17:26okay so I think I think that myself I17:29might be a little bit of an outlier as a17:31as a club girl because I was much older17:34by about ten years even though I was17:36still referred to ubiquitously as a girl17:37but yeah I mean I had a professional job17:41in a career and I was I was in here17:42doing for one thing but looking at the17:44other women that are in the scene I mean17:47it’s really quite a range of of outcomes17:50I think they it might increase the most17:55their social capital in the sense that17:58they get more ties to people in18:00different kinds of realms than they18:03would if they weren’t a part of this18:05world so you know if they stayed in18:07Nebraska and didn’t try try out modeling18:10or if they tried out modeling but stayed18:12in the models apartment and didn’t go18:14you know to the Hamptons and to San18:15Tropez with the promoter I think that18:18you know on the margins they do gain18:20they gain those kinds of cosmopolitan18:22experiences which might be convertible18:25for something valuable in the future I18:27think that they gain friendship ties to18:30people that they otherwise wouldn’t be18:31exposed to you especially other women I18:33think it is a really important scene18:35where women can connect to each other I18:37don’t think it’s that valuable of a18:39scene where women can connect to rich18:41men so this is a question that people18:43always want to know like well you know18:45don’t these young women these club girls18:48don’t they like fetch a rich man for a18:51husband and this is a you know kind of18:53great dating and mating market and I18:55think the answer to that is no why don’t18:58why not because the well-to-do men are19:00there the attractive women are there19:03right in a lot of other settings you see19:05frequent pairings what stops it from19:08happening in the club yeah so even19:11though women who look like fashion19:13models are so valuable in this scene for19:15lending status they’re devalued for the19:18assumption that they’re just beautiful19:20and specifically the kind of women that19:23are like club girls going out night19:24after night they’re seen as being19:26unserious like this is this is not the19:28pool of future wives this is not the19:30pool of future business partners this is19:32a pool of hookups and people have a very19:35specific term that they use to describe19:37girls that are very valuable to the club19:40and19:40to the promoters but completely devalued19:43outside of the club and that’s the party19:45girl so people would just dismiss party19:48girls as being like I’m serious19:50you know like women women that you want19:52to have it the party but you don’t want19:53to see them the next day yeah so that19:57it’s kind of a I don’t know like being19:59tainted by going into the club and20:02taking advantage of all of the things20:04that the club can offer to a beautiful20:06young woman by making that trade of her20:09beauty for access she’s assumed to be20:12just a party girl as you probably know20:16there’s some modest degree of evidence20:18that attractive people are smarter on20:20average at least so why isn’t it the20:23case that these suppose and party girls20:25a lot of them are quite bright they20:27figure out ways of signaling that20:29they’re smart which is not hard to do in20:31conversation mm-hm20:33but have some well-to-do men who maybe20:35find it hard to meet the beautiful women20:37they want to marry and they go to the20:39club and they look for the signals from20:41the really smart party girls why doesn’t20:43the market work that way why keep apart20:47so it definitely can it worked that way20:50and I think there’s lots of success20:52stories where it does work that wayMelania Trump for example met DonaldTrump at one of these party not not oneof these parties in these nightclubs butshe was introduced at a party that wasrun by her then fashion modeling agentwho was actually regular and one in thiswhole VIP circuit so she was kind ofconnected to this world and that’s whereshe met the you know very rich andsuccessful businessman it by the way shealso had to work pretty hard when shewas introduced to the national stage toclear the reputation that she’s not aparty girl there was like all of thiseffort to say like Melania Trump was agood girl she didn’t go out too muchright she happened to be at this oneparty but she was not a party girl so soI can work and I think there’s probablylots of stories where that does work but21:38for the majority of the cases of the21:39young women who are brought to these21:42clubs with the promoters they it doesn’t21:47work for them because they’re staying21:48with the promoter the promoters job is21:50to keep them at the table their primary21:53being there is signaling their beauty it21:57becomes difficult to try to forge any22:00kind of meaningful connection when the22:02lights are low and the music is loud you22:04know there’s people are you know talking22:07but really like shouting into each22:08other’s ears and so the the setup of22:11that kind of a situation works against22:14any woman who’s trying to show that she22:17is like a real intellectual or she is22:19you know it has some kind of22:20occupational or educational prestige I22:22have so many naive uninformed questions22:25but why is the music so loud in these22:27clubs I found the music loud in22:32McDonald’s right right and so clubs are22:38kind of there also in this business of22:39trying to manufacture and experience22:41like the that annual Durkheim would call22:44this collective effervescence like22:46losing yourself in a moment and that’s22:48really possible when you’re able to kind22:50of tune out the other things like I22:53don’t know if somebody is feeling22:57insecure about the way they dance or if22:59somebody’s not sure of what to say23:01having really loud music that has a beat23:03where everybody just is the same thing23:05which is like nod to the beat that helps23:07to kind of tune people into one another23:10and it helps build up a vibe and a kind23:12of energy and so that’s the the the23:14point is to sort of lose yourself in the23:16music in these spaces putting aside your23:19research interests how much fun was it23:22for you to be in these gloves all right23:25so I always say like I really wish that23:27I had met these promoters when I was 1823:29because I was in New York I was studying23:31at Hunter College for a year and if I23:34had met the promoters then it would have23:36been fantastic it would have gotten to23:38you know travel and eat and drink for23:40free and stay out all night and enjoy23:44but when I was going back in into this23:47world of New York when I was 30 31 and23:5132 yeah it was pretty difficult23:54it was pretty grueling so just to put it23:56in perspective the dinner with the23:57promoters would start at around 1023:59o’clock at night we head to a club at24:01around midnight and we stay there until24:033:00 a.m. and the high heels are very24:05high like the expectation