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

Making Sense of a Perplexing Country and an unwieldy Subject: Studies in the sociology of development and of modern-day trafficking and slavery

Making Sense of a Perplexing Country and an unwieldy Subject: Studies in the sociology of development and of modern-day trafficking and slavery

March 1, 2018

The Confounding Island: Institutions, Culture and Mis-Development in Post-Colonial Jamaica was just delivered to the press by Professor Orlando Patterson. This book examines one of the world’s most perplexing societies. Famous for the spectacular successes of its athletes and musicians, its vibrant democracy, and its religiosity, Jamaica is equally infamous for being among the world’s most violent places.... Read more about Making Sense of a Perplexing Country and an unwieldy Subject: Studies in the sociology of development and of modern-day trafficking and slavery

Headshot of Bart Bonikowski, Assistant Professor of Sociology.

The Mobilization of Resentment: Making Sense of Populism, Nationalism, and Authoritarianism in the United States and Europe

September 7, 2017

Scholarly and journalistic accounts of the recent successes of radical-right candidates and parties in Europe and the United States tend to conflate three phenomena: populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism. While all three are relevant features of contemporary politics, they are neither coterminous nor limited to the political right. This lack of analytical clarity has hindered explanations of the causes and consequences of radicalism on both sides of the Atlantic. In a new project that builds on his past empirical research, Bart Bonikowski draws analytical distinctions between populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism, theorizes their elective affinities, and examines their shifting prevalence over the past three decades, both in political discourse and public attitudes.... Read more about The Mobilization of Resentment: Making Sense of Populism, Nationalism, and Authoritarianism in the United States and Europe

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