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Gabriel A. Almond was one of the most creative political scientists of the latter half of the twentieth century. He carried out major work on public opinion and foreign policy; he did pioneering work on political culture, making the study of the subject much more systematic; he was the leading figure in the field of comparative politics, in which he broke down the single-country focus and made the field truly comparative; he brought sophisticated psychological analysis into the study of politics; and he ended his long career with significant work on religious fundamentalism.
The American People and Foreign Policy, published in 1950, was one of the earliest works in behavioral political science. Almond used survey data to explain the periodic swings of American public opinion toward international affairs—from idealistic to cynical attitudes, from a support for withdrawal to support for intervention, and from optimism to pessimism. In The Appeals of Communism, published in 1954, he used surveys and in-depth interviews to demonstrate the fundamentally different nature of the appeals of the communism in countries where it was the “normal” ideology of the working class and in countries where it was a less class-based manifestation of alienation.
Almond’s most lasting contribution was to the systematic study of comparative politics. The Civic Culture (1963, coauthored with Sidney Verba) was one of the first large-scale cross-national survey studies. With its examination of the cultural roots of democracy in five nations, it opened the new field of comparative surveys and was one of the first attempts to study cultural factors in comparative politics systematically. In The Politics of the Developing Areas, Almond and James S. Coleman proposed a broad analytical framework for identifying the basic institutions and processes of social change. In Crisis, Choice, and Change, Almond and his collaborators considered the role of leadership and strategic choice in political change.
Almond also contributed analyses of the state of political science. In A Discipline Divided, he called for a political science that was open to many approaches, a political science that was empirical and whose conclusions were open to testing and falsification.
Late in life, Almond led a large-scale project on fundamentalisms sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The project culminated in an overview volume, Strong Religions, authored by Almond, R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan. The authors consider the role of fundamental religion most broadly, from its social roots to its political consequences. They do not simplify and reduce all forms to a single pattern, but instead allow one to see beyond the particularities of each of the forms of fundamentalism.
- Almond, Gabriel A. 1950. The American People and Foreign Policy. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
- Almond, Gabriel A. 1990. A Discipline Divided: Schools and Sects in Political Science. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
- Almond, Gabriel A. 2002. Ventures in Political Science: Narratives and Reflections. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
- Almond, Gabriel A., R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan. 2003. Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms around the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Almond, Gabriel A, and James S. Coleman, eds. 1960. The Politics of the Developing Areas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Almond, Gabriel A., Scott C. Flanagan, and Robert J. Mundt, eds. 1973. Crisis, Choice, and Change: Historical Studies of Political Development. Boston: Little, Brown.
- Almond, Gabriel A., Herbert E. Krugman, Elsbeth Lewin, and Howard Wriggins. 1954. The Appeals of Communism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Almond, Gabriel A., and Sidney Verba. 1963. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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