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The Foundations of American Jewish Liberalism

$29.99 (G)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics

  • Date Published: February 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108708852

$ 29.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • American Jews have built a political culture based on the principle of equal citizenship in a secular state. This durable worldview has guided their political behavior from the founding to the present day. In The Foundations of American Jewish Liberalism, Kenneth D. Wald traces the development of this culture by examining the controversies and threats that stimulated political participation by American Jews. Wald shows that the American political environment, permeated by classic liberal values, produced a Jewish community that differs politically from non-Jews who resemble Jews socially and from Jewish communities abroad. Drawing on survey data and extensive archival research, the book examines the ups and downs of Jewish attachment to liberalism and the Democratic Party and the tensions between two distinct strains of liberalism.

    • Offers the most comprehensive examination to date of American Jewish political behavior and how it has developed over time
    • Approaches Jewish political behavior from a social scientific perspective, drawing on survey data and archival research
    • Develops a theory of political action that is relevant to understanding other ethnic and religious groups
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This is a thorough and thoughtful scholarly contribution to the place of Jews in American society, a topic of great interest not only to Jews but to Americans of all religious beliefs and no religious beliefs. A valuable addition to our scholarly understanding of both Jewish and American exceptionalism, The Foundations of American Jewish Liberalism is a standard work, equivalent to the work of Lipset and Raab for a previous generation.' Alan Wolfe, author of The Politics of Petulance: America in an Age of Immaturity

    ‘The Foundations of American Jewish Liberalism is a significant contribution to scholarship in political science, Jewish studies, and American studies. Wald's argument is fresh, the evidence compelling, and the use of mixed methods exemplary. A significant contribution to the field, given its novel explanation, theoretical grounding and methodological pluralism.' Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, Senior Director of Research and Analysis and Director of the Berman Jewish DataBank, The Jewish Federations of North America

    ‘To solve the riddle of American Jewish electoral choices, Kenneth D. Wald ably injects data drawn from social science to buttress his savvy historical judgments in explaining the enduring attraction of liberalism. Few if any scholars exhibit his masterly command of this material or can interpret its meaning with such crispness. Wald's invaluable book is bound to re-ignite a debate over why Jews have constituted so anomalous a minority in the body politic.' Stephen J. Whitfield, Brandeis University, Massachusetts

    ‘Kenneth D. Wald, in a book that handily blends history and political science, deftly tackles an issue that has grabbed the attention of scholars, journalists, political commentators and Jewish communal leaders since the 1950s: why Jewish liberalism in the United States, where did it spring from, and will it last? Wald offers a gripping narrative with a scope that extends back to the era of the Civil War and moves with elegance into our own times. While the national and global circumstances of the Jews have changed radically, their political liberalism barely moves off course. What has intrigued so many before Kenneth D. Wald becomes clearer here in this deeply researched and well written excursion into an issue that, like Jewish liberalism itself, seems to never die.' Hasia R. Diner, New York University, author of The Jews of the United States, 1654–2000

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108708852
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Problem(s) of American Jewish Liberalism:
    1. America is different
    2. Why American Jewish politics is puzzling
    3. How is America different?
    Part II. Development of the American Jewish Political Culture:
    4. How Jews fell in love with the American regime
    5. Jewish political culture in the early national period
    6. Consolidating Jewish political culture
    7. Early twentieth century challenges to Jewish political culture
    Part III. Jewish Liberalism and the Democratic Party in the Post-New Deal Era
    8. Jewish political culture during the 'long sixties' and after
    9. Resurgence of democratic partisanship in the post-new deal era
    10. The persistence of the Jewish liberal tradition

  • Author

    Kenneth D. Wald, University of Florida
    Kenneth D. Wald is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and the Samuel R. 'Bud' Shorstein Professor Emeritus of American Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Florida. He is the author of Religion and Politics in the United States (8th edition, 2018), The Politics of Cultural Differences (2002) Private Lives, Public Conflicts (1997) and Crosses on the Ballot (2016).

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