Seymour Martin Lipset

Seymour Martin Lipset

Biography: 

Seymour Martin Lipset was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University until 2006. He passed away on Dec. 31, 2006. Previously he was the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University (1975–90) and the George D. Markham Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.

His major work was in the fields of political sociology, trade union organization, social stratification, public opinion, and the sociology of intellectual life. He wrote extensively about the conditions for democracy in comparative perspective.

He authored and coauthored numerous books and monographs, including American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (W.W. Norton, 1996) and Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada (Routledge, 1990), and with Earl Raab Jews and the New American Scene (Harvard University press, 1996). Some of his works have been translated into eighteen languages. He also edited twenty-four books and published more than four hundred articles.

Lipset received the MacIver Prize for Political Man and the Gunnar Myrdal Prize for The Politics of Unreason. His book The First New Nation was a finalist for the National Book Award. He was also awarded the Townsend Harris and Margaret Byrd Dawson Medals for significant achievement, the Northern Telecom-International Council for Canadian Studies Gold Medal, and the Leon Epstein Prize in Comparative Politics by the American Political Science Association. He has received the Marshall Sklare Award for distinction in Jewish studies. In 1997, he was awarded the Helen Dinnerman Prize by the World Association for Public Opinion Research.

Lipset was a member of various honor societies in the United States and abroad: the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in which he served as vice president for the social sciences.

He was the only person to have been president of both the American Sociological Association (1992–93) and the American Political Science Association (1979–80). He also served as the president of the International Society of Political Psychology, the Sociological Research Association, the World Association for Public Opinion Research, the Society for Comparative Research, and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Society in Vienna.

Lipset was also active in public affairs on a national level. He was the director of the United States Institute of Peace and has been a member of the U.S. Board of Foreign Scholarships, cochair of the Committee for Labor Law Reform, cochair of the Committee for an Effective UNESCO, and consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the American Jewish Committee.

He was also former president of the American Professors for Peace in the Middle East, chair of the National B'nai B'rith Hillel Commission and the Faculty Advisory Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal, and cochair of the Executive Committee of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East.

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Recent Commentary

How FDR Saved Capitalism

by Seymour Martin Lipset, Gary Marksvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2001

During the economic crisis of the 1930s, many expected a socialist revolution. The revolution never came. Why? The man in the White House co-opted the left. By Hoover fellow Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks.

Still the Exceptional Nation?

by Seymour Martin Lipsetvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2000

As social democratic parties the world over shift toward the free market, the differences between the United States and other Western democracies are growing increasingly narrow. Does it still make sense to speak of the United States as the exceptional nation? By Hoover fellow Seymour Martin Lipset.

Still the Father of His Country

by Seymour Martin Lipsetvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, January 30, 1999

Although we tend to think of him as a stiff, remote, and inaccessible figure, George Washington is nevertheless “the most important figure in American history.” By Hoover fellow Seymour Martin Lipset.

Nobody Here But Us Liberals

by Seymour Martin Lipsetvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Think America is a conservative country? Think again. Hoover fellow Seymour Martin Lipset explains that there are no true conservatives here--or, for that matter, any true socialists either--just different shades of classical liberals.

The Outlook for Civil Comity

by Seymour Martin Lipsetvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Hoover fellow Seymour Martin Lipset looks at the data and concludes that the melting pot is still melting--but that American politics are at an angry boil.