is that when24:07where these really high high so it’s24:09like physically hard to to keep up and24:11be in these phases I think that for some24:14of the younger women that’s their thing24:16like they’ll of house music or they love24:18hip hop music they love to stay out late24:20get dressed up be looked at you know get24:22drunk have drugs it’s it’s fantastic for24:25for a young person it’s hard to convey24:27that kind of fun and it was hard hard24:30for me you know being like a sober24:32thirty year olds to also feel it now why24:37don’t they just pay the women to go to24:38the clubs as you know in economics it’s24:40typically assumed a cash payment it’s24:43more efficient than free tuna rolls what24:46stops that from happening24:47right always asking this of the women I24:51would and I would say like you know why24:53don’t we just like band together and24:55agree to show up at the club together24:56and then we’ll each get paid a hundred24:58dollars as opposed to going through all25:00of these efforts of the promoter you25:02know cajoling us and mobilizing us and25:04then he gets paid a thousand dollars and25:06the answer was always no I don’t want it25:08to be work I want it to be fun this is25:11leisure not labor and there’s all of25:12these efforts that are expended to make25:14it look like it’s not work although it25:16is I mean the women are performing a25:18really valuable labor to the club and25:20lots of profits are being made off of25:22them but they don’t want to think about25:25it in terms of work and occasionally25:27some promoters if they’re running low on25:29girls or they’re in a desperate25:31situation for the night they’ll call a25:33girl and and offer her say $40 or $80 to25:37come out as paid and this is looked down25:40on by other women is as being like an25:43act of desperation it’s going to ruin25:45the fun of the night because you have to25:46be there as opposed to wanting to be25:48there but that seems like a funny norm25:51so occasionally I may say to give talks25:53I can assure you that does not take away25:55from the fun that’s what I do25:58couldn’t the young women all just drop26:00this norm and they would get paid and be26:02better off aren’t they laboring under26:04some kind of false consciousness here it26:06is it – it’s a degrading experience in26:09some ways right the loud music so you26:12why not on the money side get the better26:15outcome right so it’s a degrading26:17experience if it’s not fun26:19if it’s not made meaningful and the26:20promoters that are really good at their26:22job they do it really well to make it26:24meaningful with the young women so26:26they’re not just recruiting models off26:30the street you know giving them some26:31free tuna rolls and then you know have26:34it saying like wear heels and dance it’s26:37actually the the promoters spend a lot26:39of time developing intimacy and26:42connections with the young women they26:44talk about each other as friends they26:45use this language of friendship they see26:47themselves as supporting one another and26:50the girls are loyal to the promoter and26:53so under these kinds of terms when the26:56women go out with the promoter it’s26:59usually a combination of things maybe27:01she’s needing free dinner maybe she27:04doesn’t have any friends because she’s27:06new to New York City maybe she is27:07sleeping with the promoter and she27:09thinks that she’s his girlfriend or27:10maybe she really likes the promoter27:12because they go to the movies every27:13Wednesday afternoon and promoters do27:16that they’ll invite they’ll invite girls27:18for bowling or for picnics or to you27:21know whatever Disneyland and so these27:24are relationships that the promoters are27:25cultivating which there then profiting27:27from so it feels meaningful it doesn’t27:30feel degrading and for the women from27:32whom it does feel degrading they27:34typically don’t last very long or they27:35leave over the course of the night and27:37they say this isn’t for me let’s say you27:39sat down with one of these 20 year old27:41young women and you taught them27:43everything you know from your studies27:45what you know about bodily capital and27:47sociological theories of exploitation27:49you could throw at them whatever you27:51wanted they would read the book they27:52would listen to your video talk with you27:55would that change their behavior any I27:57don’t think so no I don’t think so I28:01think that they might not be too28:05surprised even to learn the that this is28:09a job for promoters and the promoters28:11make money doing this most of them know28:12that they didn’t know how much money28:14promoters are making they don’t know how28:16much money the clubs are making but they28:18know that they’re contributing to those28:20profits and they know that there’s this28:22inequality built into it you know for28:25some of the women that had a belief that28:28they had the exclusive affections and28:31attention28:31the promoter that might come as a28:34surprise and those are the those are the28:36satyr moments that I discovered in this28:38economy when promoters are misleading28:42the young women into thinking that they28:45genuinely have you know exclusive28:48romantic or intimate intentions when28:50often a promoter might be sleeping with28:53two or three or several models in order28:56to get them to come out with him at28:58night so for those women they might that29:02might be the drawing line because it’s29:04such an egregious abuse but in this29:07world there’s a widespread assumption29:09that everybody uses everybody else I29:11mean the women are using the club for29:13the pleasures that they can get from it29:15they’re using the promoter for the29:16pleasures they can get from him the29:18access the promoters are using the young29:20women the clients using the promoters29:22the drawing line is when there’s a29:24perception of abuse that people have a29:27clear sense that you know lying about29:30being exclusively romantic would be a29:32clear violation so that would be abusive29:34but use is okay mutual exploitation is29:37okay the margin do you think this world29:40should be taxed or subsidized by local29:43policy and I mean the words tax and29:45subsidize in a broad way like noise29:47ordinances opening hours their implicit29:49policy decisions that help her harm29:52these ventures what should the policy29:53stance be29:55okay well this is kind of out there I29:59think that as as a labor issue30:03this shows the really unequal and unfair30:07terms of the modeling industry in30:10particular and the modeling industry is30:12generating so much profit for the club30:16industry I mean the these unpaid women30:18in the modeling industry they’re also30:21generating huge like untold profits all30:23of these other industries that benefit30:25from their presence in the clubs like30:27finance or real estate where all of30:30these networks of powerful businessmen30:32get consolidated in part you know30:34softened through