Wilson Center Experts
James Chappel received his PhD in History from Columbia University. He studies modern European history, and is particularly interested in the intersection between religion and the social sciences. He is working on a manuscript, provisionally entitled "The Struggle for Europe's Soul: Catholicism, Political Economy, and the Salvation of European Democracy" (forthcoming from Harvard University Press). The book seeks to show precisely how Catholicism impacted the reconstruction of European societies after World War II. Drawing on dozens of periodicals and archives, the work shows how Catholic economists and sociologists developed a wide-ranging social theory in the 1920s and 1930s. After the war, they were able to put these insights into practice as theorists of the new Christian Democratic parties that swept to power across Western and Central Europe.
His second project is provisionally entitled "Old Volk: The History and Politics of Aging in Modern Europe". It concerns the legislative and social-scientific constitution of the family unit after World War II, and treats specifically the fate of "the elderly" as a social problem impacted by demography, pension reform, and immigration.