M. Steven Fish
M. Steven Fish is a comparative political scientist who specializes in democracy and authoritarianism, religion and politics, and constitutional systems and national legislatures. He is the author of Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence (Oxford, 2011), which was selected for Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles, 2012: Top 25 Books. He is also author of Democracy Derailed in Russia: The Failure of Open Politics (Cambridge, 2005), which was the recipient of the Best Book Award of 2006, presented by the Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association, and Democracy from Scratch: Opposition and Regime in the New Russian Revolution (Princeton, 1995). He is coauthor of The Handbook of National Legislatures: A Global Survey (Cambridge, 2009) and Postcommunism and the Theory of Democracy (Princeton, 2001). He writes and comments extensively on international affairs and the rising challenges to democracy in the United States and around the world. He appears as a commentator on the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, CNN, CNA, and CNBC and has published commentary in the The American Interest, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, and Foreign Policy. He has served as an expert consultant to U.S. federal agencies and international organizations such as the European Commission for Democracy through Law. He studied international relations, economics and history at Cornell and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies before receiving his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford. In addition to UC Berkeley, he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and universities in Russia, Poland, China, and Indonesia. He served as a Senior Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia, and at the European University at St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia. He has also been the recipient of the Distinguished Social Sciences Teaching Award of the College of Letters and Science at Berkeley.
Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 408 pages.
"This book is a profound achievement. Reading it has been an eye-opening experience to the point that I feel that I will never be able to approach my own work and scholarship in the same way. As far as I am concerned, this book will be mandatory reading for all of my students. This book deserves to be widely read and debated by every student of Islam, by every reader who believes that he or she knows what Islam and Muslims are about, and even by every person who might have the most casual interest in the contemporary Muslim realm.”
--Khaled Abou El Fadl, University of California-Los Angeles
“This book constitutes a major milestone in moving beyond stereotypes and anecdotal evidence, and identifying the ways in which Muslim-majority societies actually are distinctive from other types of societies, utilizing a huge base of empirical cross-national evidence.”
--Ronald Inglehart, University of Michigan
“There’s no book to my knowledge that does what Fish accomplishes here…It provides us with the most comprehensive and scientifically rigorous study of the political, social, and religious attitudes of Muslims in cross-national perspective.”
--Amaney A. Jamal, Princeton University
“A refreshingly brash book. Skilled in empirical analysis, Steven Fish has avoided the temptation to define questions narrowly…Fish insists on following the data wherever it leads him, informed by past scholarly work but not bound by its conventions. He seeks neither to challenge nor confirm popular prejudices. As a result of this sweeping, data-centered approach, both scholarly and non-scholarly audiences will find the book by turns comforting and unsettling.”
--Nathan J. Brown, George Washington University
The Handbook of National Legislatures: A Global Survey (coauthored with Matthew Kroenig). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 808 pages.
“…an impressive undertaking, genuinely novel in its conception, and remarkably broad in scope.”
---John Carey, Dartmouth College
“…a signal achievement…a valuable cross-national index of parliamentary powers and an authoritative reference guide to each of the world's major national legislatures.”
---Thomas F. Remington, Emory University
“…a unique volume of enormous importance in its contribution to the creation of rich and truly comparative data on the formal and informal power of national legislatures across the world. This book is destined to become a chief source for many important contributions in the future.”
---Staffan I. Lindberg, University of Florida
Data from the Handbook of National Legislatures
- Parliamentary Powers Index Scores
- Parliamentary Powers Index Data,
- Parliamentary Powers Index Codebook
Democracy Derailed in Russia: The Failure of Open Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 336 pages. (Recipient of the Best Book Award of 2006, presented by the Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association)
"This is an important work, and should be read both by Russia specialists and those interested in comparative democratization. It is very well written and its presentation is easy to follow, making it amenable for undergraduate course use as well. With this book, Fish has raised the bar for future work on Russian politics."
---Perspectives on Politics
"All serious scholars of contemporary Russia should engage with what Fish has written here, in what is undoubtedly one of the book books on Russia today." ---International Affairs
Democracy from Scratch: Opposition and Regime in the New Russian Revolution. Princeton,NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995. 300 pages.
"This book does a superb job of deparochializing Soviet and post-Soviet studies. But more importantly, Fish sheds new theoretical light on the dynamic of the transition from ideocratic authoritarianism…Elegantly written, conceptually original, and intellectually provocative, Fish's book is a most illuminating contribution to the growing body of scholarship on political democratization and the problematic transitions from state socialism."
---American Political Science Review
"A theoretically sophisticated, original, and convincing account of the emergence of the democratic opposition in the Gorbachev period and after, and the reasons for its continuing weakness, Democracy from Scratch is one of the most important contributions to the political science of the new Russia yet published. It questions much conventional wisdom and should reshape important debates."
- What Has Russia Become?
- Trump, Russia, and the Democrats' Golden Opportunity
- What is Putinism?
- Men, Muslims, and Attitudes toward Gender Inequality
- Policies, Institutions, and Postcomminist Economic Reforms
- Civic Engagement and Democracy in Indonesia
- Islam and Large-Scale Political Violence
- The e-Parliament Election Index
- Diversity, Conflict, and Democracy
- Democratization and Economic Liberalization
- Stronger Legislatures, Stronger Democracy
- Does Diversity Hurt Democracy?
- Islam and Authoritarianism
- Mongolia's Democratization
- Political Parties and Political Development in Bulgaria
- Noncharismatic Personalism in Contemporary Political Parties
Recent Op-Ed Pieces
- Dethroning Ukraine's Oligarchs
- To Establish the Rule of Law, Cut of Elites' Purses and Power (Washington Post)
- How Western Aid Enables Graft Addiction in Ukraine (Washington Post)
- The Saudi-Iranian War (Indian Express)
- State Subsidies Take from the Poor to Give to the Rich (Washington Post)
- Islam Isn't Inherently Violent (The Daily Beast)
- Tax Havens for Depots and Criminals (Washington Post)
- Why Is Terror Islamist? (Washington Post)
- New Atheists are Wrong about Islam (Salon)
- Are Arabs Sexist? (Al Jazeera)
- Coup, Denial, and Myth-Making in Egypt (Indian Express)
- What Tunisia Did Right (Foreign Policy)
- Egypt: at the Beginning of the Road
- Egypt's future needs a strong legislature (CNN)
- Egypt, Muslims, and Democracy (CNN)
- Muslims and Secular Government (San Jose Mercury News)
- The Islamic Community, Tunisia, and the Democratic Paradox (KOMPAS, Jakarta)
- Muslims and Violence (Zaman, Istanbul)
- Kenya's Real Problem (Washington Post)
Some Recent Electronic Media Appearances