Antti Lepistö

I am an intellectual and political historian specializing in twentieth-century American thought. My primary research interests are in the history of conservatism and the interplay of social science, culture, and politics. 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 the family, crime, poverty, and multiculturalism that gave birth to a conservative, anti-expert “common sense” discourse. It shows how leading neoconservative thinkers of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s reinvented and reshaped the ideas of Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, and David Hume to criticize contemporary liberal elites, educational authorities, and social reformers.

My current work examines how the rise of scientific public opinion polling shaped conservative thought and politics 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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