the presence of unpaid30:36women from the modeling industry so I30:38think that there could be some case to30:40be made that fashion unpaid fashion30:44models or low paid fashion models are30:46doing enormous unpaid labor for all of30:48these other hugely profitable industries30:50where disproportionately the profits are30:52going to men so I could see30:54redistribution working in that direction30:56but if you can’t talk them out of what30:59they’re doing given everything you know31:01and you would be the person to try to do31:03it right right is it that you’re you31:07know paternalistic or maternal istic31:09towards them or you don’t want to31:11respect their preferences or I mean how31:15do you see this at the meta level I31:16think that people participate in their31:18own exploitation all the time I mean you31:20see this in all kinds of different forms31:22of work as academics like yeah you get31:24paid for your talks but you’re doing a31:26lot of work that’s unpaid and31:28uncompensated and often unrecognized as31:30well like all of the service work all of31:33the other things that academia runs on31:34it also a lot of this is free labor that31:38we give up because we believe in it and31:39we find it validating and someone should31:41tell us not to do it but we’d probably31:43still do it anyway because it’s31:44validating so I think that exploitation31:46works best when it’s pleasurable and31:49when it’s made meaningful but that31:50doesn’t mean that the inequities can’t31:52be challenged at a structural level if I31:56had a subjective level people consent to31:57them whose evidence say that academics32:01are left-leaning dentists tend to lean32:03more toward the right what are the32:04politics of fashion models on average32:07but they’re they’re young this is a32:10population of people who are young and32:12often you know politically unexperienced32:15and often not educated especially for32:17women the age for a fashion model is32:19typically they’re late teenage years32:21into their 20s this is the company this32:23is the age for you know going to college32:26so so yeah um I would have to say that32:31they are amorphous and you know perhaps32:34they’re leaning left if for no other32:36reason because it’s a creative industry32:38and they’re exposed to more creatives32:41and Bohemians who tend to lean to the32:43left or tend to be more progressive why32:46is the scouting model so common for32:48finding women who might be fashioning32:50fashion models there’s a scout he goes32:52up to a woman he says you have that look32:54come with me why are things done that32:57way I think that’s happening less and33:00less in a digital and globally connected33:02world so it used to be that Scouts would33:04travel all across the like nine time33:06zones of Russia and go to these beauty33:09pageants across all these different33:10little cities and you know pluck someone33:13from obscurity and send her to Paris but33:15now there’s so many small modeling33:17agencies or even even just women with33:20Wi-Fi connections and instagrams all33:22around the world that they can email33:24their pictures directly to a scout who’s33:26based in New York so I think that that33:27model is starting to cut down where the33:31professional paid Scout whose job is to33:33go on the hunt will become less and less33:36or is becoming less and less but that33:38person will just look through pictures33:41on their computer they’re still scouting33:43but in a different form but isn’t there33:45some physical presence or charisma that33:47doesn’t come through in a photograph and33:49you need a good scout for that because33:51modeling may be mainly isn’t even about33:54looks right so the thing that models33:58sell in the market is called a look but34:00you’re definitely right that it’s part34:02physicality but part personality and34:04that comes through in a picture it comes34:05through in a walk and also a34:06conversation I think a lot can be34:08captured in video and zoom and Instagram34:12so you know I think there are ways to34:15capture that but a scowl maybe who gets34:20a34:20picture and gets the videos that they34:22like from somebody would eventually need34:25to go and meet them in their part of the34:27world it also probably you know34:29depending if it’s a woman in her age to34:31meet her parents as well and to develop34:34a rapport so that someone would feel34:37good about sending their teenage34:38daughter to a new market how good a34:41scout would you be a fashion models well34:47I’m a little bit shy I think when I to34:49go and talk to people so I think that a34:52good Scout they have to have a good eye34:54that’s the primary thing to to see that34:57what they would call like a diamond in34:58the rough I could do that I think that35:00any model that’s gone through the system35:02and is exposed to this kind of look over35:05and over can make these assessments and35:07to kind of see things together how35:08different features come together but I35:11think that Scouts also I’ve spent some35:13time with them they have a kind of ease35:15and talking to young people and they35:16have an ease and talking with their35:18parents and I I just don’t have that I35:20think I would feel awkward or like35:23creepy or in some way like offering35:25false dreams that I think probably I35:27would have serious hesitations about35:29trying to pull somebody into the35:32modeling industry if a good quality35:34Scout goes up to a 17 year old young35:36woman and approaches are about being a35:39model I mean what’s the median or modal35:41reaction to that okay so I know this35:46from interviewing the the models for my35:48first book it surprised its surprised35:51because I say I said so a scout has to35:53be able to identify a look and to be35:55able to see how somebody who is not in35:59the context of the fashion modeling36:00industry could be you know really great36:02under certain kinds of conditions and so36:04these are usually young women’s their36:06scouting stories are like you know I was36:08just coming out of soccer practice or I36:10was just getting off of like an36:11overnight airplane and I had braces and36:14you know I was the ugly duckling and36:15yeah nobody nobody looked twice at me in36:18middle school and then here’s this36:20person you know saying I should be a36:21model in London or something so yeah36:24surprise36:24but do ninety percent just tell the guy36:26to buzz off or what do they do I think36:30if it makes I mean that surprise can36:31come with like fear that this is some36:34it might be shady it could also come36:36yeah with the sense of like disinterest36:40I think that a lot of people in the36:43modeling industry they have a couple of36:44experiences with getting scouted so the36:46first time might be complete surprise36:48and like yeah this might be creepy or36:50like buzz off not interested right now36:52but if it happens again or a third time36:53then it the idea starts to start to36:56develop that maybe there’s