This collection assembles some of the country s foremost social scientists in one volume. It contains diverse investigations of metropolitan transformation, recent education policy, the (in)justice of disaster relief, the politics of aesthetics and design, immigration, the mass media, social movements, and the practice of social science itself, among others. Whatever their subjects, the writers investigate the promise and constraints of democratic practice in a time of disturbing growth in inequality and political disempowerment. Although they at times differ from one another, more often, they challenge popular received wisdom on a number of these topics. Cumulatively, the volume amounts to a critical sociological excavation of the United States from its leading social critics that will prove useful to specialists and general readers alike.