Sticky Reputations : The Politics of Collective Memory in Midcentury America book cover
1st Edition

Sticky Reputations
The Politics of Collective Memory in Midcentury America

Edited By

Gary Alan Fine

ISBN 9780415894999
Published December 13, 2011 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

Sticky Reputations focuses on reputational entrepreneurs and support groups shaping how we think of important figures, within a crucial period in American history – from the 1930s through the 1950s. Why are certain figures such as Adolf Hitler, Joe McCarthy, and Martin Luther King cemented into history unable to be challenged without reputational cost to the proposer of the alternative perspective? Why are the reputations of other political actors such as Harry Truman highly variable and changeable? Why, in the 1930s, was it widely believed that American Jews were linked to the Communist Party of America but by the 1950s this belief had largely vanished and was not longer a part of legitimate public discourse? This short, accessible book is ideal for use in undergraduate teaching in social movements, collective memory studies, political sociology, sociological social psychology, and other related courses.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The Chaining of Social Problems: Solutions and Unintended Consequences in the Age of Betrayal  2. The Cultural Frameworks of Prejudice: Reputational Images and the Postwar Disjuncture of Jews and Communism  3. Erasing the Brown Scare: Referential Afterlife and the Power of Memory Templates  4. The Construction of Historical Equivalence: Weighing the Red and Brown Scares  5. Romancing the Red: Pete Seeger and the Purification of Difficult Reputations  6. Notorious Support: The America First Committee and the Personalization of Policy  7. An Isolationist Blacklist?: Lillian Gish and the America First Committee  8. Honest Brokers: The Politics of Expertise in the Who Lost China Debate  9. Sticky Reputations: Adolf Hitler and the Stigma of Memory Work

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Gary Alan Fine is the John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. During 2010-2011 he was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is also the author of Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept, and Controversial.


"With this masterful book, Gary Fine solidifies his own reputation as the leading scholar of reputation studies. Fine provides a historical panorama of how and when reputations flourish or sink, shedding light on our current age of celebrity cult(ure). Anyone interested in the intersection of politics and culture will find this a vital resource."

—Daniel Levy, Sociology, SUNY-Stony Brook

"Gary Fine has done it again! Because this stunning book reveals the sociological dynamics of historical reputation, no one interested in America’s past, especially the middle decades of the twentieth century, can afford to ignore it.  Indeed, no one can read Sticky Reputations without new understandings of social issues, politics, and the making of history itself."   

—Barry Schwartz, Sociology, University of Georgia


"Gary Fine argues that reputations depend on the work of cultural "entrepreneurs," people who work to establish or transform the public image of public figures. But he shows here that attempting to diminish a hero or vindicate a villain can be just as consequential for the entrepreneur as it is for the public figure (who, in many cases, is long dead). Together with his previous book on Difficult Reputations, Sticky Reputations defines its field."

—Jeffrey Olick, Sociology, University of Virginia