Meaning Lab
#25: Michèle Lamont on Building Big Ideas

#25: Michèle Lamont on Building Big Ideas

This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.

This week's guest is someone very special. Michèle Lamont has had a huge impact on my own thinking as a psychologist. She is the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and a Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Harvard University. The first time I encountered her work was in a book she wrote, published in 2000, called the Dignity of Working Men. It's a work of comparative sociology in which she interviews working class men in both New York and France, both black and white individuals, and essentially allows them to tell their story of the way they see the world while providing some sociological interpretation. It's a brilliant work, and has only become more relevant over time. I highly recommend to anyone interested in understanding more about a huge section of the population that isn't as well represented in typical academic discourse. At any rate, it was a huge honor to talk to her. She has a number of other books that you can check out. In this episode we talk a lot about how her ideas have built on top of one another over time, to really become a truly holistic comparative sociology covering a big part of our world.

Here is the interview she mentioned in our conversation.

Oh, and the movie she was trying to think of was Mephisto by Werner Herzog.


Like this episode? Here’s another one to check out:

The New Kommers
#27: Mark Granovetter on Why There Are Revolutions
Listen now (81 min) | Mark and I recorded this interview about a month ago, before the outbreak of protests across the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot has changed since then. Conversations are different, as are the topics under discussion. This interview does not reflect those changes, at least not directly. Even so, a number of the topics in our c…
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Meaning Lab
Welcome to the Meaning Lab podcast. In each episode, I talk to a scientist, author, or artist about their approach to meaning-making — from language, to productivity, to writing, to travel. It's all fair game, as long as it gets us closer to understanding how we make sense of the world and our place in it.