For a downloadable PDF of the press release, click here.


The research under-pinning this book is a product of the five-year, £5m collaboration between the University of Manchester and Harvard, headed by Professor Putnam: Social Change: a Harvard-Manchester Initiative (SCHMi.). ‘Age of Obama’ is the first in a series of books examining different aspect of major contemporary social changes, which will include U.S.-U.K. comparative studies of religion, inequality, and the social impact of changes to the way we work.

SCHMi is based at the Institute for Social Change at the University of Manchester, directed by Professor Fieldhouse.

For more information on Professor Putnam’s research on civic engagement, visit the website of the Saguaro Seminar which he runs, at

Forthcoming book by Robert Putnam, Tom Clark and Ed Fieldhouse says a British Obama is possible

In electing Barack Obama, the United States has not only chosen a leader who embodies the union of black and white America. It has also selected a President who reflects the ties between established Americans and new arrivals. His white Kansan mother did not only marry a black man, but also a man born abroad. Obama has won real power, but does his arrival also reflect wider change in the treatment of America’s immigrants and minorities? And if so, are similar changes underway in the UK? Or is it true, as Obama himself has suggested, that his story is a uniquely American one?

These are among the questions addressed in a new book by Harvard’s Robert Putnam, the best-selling author of Bowling Alone, which is co-authored by the Guardian writer Tom Clark. It draws on sweeping, collaborative research by a distinguished team from Harvard and Manchester Universities. The most obvious question for Britons is whether the Obama phenomenon could happen in the UK. Despite some caveats – especially the small though growing black British political class - the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Read the PRESS RELEASE here

Read Tom Clark’s Guardian Op-Ed on the prospects for a British Obama here

Read Tom Clarks's Guardian piece

Mixed blessing

As America's first black president makes a historic visit to the UK,
Tom Clark looks at what effect increasing ethnic diversity has on
social harmony this side of the Atlantic...

Listen to Professor Putnam on BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Britain Ready for Black Prime Minister - The Guardian's Allegra Stratton

Read BBC article - Black PM 'likely to take decades'

While based on highly rigorous research, the Age of Obama is a highly readable book.

A sample chapter – covering the difference in minority politics between Britain and America –
is available here.

Charts are also available in PDF form here or are available here.

Institute for Social Change / University of Manchester, 4th Floor, Arthur Lewis Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL

Tel: 0161 275 4269