Claude Fischer

claude-fischer-175Claude 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.

Family Farms vs. Americanism

German-American Farmers

Claude Fischer: The immigrants viewed farming as a family duty; the interests of wives and children were secondary to the imperative that everyone work hard to expand and pass on the farm from generation to generation.

Telling Stories Versus Telling Data

Selling Through Personal Stories

Claude Fischer: Ronald Reagan, a B-movie actor and an experienced rubber chicken circuit speaker before he became a candidate for office, had remarkable skills in telling amusing, heart-warming, patriotic, and politically-pointed stories.

Work Hours and the Pay Gap

Work vs Home Tensions

Claude Fischer: The pay gap remains even though women now get more education than men and have long been covered by anti-discrimination laws.

Romancing Nature: Eco-Puritanism

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Claude Fischer: For years, political divisions over the environment have had the seemingly odd feature that Americans farthest from the open country have tended to be most supportive of protecting the environment, while those nearest to it — farmers and other rural residents — have been most resistant.

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.

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.

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.