Community and The Ordering of Public Life

The Program on Culture and Democracy

Scholars agree that democracy depends upon some shared vision of the common good and the practices that sustain it. Such a vision or public philosophy defines a nation’s collective identity and common purposes; it lays out the standards by which a people judge good and evil, character and cowardice; it provides the overriding framework through which a people mediate contending interests; it establishes the collective ideals to which a nation socializes its young. In their net effect, democratic “first principles” comprise the moral glue by which collective life in a democracy is ordered and sustained even against the challenges of both internal factional disintegration and external threat. The quandary is that politics alone cannot provide what democratic vitality requires. Where, then, do democratic first principles come from and how are they renewed? What are the moral and institutional dynamics capable of generating and sustaining democratic life against the disintegrating tendencies of the early twenty-first century?

These questions are critically important within the American and Western context, but they play out with as much urgency today around the globe. Globalization can be a force for democratization and prosperity, but it tends to corrode traditional norms wherever it finds them and replace them with norms of market efficiency, individualism, and experimentation. As such, people in many parts of the world resist it, sometimes to the point of great violence. How are we to think about and address the relations between culture, democracy, and globalization? Are there the cultural resources available to have a world that is simultaneously liberal, democratic, respectful of cultural and religious difference, and prosperous? How and on what terms might this be possible?

The Program on Culture and Democracy seeks to understand the complex factors that are currently challenging and transforming the normative foundations of democracy and to grapple with the human consequences of these changes.

View past events and a list of publications >>

Past events

“Difference and Democracy in the Post-Secular World,” Fall Lectures by Sir Jonathan Sacks (2010)

“What History Can Teach Us about Radical Islam,” lecture by John M. Owen, IV, The Yale Club, New York City (2010)

“Pluralism and Democracy,” lecture by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Yale Club, New York City (2009)

“The Koran, Democracy, and Human Rights,” lecture by Abdulaziz Sachedina, The Yale Club, New York City (2009)

“Rethinking the ‘New Antisemitism’ in a Global Age,” lecture by Jonathan Judaken (2008)

“Islam and Politics in Europe and America,” lecture by John M. Owen, IV, The Yale Club, New York City (2007)

“Democracies, Dictatorships, and Intellectuals,” Fall Lectures by Adam Michnik (2006)

“Puritans or Pornographers?: Images and Realities of America and the Future of U.S. Power,” conference held in Washington, DC (2006)

“Religion and Politics,” lecture by Mohammad Khatami (2006)

“Religion, Enlightenment, and the New Global Order,” conference held in Vienna, Austria (2005)

“Religion, Secularism and the End of the West?” conference held in Vienna, Austria (2005)

“Discourse and Democracy,” Labrosse-Levinson Lectures by Todd Gitlin, David Brooks, and John Searle (2004)

“From Empire to Community,” conference (2004)

“Jefferson and 9/11,” conference (2002)

“Religion, Culture, and Public Life,” conference (2002)

“The Protestant Structure of American Culture: Multiculturalism or Monoculture?” Labrosse-Levinson Lecture by Robert Bellah (2000)

“Diversity Reconsidered,” Colloquium on Cultural Change (1999)

“Democracy on Trial,” conference (1996)



Bennett, James. Religion and the Rise of Jim Crow in New Orleans. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Ciepley, David. Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Howard, Thomas Albert. God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Hunter, James Davison. Before the Shooting Begins: Searching for Democracy in America. New York: Free, 1994.

Hunter, James Davison, and Alan Wolfe. Is There a Culture War?: A Dialogue on Values and American Public Life. Washington: Brookings, 2006.

Hunter, James Davison, and Carl Bowman. The Politics of Character: 2000 Survey of American Political Culture. Charlottesville: Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, 2000.

Hunter, James Davison, and Carl Bowman. The State of Disunion: 1996 Survey of American Political Culture. Charlottesville: Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, 1996.

Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman. The Politics of Secularism in International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Jakelić, Slavica. Collectivistic Religions: Religion, Choice, and Identity in Late Modernity. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010.

