- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 6, 2007

Seymour Martin Lipset, a social scientist interested in the peculiarities of U.S. political culture, died Dec. 31 in Arlington from complications of a stroke, his wife said. He was 84.

Mr. Lipset studied the nature of political extremism, and how the core American values of equality and achievement keep class conflict in check.

He also first explained the connection between economic development and democracy, an insight that earned him attention from journalists, policy-makers and academics.

Mr. Lipset was the only person to have been president of the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association.

He was the author of more than 20 books and editor of two dozen.

One of his early books, “Political Man” (1960), sold more than 400,000 copies and was translated into 20 languages. Another, “The First New Nation” (1962), was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Mr. Lipset also held academic positions at Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford and George Mason universities as well as the Hoover Institution and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“He tackles the really interesting questions that seldom seem to occur to the rest of you; why America never developed a serious socialist movement; why you exhibit almost Iranian levels of religiosity; why Canada is so different; and why you so hate turning out to vote but so enjoy joining voluntary organizations,” Mr. Walker wrote in a review of Mr. Lipset’s book “American Exceptionalism” (1996).


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