Cover art for podcast Theory of Change podcast

Theory of Change podcast

36 EpisodesProduced by Matthew SheffieldWebsite

Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone. And of course, change … read more

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Theory of Change #037: Jen Senko on how her father escaped far-right media

May 15th, 2022

55:25

It's well-known by now that disinformation media played a significant role in enabling the political rise of Donald Trump.

But the truth is that …

Theory of Change #036: Luke Savage on "The Dead Center"

May 13th, 2022

1:04:53

As America barrels toward the 2022 midterm elections, polls have been indicating that Democrats could be in for some very bad news in November. Party …

Theory of Change #035: Daniel Cox on polling, demographics, and what parties know about their voters

April 7th, 2022

52:51

Contrary to the predictions of political consultants and commentators, both of America's two major parties have continued to be politically relevant …

Theory of Change #034: Heather Digby Parton on Joe Biden's first year as president

January 23rd, 2022

1:08:01

It’s a bit hard to believe that one year ago, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. A lot has happened during that timespan but a lot has also *not* happened.

As of this week, Biden and the …

Theory of Change #008: Aaron Smith on how Twitter users see politics differently

January 20th, 2022

37:31

Every podcast has its “lost episodes.” Or at least that’s what podcasters tell themselves. But booking, producing, and hosting a podcast all by yourself is a lot of work--and technical issues can make that especially …

Theory of Change #033: Bruce Wilson on January 6th and right-wing anti-Americanism

January 9th, 2022

55:37

It’s now been a full year since a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol with the intent of overthrowing the 2020 election so that then-president …

Theory of Change #032: Matthew Boedy on the cult of Turning Point USA and Charlie Kirk

January 3rd, 2022

51:14

Polling over the decades has shown that most Republican voters are heavily motivated by white Christian identity politics. But Republican elites— …

Theory of Change #031: Farah Stockman on the meaning of work and what elites missed on free trade

December 19th, 2021

1:00:49

All of us are much more than what we do for a living. And yet, when we lose a job or have trouble finding another one, we feel like we’re missing something important.

But work is about more than just something to do with …

Theory of Change #030: Edward H. Miller on the John Birch Society and the roots of Republican rage

December 11th, 2021

1:03:51

William Faulkner's line that "the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past" is certainly true in regards to today's Republican Party, which is quite …

Theory of Change #029: Former libertarian Will Wilkinson on the right's epistemic crisis

December 3rd, 2021

1:18:36

Misinformation (incorrect beliefs about the world) and disinformation (deliberately constructed falsehoods) have always been a part of human history. …

Theory of Change #028: David Adams on how technology repeats itself

November 23rd, 2021

1:03:36

We don’t think enough about just how much our lives have changed because of technology. If you’re a millennial or older, chances are you can remember …

Theory of Change #027: Barry Meier on the 'Steele Dossier' and private spy agencies

November 20th, 2021

57:09

Five years after it was written, the so-called Steele dossier, a collection of memos compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher …

Theory of Change #026: Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin on the economics of disinformation

November 12th, 2021

53:11

By now, a lot of people are aware of and concerned about the lies, hatred, and rumors that are so rampant on social media. The social media companies are definitely responsible to a large degree for letting this happen. …

Theory of Change #025: Jim Swift on Glenn Youngkin and ‘Never Trump’

November 5th, 2021

59:59

Every four years, the United States holds its presidential elections. But one year afterward, the states of New Jersey and Virginia hold their own …

Theory of Change #024: Moustafa Ayad on jihadist and white nationalist fusion

November 2nd, 2021

44:32

Extremist Muslims and extremist Christians hate each other, or at least they did before the meme wars.

It's hard to believe, but extremist Muslims and Christians are actually starting to cheer each other online. After …

Theory of Change #023: Christopher Douglas on Satan and far-right Christianity's daily apocalypses

October 22nd, 2021

1:03:15

It’s October, and since we’re all about the larger trends here at Theory of Change, we’ll be celebrating the Halloween season with a brief history of Satan and a look at modern-day Christian apocalypse literature.

