Research

My areas of specialization include comparative and historical sociology, political sociology, and social theory. I am especially interested in the sociology of citizenship, including the historical development of rights and duties over time, changing levels and forms of civic engagement and political participation, and shifting patterns of civil inclusion and exclusion. That interest has led me to a host of topics, including the struggle for what used to be called social and industrial citizenship, the influence of civic republicanism on Pierre Bourdieu’s political sociology, the emancipation of the Jews in Europe as a paradigmatic case of struggles over civil inclusion and exclusion, the difficulties of organizing democratic publics under changing social conditions, and the tensions between cultural pluralism and the need for a common democratic culture.

My first book, Citizens and Paupers: Relief, Rights, and Race, from the Freedmen’s Bureau to Workfare (University of Chicago Press, 2008), showed how social spending policies became important sites for struggles over the boundaries and rights of U.S. citizenship during three critical junctures in American political development. The book rests on original archival research and engages with scholarship by historians and political scientists as well as sociologists. It won the Outstanding Book Award from the Theory Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and received honorable mention for the Barrington Moore Book Award from the Comparative and Historical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association in 2010.

My second book, Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought (University of Chicago Press, 2017), draws on primary sources as well as secondary sources by historians, philosophers, and sociologists to investigate how Jews became a touchstone for defining modernity and national identity in French, German, and American social thought from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. The book’s concluding chapter proposes a novel explanation for why Jews were such an important cultural reference point and came to signify such varied and inconsistent meanings; it suggests a rethinking of previous scholarship on Orientalism, Occidentalism, and European perceptions of America; and it argues that history extends into the present with Jews—and now the Jewish state—continuing to serve as an intermediary for self-reflection in the twenty-first century. You can read more about my research for this book in an interview by Stefanie A. Jones, “Chad Goldberg on sociology of culture, Jewish studies, and collaboration” (May 21, 2014). You can read an excerpt from the book in Public Seminar: “Have Muslims Replaced Jews as the Other of the Twenty-First Century?” (June 19, 2017).

My research has been generously supported by the Library of Congress and American Historical Association, the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Advanced Research Collaborative at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg and the European Institutes for Advanced Study.

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