William Rainey Harper Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology and the College

Office: Social Sciences 323
Phone: 773-834-4746

B.A. Harvard University, 1980
M.A. University of Chicago, 1985
Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1990


Elisabeth S. Clemens (A.M. 1985, Ph.D 1990) is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago as well as a former Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division. Her research explores the role of social movements and organizational innovation in political change. Clemens' first book, The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925 (Chicago, 1997) received best book awards in both organizational sociology (1998) and political sociology (1999). She is also co-editor of Private Action and the Public Good (Yale, 1998), Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology (Duke, 2005), Politics and Partnerships: Voluntary Associations in America's Past and Present (Chicago, 2010; winner of the 2012 Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize from ARNOVA), and the journal Studies in American Political Development. She is now completing Civic Nation which traces the tense but powerful entanglements of benevolence and liberalism in the development of the American nation-state.

Professor Clemens has served terms as chair of both the political sociology and comparative historical sociology sections of the American Sociological Association, as a member of the Social Science Research Council Program on Philanthropy and the Third Sector, and as President of the Social Science History Association for 2012-13.

Selected Publications:

"Lineages of the Rube Goldberg State: Building and Blurring Public Programs, 1900-1940." In Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State, eds. Ian Shapiro, Stephen Skowronek, and Daniel Galvin. New York: New York University Press, 2006. pp. 380-443.

Review of "Governing NOW: Grassroots Activism in the National Organization for Women," by Maryann Barakso. In Social Service Review 80(2): 360-62, 2006.

Review of Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life by Theda Skocpol. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. In Journal of Interdisciplinary History (forthcoming).

"The Typical Tools for the Job: Research Strategies in Institutional Analysis." InSociological Theory 24 (in press).

"The Constitution of Citizens: Political Theories of Nonprofit Organizations." In The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, 2nd edition, eds. Walter W. Powell and Richard Steinberg. Yale University Press, 2006 (in press).

"Time and Tide: Response to Critics," (with Julia P. Adams and Ann Shola Orloff). InInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology (in press).

Review of The Limits of Market Organization. ed. Richard R. Nelson. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005. In American Journal of Sociology (in press).

Remaking Modernity: Politics and Processes in Historical Sociology, Duke University Press, 2005 (with Julia Adams and Ann Shola Orloff).

"Beyond the Iron Law: Rethinking the Place of Organizations in Social Movement Research," The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, Blackwell, 2004.

"Invention, Innovation, Proliferation: Puzzles of Organizational Change," Research in Social Organization, 2002.

"Recovering Past Protest: Archival Research on Social Movements," Methods in Social Movement Research, University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

"Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change." Annual Review of Sociology 25: 441-66, 1999.

Private Action and the Public Good. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

"Organizational Form as Frame: Collective Identity and Political Strategy in the American Labor Movement." Pp. 205-26 in Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Cultural Framings, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

"Careers in Print: Books, Journals, and Scholarly Reputations." American Journal of Sociology, 101, (2): 433-94, 1995.

"Organizational Repertoires and Institutional Change: Women's Groups and the Transformation of American Politics, 1890-1920," in American Journal of Sociology 98 (4): 755-98, 1993.