Society and Culture | Wilson Center

Society and Culture

Between the State and Islam

Until recently, the study of the Middle East has focused almost exclusively on Islam and on the regime, especially on its non-democratic aspects. It has done so at the expense of accounting fully for the forces of skepticism, liberty, and creativity that struggle against Islamic conformism and state hegemony.

The Breakdown of Class Politics: A Debate on Post-Industrial Stratification

Class and its linkage to politics became a controversial and exciting topic again in the 1990s. Terry Clark and Seymour Martin Lipset published “Are Social Classes Dying?” in 1991, which sparked a lively debate and much new research. The main critics of Clark and Lipset—at Oxford and Berkeley—held (initially) that class was more persistent than Clark and Lipset suggested. The positions were sharply opposed and involved several conceptual and methodological concerns. But the issues grew more nuanced as further reflections and evidence accumulated.

Second Metropolis: Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka

By comparing North America’s, Russia’s, and Japan’s “second cities”—Chicago, Moscow, and Osaka—Second Metropolis discloses the extent to which social fragmentation, frequently viewed as an obstacle to democratic development, actually fostered a “pragmatic pluralism” that nurtured pluralistic public policies.

Kinship and Capitalism: Marriage, Family, and Business in the English-speaking World, 1580-1740

This uncompromisingly empirical study reconstructs the public and private lives of urban business families during the period of England’s emergence as a world economic power. Using a broad cross-section of archival, rather than literary, sources, it tests the orthodox view that the family as an institution was transformed by capitalism and individualism. The approach is both quantitative and qualitative. A database of 28,000 families has been constructed to tackle questions such as demographic structure, kinship, and inheritance, which must be answered statistically.

Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848-1914

Hungary’s revolutionary crowd of 1848 was defeated in 1849, but crowds of other kinds and crowd politics remained central to Hungary as it fashioned itself over the next half-century. Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848–1914 describes how the crowd’s shifting cast of characters participated in the making of Hungary inside the increasingly troubled Austro-Hungarian empire.

Paradoxes of Democracy: Fragility, Continuity, and Change

Paradoxes of Democracy is an essay on the inherent weaknesses and surprising strengths of democratic government by one of the most productive and learned scholars in the social sciences.

In the Face of the Facts: Moral Inquiry in American Scholarship

Recently there has been a renewed interest in moral inquiry among American scholars in a variety of disciplines. This collection of accessible essays affords a view of the current state of moral inquiry in the American academy, and it offers fresh departures for ethically informed, interdisciplinary scholarship. Seeking neither to reduce values to facts nor facts to values, these essays aim to foster discussion about inquiry and moral judgment, and demonstrate that moral inquiry need not be either dispassionate and value-free or moralistic and preachy.

Race, Self-Employment, and Upward Mobility: An Illusive American Dream

Race, Self-Employment, and Upward Mobility refutes conventional notions about entrepreneurship with a wealth of unimpeachable data. Timothy Bates finds that self-employment and upward mobility are open to those who are highly educated and skilled, often possessing significant personal financial resources. This is true among Asian Americans, African Americans, and everybody else, too.

Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family

“A basic restructuring of our economy is needed now,” writes Betty Friedan in her latest book, Beyond Gender. “And this restructuring can’t be accomplished in terms of women versus men, black versus white, old versus young, conservative versus liberal. We need a new political movement in America that puts the lives and interests of people first.

Beyond the Monolith: The Emergence of Regionalism in Post-Soviet Russia

In the wake of the USSR’s breakup, the eighty-nine constituent subjects of the Russian Federation emerged as political players, grasping power for local policies from a weakened central authority and electing the legislators who have altered the complexion of the central government. Beyond the Monolith examines the impact of Russia’s emerging regionalism on the political, economic, and social transformation of the largest of the successor states of the Soviet Union.

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