Professor Claudia Strauss’s New Book Takes an Anthropological Approach to Politics

Caludia Strauss Political Sentiments book cover

Claremont, Calif. (May 24, 2018)–Pitzer College Professor of Anthropology Claudia Strauss’s new book, Political Sentiments and Social Movements: The Person in Politics and Culture, explores how ordinary people construct political meanings, form political identities and engage—or don’t—in politics. Strauss co-edited and contributed a chapter to the anthology, which is published by Palgrave MacMillan.

Political Sentiments and Social Movements draws on psychological anthropology, a field that focuses on the interaction between humans’ behavior and their cultural and social environment. Co-edited with Jack Friedman, the anthology takes a “person-centered approach to politics” that illuminates the relationship between culture and politics through in-depth interviews with people from around the world.

“The stories, commentary, and actions of people in diverse cultural settings provide a deeper understanding of behaviors that are often confusing from a distance,” Strauss and Friedman write in the book’s introduction.

For her chapter, “Engaged by the Spectacle of Protest: How Bystanders Became Invested in Occupy Wall Street,” Strauss drew from interviews with more than 60 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse unemployed Southern Californians.  Other chapters examine the Tea Party in the US, third-gender activism in India, Rastafari in Jamaica, soldiers in Israel who refuse to serve beyond the 1967 borders, Salafi movements in northern Nigeria, post-socialist labor politics in Romania and anti-immigrant activism in Denmark.

The anthology’s contributors come from national and international higher education institutions. Along with Strauss and Friedman, the book’s authors are: Conerly Casey of the Rochester Institute of Technology; Katherine Pratt Ewing of Columbia University; Yehuda C. Goodman of Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Peter Hervik from Denmark’s Aalborg University; Dorothy Holland and Charles Price of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Baishakhi Banerjee Taylor of Middlebury College and William Westermeyer of University of South Carolina Aiken.

Strauss and Friedman dedicated Political Sentiments and Social Movements to “everyone who is making this a better world through political action.”


Professor of Anthropology Claudia Strauss

Claudia Strauss is a scholar of social policy issues, such as immigration and economic justice. Her current research focuses on the life stories and political outlooks of the unemployed and underemployed in the US. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, among other institutions. Her courses at Pitzer include Language, Culture and Society; American Political Discourses; Anthropology and Public Policy; and Life Stories. In 2017, Pitzer’s Student Senate named her Faculty Member of the Year. Strauss earned her AB from Brown University and her AM and PhD from Harvard University.

About Pitzer College

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