In the field of sociology he has become known as a "sociologist of youth" (From Generation to Generation), a work closely related to the ideas of Talcott Parsons.
Eisenstadt's research contributed considerably to the understanding that the modern trend of a eurocentric interpretation of the cultural program developed in the west is a natural development model seen in all societies [...] the European model is only one: it was merely the earliest. It started the trend. But social reactions, whether in the USA, Canada, Japan or in Southeast Asia took place with completely different cultural reagents. (Frankfurter Rundschau, March 22, 2000)
Background and Education
His family moved from Central Europe to Poland a few generations before Eisenstadt was born in 1923 in Warsaw, Poland. In the early 1930’s Eisenstadt’s widowed mother took him to Jerusalem and he was educated in Palestine from the age of 12. In 1940, Eisenstadt studied at the Hebrew University where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology. After the 1947-48 school year, he went back to Jerusalem to be an assistant lecturer in Martin Buber’s department whom he wrote his master’s thesis under earlier. Eisenstadt stayed at the Hebrew University and began teaching there, served as the Chairman of the Department of Sociology from 1950-1969 and also served as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities for a few years.
Eisenstadt has contributed to the understanding of cultures and civilizations. As a social scientist, “Eisenstadt has focused on the interplay between cultural and structural processes of change and on inherent tensions and antinomies rather than on uniform process of development” Eisenstadt has researched broad themes of social change, modernities and civilizations. One of his arguments is that “fundamentalism is not a traditional but a modern phenomenon”. Eisenstadt sums up his views saying “I try to understand what was the historical experience of the great civilizations…to try to understand the major dynamics of these civilizations and how they became modern societies, how they modernize and how they develop different cultural programs of modernity”.
In honor of Eisenstadts’s contributions to sociology Erik Cohen, Moshe Lissak, and Uri Almagor compiled the book, Comparative Social Dynamics: Essays in Honor of S.N Eisenstadt. The contributions of this book were written by Eisenstadt’s former students and colleagues at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The articles relate to Eisenstadt’s major themes in the study of cultures, modernization, and social and political change. Eisenstadt’s work touches many different fields of sociology, time periods and cultures and the editors felt the leading concept of Eisenstadt’s work was social dynamics.
Professor Edward Shils, Eisenstadt’s professor at one point and long-time friend says, “no one has done more to raise the appreciation of the possibilities of sociology in the fields of traditional humanistic scholarship than S.N. Eisenstadt.”
Eisenstadt’s work won him the Holberg International Memorial Prize in 2006 from the Norwegian Parliament. This prize awarded Eisenstadt for outstanding scholarly work in the fields of the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology. Eisenstadt also received an honorary doctorate at Warsaw University in 2005. Other awards that Eisenstadt has earned are: McIver Prize of the American Sociological Association (1964), Rothschild Prize in Social Sciences (1970), Israel Prize in Social Sciences (1973), International Balzan Prize (1988), Max Planck Award for Social Sciences (1994), Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences (2001), Humboldt Research Award (2002), and the EMET Prize in Sociology (2005). Eisenstadt also received an Honorary Degree from Harvard University. He is a member of: Israeli Academy of Sciences, Honorary Foreign Members of the American Philosophical Society, Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.s., Honorary Foreign Member at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, Honorary Foreign Research Fellow at the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences.
Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity: Moral Education and Economic Culture in Japan and the Four Mini-Dragons.(Review)(Brief Article)
Jan 01, 1999; Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity: Moral Education and Economic Culture in Japan and the Four Mini-Dragons. Edited by...