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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. Calhoun’s current research focuses on contemporary transformations, and possible futures: for the political economy of the modern world-system, for universities and knowledge institutions, for democracy, and for shifting structures of social solidarity from local communities to nations, transnational relations, and the reorganization of regions. More philosophically, he is exploring the relationship between transformation and transcendence in understanding human existence itself. 

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Campus Protests at Universities

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Students are encouraged to be thinking about the big issues of their time, so they’re taking positions.

Protest as Non-Violent Disruption

"I think, to me, the camp is an evocation of the refugee camps in which so many Gazans and others have found themselves, in an attempt to make a point about that. That’s not violence, that’s disruption."

Definition of Violence

"Violence is when there is actual physical threat or damage. It’s not when people feel uncomfortable; it’s when they might get hurt."

University Policies vs. Laws

"Universities don't make laws, and we should distinguish rules that universities make from laws."



Degenerations of Democracy
with Charles Taylor and Dilip Gaonkar

(Harvard University Press 2022)

Bookcover Degenerations of Democracy

Three leading thinkers analyze the erosion of democracy’s social foundations and call for a movement to reduce inequality, strengthen inclusive solidarity, empower citizens, and reclaim pursuit of the public good.

Book Reviews Degenerations of Democracy (selected)

Jan Zielonka

Steven E. Zipperstein

Beverly Crawford

Craig Calhoun, sociólogo estadounidense: “La desigualdad es un problema para la democracia”

Degenerations of Democracy: Response to Comments.

"While writing Degenerations, Dilip Gaonkar, Charles Taylor, and I debated whether to be more pointed in showing the problems contemporary democracies face or in touting our preferred solutions. We shared a sense of real alarm, and this has only grown in the year and a half since the book was finished." 

Craig Calhoun is the author or co-author of nine 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). He has also edited more than twenty volumes and published over 150 peer-reviewed papers, articles and chapters.


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 two of the most widely used anthologies in the field: Classical Sociological Theory and Contemporary Sociological Theory, now in their 4th edition.


Democracy has been a goal of popular struggles throughout the modern era. In the late 20th century, it was widely viewed as the obvious path for progress in government. Today it is challenged not only by authoritarian regimes and other competitors but also by internal degenerations and upheavals.