Like …

Theory of Change #022: Greg Sargent on Republican obstructionism and the Biden policy agenda

October 16th, 2021

1:03:15

Democrats have the narrowest of majorities in the House and Senate. And after a few months of a presidential honeymoon for Joe Biden, they really are feeling the constraints of their tiny margin for error. The Senate is …

Theory of Change #021: Nimmi Gowrinathan on political extremism and female fighters

October 9th, 2021

49:38

As technology has given extremist movements a much greater ability to spread their views and carry out violence, researchers are studying …

Theory of Change #020: Miguel de Icaza on 30 years of Linux & open source

October 2nd, 2021

49:02

Although we usually talk about political and religious trends at Theory of Change, technological trends are also very much worth paying attention to. …

Theory of Change #019: Matthew Harris on Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon and evangelical extremisms

September 25th, 2021

1:07:56

The 1960s are famous in the American political memory as a time of leftist revolution. Millions marched against racial segregation and the Vietnam …

Theory of Change #018: Brooke Binkowski on fact-checking and fighting disinformation

September 19th, 2021

57:21

In a 24/7 news environment, we're all surrounded by information, some of it true, some of it false, and much of it somewhere in the middle.

As social media has become universalized, we've seen a new type of journalist …

Theory of Change #017: Melanie Trecek-King on teaching critical thinking and science literacy

September 11th, 2021

51:52

People often say that we live in the Information Age. But what does that mean? It means that people living today on Earth truly do have the world's …

Theory of Change #016: Michele Mitchell on the "anger industrial complex"

September 3rd, 2021

54:21

American politics is broken in a lot of ways. There are many reasons for this. A big one is what podcaster and former CNN host Michele Mitchell calls …

Theory of Change #015: Angie Maxwell on white Southern grievance and how it changed U.S. politics

August 28th, 2021

1:08:56

A lot of people know about "The Southern Strategy," the multi-year plan of 20th century Republicans like Richard Nixon to get white voters in the …

Theory of Change #014: Paul Glastris on how Democrats changed

August 21st, 2021

58:47

While the Republican Party's embrace of authoritarianism has attracted a lot of media attention in recent years, the Democratic Party's inability to …

Theory of Change #013: Eric Boehlert on ‘both sides’ journalism and the return of Fox News liberals

August 13th, 2021

1:01:59

In recent American history, the mainstream media has adhered to a "both sides" approach to covering politics. But as the Republican party has …

Theory of Change #012: Richard Carpiano on Covid misinformers and vaccine conspiracies

August 7th, 2021

1:06:24

As the Covid-19 infections continue to rise among non-vaccinated people, it's worth taking a look at the history of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and unqualified media medical advice.

In this episode, Theory of Change …

Theory of Change #011: Pat Bagley on politics, Mormonism, and Utah

July 31st, 2021

50:20

Pat Bagley has become a fixture in Utah politics and one of America's best-known editorial cartoonists. In this episode of Theory of Change, he joins …

Theory of Change #010: Misogyny, the Christian Right, and Brandi Love (Featuring Robyn Pennacchia)

July 22nd, 2021

1:01:59

Among American conservatives who came of age in the 20th century, Christian fundamentalism seems to serve as the unifying force. But among younger Republicans, is opposition to feminism what keeps the coalition together?

Theory of Change #009: What happened to American media? (Featuring Parker Molloy)

July 16th, 2021

1:13:15

A huge part of why American politics is so messed up today is the country's for-profit media ecosystem that prioritizes controversy, eschews policy …

Theory of Change #006: Editorial cartoons in the age of the meme (Nick Anderson and Nate Beeler)

December 13th, 2019

42:23

The internet and the explosion of free political content that it created has had a dramatic effect on the media industry.

One sector of journalism …

Theory of Change #005: Can polls be trusted? (With Courtney Kennedy of the Pew Research Center)

November 26th, 2019

45:50

If you read, listen or watch the news today it’s impossible to avoid public opinion polls. They are literally everywhere. The president’s approval …

Theory of Change #004: Has Trump really changed the GOP all that much?

November 6th, 2019

50:18

There’s been a lot of commentary about how Donald Trump is changing the Republican Party. There’s even a cottage industry of former Republicans who often write about how Trump has ruined the GOP they once knew and loved.

Theory of Change #003: Sanders vs Warren and the battle over how to make change, feat. Carl Beijer

October 30th, 2019

59:17

As the actual voting in the Democratic presidential primary gets closer, the race is becoming tighter, both numerically and emotionally.

Some wealthy Democratic donors appear to be panicking as the candidate they’ve …

Theory of Change #002: How do you impeach a president? (With Lee Miringoff of Marist)

October 9th, 2019

53:09

How do you impeach a president? As a legal matter, it's all very simple. But as a political matter, it's anything but.

Impeaching and removing a …

Theory of Change #001: Why has GOP control of numerous state governments had few real results?

October 6th, 2019

56:28

Republicans have taken control of dozens of state governments since the mid-1990s. But despite having complete authority in many state legislatures …

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