About Rogers Smith

Political Science

Rogers M. Smith is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism. Smith’s work as a political scientist focuses on public law, American political thought, and political theory.  He is especially interested in issues of citizenship, race, ethnicity, and gender.

In 1997, his book, Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History(Yale University Press), received “best book” awards from the American Political Science Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Social Science History Association, and it was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. The book analyzes how and why governing ideas of citizenship in the United States changed during the first two centuries of American history.  Despite strong traditions of democracy and human rights, during most of that time Americans also embraced conceptions of membership that denied most adults access to full citizenship because of race, ethnicity, or gender.  Smith argues that these conflicts have shaped and defined American civic identity in ways that continue to structure American politics and policies.

His most recent book, Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s Americawith Desmond S. King (Princeton University Press forthcoming 2011), explores how rival policies regarding aid for racial minorities have blocked effective policymaking related to employment, education, criminal justice, immigration, housing, and other issues.  Recent articles and book chapters by Smith include, “Oligarchies in America: Reflections on Tocqueville’s Fears” (Journal of Classical Sociology 2010), “Constitutional Democracies, Coercion, and Obligations to Include,” in The Limits of Constitutional Democracy, ed. Jeffrey Tulis and Stephen Macedo (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2010), and “Understanding the Symbiosis of American Rights and American Racism,” in America’s Liberal Tradition Reconsidered: The Contested Legacy of Louis Hartz, ed. Mark Hulliung (University of Kansas Press 2010).

Smith was elected as an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow in 2004. In 2010, he was the co-recipient of the Frank J. Goodnow Award, American Political Science Association (for service to the profession of political science).

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