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Stories of Peoplehood
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  • Cited by 85
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Book description

How can we build thriving political communities? In this provocative account of how societies are bound together, Rogers Smith examines the importance of 'stories of peoplehood', narratives that promise economic or political power and define political allegiances in religious, cultural, racial, ethnic and related terms. Smith argues that no nations are purely civic: all are bound in part by stories that seek to define elements intrinsic to their members' identities and worth. These types of stories can support valuable forms of political life but they also pose dangers that must be understood if they are to be confronted. In contrast to much contemporary writing, Stories of Peoplehood argues for community-building via robust contestation among sharply differing views. This original argument combines accessible theory with colourful examples of myths and stories from around the world and over 2,500 years of human history.


‘Rogers Smith’s fresh and incisive intervention in debates about national solidarity exemplifies the combination of historical depth and theoretical acuity that have made Smith one of the most respected and influential political scientists of his generation.’

David A. Hollinger - University of California, Berkeley and author of Postethnic America

‘Rogers M. Smith is the most original political scientist of his generation. His previous scholarship has transformed understanding of the American political tradition. In Stories of Peoplehood: The Politics and Morals of Political Membership, Professor Smith achieves a comparable revision of the idea of nationalist sentiment. In a book of formidable erudition and learning, Smith succeeds brilliantly in reviewing the vast literature on nationalism, reformulating it into a highly innovative and important thesis about peoplehood and demonstrating the analytical purchase of the derived ‘ethically constitutive stories’ as an approach to building better societies. Written in elegant prose, Smith’s argument is illustrated with a dazzling array of examples, historical and contemporary, imagined and real. Many social scientists declaim the need for scholarship engaged with real political and social problems but few succeed as impressively as Rogers Smith does here. This is political science for our times, applying rigorous analysis to compelling moral challenges. I cannot recommend the book too strongly to social scientists, political theorists and historians.

Desmond S. King - Andrew W. Mellon Professor of American Government, University of Oxford

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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