Johnson, Kristen Deede. Theology, Political Theory, and Pluralism: Beyond Tolerance and Difference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Jones, Steven L., and Ann Williams Duncan, eds. Church-State Issues in America Today: A Three Volume Set. Westport: Praeger, 2007.

Kromkowski, Charles A. Recreating the American Republic: Rules of Apportionment, Constitutional Change, and American Political Development, 1700–1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Kumar, Krishan, and Jeff Weintraub, eds. Public and Private in Thought and Practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Lichtermann Paul. Elusive Togetherness: Church Groups Trying to Bridge America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Neem, Johann. Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Nichols, Christopher McKnight. Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.

Nolan, Jr., James. L. Reinventing Justice: The American Drug Court Movement. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Nolan, Jr., James. L. ed. The American Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future Prospects. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996.

Owen IV, John M. The Clash of Ideas in World Politics: Transnational Networks, States, and Regime Change, 1510–2010. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Owen IV, John M., and J. Judd Owen, eds. Religion, the Enlightenment, and the New Global Order. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Sachedina, Abdulaziz. Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism. Persian translation. Mashad: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, 2007.

Schultz, Kevin. Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to its Protestant Promise. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Shields, Jon. The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Smith, Greg. Politics in the Parish: The Political Influence of Catholic Priests. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2008.

Toft, Monica Duffy, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Samuel Shah. God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics. New York: Norton, 2011.

White, Stephen K. The Ethos of Late-Modern Citizen. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Yamane, David. The Catholic Church in State Politics: Negotiating Prophetic Demands and Political Realities. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

Zubrzycki, Geneviève. The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Zunz, Olivier. Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in America: Their Friendship and Their Travels. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010.

Issues of The Hedgehog Review

Articles and Book Chapters

David Ciepley

  • “The Thirties to the Fifties: Totalitarianism and the Second American Enlightenment.” Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America’s Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day. Ed. Charles Mathewes and Christopher McNight Nichols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 155–173.

Pamela D. H. Cochran

  • “A Practice in Democratic Discourse.” INSight 12 (Spring 2005): 4–5.
  • “Women and Moral Diversity.” The Hedgehog Review 3.1 (Spring 2001): 117–124.

Joseph E. Davis

  • “Crossing Cultural Divides: Moral Conflict and the Cairo Population Conference.” The American Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future Prospects. Ed. James L. Nolan, Jr. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. 189–212.

David Franz

  • “Religious Pluralism and Civil Society” (with James Davison Hunter). Nation of Religions: The Politics of Pluralism in Multireligious America. Ed. Stephen Prothero. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. 256–273.

James Davison Hunter

  • “The Culture War and the Sacred/Secular Divide: The Problem of Pluralism and Weak Hegemony.” Social Research 76.4 (Winter 2010): 17–34.
  • “Democracy through Thick and Thin.” Big Questions Online (August 10, 2010).
  • “Polarization and the Crisis of Legitimacy.” The Hedgehog Review 12.3 (Fall 2010): 62–64.
  • “The Politics of Uncertainty.” NPR, Day to Day (April 2005).
  • “Beyond Debate.” The Responsive Community 11.1 (Winter 2001): 76–79.
  • “The Non-Debate Over Abortion.” Society 34.5 (1997): 30–31.
  • “Art and the Politics of Avoidance.” Newsday (July 1997).
  • “Der Amerikanische Kulturkrieg.” Die Grenzen der Gemeinschaft. Ed. Peter L. Berger. Gutersloh, Germany: Verlag Bertelsmann/Club of Rome, 1997. 29–84.
  • “A State of Disunion?” (with D. C. Johnson). The Public Perspective (February/March 1997): 6–38.
  • “Remembering Durkheim.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 35.3 (1996): 246–248.
  • “Reflections on the Culture War Hypothesis.” The American Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future Prospects. Ed. James L. Nolan, Jr. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996. 243–256.
  • “Cultural Politics at the Edge of Life” (with Joseph E. Davis). Journal of Policy History 7.1 (1995): 103–127.

