American Social and Political Thought: A Reader / Edition 1

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This reader provides substantial extracts from the core texts in the field of American social and political thought. It demonstrates the rich intellectual tradition of the United States, giving an unparalleled understanding of American society and politics through the reproduction of key writings from a wide variety of thinkers.

The first part covers the core traditions of American social and political thought—American Exceptionalism, Political Theology, Republicanism, Liberalism, and Pragmatism. In the second part, texts have been selected to demonstrate the ways in which these traditions have been applied to a broad range of issues and conditions.

Exceptionally well-written and jargon-free, with helpful introductions and selections from Frederick Jackson Turner, Max Weber, Michael Sandel, John Rawls, C. Wright Mills, Sheldon Wolin, Judith N. Shklar, bell hooks, Michael Walzer and Richard Rorty, among others, American Social and Political Thought will be the core text in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
European observers of America's political culture, such as Tocqueville and Bryce, brought critical but objective eyes to their subject. In this volume, Hess, a sociologist from University College, Dublin, attempts to bring a similar perspective in editing this interesting mix of social and political writings. Ordering the readings thematically rather than chronologically (the more traditional approach), Hess divides the material into two parts: the first treats the major schools of American thought (e.g., liberalism, pragmatism, republicanism), while the second covers the application of the theories to a variety of issues. While several excerpts from classic texts from the 17th to 20th centuries are represented (e.g., Tom Paine, Madison, Jefferson, William James, and Dewey), Hess includes many more relatively contemporary scholars' explanations of and commentaries on the subjects (e.g., John Rawls, Richard Rorty, Benjamin Barber, and Henry Louis Gates). The result is a collection of readings that illuminate the theories well but rarely in the original words of the primary sources. The volume seems to have been compiled for use in college classrooms and is recommended only for those public libraries unable to acquire the complete, original works from which these selections are drawn.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814736579
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,175,542
  • Product dimensions: 6.84 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Andreas Hess is a lecturer in Sociology at University College Dublin. He is the author of American Social and Political Thought: An Introduction (2000), and Concepts of Social Stratification (2001).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
General Section 5
1 Reconstructing America - The Symbol of America in Modern Thought 6
2 Anti-Intellectualism in American Life 9
Pt. I Thinking the Political: The Main Modes and Traditions of American Social and Political Thought
Sect. 1 Exceptionalism 15
3 Letters from an American Farmer 18
4 The Frontier in American History 22
5 The Influence of Sea Power upon History 25
6 The Rights of Man 29
7 Democracy in America 33
8 American Exceptionalism - A Double-Edged Sword 39
Sect. 2 Political Theology 45
9 The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism 47
10 Democracy in America 54
11 The Age of Reason 61
12 Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush 63
13 The Boundaries of Democracy 66
14 The New England Mind - From Colony to Province 76
15 The American Jeremiad 80
16 Protestant - Catholic - Jew 89
Sect. 3 Republicanism 97
17 The Machiavellian Moment - Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition 99
18 Liberalism and Republicanism in the Historical Imagination 99
19 On Revolution 119
20 The Federalist Papers 126
21 Montesquieu and the New Republicanism 135
22 The Compromised Republic 141
23 Democracy Without the Citizen 149
Sect. 4 Liberalism 153
24 The Liberal Tradition in America 155
25 Reconsidering American Liberalism 162
26 Political Liberalism 171
27 The Liberalism of Fear 179
28 Passions and Constraint - On the Theory of Liberal Democracy 187
Sect. 5 Pragmatism 199
29 Two Essays: The American Scholar and The Young American 201
30 What Pragmatism Means 204
31 The Public and its Problems 208
32 The Power Elite 215
33 The American Evasion of Democracy 222
34 The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy 227
Pt. II Thinking the Social: Modern Applications of American Social and Political Thought
Sect. 1 Democracy and Power 237
35 Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy 239
36 The Power Elite 244
37 A Preface to Democratic Theory 250
38 Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City 252
39 Democracy and Disagreement 256
40 Strong Democracy 263
41 Democracy and Capitalism 270
42 Habits of the Heart - Individualism and Commitment in American Life 275
43 Fugitive Democracy 281
Sect. 2 Justice and Injustice 285
44 A Theory of Justice 287
45 Understanding Rawls 292
46 Spheres of Justice - A Defense of Pluralism and Equality 297
47 Sovereign Virtue - The Theory and Practice of Equality 303
48 American Citizenship - The Quest for Inclusion 306
Sect. 3 Pluralism and Multiculturalism 311
49 The Color Line Belts the World 313
50 We are all Multiculturalists now 315
51 Multiculturalism and 'The Politics of Recognition' 320
52 What it Means to be an American 326
53 Color Conscious 332
54 Killing rage: ending racism 346
55 Loose Canons - Notes on the Cultural Wars 350
Sect. 4 Civil Society, Social Theory and the Task of Intellectuals 353
56 Civil Society and Political Theory 355
57 The Strange Silence of Political Theory 362
58 Civility and Subversion: the Intellectual in Democratic Society 368
59 Antigone's Daughters 374
60 Citizenship with a Feminist Face: The Problem with Maternal Thinking 379
61 Gender and Public Access: Women's Politics in 19th-Century America 389
62 Civil Society I, II, III 396
Sect. 5 American Social and Political Thought at the Dawn of the 21st Century 401
63 Democracy's Discontent - America in Search of a Public Philosophy 403
64 Fusion Republicanism 412
65 A Defense of Minimalist Liberalism 417
66 Michael Sandel and Richard Rorty: Two Models of the Republic 422
67 Whose Keeper? Social Science and Moral Obligation 426
68 Morality and the Social Sciences 442
69 The Company of Critics 446
70 Mariners, Renegades and Castaways 455
List of Authors 463
Index 467
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