Greenfeld, Liah 1954-
GREENFELD, Liah 1954-
PERSONAL: Born August 22, 1954, in Vladivostock, U.S.S.R. (now Russia); daughter of Vladimir (a medical doctor) and Victoria (a medical doctor; maiden name, Kirschenblat) Greenfeld; married Gil Press (a marketing consultant); children: Natan. Education: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, B.A., 1976, M.A., 1978, Ph.D., 1982.
CAREER: Educator and author. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor, 1985-89, associate professor of sociology and social studies, 1989—, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Sciences, 1989-92. Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1989-90. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, visiting associate professor, 1992-93. Writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mellon fellow, 1985-86; Olin fellow, 1987-88; fellow of German Marshall Fund of the United States, 1989-90.
(Editor, with Michel Martin) Center: Ideas and Institutions, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1988.
Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992.
The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Also contributor to numerous professional journals.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Research for The End of the Russian Revolution which considers Russian national consciousness since perestroika.
SIDELIGHTS: As a sociologist, Liah Greenfeld broadens the scope of her research by examining the historical development of sociological issues. This methodology also allows her to expand the analysis of nationalism, which is a subject that is the focus of two of her books.
In Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, Greenfeld examines the historical and sociological development of nationalism in five countries: France, England, Russia, Germany, and the United States. Within this book, she seeks to determine what makes one nation inherently different from another nation—both culturally and politically—and why its citizens gravitate toward a nationalistic identity. Greenfeld maintains that, of these five countries, nationalism developed first in England and grew out of the specific needs of the emerging aristocracy and middle class. The French nobility used this concept of national identity to gain political power. The Russian aristocracy used nationalism as a means of promoting their identities as separate from the classes of people they considered to be beneath them. Nationalism in Germany was not based on aristocracy but, rather, on ethnic identity. American nationalism developed in a completely different manner from its European counterparts because it did not require its citizens to embrace a single, unified identity.
Describing the book as "a series of intellectual histories," Society reviewer Alex Inkeles quoted Greenfeld's summary of the questions the book examines as "why and how nationalism emerged, why and how it was transformed in the process of transfer from one society to another, and why and how different forms of national identity and consciousness became translated into institutional practices and patterns of culture."
In a review for World Politics, Yael Tamir commended Greenfeld's "significant contribution" to the body of sociological research because "she rightly argues that national identity is fundamentally 'a matter of dignity. It gives people reason to be proud.'"
Though Michele Micheletti, writing for International Journal of Comparative Sociology, was distracted by the book's "very detailed and long chapters," she agreed with Greenfeld that "these types of (nationalistic) struggles for recognition have historic roots." A reviewer for Economist also appreciated Greenfeld's historical examination of the subject and called the book "a great contribution to understanding nationalism's place in the world." In a review for Atlantic, Stanley Hoffman said "Greenfeld's enormous effort is serious and impressive," to describe her achievement in writing this book. He then agreed with (and quoted) Greenfeld's own statement from the book that it ". . .is an attempt to understand the world in which we live. Its fundamental premise is that nationalism lies at the basis of this world."
In The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth, Greenfeld again combines historical research with sociological analysis as she examines the role of nationalism in the development of capitalistic economies. She reviews the economic and sociological histories of a number of European nations as well as Japan and the United States. A reviewer for Choice stated that Greenfeld ". . . weaves a rich tapestry, which reads well, and her survey of nonmainstream economic thought is encompassing and well done." In fact, because of Greenfeld's ability to describe the core concepts of this topic in a fundamentally understandable way, a Publishers Weekly commentator called this an ideal book ". . . for a freshman sociology course on the origins of the modern economy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic, August, 1993, Stanley Hoffman, review of Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, p. 101-108.
Choice, May 1, 2002, review of The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth.
Economist, March 27, 1993, review of Nationalism, p. 94-95.
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, January-April, 1994, Michele Micheletti, review of Nationalism, p. 152-154.
Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2001, review of The Spirit of Capitalism, p. 56.
Society, September-October, 1993, Alex Inkeles, review of Nationalism, p. 77-83.
World Politics, April, 1995, Yael Tamir, review of Nationalism, p. 418-440.*