in the spaces between legislation and implementation, such as the countless school superintendents and district leaders tasked with developing new policies in the unique context of their district or schools, the authors identify common problems that arise when trying to operationalize ambitious reform ideas. Their research draws on more than 250 interviews with administrators in Tennessee and California (chosen as contrasts for their different political makeup and centralization of the education system) and is presented here alongside survey data from across the United States as well as archival data to demonstrate how public schools shoulder enormous responsibilities for the American social safety net. The authors provide a general explanation for problems facing social policy reforms in federalist systems (including healthcare) and offer pathways forward for education policy in particular.



Watson Postdoctoral Fellow Blair Sackett co-authored "We Thought It Would Be Heaven: Refugees in an Unequal America."

Published by University of California Press, the book examines the stories of struggle and hope of refugees fleeing violence and the obstacles they face when they arrive in the United States. 

We Thought it Would be Heaven

Resettled refugees in America face a land of daunting obstacles where small things — one person, one encounter — can make all the difference in getting ahead or falling behind.

Fleeing war and violence, many refugees dream that moving to the United States will be like going to Heaven. Instead, they enter a deeply unequal American society, often at the bottom. Through the lived experiences of families resettled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Blair Sackett and Annette Lareau reveal how a daunting obstacle course of agencies and services can drastically alter refugees' experiences building a new life in America.

In these stories of struggle and hope, as one volunteer said, "you see the American story." For some families, minor mistakes create catastrophes — food stamps cut off, educational opportunities missed, benefits lost. Other families, with the help of volunteers and social supports, escape these traps and take steps toward reaching their dreams. Engaging and eye-opening, "We Thought It Would Be Heaven" brings readers into the daily lives of Congolese refugees and offers guidance for how activists, workers and policymakers can help refugee families thrive.


Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Omer Bartov authored "Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine: First-Person History in Times of Crisis."

Published by Bloomsbury Academic Press, the book discusses some of the most urgent current debates over the study, commemoration, and politicization of the Holocaust through key critical perspectives.

Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Paestine

Omer Bartov adeptly assesses the tensions between Holocaust and genocide studies, which have repeatedly both enriched and clashed with each other, whilst convincingly arguing for the importance of local history and individual testimony in grasping the nature of mass murder.

Bartov goes on to critically examine how legal discourse has served to both uncover and deny individual and national complicity. In "Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine," Bartov outlines how first-person histories provide a better understanding of events otherwise perceived as inexplicable and draws on the author's own personal trajectory to consider links between the fate of Jews in World War II and the plight of Palestinians during and in the aftermath of the establishment of the state of Israel.

Bartov demonstrates that these five perspectives, rarely if ever previously discussed in a single book, are inextricably linked and shed much light on each other. Thus the Holocaust and other genocides must be seen as related catastrophes in the modern era. Understanding such vast human tragedies necessitates scrutinizing them on the local and personal scale. This in turn calls for historical empathy, accomplished via personal-biographical introspection and true, open-minded and rigorous introspection, without which historical understanding tends toward obfuscation, and brings to light uncomfortable yet clarifying connections, such as that between the Holocaust and the Nakba, the mass flight and expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948.


Alison S. Ressler Professor of Political Science and Director of The Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy Wendy Schiller co-authored "Inequality Across State Lines: How Policymakers Have Failed Domestic Violence Victims in the United States."

Published by Cambridge University Press, the book argues that the issue of domestic violence, and how government responds to it, raises fundamental questions of justice, gender and racial equality, and the limited efficacy of a state-by-state and even town-by-town response.

Inequality Across State Lines

In the United States, one in four women will be victims of domestic violence each year. Despite the passage of federal legislation on violence against women beginning in 1994, differences persist across states in how domestic violence is addressed. In "Inequality Across State Lines" the authors illuminate the epidemic of domestic violence in the U.S. through the lens of politics, policy adoption and policy implementation.

Combining narrative case studies, surveys, and data analysis, the authors discuss the specific factors that explain why U.S. domestic violence politics and policies have failed to keep women safe at all income levels and across racial and ethnic lines. They argue that the issue of domestic violence, and how government responds to it, raises fundamental questions of justice, gender and racial equality, and the limited efficacy of a state-by-state and even town-by-town response. Sidorsky and Schiller go beyond revealing the vast differences in how states respond to domestic violence by offering pathways to reform.



Olive C. Watson Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs Andrew Schrank authored "The Economic Sociology of Development."

Published by Wiley, the book explores sociological thinking about development and underdevelopment informed by the latest currents in economic sociology.

Economic Sociology

Bringing the study of international inequality back into the core of sociological theory, Schrank offers a user-friendly introduction to development and underdevelopment. In doing so, he places various approaches to the definition, measurement and understanding of "development" against the backdrop of broader sociological debates.

Schrank draws concrete examples from different regions and epochs to explore sociological thinking about development and underdevelopment informed by the latest currents in economic sociology. Across a series of chapters, he identifies relationships between mainstream and Marxist approaches to the study of international inequality; uses classical and contemporary social theory to develop a parsimonious typology of national development outcomes; addresses cross-border learning and diffusion in light of the latest developments in organization theory; considers the roles of religious, racial and gender identities in the development process in different places and times; and portrays contemporary global challenges — such as populism, pandemics, and climate change — as distinctly sociological problems in need of multifaceted solutions.

Enriched with expository figures, tables, and diagrams, this accessible book simultaneously distills and develops the sociological approach to the study of development and underdevelopment for both undergraduate and graduate students across the social sciences.


Senior Lecturer in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Director of the Brazil Initiative Jeremy Lehnen authored "Neo-Authoritarian Masculinity in Brazilian Crime Film." 

Published by University of Florida Press, the book explores how Brazilian crime films promote an agenda in support of the nation's recent swing toward authoritarianism that culminated in the 2018 election of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian Crime FilmIn an incisive analysis of contemporary crime film in Brazil, Lehnen focuses on how movies in this genre represent masculinity and how their messages connect to twenty-first-century sociopolitical issues. Lehnen argues that these films promote an agenda in support of the nation's recent swing toward authoritarianism that culminated in the 2018 election of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.            

Lehnen examines the integral role of masculinity in several archetypal crime films, most of which foreground urban violence, including "Cidade de Deus," "Quase Dois Irmãos," "Tropa de Elite," "O Homem do Ano" and "O Doutrinador." Within these films, Lehnen finds representations that criminalize the poor, marginalized male, emasculate the civilian middle-class male intellectual, casting him as unable to respond to crime and portray state security as the only power able to stem increasing crime rates.

Drawing on insights from masculinity studies, Lehnen contends that Brazilian crime films are ideologically charged mediums that assert and normalize the presence of the neo-authoritarian male within society. "Neo-Authoritarian Masculinity in Brazilian Crime Film" demonstrates how gendered scripts can become widely accepted by audiences and contribute to very real power structures beyond the sphere of cinema.