something to36:58it and I was yeah did you respond so37:04sorry having a couple of times in at the37:07mall that a scout would would come37:09approached me which state is this yeah37:12so I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta37:14sent a lot of diamonds I fashioned malls37:16in Atlanta and my peers and so yeah37:19Scout would come up and say like all you37:20I’d love for you to come into the office37:22and you know we could probably work if37:25you’re interested – have you ever37:26thought about becoming a model but by37:27that point by that time that that had37:30happened I was already told by people37:33and like my friends in high school that37:35you know I was skinny enough that I37:37looked like one of these girls in these37:41magazines and I should consider it so it37:42was already kind of on my mind that it37:44was something that I wanted to do and37:45then of course my mom she sent me a37:47Vogue magazine 1993 Cindy Crawford was37:52on the cover I still have it and I and I37:55just got really into whatever fashion37:57modeling was I didn’t fully understand37:58but I was like I want to be this do you38:02regret having been a model no not at all38:06I regret that I didn’t use it in a38:11smarter way38:12because I was I think that you know I38:14started traveling to Milan in Japan when38:17I was 19 and 20 and so that’s still38:21quite a young age I think like mentally38:25and emotionally to kind of pick up and38:27go somewhere but if I sometimes feel38:31like if I had had38:32I don’t know better if I knew what I38:35know now you know back then I could have38:38built stronger connections with38:41interesting people like I could have38:43tried harder to understand the38:46creative side of producing fashion yeah38:50I could have tried tarted to get38:52involved in photography which I found38:54interesting but it was always kind of on38:55the margins of so it it opens up all38:57these doors that you know frankly at 1838:59I wasn’t really capable of seeing it’s a39:03significant subset of models who at39:05least to me appear to be distant39:07unapproachable and they look pissed off39:09why is that39:11there’s a wonderful dissertation at the39:14University of Amsterdam called my39:16fashion models don’t smile don’t they so39:20it depends which segment of the fashion39:22modeling market we’re talking about so39:23if you look in your catalogs that you39:26know used to come in the mail that now39:28are mostly online models are pretty39:30relatable that they they have the kind39:32of look that would be described as39:33girl-next-door or like a classic apple39:35pie and you see a lot of smiles when39:37people are selling things directly in39:39the catalog or commercial realm on39:40television commercials as well really39:42relatable people aspirational in the way39:45they look they look good but they’re39:46connecting they’re smiling and they’re39:48not meant to be intimidating unlike the39:51editorial side of fashion which is like39:53the catwalk or the magazines especially39:56the vogue magazines these are the kinds39:59of looks of models that are projecting40:02what people in the fashion world think40:05of as being in fashion and those kinds40:08of models almost never smile there’s40:10almost never a smile on the catwalk it’s40:12remarkable it’s supposed to be all about40:13showing the clothes and projecting this40:16aspirational distant kind of beauty that40:20is not meant to be relatable40:22if I could add you know just a lesson40:24from the art world is that the more the40:28more people and the more kind of40:30socially different types of people that40:32a work of art is meant to relate to the40:35lesser its value so in the editorial end40:38of the market the fact that your average40:40consumer doesn’t get that kind of look40:43doesn’t doesn’t get that cold distant on40:45smiling body your face that’s kind of40:48deliberate it’s not meant to make sense40:50to you it’s meant to make sense to like40:51the Anna Wintour’s of the world now when40:54your work on modeling in Japan you once40:56wrote that Western female models in40:59Japan41:00or often portrayed as quote silly41:02harmless and incompetent why is that41:04equilibrium in Japan so yeah I’m out in41:09Japan and these are just some41:10observations I mean I don’t know if it’s41:13I didn’t do a comparison with the local41:18models like Japanese models but indeed41:21there were lots of observations I took41:24of the Western models coming into Japan41:27and doing all kinds of just bizarre41:30silly things infantilizing things I41:32think that there’s some interpretivist41:35cultural studies that I reference in41:38that paper that suggested this is a way41:40of I don’t know diffusing or yeah41:43diffusing the Western hegemony or maybe41:47maybe bridging the divide between you41:50know Western beauty and Eastern Beauty41:52but I’m really not sure but that also41:55might account for what you call the41:57models passivity in the Japanese market41:59well yeah but it’s really the terms of42:01the work in the Japanese market it42:03produces passive passivity unlike42:06anything I’ve ever experienced because42:08the the language barrier and the the42:13ways that models would usually have a42:15little bit of control in the casting42:17situation is to talk to show their42:20personality is you know to connect to42:22relate and it’s really difficult in the42:24Japanese market because Western models42:27not only do they not speak Japanese in42:28most Japanese people do not speak42:30English the fashion world and lots of42:32other worlds42:33so the solution there is that every42:36agency has like a manager whose job is42:39also to drive the models to their42:41castings and then introduce the models42:43to the clients and then clients talk in42:45Japanese and the model stands there and42:48then the manager introduces the next one42:50so it’s like a just a very weird kind of42:53passive experience it also meant that a42:56lot of my time in Tokyo was spent in the42:58back of a van being driven around with43:00like Ukranian teenagers looking out the43:03window in the middle of these tracks we43:07usually have a segment overrated versus43:09underrated I’ll toss out a few notions43:12you tell me what you think are you43:15the importance of what sociologists call43:18loose ties overrated or underrated is43:24there an option to say it’s like43:25appropriate of course yeah I think this43:30is appropriate I mean I think that I43:33would be either some somewhat doing a43:39disservice to my discipline if I were to43:41say that it’s been overrated because it43:43is one of the major findings within43:45economic sociology that’s kind of43:47continually shown that there all these43:49advantages for having loose ties43:51arms-length ties the French sociologist43:54Pierre Bourdieu overrated or underrated43:57Oh again I have to be careful here44:03because you know one of my fields is44:04cultural sociology again write a paper44:06without citing the guy