Comparative and Historical Sociology Section


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Committee: Heather Haveman (chair), Miguel Centeno, James Mahoney, Monica Prasad

(27 books submitted)

Co-Winner: Wenkai He. 2013. Paths toward the Modern Fiscal State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wenkai He's book does a wonderful job of moving us beyond the argument that taxation (especially centralized taxation) can only occur in war-time. The care with which he chose these 3 cases (England 1542-1752, Japan 1868-1895, and China 1851-1911), and the extremely detailed and linguistically taxing archival study he conducted on them impressed us immensely. In the end, his research demonstrates the benefits of an "eventful" institutionalist approach to this particular aspect of modern state-building, one that incorporates not only agency and structure, but also historical Contingency.

Co-Winner: Cybelle Fox. 2012. Three Worlds of Welfare Relief: Race, Immigration, and the American State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Cybelle Fox's book is beautifully written and meticulously researched. Not only does she raise a substantively important question, she answers that question with an amazingly broad research design that yielded richly detailed data. One committee member said this might be "the deadliest nail in the coffin" of the myth that the greatest generation pulled itself up by its collective bootstraps. She brought a wide-angle lens to bear on the relationship between race/ethnicity and the American welfare state, which the committee thinks will open the floodgates for a long line of revealing research on this topic.


Committee: Ivan Ermakoff (chair), Elisabeth Anderson, Kiyoteru Tsutsui

(27 articles submitted)

Winner: Robert Fishman and Omar Lizardo. "How Macro-Historical Change Shapes Cultural Taste." American Sociological Review 78(2): 213-239.

Through a careful paired comparison supported by a battery of quantitative indicators and insights culled from interviews, this piece demonstrates that different transitions from authoritarianism to democracy in Portugal and Spain durably affected pedagogical styles and cultural consumption. Documenting cohort differences in cultural omnivorousness across the two countries, Fishman and Lizardo very clearly analyze the impact of divergent democratization scenarios on educational practices and, through these practices, on cultural preferences. This inquiry thus elucidates the processes linking democratic transitions and omnivore taste, and in so doing greatly contributes to our understanding of the macro-historical underpinnings of patterns of cultural choice.



Committee: George Steinmetz (chair), Kevan Harris, Jaeeun Kim

(11 dissertations considered)

Winner: Sahan Savas Karatasli. "Financial Expansions, Hegemonic Transitions, and Nationalism: A Longue Durée Analysis of State-Seeking Nationalist Movements." John Hopkins University (primary advisors: Giovanni Arrighi and Beverly Silver).

Savas Karatasli's dissertation, "Financial Expansions, Hegemonic Transitions, and Nationalism: A Longue Durée Analysis Of State-Seeking Nationalist Movements", engages with the literature on nationalism and Arrighi's world-system analysis to solve several puzzles. Whereas the main theories addressing the long-run dynamics of nationalism predict that nationalism will continue to decline, Karatasli argues that if we lengthen the temporal horizon of the analysis, a series of consecutive overlapping inverted U-shaped curves come into focus over the course of the last millennium. Karatasli argues that state-seeking nationalist movements on a world-scale were intertwined with systemic cycles of accumulation, tending to rise during periods of financial expansion and world hegemonic rivalry and decline during periods of material expansion and world-hegemonic consolidation. He shows how the central demands made by nationalist movements have changed in response to changes in the prevalent state-building strategies (and vice-versa). For example, the Iberian-Genoese state-building strategy that depended on mobilizing state power around religious identity provoked a wave of state-seeking movements by minority religious groups seeking religious freedom, which in turn shaped state-building strategies in the following century.


Committee: Joshua Bloom (chair), Yael Berda, Christopher Muller

(23 papers submitted)

Co-Winner: Eric W. Schoon and A. Joseph West. "From Prophecyto Practice: Mutual Selection Cycles in the Routinization of Charismatic Authority." University of Arizona

Schoon and West extend Weber’s theory of the routinization of charismatic authority to explain the resolution of the succession crisis in the formation of the Mormon church. When prophet Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844, the church had been largely governed via his personal relationships, teachings, and proclivities. It was not historically certain who would succeed Smith, and several individuals made viable claims. Employing qualitative and network analysis, the authors show that because Smith’s teachings on polygamy had the greatest effect on the structure of relationships in the church, the polygamist faction led by Brigham Young was in the strongest institutional position to win succession. Further, with the succession of Young and the polygamist faction, Smith’s teachings on polygamy were reified, while various other aspects of Smith’s teachings were discarded. In general, the authors argue that in the routinization of charismatic authority, those elements of the original charismatic authority that have the greatest effect on social relations among followers are institutionalized, and preserved. The authors ask a novel and interesting question, and the committee was very impressed by the depth of archival research, and the penetrating theoretical contribution of the paper.

Co-Winner: Emily A. Marshall. "Great Expectations? Population Projections and Politics in Twentieth Century France and Great Britain." Princeton, and University of Michigan.

Marshall has written the "Economists and Societies" of demography. She shows how different theoretical traditions of demography in France and Britain produced different population projections. French demographers were committed to a theory of demographic revolution, in which fertility can decline infinitely. British demographers, in contrast, held tight to the idea of demographic transition, in which fertility ultimately stabilizes at a new equilibrium after a transition. French projections included multiple variants, highlighting the inherent uncertainty of the nation's demographic future, while British projections conveyed certainty by using only a single series. Different assumptions led to different projections, which, in turn, changed the way the British and French governments understood population and fertility trends in the postwar period. The committee was very impressed by a paper that made contributions not only to historical sociology, but to demography and the sociology of knowledge. We also found compelling the combination of archival and formal demographic methods.