Explaining Human Difference


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and American Studies


From the late 1920s into the 1950s, a loose network of public intellectuals, known as the "culture and personality school," collaborated in an epistemic shift in social thought that reverberated through the rest of the twentieth century. They explicitly rejected theories that located meaningful difference in biology and investigated instead how culture and childrearing produced human behavior and social divisions. They applied their approach to race, gender, sexuality, fascism, and military aggression. This study uses the "culture and personality school" to explore the influence of social constructionist thought in the twentieth-century US In so doing, it traces how a group of intellectuals and their popularizers shaped law, policy, and social movements.