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Joel Best

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About Joel


Curriculum Vitae

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About Joel

       I’m a baby boomer.  I was raised in a Minnesota suburb during the 1950s.   I really took to reading, and I often read the magazines and newspapers in my parents’ and grandparents’ homes.  People recall the 50s as a placid decade, but I remember reading lots of worried articles.  Senator McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover warned about Communist subversion, of course, but there were plenty of other 50s fears, such as juvenile delinquents, rock and roll, organized crime, and inadequate schools.  My fascination with social problems began early.
       Today, I’m a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware.  My writing focuses on understanding how and why we become concerned with particular issues at particular moments in time–why we find ourselves worried about road rage one year, and identity theft a year or so later.  I’ve written about the ways bad statistics creep into public debates, and about dubious fears, such as the mistaken belief that poisoned Halloween candy poses a serious threat to our kids.
Joel
       Currently, I am collaborating on two projects. My former student, Katie Bogle (author of Hooking Up), and I are working on a book about twenty-first century worries over sexual play among the young. We’re comparing two recent contemporary legends–about sex bracelets and rainbow parties–with the kerfuffle over sexting. And my oldest son, Eric Best, and I have begun writing another book, the various ways people have thought about problems related to student loans. Our point is that policies designed to solve one problem related to student loans often have the ironic consequence of promoting the next problem.
       These are the sorts of topics that interest me.  If you’re interested in my work, please contact me at joelbest@udel.edu.

Curriculum Vitae

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