Sheri Berman

Sheri Berman

Research Interests


Spring 2021

  • European Political Development (4 credits)
    POLS GU4428
    Prerequisites: Course in European history or political science or relevant comparative politics courses. This is an upper-level course in European political development. It is designed for undergraduates who already have some exposure to European history and politics and graduate students. The course will analyze important theoretical works, and debates about, the evolution of European political systems and institutions since the Second World War and place the European experience in comparative perspective.

Fall 2020

  • Democracy and Dictatorship(4 credits)
    POLS UN3401
    This course will examine the development of democracies and dictatorships in Europe from the French Revolution to the present day. It will analyze the nature and dynamics of European political history and use the European experience as a foundation upon which to build a broader understanding of how different types of political regimes emerge, function and are sustained over time. Prior knowledge of European history and comparative politics is welcome, but not presumed.
  • COLL: Making Democracy Work (4 credits)
    POLS UN3401
    *Admission by application through the Barnard department only.
    This course will examine democratic consolidation and promotion. What makes democracy work and what, if anything, can outside actors do to help this process along? Topics include the theoretical literature on democratic consolidation, historical cases of intervention, debates about Americas role in promoting democracy, and examination of some of the research on democracy promotion. (Cross-listed by the Europen Studies and Human Rights Programs.)


Sheri E. Berman is professor of political science. Her main interests are European politics and political history, democracy and democratization, globalization, and the history of the left. Her two books have examined the role played by social democracy in determining political outcomes in 20th-century Europe. Her courses include Political Development; Making Democracy Work; and Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe.


  • PhD, Harvard University
  • MA, Harvard University
  • BA, Yale University

Selected Publications


  • Democracy and Dictatorship: Europe from the Ancient Regime to the Collapse of Communism
    Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
  • The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Ideological Dynamics of the Twentieth Century
    Cambridge University Press (2006)
  • The Social Democratic Moment: Ideas and Politics in the making of Interwar Europe
    Harvard University Press (1998)

Academic Articles

  • "The Pipe Dream of Undemocratic Liberalism," Journal of Democracy, 28, 3 July 2017.
  • "The Lost Left," Journal of Democracy, 27, 4, October 2016.
  • "Ideational Theorizing in Political Science: The Evolution of the Field since Peter Hall's 'Policy Paradigms, Social Learning and the State'" Governance, 23, 6, 2013.
  • "Warnings from History," Journal of Democracy, 23, 4, 2012.
  • "Social Democracy and the Creation of the Public Interest," Critical Review, 23, 2, 2012. (Reprinted as "Socialdemokratin och skapelsen av allmänintresset," Tankeversamheten, Arbetarrörelsen Göteborg 2014).
  • "The Primacy of Politics versus the Primacy of Economics: Understanding the Ideological Dynamics of the Twentieth Century," Perspectives on Politics, 7, 3, 2009.
  • "Taming Extremist Parties: The Lessons from European Communism," Journal of Democracy, 18, 5, January 2008.
  • "How Democracies Emerge: Lessons from Europe," Journal of Democracy, 18, 1, January 2007.
  • "The Vain Hope for Correct Timing," Journal of Democracy, 18, 3, July 2007.
  • "Violence, Conflict and Civil Society," Mittelweg 36, Spring 2006.
  • "Islamism, Revolution and Civil Society," Perspectives on Politics, 1, 2, June 2003. (Reprinted in Bernard Brown, ed., Comparative Politics: Notes and Readings, Harcourt, Brace, 2005.)
  • "The Roots and Rationale of Social Democracy," Social Philosophy & Policy, 20, 1, 2003.
  • "Modernization in Historical Perspective: The Case of Imperial Germany," World Politics, 53, 3, April 2001.
  • "Ideas, Norms, and Culture in Political Analysis," Comparative Politics, 33, 2, January 2001.
  • "Path Dependency and Political Action: Re-examining Responses to the Depression," Comparative Politics, 30, 4, July 1998.
  • "The Life of the Party," Comparative Politics, 30, 1, October 1997.
  • "Civil Society and the Collapse of the Weimar Republic," World Politics, 49, 3, April 1997. (Reprinted in Patrick O’Neill and Ronald Rogowski, eds., Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, W.W. Norton & Co.2004.)
  • "Civil Society and Political Institutionalization," American Behavioral Scientist, 40, 5, March/April 1997.

Non-Academic Writings