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American Social and Political Thought

A Concise Introduction

Andreas Hess

Paperback (Printed to Order)

This is a concise but comprehensive introduction to modern American social and political thought. The author aims to demonstrate the rich intellectual tradition of the United States and to facilitate a better understanding of American society and politics through careful exploration of key social and political theories and theorists.

The book is carefully structured to facilitate understanding of potentially challenging ideas. In the first half of the book the author focuses on introducing the core traditions of American social and political thought - Exceptionalism, Protestantism, Republicanism, Liberalism and Pragmatism. The second half of the book applies these traditions to a broad range of twentieth-century conditions and issues - Power and Democracy, Justice and Injustice, Multiculturalism and Pluralism, Civil Society, Social Theory and Intellectuals. The works of some of the most influential figures in the field, such as de Tocqueville, Lipset, Arendt, Hartz, Pocock, Dewey, Moore, Rawls, Walzer, Rorty and Alexander, are drawn upon to illustrate the theories and issues being discussed.

The unique combination of American social and political thought makes this an original and much-needed book for a wide range of readers.

Key Features

  • Fills a considerable gap in the market for an introductory text
  • Structure makes it an ideal teaching tool
  • Unique in covering both American Social Thought and American Political Thought
  • Covers the core theories and theorists, and applies them to contemporary conditions and issues.

About the Author

Andreas Hess is a Lecturer in Sociology at University College Dublin. He is author of American Social and Political Thought: An Introduction (Edinburgh University Press, 2000), Concepts of Social Stratification: European and American Models (Palgrave, 2001) and Die Politische Soziologie C. Wright Mills (Leske + Budrich, 1995).


It offers a valuable introduction to key concepts in US history and politics ... useful as a supplemental text for broader course principles and for sessions on the American Revolution.
- Karen Jones, University of Essex
The author is ideally equipped to bring together continental European and Anglo-American traditions of social theory and analysis, both historical and contemporary, and to interpret one to the other … I have no doubt that this book will become a central text in the field.
- Professor William Outhwaite, University of Sussex