Antti Lepistö

I am an intellectual historian specializing in twentieth-century American thought. My research interests include the history of American conservatism; the culture wars; the reception of the Scottish Enlightenment philosophies of "common sense" and "moral sentiments"; the impact of modern public opinion polling on conservative thought; and the interaction between science and politics in general. My first book, The Rise of Common-Sense Conservatism: The American Right and the Reinvention of the Scottish Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2021), examines late-twentieth-century debates over crime, poverty, multiculturalism, and the family that gave birth to a conservative, anti-expert “common sense” discourse. I received my PhD in history from the University of Helsinki in 2019.

Current project:

My current work examines how the rise of scientific public opinion polling shaped conservative thought in the twentieth-century United States. I explore how conservative thinkers and writers since the 1930s mobilized the new forms of political authority and new conceptions of the mass public that modern opinion polling created. The project sheds new light on the relationship between social science and conservative thought, and how new ways of knowing society changed modern conservative politics.


  • Yhdysvaltojen aatehistoria
  • Konservatismin historia
  • Yhteiskuntatieteiden historia
  • Julkisen mielipiteen tutkimuksen historia
  • Tieteen ja politiikan vuorovaikutus
  • Kulttuurisotien historia

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