Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World


Lilia ShevtsovaThe Eleventh Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World was held on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at the Embassy of Canada featuring Lilia Shevtsova, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center. Dr. Shevtsova delivered a lecture entitled "Russia's Political System: The Drama of Decay." :: more


The Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World was inaugurated in 2004 by the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Munk School for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto as an important new forum for discourse on democracy and its progress worldwide.

The lecture is named for one of the great democratic scholars and public intellectuals of the twentieth century. Seymour Martin Lipset’s scholarship on such themes as the conditions for democracy, political parties, voting behavior, extremist movements, ideologies, and public opinion constitutes one of the most prolific, insightful, and widely read bodies of work on democracy ever produced by a single author.

Lipset was also one of the most important comparative analysts of the two great democracies of North America, and a strong advocate for US-Canadian cooperation. The joint US-Canadian sponsorship of the Lipset Lecture provides an opportunity for influential audiences in both countries to hear and discuss a major intellectual statement on democracy each year. It serves as a catalyst for further cooperation between Canada and the United States in the promotion of democracy and democratic ideas around the world.

The Lipset Lecture is delivered in both the US and Canada. It is an intellectual platform for men and women who, like Lipset, have made important contributions to our thinking about key issues of democracy through their writings and other accomplishments.

While some lecturers may be known primarily for their academic achievements, others will have records of public service that equal their intellectual stature. The lecture is published each year in NED’s Journal of Democracy.


Past Lectures

2013 – Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Power-Sharing and Democracy: Three Big Problems

2012 – Alfred C. Stepan, Democratization Theory and the Arab Spring

2011 – Abdou Filali-Ansari, The Arab Revolutions: Democracy and Historical Consciousness

2010 – Ivan Krastev, Paradoxes of the New Authoritarianism

2009 – Nathan Glazer, Democracy and Diversity: Dealing with Deep Divides

2008 – Jean Bethke Elshtain, Religion and Democracy: Allies or Antagonists?

2007 – Pierre Hassner, Russia’s Transition to Autocracy: The Implications for World Politics

2006 – Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Toward Islamic Democracies

2005 – Francis Fukuyama, Identity, Immigration, and Liberal Democracy

2004 – Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Scholarship and Statesmanship


About Seymour Martin Lipset

Seymour Martin Lipset (1922-2006) was one of the most influential and prolific social scientists of the period beginning in the second half of the twentieth century. The son of Russian immigrants, Lipset studied sociology at the City College of New York, whose “Alcove One” brought him into contact with other rising intellectuals of the anti-Stalinist left.

One of Lipset’s major scholarly interests throughout his career has been the question of why socialism never took hold in the United States. This led him to write his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University on the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a Canadian agrarian socialist party that at the time was experiencing significant electoral success in Western Canada. Thus marked the beginning of a lifelong interest in Canada and comparative study of the two great democracies of North America.

Early in his career his interest in the failure of social democracy turned to the comparative study of the conditions for democracy. His major work was in the fields of political sociology, trade union organization, social stratification, public opinion, and the sociology of intellectual life. Lipset’s academic affiliations included Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and George Mason University.

He authored or coauthored numerous books and monographs. Translations of some of these have appeared in eighteen languages. In addition, he edited twenty-four books and published more than four hundred articles. Lipset received the MacIver Prize for Political Man and the Gunnar Myrdal Prize for The Politics of Unreason. His book The First New Nation was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his scholarship has been recognized with many other awards.

Elected to several academic and honorific societies in the United States and abroad, Lipset is the only person to have been president of both the American Sociological Association (1992-93) and the American Political Science Association (1979-80). His many other affiliations include leadership roles in organizations that span the realm of the arts and sciences, public policy, international affairs and the Jewish community. Lipset, who died December 31, 2006, is survived by his three children, David, Daniel and Cici, and his wife Sydnee Guyer.