John L. Campbell

Academic Appointments
  • The Class of 1925 Professor

  • Professor of Sociology

John Campbell's research interests span economic and political sociology, comparative political economy, and institutional theory.  He has written about energy and tax policy, the evolution of the U.S. economy, transformations of post-communist societies in Eastern Europe, corporate social responsibility, globalization, the role of ideas and experts in policymaking, and the 2008 financial crisis.  The thread connecting all of this is his interest in how institutions affect national political economies and how they change.  His recent books are The National Origins of Policy Ideas: Knowledge Regimes in the United States, France, Germany and Denmark (Princeton University Press, 2014), which is about how policy research and advising is conducted in different countries; and The Paradox of Vulnerability: States, Nationalism and the Financial Crisis (Princeton University Press, 2017), which is about how small countries responded to the 2008 financial crisis.  His newest book is about the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency entitled American Discontent: The Rise of Donald Trump and Decline of the Golden Age (Oxford University Press, 2018).  He has just finished revising the second edition of The World of States (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and is finishing What Capitalism Needs: Forgotten Lessons of Great Economists (Cambridge University Press, 2021), which is about the fragility and instability of capitalism today.


306C Blunt Hall
HB 6104


  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin at Madison (1984)
  • M.A. Michigan State University (1977)
  • B.A. St. Lawrence University (1974)

Selected Publications

+ View more

Works In Progress

  • What Capitalism Needs: Forgotten Lessons of Great Economists

    The stability of capitalism in the postwar era has been slowly destroyed and replaced by the increasingly fragile system of the twenty-first century.  Mainstream economists have neglected key underlying social forces that are destabilizing capitalism today.  These are the forces of classes, nations and states.  This neglect stems, ironically, from contemporary economists overlooking important sociological and political lessons of some of their greatest predecessors, including Adam Smith, Friedrich List, Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, Karl Polanyi, and Albert Hirschman.  The project explores these economists' arguments about caplitalist instability, how their insights help explan capitalism's instability today, and what this means for capitalism's prospects in the future.  Results will appear in What Capitalism Needs: Forgotten Lessons of Great Economists (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

  • The World of States, second edition

    We live in a world of nation-states.  We cannot understand this world without appreciating the institutional character of different types of states and the nature of the interactions among them.  States are not disappearing due to globalization but they are changing as are their relationships with each other.  This book is a revised and updated version of the first edition, published in 2015.  A lot has happened in the world since then, including China's continued growth as an economic powerhouse, the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, trade wars, a resurgence in nationalism and populism in many countries and the corona virus pandemic.  This second edition takes all of this into account to better understand the world of states.  This new and updated analysis will appear as The World of States (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Selected Works & Activities

American Discontent: The Rise of Donald Trump and Decline of the Golden Age

How did someone with no political experience and who never ran for public office suddenly become President of the United States?  This project answers that question.  Donald Trump's rise to power was just the tip of a deep political-economic iceberg involving slowly developing trends since the 1970s in the economy, race relations, ideology and politics that reached a tipping point, and that was suddenly pushed over the edge by the 2008 financial crisis, Barack Obama's election as President, and his moves to manage the crisis and reform the health care system.  The project also examines how this compares to populist resurgence in Europe, and how it will change the face of American politics and U.S. hegemony in the future.  Results appear in American Discontent: The Rise of Donald Trump and Decline of the Golden Age (Oxford University Press, 2018).