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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Center for Social Theory and Comparative History was established at UCLA in the autumn of 1987. It's aim, broadly speaking is to encourage the development of social theory that is historically rooted and comparative history that is theoretically informed. The core of the Center's intellectual work is the biweekly Colloquium Series, which run more or less every other Monday during the Winter and Spring quarters. Some of the papers from this series appear below. The Executive Committee of the CSTCH is composed of: Robert Brenner, Director (History), Perry Anderson, Associate Director (History), Rogers Brubaker (Sociology), Saul Friedlander (History), Carlo Ginzburg (History), Michael Mann (Sociology), Carole Pateman (Political Science), Ivan Berend (History), Ivan Szelenyi (Sociology), and Maurice Zeitlin (Sociology).

For further information about the Center, please contact Thomas Mertes at

Center for Social Theory and Comparative History

There are 55 publications in this collection, published between 1989 and 2011.
Center for Social Theory and Comparative History Seminar Series (33)

Organizing Against the WTO: Hong Kong

Loong-Yu Au, editor of Globalization Monitor, talked about labor activism in Hong Kong. The accompanying audio files provide the complete recording and audience discussion of the talk given by the author. Those who download the audio files must have their own software for playing and listening.

  • 2 supplemental files

Paths to Modernity: China and India

Wang Hui, editor of Dushu (Beijing), talked about the different historical narratives of China. He argued that the emergence of the modern nation state began in the Song Dynasty and thus the process was independent of European expansion into Asia. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Director, Center for India and South Asia, Department of History, UCLA, discussed theories on the modernization of India. He talked about challenges to the dominant view that modernity was exported to India via British rule. The accompanying audio files provide the complete recording and audience discussion of the talks given by the authors. No formal paper is included. Those who download the audio files must have their own software for playing and listening.

  • 2 supplemental files

Immigration Policy: Who Benefits?

Joel Fetzer undertakes a description of the political basis of the immigration policies under the George W. Bush presidency. He finds that there was not a major difference between the Clinton and Bush administrations on immigration. One exception to this position was the scale of immigration raids and the draconian detentions of migrants. He finds supporters of immigration tend to be in the managerial classes and opponents in the working class. There is also a rising tide of support for immigration reform especially as many Congressional districts have a changing ethnic composition. Fetzer summarizes his talk by noting whom most benefits from “illegal” immigration and who suffers.

Roger Waldinger considers the political quandary that immigration legislation faced in the run-up to comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. He describes the various forms of immigrant entry into the US and the national composition of the immigrant population. He proceeds to note cleavages on both the right and left over the question of immigration that produced “strange political bedfellows”: supporters of more open immigration came from the cosmopolitan left and libertarian right as opposed to the unionist left (not all) and nativist right who favor tight immigration restrictions. While the pro-immigrationists were able to pass the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the forces against reform in 2007 were able to scuttle the new proposal.

The accompanying audio files provide the complete recording of the two talks.

  • 2 supplemental files
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Other Recent Work (22)

A Multilateral Moment: A New US Foreign Policy?

Paul Schroeder presents a historical argument for the declining possibility of wars between the world’s great powers. In large part this new era of peace is generally a success story rooted in practical experience, historical knowledge and institution building since the Concert of Europe. He also contends that the history of US foreign policy has largely been successful though not as commonly asserted. The US was largely a “rent-receiving state”, in the international system, before taking on a role as a “rent-paying state” following World War II. Schroeder concludes that the US must continue to play a vital role in global affairs and not turn inward especially based on a false and myth-based history. General Wesley Clark maintains that the Obama administration has effectively deployed itself in the realm of domestic politics to begin to rebuild US social capital in the international arena. Obama’s appointment of Republican-leaning men to critical foreign policy and defense positions within his administration has squelched potential criticism from opponents. His adept policy decisions have also followed a pattern of moderate reorientation to blunt hostilities that might have emerged by taking more bold positions noting that all policy-making is a matter of politics. Clark turns to analyzing these policy changes as well as the challenges the US faces including Afghanistan, Iraq, Eastern Europe, Israel and Palestine, as well as climate change and nuclear proliferation. He finds that the 16-month-old administration has shifted from a largely unilateral to a multilateral approach of pursuing its national interest. He endorses Schroeder’s call for a continued rent paying US in the international system but also fears domestic forces that could push for a diminished US presence in global politics.

  • 2 supplemental files

What is Good for Goldman Sachs is Good for America The Origins of the Present Crisis

Robert Brenner outlines the long-term causes of the present economic crisis. Rather than understanding the current downturn as merely a function of financial incompetence and miscalculation, he demonstrates that the US economy and that of the G7 has been slower growth in most of the major indices with each passing business cycle since the 1970s. In the last two cycles, asset bubbles inclined US consumers to take on more debt in order to spend and achieve limited GDP growth. Brenner outlines in detail how and why the financial sector played a key role in the creation and inflation of debt bubbles with new financial instruments. The implications for the US and the global economy are also outlined including the US current account deficit, trade imbalances, the rise of China and the East Asian economies as well as declining investment in the real economy and overcapacity in manufacturing worldwide.

19 more worksshow all