Reading List: Sociology to Fuel Your Brain and Heart

Reading List: Sociology to Fuel Your Brain and Heart

For Valentine’s Day, explore UC Press Sociology titles that broaden and challenge our understanding of relationships in the modern world.


The Dating Divide is the first comprehensive look at “digital-sexual racism,” a distinct form of racism that is mediated and amplified through the impersonal and anonymous context of online dating. Drawing on large-scale behavioral data from a mainstream dating website, extensive archival research, and more than seventy-five in-depth interviews with daters of diverse racial backgrounds and sexual identities, Curington, Lundquist, and Lin illustrate how the seemingly open space of the internet interacts with the loss of social inhibition in cyberspace contexts, fostering openly expressed forms of sexual racism that are rarely exposed in face-to-face encounters. The Dating Divide is a fascinating look at how a contemporary conflux of individualization, consumerism, and the proliferation of digital technologies has given rise to a unique form of gendered racism in the era of swiping right—or left.


Despite enormous changes in patterns of dating and courtship in twenty-first-century America, contemporary understandings of romance and intimacy remain firmly rooted in age-old assumptions of gender difference. These tenacious beliefs now vie with cultural messages of gender equality that stress independence, self-development, and egalitarian practices in public and private life.

Through interviews with heterosexual and LGBTQ individuals, Ellen Lamont’s The Mating Game explores how people with diverse sexualities and gender identities date, form romantic relationships, and make decisions about future commitments as they negotiate uncertain terrain fraught with competing messages about gender, sexuality, and intimacy.


Author Laurie Essig invites us to flip this concept of romance on its head and see it for what it really is—an ideology that we desperately cling to as a way to cope with the fact that we believe we cannot control or affect the societal, economic, and political structures around us. From climate change to nuclear war, white nationalism to the worship of wealth and conspicuous consumption—as the future becomes seemingly less secure, Americans turn away from the public sphere and find shelter in the private. Essig argues that when we do this, we allow romance to blind us to the real work that needs to be done—building global movements that inspire a change in government policies to address economic and social inequality.


Happy Singlehood charts a way forward for singles to live life on their terms, and shows how everyone—single or coupled—can benefit from accepting solo living. Based on personal interviews, quantitative analysis, and extensive review of singles’ writings and literature, author Elyakim Kislev uncovers groundbreaking insights on how unmarried people create satisfying lives in a world where social structures and policies are still designed to favor marriage.


Available free and open access

Of Love and Papers explores how immigration policies are fundamentally reshaping Latino families. Drawing on two waves of interviews with undocumented young adults, Enriquez investigates how immigration status creeps into the most personal aspects of everyday life, intersecting with gender to constrain family formation. The imprint of illegality remains, even upon obtaining DACA or permanent residency.

Interweaving the perspectives of US citizen romantic partners and children, Enriquez illustrates the multigenerational punishment that limits the upward mobility of Latino families. Of Love and Papers sparks an intimate understanding of contemporary US immigration policies and their enduring consequences for immigrant families.


Drawing on in-depth interviews, Sharon Sassler and Amanda Jayne Miller provide an inside view of how cohabiting relationships play out before and after couples move in together, using couples’ stories to explore the he said/she said of romantic dynamics. Delving into hot-button issues, such as housework, birth control, finances, and expectations for the future, Sassler and Miller deliver surprising insights about the impact of class and education on how relationships unfold. Showcasing the words, thoughts, and conflicts of the couples themselves, Cohabitation Nation offers a riveting and sometimes counterintuitive look at the way we live now.


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