Social and Political Studies

American Politics and Political Institutions

AEI is home to several prominent analysts of trends in politics and public opinion, including Michael Barone, Karlyn Bowman, Henry Olsen, and Norman Ornstein. AEI’s team is fully engaged in analyzing the 2012 elections and assessing the rising populist movement in favor of limited government. They continue to host the Politics Watch and Election Watch series at AEI. (Now in its fifteenth season, Election Watch is Washington’s longest-running election program.) Ms. Bowman continues to publish the AEI Public Opinion Studies series, and she produces the monthly AEI Political Report. Mr. Barone coauthors the biannual Almanac of American Politics, and he also is writing a book on American migrations. Last year, AEI embarked on a major new program on American citizenship, directed by Gary Schmitt, which is covering topics like the Constitution and the Founders’ ideas of good citizenship, the relationship of citizenship and patriotism, the importance of healthy governmental institutions, and the state of American civics education.

Legal Center for the Public Interest

The AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest considers the broad range of legal issues facing the nation. The program features research by leading legal and regulatory experts, including Walter Berns, Christopher DeMuth, Michael Greve, Peter Wallison, and John Yoo. Through public conferences and scholarly publications, the Center addresses some of the most important legal questions of our time. Examples include the battle over regulatory control of the wireless market; the constitutionality of an individual health insurance mandate; the limits of presidential executive power; copyright law in the Internet age; the future of federalism; and developments in international law that carry implications for domestic policy. Mr. Greve, whose work focuses on constitutional and federalism issues, will publish a book next year entitled The Structure of the Constitution.

Culture, Freedom, and Social Welfare

One of the biggest challenges facing modern societies is maintaining a culture in which virtue flourishes in tandem with freedom and prosperity. AEI’s W. H. Brady Program in Culture and Freedom addresses this challenge by analyzing modern social and cultural trends. To that end, Charles Murray is working on a book about the cleavages in white America, examining family structure, education, drugs, crime, employment, income, civic engagement, and values.  Christina Hoff Sommers, whose research provides a counterpoise to the standard feminist policy agenda, is working on two books–a volume on the lost history of conservative feminism and a new edition of her bestseller, The War Against Boys. Roger Scruton has convened conferences examining questions of neuroscience and our understanding of the human person, and Sally Satel is writing a book with the working title, Neuroculture: Losing our Minds in the Age of Brain Science. Leon Kass, a former member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, studies humanistic politics, the defense of human dignity, and bioethical issues. AEI president Arthur Brooks writes about the connections between culture, politics, and economic life in America. His book, The Battle: How The Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future, was released in summer 2010, and his next book, The Road to Freedom, will be released in May 2012. He coauthored the monograph, Wealth and Justice, as part of AEI’s Project on Values and Capitalism, a significant new campaign to reach a college-age audience with the free enterprise message.


AEI’s Education Policy Studies Program, directed by Frederick Hess, seeks to build a culture of accountability and entrepreneurship in American K-12 and higher education. Offering original research and incisive commentary, Mr. Hess, along with Lynne Cheney, Andrew Kelly, Charles Murray, Mark Schneider, and others, examine key reform questions and encourage ways to “emancipate” the sector to develop solutions to its long-term challenges. Mr. Hess’s latest books, Education Unbound and The Same Thing Over and Over, argue for a rethinking of the common assumptions associated with schooling. Mr. Kelly is leading a study on cost containment, productivity, and innovation in higher education.

National Research Initiative

The National Research Initiative advances AEI’s commitment to limited but energetic government by engaging outside academics and independent scholars on pressing domestic policy issues. For example, Lawrence Mead is completing a monograph that explores the lessons from welfare reform in the 1990s and how they can be applied to future social policy for nonworking men. Several current projects focus on the economics of health care. Robert Kaestner of the University of Illinois is studying the effects of primary care on overall health and health care costs, and Duke University’s Christopher Conover is authoring the Illustrated Guide to the U.S. Health Economy. Various scholars, including Barry Chiswick, and coauthors Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, are investigating the impact of both low-skilled and high-skilled immigration on the U.S. economy and offering proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. NRI recently welcomed visiting scholar Rachel McCleary of Harvard University, who will study the political economy of religion while in residence at AEI.

Research Highlights

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