About Claude Fischer

Claude Fischer is a professor of sociology at UC Berkeley. He is known for his work on urban and community studies, inequality (particularly his response to The Bell Curve, a 1994 book on IQ and class), social networks and personal relationships, and social change in American history. Fischer is best known outside academia for America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940. His recent books include Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character, in 2010, and Still Connected: Family and Friends in America since 1970, in 2011.

Why Americans Resist Universal Healthcare

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Claude Fischer: Two radical notions in the early 1970s, having a black president and permitting homosexual marriage, have pretty much come to pass – in terms of public opinion and public policy.

Folktales of the Policy Elites

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Urban Legends: And then there are “urban legends” that are passed around even by (gasp!) academics. Folktales of the policy elites.

The Public-Housing Experiment

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Public Housing — When the U.S. does public provisioning of basic needs, it does so halfheartedly, perhaps thereby promoting its failure.

American Dream, Twisting

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American Dream Fading — Because many Americans have experienced briefly being poor, sympathy for the chronically poor may be that much harder to come by.

Deservingness

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Loafers and Food Stamps — Maybe we care because able-bodied people who choose not to work and take food stamps are ripping off the rest us.

Squirrely History

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Claude Fischer: Today’s environmentalists see the squirrel’s move to the bright lights as a big mistake. We can see it as another case of Americans’ repeated reshaping of the natural environment — here not for the usual economic reasons, but for moral uplift.

Atheist Evangelism: ‘Nothing New Under the Sun’

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Claude Fischer: A global effort, perhaps tongue in cheek, landed in the U.S. to provide “Sunday Assemblies” with the music and the community of churches, leaving out the God of churches

The Giving Season … and Era

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Claude Fischer: That American parents are increasingly stretching their time and their budgets to help their adult children testifies that family ties continue to bind; that the need to help has grown testifies to the tight bind that young adults face in the 21st century.

Cell Phone Science

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Claude Fischer: Some interesting and perhaps unexpected findings are coming out of research into the sociology of cell phones. One finding is that, however cell phone obsessed we think we are … um, did I just hear a buzz? Is that for me? … Americans are mobile laggards.

Why Do So Many Americans Believe in Ghosts?

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Claude Fischer: As we approach Halloween, note that most American adults in the 21st Century say that they believe in life after death and in the devil; over one-third say that they believe in the spirits of the dead coming back; about that many also say they believe in haunted houses.

Will the Great Recession Create the Newer Deal?

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Claude Fischer: If the Great Depression brought support for the New Deal, should not the Great Recession bring support for a Newer Deal?

Child Labors

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Claude Fischer: Many a parent wonders today whether the weight of schooling, para-schooling, and scheduled enrichments are just too high a burden on children. Perhaps they are.

Loss of Economic Exceptionalism

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Claude Fischer: Today, the U.S. does not provide more upward mobility than other nations do; if anything, young Americans’ economic fortunes are more tied to those of their parents than is true in other western nations.

Immigrants and Historical Amnesia

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Claude Fisher: Whatever position one has on the the current immigration debate, if we are going to invoke history in that debate, let’s invoke the real history: European immigrants a century ago did get help, distinctively high levels of help, on their way to assimilation and success in America.

Suicide Boom?

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Claude Fischer: Baby Boomers are committing suicide at alarming rates. Suicide rates generally rise and fall in response to several factors. Today, there appears to be a confluence of factors at play. One is simply how accurately we determine and count which deaths are suicides.

Sexual License, Sexual Limits

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Claude Fischer: What we see is the development of a sexual code consistent with American “voluntarism”: An individual is free to pursue his or her personal desires against any group pressures except when that individual has entered into a voluntary compact.

Markets, Prices and Justice

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Claude Fischer: Today, Americans are the least likely, among the citizens of affluent nations, to support price controls or generally any interference in the market.

In Healthcare, We’re # Last

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Claude Fischer: Whereas Americans used to live longer and stronger lives than our European counterparts, we have been lapped by the Old World. Maybe we need to think again about our “complex of traditions, principles and institutions.”

How Inequality Kills Growth

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Claude Fischer: To the extent that facts matter in such a politicized debate, it is becoming increasingly clear that equality rather than inequality is a better policy for economic growth.

The Polarizing Political Paradox Redux

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Claude Fischer: Political scientists have long established that most Americans cannot reliably identify which specific policies each party supports, that people adopt party loyalties quite early in life, and that most stick to those loyalties whatever happens.

Shiftless Moochers: The 47% Charge in U.S. History

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Claude Fischer: Whatever the facts may be, the charge that huge numbers of shiftless moochers live off hard-working taxpayers feels true to many Americans – and has felt true to many Americans for centuries.

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