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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers the concept of the so-called American exceptionalism in new contexts. It explains that American exceptionalism is a highly adaptable narrative for commentators on the political culture of the U.S. was first coined in the mid-twentieth century as part of an attempt by social scientists to explain the lack of a revolutionary socialist response to the failures of industrial capitalism in the Great Depression. The article suggests that rather than reversing or redeeming American exceptionalism, the theorist must now confront it and find new ways to read the role played by the U.S. in a new century, and refuse to be tempted by the easy and apolitical escape of identifying the one true and essential American soul.

Keywords: American exceptionalism, political culture, U.S., industrial capitalism, Great Depression, social scientists

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