and I really44:09would say it’s a very 1970s 1980s French44:13notion of hierarchy that is itself44:15hierarchical very limited he covers44:18gender only much later yeah it probably44:21doesn’t even apply to the rest of France44:23yet truer true or false it’s true yeah44:27it’s true and there have been important44:28correctives44:29to that but I think that it was a huge44:31contribution to insert culture into44:34class hierarchy so everybody pays homage44:37for that reason the movie Zoolander44:40overrated or underrated underrated and44:42we should all still watch Zoolander this44:46is a fantastic treatise on like gender44:48and the impossibilities of male Beauty44:51it’s one of my favorites Miami Beach is44:54it actually fun overrated what do you44:56think overrated yeah over it overrated44:59although there’s you know pockets of it45:02that I think are probably more45:03interesting but they the kind of glossy45:05glitzy glamorous part of Miami Beach45:07totally overrated I mean it’s your thing45:10of like all glamour bad food Osaka Japan45:15what do you think um it’s been like 1545:19years by yeah yeah I like those little45:25octopus fried balls under right45:27okay you didn’t remember it would have45:30to be overrated right REM the musical45:35group you went to school in Athens45:37Georgia yeah underrated there yeah45:39although you’re at right now I think45:41that well because of that hit song it’s45:43the end of the world as we know it45:44they’re they’re having a moment coming45:46back45:47perhaps unfortunate champagne I don’t45:50like it am I wrong am I missing45:52something45:52data signaling so much of your work is45:56about signaling do you have to conclude45:57champagne is overrated I have to46:00conclude is overrated but there is46:02something really delightful about it as46:04a party good because you can shake it46:06and spray it without like destroying46:08clothes unlike say red wine and it’s46:10bubbly and you know this is kind of mad46:14it has a sort of fun magical quality so46:16yeah on the whole overrated but well46:19overrated because you can get all those46:21things with Prosecco here’s a question46:24from a reader and I quote quote how has46:26her own beauty and glamour influenced46:28her career academic career does she find46:31beauty based biases in academia either46:34positive or negative end quote yeah well46:38I think it looks matter everywhere in46:39academia is no exception46:41in my own experience there’s this46:45double-edged sword for women’s beauty so46:49some studies show that you know it’s46:51important for women especially to46:53conform to these traditional notions of46:56beautiful but they can’t overdo it in46:58the professional workplace so some47:00makeup is appropriate but like too much47:03eyeliner is considered you know to47:05sexual and inappropriate so yeah I tried47:09to balance that for instance even before47:11I got my job at Boston University I was47:14coached by my adviser to dress you know47:17in a fairly drab way to really try to47:20assert my authority47:22and and to distance myself from the47:25femininity and the beauty which was kind47:27of always going to be plaguing me47:28because of my work and because the fact47:30that I was a model so I tried to47:32distance it as I could you know dye that47:35question though for sure I think at an47:37interactional level having having beauty47:41definitely eases the way for for people47:45to respond more favorably to me because47:49of that halo effect of beauty so you47:52know maybe people are more more likely47:56to answer an email or to agree to a48:00meeting or the meeting will go smoothly48:01and people will listen more to what I48:04say48:05because I look the way they do I’ll find48:07that out I mean that questions to be48:10continued because as we know as women48:12age they so-called lose their bodily48:15capital aging is comes with a decline of48:18beauty for women and so yeah I’ll have48:21to answer that and say you know 10 or 1548:23years what kinds of emotional labor do48:27women professors have to perform that48:29maybe the male professors do not yeah48:32this is like a perennial conversation48:33that I have with my women colleagues48:35about the number of students that ask48:40for exceptions in their grades48:43especially of younger faculty young48:46women faculty the number of students48:48that open up with their problems and you48:51know we are more likely I think to keep48:53tissues in our offices for crying48:55students then like our male colleagues48:58so there’s there’s that yeah just kind49:02of being being a crutch to students and49:05being seen as somebody that’s more49:07relatable by virtue of age and by gender49:10means that we have more of these kinds49:13of drains on our I don’t know emotional49:16work than male colleagues I don’t know49:18if you if you would agree or if you find49:20that do you also keep tissues in your49:22office I don’t but you know my office is49:27so crowded I think actually everything’s49:28in there and probably that includes some49:30tissues I think if you broadly as being49:37anthropological even though you’re49:38sociologists and if you if you view49:41academia with your anthropological hat49:44on what about it seems most comical or49:47most stupid to you or just strange and49:49bizarre49:50the stranger bazaar well it’s a really49:52interesting question there’s so many49:53things about it I guess the way that it49:58portends to be so meritocratic I mean50:01thinking here about academia and the50:04world of professors the way yeah the way50:08that it’s very meritocratic and50:09ostensibly within sociology were so50:12attuned to inequalities by gender and by50:15class and by race like that’s the bread50:17and butter of our discipline and yet we50:19reproduce inequities all the time I mean50:22not in the least with this notion of the50:26disproportionate amount of emotional50:27work of women faculty disproportionate50:30ways that women faculty and people of50:32color do more service work certain kinds50:37of hierarchies get reproduced in the50:39hiring all the time you know so even50:42though we’re supposedly all about equity50:45it’s just the fact that you know50:47somebody who’s tied to a prominent50:50person or an Ivy University will catch50:52our eye and so we’re starting and we50:54have now discussions about how to50:56safeguard against those biases but yeah50:59there’s kind of a bizarre thing the way51:01we reproduce inequalities all the time51:03if we’re concerned about inequality51:05including for women who have a51:06childbearing cycle shouldn’t we just51:08abolish tenure right and or maybe not51:16abolish it but maybe change the terms of51:18it so that the clock doesn’t completely51:21overlap with the so-called biological51:23clock for women who want to have51:26families so perhaps there could be a way51:28to lengthen it or pause it or start it51:32you know in a way that makes it fit51:35better with with having kids there’s51:40also a couple