About Seymour Martin Lipset


Seymour Martin Lipset (1922-2006) was the Hazel Professor of Public Policy at the Institute of Public Policy, George Mason University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. He was also a Senior Scholar at the Progressive Policy Institute and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. Previously, he was at Stanford as the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science and Sociology (1975-1990), and at Harvard as George D. Markham Professor of Government and Sociology (1965-1975).

His major work was in the fields of political sociology, developing societies, Canadian and American societies, trade union organization, social stratification, public opinion, the American Jewish community, and the sociology of intellectual life. He wrote extensively about the conditions democracy in comparative perspective, focusing particularly on new systems. Dr. Lipset had been active in public affairs generally as well as in Jewish communal life. He was a Director of the U.S. Institute of Peace and had been a member of the Board of Foreign Scholarships, both presidential appointments; co-chair of the Committee for Labor Law Reform; co-chair 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 co-chair of the Executive Committee of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East.

Dr. Lipset was elected to various honorific societies in the U.S. 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.

Dr. Lipset is the only person to have been President both at the American Sociological Association (1992-1993) and of the American Political Science Association (1979-1980). He also served as the president of the International Society of Political Psychology, the Sociological Research Association, the World Association of Public Opinion Research, and Chair of the section on the Social and Economic Sciences of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1975-1976 and 1995-1996). He was elected President of the Paul Lazarsfeld Society, headquartered in Vienna in 1994, and of the Berlin-based Society for Comparative Research in 1995.

Dr. Lipset was author or co-author of 24 books or monographs. His notable books are Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada (Routledge 1990, with Earl Raab), Jews and the New American Scene(Harvard University Press 1995, with Earl Raab), and American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (Norton 1996). Together with Gary Marks, he completed It Didn’t Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States (Norton 2000). He published more than 400 articles.

Dr. Lipset received the MacIver Prize for Political Man (Doubleday 1960) and the Gunnar Myrdal Prize for The Politics of Unreason (Harper & Row 1970). His book The First New Nation (Basic Books 1963) 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 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.

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