"Degenerations of Democracy”: A Clough Distinguished Lecture by Craig Calhoun

November 17, 2022 | 4:00 - 6:00 PM | Gasson 100 | In-person and Virtual Registration | Zoom Link 

Degenerations of Democracy Flyer

Craig Calhoun is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy, and economics. Currently the University Professor of Social Sciences at Arizona State University, he has previously served as Director of the London School of Economics, President of the Social Science Research Council, and University Professor of the Social Sciences at New York University.

As the first speaker in the Clough Center’s relaunched “Distinguished Lecture” series, Prof. Calhoun will address the issues explored in his most recent book, Degenerations of Democracy, co-authored with Charles Taylor and Dilip Gaonkar. Challenging commonplace narratives, this work interrogates the underlying causes of democratic decline, and examines the most promising strategies for revitalizing democracy across the globe. Calhoun’s respondent is Elizabeth McKenna, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and an expert in social movements, political parties, and grassroots democratic politics.


Time: 4:00-6:30

  • 4:00-5:30: Program
  • 5:30-6:30: Reception

Location: Gasson 100


  Zoom Link


Craig Calhoun

Craig Calhoun

Craig Calhoun (Clough Distinguished Lecturer) is the University Professor of Social Sciences at Arizona State University.  Previously, Calhoun was Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and President of the Berggruen Institute. He was also a professor at NYU (where he founded the Institute for Public Knowledge), Columbia University, and UNC-Chapel Hill (where he founded the University Center for International Studies and served as Dean of the Graduate School). He has also been a visiting professor in Asmara, Beijing, Bristol, Khartoum, Oslo, and Paris, and an Einstein Fellow in Berlin. A comparative and historical sociologist and social theorist, Calhoun is also engaged in anthropology, communications, economics, history, international studies, political science, philosophy, and science and technology studies. His newest book is Degenerations of Democracy, with Charles Taylor and Dilip Gaonkar (Harvard University Press 2022). He is also the editor, with Benjamin Fong, of The Green New Deal and the Future of Work (Columbia University Press, 2022) and, with a group of his former students, of the most widely used anthologies of Classicaland Contemporary Sociological Theory (Blackwell, 4th ed, 2022). Prof. Calhoun is the author of nine earlier books including Neither Gods nor Emperors: Students and the Struggle for Democracy in China; Critical Social Theory: Culture, History, and the Challenge of Difference; Roots of Radicalism and Does Capitalism Have a Future? (with Immanuel Wallerstein, Randall Collins, Georgi Derluguian and Michael Mann). Beyond these works, he has edited over twenty additional books, and published over 150 peer-reviewed papers, articles and chapters.

Elizabeth McKenna

Elizabeth McKenna

Elizabeth McKenna (Respondent) is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2020 and arrives at HKS from a post-doc at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and pre-doc at Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. McKenna uses multiple methods (ethnographic, interview, geospatial, and social network analysis) to study organizations, power, and political change. Her current research program examines how civil society can both enable and constrain democracy. In 2021, McKenna received the American Sociological Association’s Dissertation Award for her dissertation, The Revolution Will Be Organized: Power and Protest in Brazil’s New Republic, 1988-2018. She is also the coauthor, with Hahrie Han and Michelle Oyakawa, of Prisms of the People: Power and Organizing in 21st Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2021); and, also with Han, of Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America (Oxford University Press, 2014). Prior to graduate school, she worked as a political and community organizer in Ohio and Rio de Janeiro and earned a B.A. in social studies from Harvard.

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