American Exceptionalism. A Double-Edged Sword. Seymour Martin Lipset ( Author, George Mason University). Sign up for the monthly New Releases email. American exceptionalism is an ideology holding the United States as unique among nations in Lipset, American Exceptionalism, pp. 1, 17–19, –74, Lipset’s survey of American exceptionalism proceeds along several lines of attack. Comparisons with Britain and other nations of Europe form the backdrop of.

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Library Locations and Hours. This ideology, Professor Lipset observes, defines the limits of political debate in the United States and shapes our society. American Exceptionalism explains why socialism has never taken hold in the United States, why Americans are resistant to absolute quotas as a way to integrate blacks and other minorities, and why American religion and foreign policy have a moralistic, crusading streak.

Among Lipset’s many works are “Political Man: He also contributed articles to a number of magazines, including The New Republic, Encounter, and Commentary. Lipset died on December 31,as a result of complications following a stroke. Defining exceptionalism as “qualitatively different,” not “great,” Lipset here analyzes attitudes characteristic of American society. He has been doing so for 40 years and here collects and connects his recent articles about what distinguishes America from comparable industrial societies in Canada, Europe, and Lipste.


Lipset argues that the social pathologies many deplore crime, litigiousness, a nonsocialist medical system are a consequence of values they presumably approve, such as individualism, populism, and laissez-faire.

First Measured Century: Interview: Seymour Martin Lipset

That’s the double-edged sword, which Lipset swings through copious quantities of polling and survey data. Among other things, these show Americans are the most religious people in the West by far; that intellectuals as a class are not, and are more alienated from the market system than the bulk of people who believe it works; and that blacks and whites see racism in black xeceptionalism white. But the airless sociological prose and emphasis on opinion polls and “values” surveys may leave nonspecialist readers feeling somewhat oxygen-deprived.

Lipset tackles a question that social critics have pondered for many years: Using extensive survey data comparing the US to other developed nations, the author seeks to put into context the question of the uniqueness of the US. As Lipset argues throughout the book, American exceptionalism is a double-edged sword characterized by personal responsibility, independent action, and voluntarism, but also by self-serving behavior and disregard for communal values.

Amerucan guides the reader through a vast array of comparative survey data that document American uniqueness. He shows that high US crime rates reflect an American individual commitment to achievement by whatever means are available. Although this book’s strength is its comparative focus through survey information, that is also its weakness.


Lipset often accepts survey data unquestioningly, without probing its weaknesses.

American Exceptionalism

The result is an uneven book that provides an interesting overview of the data, including chapters on marginal groups in America, e.

However, the reader is left wondering whether anything has been added to the debate on American exceptionalism. Thank you for using the catalog. United States — Civilization.

Summary “American values are quite complex,” writes Exceptionalksm Martin Lipset, “particularly because of paradoxes within our culture that permit pernicious and beneficial social phenomena to arise simultaneously from the same basic beliefs.

Booklist Review Defining exceptionalism as “qualitatively different,” not “great,” Lipset here analyzes attitudes characteristic of American society.

American Exceptionalism | W. W. Norton & Company

Choice Review Lipset tackles a question that social critics have pondered for many years: Make this your default list. The following items were successfully added. There was an error while adding the following items. One or more items could not be added because you are not logged in.