Theda Skocpol

States and Social Revolutions

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Image license: CC BY 2.0

Year of Birth

1947

Nationality

US

Field of Knowledge

Sociology

Theda Skocpol (born May 4, 1947) is an American sociologist and political scientist, who is currently the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University. An influential figure in both disciplines, Skocpol is best known as an advocate of the historical-institutional and comparative approaches, as well as her “state autonomy theory.” She has written widely for both popular and academic audiences.
In historical sociology, Skocpol’s works and opinions have been associated with the structuralist school. As an example, she argues that social revolutions can best be explained given their relation with specific structures of agricultural societies and their respective states. Such an approach differs greatly from more “behaviorist” ones, which tend to emphasize the role of “revolutionary populations,” “revolutionary psychology,” and/or “revolutionary consciousness,” as determinant factors of revolutionary processes.
According to her profile on the Harvard Department of Sociology website, her current research agenda focuses on “U.S. social policy and civic engagement in American democracy, including changes since the 1960s. She has recently launched new projects on the development of U.S. higher education and on the transformations of U.S. federal policies in the Obama era.”

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