of you know yeah so I had51:43my kids right when I got tenure I had my51:46first child she arrived right after I51:49received my positive tenure decision I51:51didn’t plan it that way but it worked51:54out really luckily but I remember in51:57graduate school a couple of people had51:59kids in grad school and I was thinking52:00like no this is a ridiculous it’s not52:03the right plan like I could never52:05imagine having kids in grad school but52:06actually it does make sense to in grad52:10school you have a lot more control over52:11your time you’re a lot more flexible52:13fewer demands and you can kind of52:16stretch your grad school clock in a way52:18so in some ways I sometimes looking back52:20I think like that’s also an option to52:22maybe loosen up the expectation that52:27that women have kids after their careers52:31are all stitched up because that’s what52:32I followed and it it worked out for me52:34but it can’t work out for everyone and52:36it also was quite a big stress for those52:38six years if you think about the52:41question like what is your unified52:43theory of you you have this early career52:46as a fashion model and your current52:49career as an academic and also as an52:52author they’re all winner-take-all52:55sectors do you think of yourself52:58as in some sense you keep on doing the53:00same thing in different areas or do you53:02think of your current career as a53:04rebellion against what you did before so53:09I should say I was a really good student53:12all throughout high school in college53:13and I got into the modeling kind of as a53:17as a side job and then I I found a way53:20through sociology to turn my experiences53:23and modeling into an academic project53:26and I could kind of even see when I was53:28in college reading these ethnographies53:30at the workplace because I took this53:31great class on the sociology of work I53:34could see like wow someone should really53:35do this of fashion modeling and like I53:38could be the Barbara Ehrenreich you know53:39in sociology of like fashion in high53:42status and so in some ways I I’ve always53:47been a scholar I’ve always been I mean53:49I’ve always been a student first and53:51foremost my my alignment was an academia53:54and I was always looking searching for53:56the status and the the winner-take-all53:57hierarchy of academia and modeling kind54:01of got me there and you enjoy the thrill54:05of winner-take-all markets yes I know I54:09mean I can’t say that I’m like a winner54:13in the academic field I mean yes having54:16good a good54:17your job is because I know that they’re54:19increasingly in short supply but in some54:21ways it’s such a it’s less volatile of a54:25world than these cultural production54:27fields me it’s the complete opposite job54:29model once you get a tenure track job54:31and once you get tenure especially you54:33kind of can’t be fired54:35I mean barring you know some real54:36problems but I mean it’s lifetime54:39security in an age in the workforce in54:42which this is just shrinking it’s so54:44rare to have this kind of privilege of54:46lifetime job security and really like54:48knock on wood because as the54:49universities are facing these challenges54:51it just entered my mind in the last54:54month of like wow what would happen if I54:56didn’t have this lifetime job security54:58that I’ve counted on but it’s a complete55:00opposite fashion modeling is a 180 where55:02you can be dismissed you know from one55:04day to the next and your fortunes can55:06change for the better or for the worse55:07so yeah it’s a winner-take-all maybe55:12like in terms of prestige but once55:14you’re in the tenured world it’s pretty55:17study there’s a common perception that55:20Korean culture is relatively oppressive55:23for young women there’s a certain way55:25they’re expected to look or maybe to55:27have plastic surgery yeah you agree with55:29that and if so why is it yeah and I saw55:34this on the question like I thought that55:36maybe you’re asking me at first because55:37my you know my dad is half Korean so my55:41grandmother it’s Korean she was born and55:44raised in Hawaii but but in any case so55:46yeah I never been to Korea and so my55:48Korean connections actually really I55:51know from the literature but so to your55:53question it’s a common perception that55:57it’s a plastic surgery is oppressive but56:01I think make from my understanding you56:05know there’s an opposite reading which56:06is that it’s really validating and and56:09really quite pleasurable to modify the56:11appearance so in your write in South56:15Korea it’s it leads the world in double56:18eyelid surgery to make that eyelid fold56:20that is typical of Western shape I but56:24less so of an Asian shaped eye and so56:26this is often read as like oh this is56:28like internalized white Western hegemony56:30on to Asian people but I actually think56:33it’s a bit more complicated than that56:35there’s a certain kind of beauty they is56:39really popular around because throughout56:42Asia because of the rise of k-pop stars56:45and this kind of Asian beauty has a very56:48specific kind of face that’s like very56:50pale skin with a certain kind of makeup56:53regime around it and yes that the eyes56:57but I think it would be hard to say that57:00anybody is looking in Asia to the west57:03as the beauty standard I think within57:05Asia people are looking to kpop is a57:07beauty standard now and you know in the57:10u.s. like there’s all kinds of things57:12that could be read as oppressive to the57:14that people do like hair extensions and57:17these um eyelash extensions you know to57:20make really long and dark eyelashes and57:22all kinds of all kinds of practices that57:25when you actually talk to people they’re57:27very validating or they feel pleasurable57:29where do those pleasures come from sure57:32Marxist could say that it’s all false57:34consciousness but I think that there’s57:36probably lots more interesting answers57:39in America today for women what do you57:42think distinguishes most clearly notions57:45of upper class beauty and lower class57:47beauty yeah alright so I think that57:54upper class beauty upper class bodies57:58are pretty uniformly thin and that’s you58:02know the the economy of plenty whoever58:05has money can afford quality food and58:07getting to the gym as opposed to an58:09economy of scarcity having a kind of58:11plump you know a rotund belly would be a58:14sign of having extra money or of wealth58:18so yeah I definitely thinness and if you58:21look at the rates of obesity and58:23overweight you there’s a very clear58:25divide like upward people who are upper58:28class tend to be thinner my people who58:30are lower class tend to be larger so58:31that’s one kind of clear distinction58:36otherwise you know all of the things58:38that are signals of beauty tend to be58:41things that people who have money can58:43afford to invest in so straight teeth58:46clear skin you know blonde highlights or58:52just kind of