Slavica Jakelić

  • “Moral Consensus in a Secular Age.” Culture 2.1 (Spring 2008): 9–11.
  • “Protecting the State from the Church or the Church from the State?” Novi list (February 2006).
  • “Collectivistic Religions and the Problem of Religious Dialogue” (in Croatian). Dijalogom do mira. Split: Franjevac ki Institut za kulturu mira, 2005.
  • “Religion, Collective Identity, and Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” The Hedgehog Review 6.1 (Spring 2004): 51–70.

Dustin Kidd

  • “Sexual Politics in the Defense of Art: Culture Wars, Mapplethorpe, and the Road from Formalism to Identity Politics.” Research in Political Sociology 13 (2004): 79–112.
  • “Art and Contemporary Culture." The Hedgehog Review 6.2 (Summer 2004): 98–105.

Charles Kromkowski

  • “James Madison” and “Declaration of Independence.” Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War. Ed.Gregory Fremont-Barnes and Richard A. Ryerson. Santa Barbara: ABC–CLIO, 2006. 752–756, 333–337.

Charles T. Mathewes

  • “Religion and Civic Life in the United States.” Reconciling Religion and Public Life: Essays on Pluralism and Fundamentalism in the United States and Germany. Ed. Karin Johnston. AICGS German–American Issues Series (2007): 7–17.
  • “Pluralism, Otherness, and the Augustinian Tradition.” Modern Theology 14.1 (January 1998): 83–112.

Murray Milner, Jr.

  • “Status, Distinctions, and Boundaries.” Handbook of Cultural Sociology. Ed. John Hall, Laura Grindstaff and Ming-Cheng Lo. New York: Routledge, 2010. 295–304.

Johann N. Neem

  • “Civil Society and American Nationalism, 1776–1865.” Politics and Partnerships: The Role of Voluntary Associations in America’s Political Past and Present. Ed. Elisabeth Clemens and Doug Guthrie. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 29–53.
  • “The Early Republic: Thomas Jefferson’s Philosophy of History and the Future of American Christianity.” Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America’s Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day. Ed. Charles Mathewes and Christopher McKnight Nichols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 35–52.
  • “Beyond the Wall: Reinterpreting Jefferson’s Danbury Address.” Journal of the Early Republic 27.1 (Spring 2007): 139–54.
  • “Squaring the Circle: The Multiple Purposes of Civil Society in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.” The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville 27.1 (2006): 99–121.

Christopher McKnight Nichols

  • “The New Nationalism,” “Treaty of Versailles,” and “League of Nations.” The Encyclopedia of United States Political History, 1878–1920. Ed. Robert D. Johnston. Washington: CQ Press, 2010. 264–267, 383–387.
  • “An American Creed? The Cultural Gifts Movement and the Limits of Interwar Diversity.” Reviews in American History 37.2 (June 2009): 255–263.
  • “Rethinking Randolph Bourne’s Trans-National America: How World War I Created an Isolationist Antiwar Pluralism.” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 8.2 (April 2009): 217–257.
  • “Democracy, Politics, and the Media: A Bibliographic Essay.” The Hedgehog Review 10.2 (Summer 2008): 108–117.
  • “Citizenship and Transnationalism in Randolph Bourne’s America.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 20.3 (Fall 2008): 348–357.
  • “What Would the Public Think? An Experiment in Deliberative Democracy.” The Hedgehog Review 7.3 (Fall 2004): 67–76.

