Comparative Sociology and Social Change

Research in this cluster examines the causes and consequences of cross-national, cross-cultural variations in social processes.  Comparative scholars at Harvard analyze a wide array of topics, including political institutions, civil society, cultural repertoires, labor markets, welfare systems, inequality, knowledge, violence, global and regional integration, and economic development.

News related to Comparative Sociology and Social Change

Viterna Team

Examining the Unintended Consequences of Social Mobilization

August 9, 2017

We tend to think of social movements as promoters of social change, but might they also be key agents in maintaining—and even reinforcing—the status quo? Harvard professor Jocelyn Viterna, with graduate student Bo Yun Park and undergraduate students Quinn Sluzenski, Enya Huang, and Bryant Park, are examining hundreds of press releases from 10 oppositional “pairs” of U.S. social movements (e.g., gun rights vs gun control, anti-abortion rights vs pro-abortion rights, etc) to examine this question. Building from existing social movement theory, our team hypothesizes that all social movements incorporate culturally resonant “tethers” into their calls for social change. ... Read more about Examining the Unintended Consequences of Social Mobilization

We are sicker when we live in stingier societies

We are sicker when we live in stingier societies

March 2, 2017

People living in the United States today live lives that are sicker and end earlier than people living in other high-income countries.  The facts are described in two recent reports [https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13497/us-health-in-international-perspective-shorter-lives-poorer-health and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK62369/] sponsored by the National Academy of Science. Jason Beckfield has joined sociologists, demographers, and epidemiologists in ongoing efforts to explain the growing US health disadvantage, and he recently published a new study in Social Science & Medicine that shows US life expectancy would be approximately 3-5 years longer if the US were not a social policy laggard.

... Read more about We are sicker when we live in stingier societies

Ya-Wen Lei stands in front of a wood and glass doorway

The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China

January 5, 2017

Conventional wisdom imagines political life in authoritarian contexts to be bleak and suffocating, and popular understandings of China are no exception. Nonetheless, since the mid-2000s, a nationwide contentious public sphere has developed in China—providing an unprecedented forum for Chinese citizens to influence the public agenda and demand government accountability.

... Read more about The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China