shiny hair kept up nails58:55clothing signifies a lot I mean these58:57are all things that can be people with58:59money can work on themselves to achieve59:02for a very last segment return to what I59:05call the Ashley Mears production59:07function me who first spotted your59:10talent as an academic okay so there59:15there were two of them at the University59:18of Georgia in the sociology department59:20it was William Finlay he’s a sociologist59:22of work and and also James Coverdell59:25they wrote a book on headhunters and so59:27they were attuned to questions of59:29non-standard work for Carius work and59:32when I I took the sociology of work59:34class with James Coverdale and he was59:37like yeah you should do this like a59:38sociology of work about fashion models59:41definitely then he put me in touch with59:42that with William and I was yeah I was59:45just emailing with them last week like59:47they they stayed my mentors for a long59:49time and if you’re looking for promising59:52young sociology or anthropologists for59:55that matter what’s the non obvious59:57signal you look for yes hard work they59:59should be smart and so on but beneath60:01the surface what strikes you if somebody60:05is read a lot and if they’ve read60:07eclectic things and they have that kind60:09of breadth that strikes me because that60:11means that they’re curious and60:12interested in a lot of different things60:14and that they can bring that to whatever60:17is our topic they end up landing on60:19what’s the weirdest set of things you60:22like to read or have read other than60:24about fashion modeling in the party and60:27like you know guidebooks for restaurants60:30and Economist’s right so I read a lot of60:35ethnographies within sociology that’s60:38probably not a surprise that’s kind of60:39within my field but I’m also reading now60:42because I have two kids I like to read60:44advice books for parents you know60:46ranging from kind of kitschy ones on up60:50to like from economists on like what the60:53data say are the best child60:55practices so that’s where I’m kind of in60:58now I mean yeah having having kids maybe61:00not a surprise kind of put me in this61:02like parenting literature and what’s the61:04best advice you either have read or61:06would offer to other people on parenting61:08to people on parenting sure you’ve read61:12all these books you have an opinion tell61:14the parents out there I said maybe I61:19still need some advice but what do you61:21say so usually that kind of question61:26would invite into an individualistic61:28answer and that’s the problem with the61:30literature that it’s all like you as an61:32individual parent what you should or61:33shouldn’t do and you know maybe because61:37I’m a sociologist but but yeah my advice61:41for parents in this country is to61:43mobilize because it’s a complete crisis61:45that we don’t have paid parental leave61:47that there’s no state supports for61:49daycare I think that that’s one of the61:52tragic but really important things about61:54the pandemic right now is that it’s it’s61:56revealing just how difficult it is to61:59combine a career with family and the62:03United States is just exceptional in how62:06unfriendly it is for family policy yeah62:09mobilize what is your most unusual62:13writing or work habit ok these are62:19interesting questions so I used to have62:22something I used to have it like a62:23pretty consistent flow before I had kids62:25that got that got disrupted and that’s62:27what a lot of people say is like they62:28write in like these certain chunks of62:30time day after day and that’s how62:32they’re able to accomplish it but so62:35here’s a weird habit that I picked up in62:38college I mean it stayed with me if I62:40eat something sweet in college I would62:42munch on like a box of Dunkin Donuts to62:44get through a term paper and now I find62:47like whatever cookie is my kids have no62:49like I always have you know some sweet62:52junk food this is probably not really62:54great advice there for anybody but it’s62:56just my habit now just to the audience I63:00would like again to recommend Ashley’s63:02book it is called again very important63:05people status and beauty in the global63:07party circuit63:09it is quality research fantastic fun to63:12read I learned a great deal from it I63:14think it will be a big hit63:15definitely one of my favorite books of63:17this year or indeed would be of years63:20past and Ashley thank you very much for63:23joining us and best of luck with63:25publication thank you thank you so much63:27again
The debate is splitting into two broad camps: Call them the “growthers” and the “base-raters.”
Just how bad will the new coronavirus be? I can’t answer that question, but I have observed the debate splitting into two broad camps: Call them the “growthers” and the “base-raters.”
The term growthers refers to the notion of exponential growth, and indeed the number of Covid-19 cases appears (by some accounts) to be following an exponential pattern. Some scientists have estimated that the number of cases doubles about every seven days. If you play that logic out, it is easy enough to see how people might be complacent at first, then in a few months there is a public health crisis.
Of course, that process of doubling won’t go on forever. At some point, the number of people who have already been exposed to Covid-19 would become so large that their immunity could lower the subsequent rate of spread. Furthermore, society would adjust by having fewer large gatherings — many conferences already are being canceled — and by taking other precautions.
Still, the growthers find it easy to imagine that the number of cases might overwhelm the capacity of the U.S. health care system. Even if you think a speedy American (or more likely Singaporean) response argues against this scenario, it is harder to be equally sanguine about all the world’s nations, most of which are much poorer and have lower-quality public health systems than the U.S.
The growther approach seems most common among people trained in mathematics, finance, and those who work in technology. Finance is centered on the idea of exponentially compounding returns, where small initial gains turn into something quite large. So financial professionals understand the growther perspective.
In tech, the major companies have grown from nothing to very large fairly quickly, often by taking advantage of a (positive) network or contagion effect for their products. Tech people are also familiar with Moore’s Law, which says that computing power increases exponentially as its cost decreases dramatically. It is no surprise that Bill Gates recently suggested that Covid-19 may be the once-in-a-century pathogen the world has been worried about.
Overall, the growthers tend to be analytical people who work a lot with numbers and are used to modeling the problems they face. The mindset in Washington, by contrast — and indeed much of America — is much closer to the base-raters.
