PSU Professor Dr. Robert Heiner Sees Success with Textbook

September 29th, 2012 by blyndes

Plymouth, N.H. – The average American’s views on our society’s social problems and political issues are increasingly colored by corporate interests, according to the latest edition of a textbook authored by a Plymouth State University Social Science professor. Dr. Robert Heiner’s, Social Problems: An Introduction to Critical Contructionism, is being published by Oxford University Press, one of the world’s pre-eminent academic presses. Heiner said the book, one of five he has edited or authored, has been used by “thousands of students across the country,” and this fourth edition makes some thought-provoking points about our country’s societal ills, and who is controlling the message about them.

“The book is a description and critique of the influence of the corporate elite on Americans’ access to information and on their perceptions of social problems,” said Heiner. “A big theme of the book is that democracy depends on information –so if the information is skewed by corporate interests, it calls into question how democratic we really are.”

Dr. Robert Heiner

Social Problems: An Introduction to Critical Contructionism also includes observations about the landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court ruled that corporations and unions can make unlimited donations to political parties.

“The Citizens United decision was a big setback for democracy, and it doesn’t just affect who is going to win elections, but the positions incumbents take, because they don’t want to incur the wrath of corporations who would support their opponent in the next election cycle,” asserts Heiner. “Huge amounts of corporate money are now flowing into national, state, and local campaigns. Even in some school board elections where it once may have taken a $1,000 or so to run a successful campaign are now having tens of thousands of dollars poured into them. This can’t be good for democracy. The people’s interests are losing out.”

Heiner also believes the current generation of college students are more sophisticated in their understanding of how information is disseminated to the public.

“My students are very attuned to bias in the news, both liberal and conservative, so they’re often inclined to discount both sides,” Heiner said. “My book gives them a perspective for thinking systematically about the interests of media corporations, the interests of corporate elite and the interests of political leaders and how these are all interrelated.”

Heiner earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia, a master’s in Criminology from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Virginia. After receiving his doctorate, he taught for three years for the University of Maryland on U.S. military bases overseas in South Korea, Japan and Germany. His interests include deviance, crime, social problems and corporate influence in governmental affairs.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or blyndes@plymouth.edu

 

 

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