John M. Owen, IV

  • “Liberalism and Security.” International Studies Compendium Project. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming.
    “Domestically Driven Deviations: Internal Regimes, Leaders, and Realism’s Power Line.” Neorealism and History. Ed. Ernest R. May, Richard Rosecrance, and Zara Steiner. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 29–48.
  • “How Bad Would a Partition Be?” The National Interest 86(November–December 2006): 20–22.
  • “Democracy, Realistically.” The National Interest 86 (Spring 2006): 35–42.
  • “Iraq and the Democratic Peace: Who Says Democracies Don’t Fight?” Foreign Affairs 84.6 (November–December 2005): 122–27.
  • “Democratic Peace Research: Whence and Whither?” International Politics 41 (2004): 605–17.
  • “Human Rights, Peace, and Power.” Thomas Jefferson, Rights, and the Contemporary World. Ed. Robert Fatton and R. K. Ramazani. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004. 271–82.
  • “St. Benedict after September 11.” First Things 142 (April 2004): 14–17.
  • “Why American Hegemony Is Here to Stay.” Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft (January 2003): 71–86.
  • “Transnational Liberalism and American Primacy, or, Benignity Is in the Eye of the Beholder.” America Unrivaled: The Future of the Balance of Power. Ed. G. John Ikenberry. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002. 239–59.
  • “The Foreign Imposition of Domestic Institutions.” International Organization 56.2 (Spring 2002): 375–410.
  • “Transnational Liberalism and U.S. Primacy.” International Security 26.3 (Winter 2001/2002): 117– 52. Reprinted in Primacy and Its Discontents: American Power and International Stability. Ed. Michael E. Brown et al. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. 245–260.
  • “How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace.” International Security 19.2 (Fall 1994): 87–125. Reprinted in Debating the Democratic Peace. Ed. Michael E. Brown et al. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,1996. 116–54; in Theories of War and Peace. Ed. Owen R. Coté, Jr. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998. 137–75; in International Relations: Critical Concepts in Political Science. Ed. Andrew Linklater. New York: Routledge, 2000. 925–60; and in Peace Studies: Critical Concepts in Political Science. Ed. Matthew Evangelista. New York: Routledge, 2005. 3–40.

Erik Owens

  • “Disestablishment as Legal Paideia: Assessing Michael McConnell’s Educational and Religious Pluralism.” Philosophy of Education Yearbook 2008. Ed. Ronald Davis Glass. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008. 132–140.
  • “Religion and Civic Education in American Public Schools.” Religion, Politics and Policy in the United States and Germany. Ed. Karin Johnston. Washington: American Institute for Comparative German Studies, 2007.

Kevin M. Schultz

  • “World War I and After: Godlessness and the Scopes Trial.” Prophecies of Godlessness: Predictions of America’s Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day. Ed. Charles Mathewes and Christopher McKnight Nichols.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. 137–153.
  • “Citizens, Subjects, and In Between in American History.” The Hedgehog Review 10.3(Fall 2008): 40–65.
  • “‘Favoritism Cannot be Tolerated’: Challenging de facto Protestantism in America’s Public Schools and Advocating a Neutral State.” American Quarterly 59.3 (September 2007): 565–591.
  • “Religion as Identity in Postwar America: The Story of the Last Serious Attempt to Put a Question on Religion in the U.S. Census.” Journal of American History 93.2 (September 2006): 359–84.
  • “Protestant-Catholic-Jew, Then and Now.” First Things: The Journal of Religion and Public Life 159 (January 2006): 23–27.

Jon Shields

  • “Bioethical Politics.” Society 43.3 (2006): 19–24.

Greg Smith

  • “One Church, Many Messages: The Politics of the U.S. Catholic Clergy.” Catholics and Politics: The Dynamic Tension Between Faith and Power. Ed. Kristin E. Heyer, Mark J. Rozell and Michael A. Genovese. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 2008. 44–60.

Nicholas Wolterstorff

  • “A Theological Case for the Liberal Democratic State.” Theology and the Soul of the Liberal State. Ed. Leonard V. Kaplan and Charles L. Cohen. Lanham: Lexington, 2010. 183–199.
  • “Can Human Rights Survive Secularization?” Villanova Law Review 54.3 (2009): 411–420.
  • “The Paradoxical Role of Coercion in the Theory of Political Liberalism.” Journal of Law, Philosophy, and Culture 1.1. (Spring 2007): 135–158.
  • “Jeffrey Stout on Democracy and its Contemporary Christian Critics.” Journal of Religious Ethics 33.4 (December 2005): 633–647.

Genevieve Zubrzycki

  • “The Classical Opposition Between Civic and Ethnic Models of Nationhood: Ideology, Empirical Reality and Social Scientific Analysis.” Polish Sociological Review 3 (2002): 275–295.

Current initiatives

Associated Faculty and Fellows:

Who We Are

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture is an interdisciplinary research center and intellectual community at the University of Virginia committed to understanding contemporary cultural change and its individual and social consequences, training young scholars, and providing intellectual leadership in service to the public good.

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