The base-raters, when assessing the likelihood of a particular scenario, start by asking how often it has happened before. That is, they estimate its base-rate likelihood. And history shows that major pandemics have lately been rare. The SARS and Ebola outbreaks largely petered out, HIV-AIDS was of a very different nature, and the 1957 and 1968 flu epidemics are now distant memories.
Base-raters acknowledge the exponential growth curves for the number of Covid-19 cases, but still think that the very bad scenarios are not so likely — even if they cannot exactly say why. They view the world as hard to model, and think that parameters do not remain stable for very long. They are less convinced by analytical and mathematical arguments, and more persuaded by what they have seen in their own experience. They tend to be pragmatic and rooted in the moment.
Political scientist Philip Tetlock, in his work on superforecasters, has shown that base-rate thinking is often more reliable than the supposed wisdom of experts. Most of the world, most of the time, does not change very quickly. So there is an advantage to considering broadly common historical probabilities and simply refusing to impose too much structure on a problem.
That said, there are some cases where base-rate thinking clearly goes askew. Base-rate thinking obscured the ability to foresee the highly unusual 2008 financial crisis, for example. If applied in, say, 2014, base-rate thinking would not have predicted the election of Donald Trump.
As for the health-care establishment, epidemiologists understand exponential growth rates very well. But many medical professionals think in terms of what are called “normal” statistical distributions. If someone visits your office with what appears to be a typical flu case, it is usually exactly that. The result is that there is not much surge capacity in America’s hospitals and public-health institutions.
I still don’t know which of the two perspectives on Covid-19 is the wiser. But as someone who has studied exponential growth rates for economies, I confess that my concerns are rising.
A point-by-point exploration of their arguments would exceed the space allotted for this column by several thousand inches. But I think one can sum up the libertarian approach to Warren with a single question: How big a problem do you think billionaires, and the mega-successful corporations they helm, pose to the average American? Actually, come to think of it, I think that’s about how you’d sum up the question of Warren from any angle.
Which is why this debate ultimately matters to a lot more people than just some cranky libertarians: It speaks directly to a whole lot of young people who see that the economy doesn’t work for them the way it did for their parents and grandparents, and therefore conclude that somewhere along the way, the people it is working for — the barons of finance, the giants of Silicon Valley — must have rigged the system in their favor.
To be fair, they’re not entirely wrong. As Adam Smith once wrote, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Bankers and tech executives very much included. So I find myself nodding in agreement with Wilkinson — and, by extension, with the progressive base of the Democratic Party — when he says: “Warren’s general diagnosis of the problem — it’s a rigged system of anticompetitive rent-seeking enabled by insufficiently democratic and representative political institutions — is broadly similar to my own.”
Yet they’re not entirely right, either. Are big corporations, or billionaires, or banks, or tech giants, or health insurers and pharmaceutical firms — to name some of Warren’s favorite targets — really the reason that young people are struggling
Sure, Warren may be eager to sic her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on your mortgage lender if you fall afoul of some obscure clause, but that’s not the problem for most Americans. They’re much more likely to struggle with finding affordable housing in prosperous cities. In fairness, Warren does have a plan to ease the zoning regulations that cause the shortage — but for some reason she rarely talks about it on the campaign trail, possibly because it’s constitutionally dubious, but more likely because it would alienate her affluent suburban base.
Similarly, Warren is eager to forgive student loans — a $1.6 trillion transfer to some of the most affluent members of society — but not to attack degree creep, which has walled off most of the best jobs for those who hold a bachelor of arts while enriching a lot of colleges. She targets insurers and drugmakers, but not the hospitals and medical workers who drive most of our health-care costs.
Too many of her proposals are like this; they focus on corporate villains or billionaires while ignoring the much broader class of people that Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution dubbed the “Dream Hoarders” — the well-educated upper-middle-class people who are desperate to pass their privilege onto their kids, and are unhappy about the steadily mounting cost of doing so. They’re Warren’s base.
Unfortunately, the Dream Hoarders — and I include myself in their number — are a much bigger problem for the rest of America than the billionaires whose wealth Warren promises to expropriate. Those billionaires got that way by building companies that disrupted cozy local monopolies, and they fund coding camps for high-school dropouts; Dream Hoarders
- protect their professional licensing regimes and
- insist on ever more extensive and expensive educations in the people they hire. Dream Hoarders also
- pull every lever to keep their own housing prices high — and poorer kids out of their schools — while
- using their wealth to carefully guide their children over the hurdles they’ve erected.
Which may be why the best predictor of a neighborhood with a low degree of income mobility is not the gap between the top 1 percent and everyone else — the gap that Warren focuses on with all her talk of taxing billionaires — but
If you really want to unrig the system, you need to focus less on a handful of billionaires than on the iron grip that the Dream Hoarders have on America’s most powerful institutions — including, to all appearances, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.
The Institute for Freedom & Community at St. Olaf College seeks to promote free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. By exploring diverse ideas about politics, markets, and society, The Institute aims to challenge presuppositions, question easy answers, and foster constructive dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view. Established in 2015, The Institute offers a distinctive opportunity to cultivate civil discourse within a liberal arts setting. See more at institute.stolaf.edu
This is the final event of the IFC’s spring 2018 series: “Freedom, Community, and Health Care,” featuring a conversation between Amitabh Chandra and Tyler Cowen, moderated by St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Economics Ashley Hodgson.
Amitabh Chandra is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy and Director of Health Policy Research at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisors, and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Tyler Cowen is an economist, blogger, best-selling author, and professor of economics at George Mason University and at the Center for the Study of Public Choice. He is also the director of the Mercatus Center, a research center dedicated to bridging the gap between academic research and public policy problems by training students, conducting research of consequence, and persuasively communicating economic ideas to solve society’s most pressing problems and advance knowledge about how markets work to improve people’s lives.