Charles Derber

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Charles Derber
Born January 1944
Washington DC
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation Professor of Sociology and American Political Writer
Employer Boston College

Charles Derber is Professor[1] of Sociology at Boston College. Born in Washington DC January, 1944, Derber attended Yale University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1965 and was a member of Manuscript Society. Later, he attended the University of Chicago, where he obtained his PhD. He has also served as the director of Boston College's graduate program on social economy and social justice.


Derber is a prolific writer. Derber's work falls into three major categories. One is a critique of individualism and American culture. In 2000, Oxford University Press[2] printed a 20th year commemorative edition of The Pursuit of Attention, marking its status as a classic sociological work. It focuses on ego-centeredness and "conversational narcissism" in everyday life as structured by class, gender and America’s individualistic culture. Derber's book, The Wilding of America, in its fifth edition, is a widely used text in American sociology. It offers a sharp critique of the American Dream and the crisis of hyper-individualism.

Derber is best known to the general public for his analysis of corporate power and globalization. His book Corporation Nation[3] is an influential study of how corporations penetrate and increasingly control every sector of American life. People Before Profit,[4] a treatment of corporate globalization and its alternatives, has been published in five languages. His more recent books, Regime Change Begins at Home and Hidden Power, advance the literature on the marriage of political and economic power in America. In 2006, the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) nominated Hidden Power[5] as one of the three best American books on current events.

Derber's most recent works focus on ideology and political morality, as well as the new dynamics of global capitalism and of the movements, such as the Occupy Movement, that challenge it. His 2008 book, Morality Wars[6] (co-authored with Yale Magrass), analyzes hegemonic discourses from the Roman Empire to the present. It also examines religious and "born again" ideologies, from German fascism to contemporary evangelical politics in the United States. Another 2008 book, with Katherine Adam, The New Feminized Majority,[7] examines the gendered character of values and politics in America. It shows that a new electoral majority has embraced progressive values historically associated with women; values now shared by millions of men. In 2010, Derber published Greed to Green: Solving Climate Change and Remaking the Economy [8] (Paradigm Publishers, 2010), that shows that climate change is a symptom of a dysfunctional lifestyle that can be solved only through a transformation of American capitalism and neo-liberal globalization. He argues that we are seeing a third wave environmentalism that is inseparable from the broader social and economic justice movements. In 2011, he published Marx's Ghost: Midnight Conversations on Changing the World, [9] also translated also into Korean and Chinese. In an imaginative encounter, Derber engages Marx's ghost in a provocative conversation about today's crises, relying extensively on Marx's own quotations. Turning to a genre of literary social science, based on conversation, Derber lays out alternative visions and political strategies for movements such as the Occupy Movement.

Derber's newest book,published in 2012, The Surplus American: How the 1% Is Making Us Redundant,[10] co-authored with Yale Magrass, continues Derber's evolution into new genres of political writing. The Surplus American features not only a careful analysis of "surplus people," those without jobs or any meaningful place in society, but a concluding play already performed at Boston College. The book describes a dystopia in 2020, where the majority of Americans have been rendered redundant through outsourcing,technological change and a corporate strategy to abandon the entire US economic infrastructure. While first drafted before the rise of the Occupy Movement the analysis is, prophetically, structured around a confrontation on Wall Street between financial elites and surplus people protesters.

Derber is known as a public sociologist who writes for general audiences, offering not only sociological critiques but alternative visions. He appears frequently on talk shows, has written opinion pieces for media including the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsday and Tikkun, and is a regular contributor to Cognescenti, the opinion page of WBUR, Boston's NPR station. He is one of the most prominent contemporary exemplars of the sociological imagination as championed by C. Wright Mills, and, like Mills, he believes in the importance of melding critical scholarship with social justice activism. Derber has long been active in the peace, environmental and labor movements, from his 1960s work to register African-American voters in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and his opposition to the Vietnam War to current movements such as Occupy and the struggle to prevent climate change and transform global corporate capitalism into a robust economic and political democracy.


His works include:


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