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

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

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