American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events

February 2016

Footnotes : Obituaries

  • Ivar E. Berg
  • Theodore Caplow
  • Robert M. Marsh

Ivar E. Berg

Ivar Berg, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, died on January 1, 2016, in Pittston, PA, two days before his 87th birthday. In over a dozen well-known books and more than 70 articles and chapters, Ivar made important contributions to the study of education (especially higher education), labor markets and social stratification, human resources, managers and corporations, and industrial sociology generally.

Ivar was born on January 3, 1929, in Brooklyn, NY, where he attended elementary through high school. His undergraduate education was interrupted twice by service in the U.S. Marine Corps: He was on active duty from 1946 to 1948 and 1950 to 1952, serving in infantry communications in the First and Second Marine Divisions (he resigned in 1965 at the rank of major). He obtained his AB with high honors in political science from Colgate University in 1954. Returning to his Norwegian roots, he was a National Woodrow Wilson fellow and a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oslo from 1954 to 1955. He did his doctoral work at Harvard University from 1955 to 1959, receiving his PhD in 1959 under the tutelage of Alex Inkeles.

Ivar has been a member of the faculties of Columbia University and Vanderbilt University, where he was a professor of economics and sociology, in addition to the University of Pennsylvania Department of Sociology. Toward the end of his 16-year-long stay at Columbia he served as the associate dean of Columbia’s 14 faculties in an interim administration following the upheavals in 1968 related to the Vietnam War. Ivar later chaired the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Sociology (1979–1983), and served as dean of Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences from 1984 to 1989 and as dean of Social Sciences from 1989 to 1991. As the College’s dean he led the faculty in conducting studies targeted on major undergraduate curriculum reforms. His many honors included membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the International Academy of Management.

Ivar’s research focused primarily on the relationship of education to work, as well as on the work structures (e.g., organizations, industries, unions, occupations) that characterize industrial societies. He argued forcefully for the importance of studying the social bases of market phenomena, maintaining that analyses of social institutions and employers’ motivations are needed to supplement economists’ emphases on supply-side dynamics to understand labor market outcomes. Ivar also consistently urged that it is essential to study institutions operating at macroscopic (such as government policies and relations among nations in a world economy), mezzoscopic (such as industry sectors and labor force developments), and microscopic (such as the job definitions and human resource practices that take place within organizations) levels of analysis.

Ivar’s classic book, Education and Jobs: The Great Training Robbery (Praeger 1970; reissued by Percheron Press 2003), still impacts the ways employers, academic leaders, and public policy makers think about the linkages among education, citizenship, personal development, income distribution, and employment. This study cast doubt on economists’ assertions that people with more education earn more because they are more skilled and productive. Rather, employers frequently hire people with certain required levels of education to work in jobs that do not make use of their education (hence, the “great training robbery”). His caution against using educational credentials as indicators of skills was an insight that played a major role in a landmark civil rights decision by the U. S. Supreme Court, Griggs vs. Duke Power Company (1971), and was credited with providing a basis of the formal theory of market signaling, for which Akerlof, Spence, and Stiglitz shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Ivar consulted widely with corporations, universities, and government agencies on matters pertaining to employment requirements, curriculum development, academic standards, higher education’s needs, the formal education of secondary school teachers, and equal opportunities in the world of work. He served as an elected member of the ASA Council and as Chair of the Section on Organizations, Occupations and Work. He was also an elected member of the Sociological Research Association and served as Vice President of the Eastern Sociological Society.

Impressive as Ivar’s scholarly and administrative contributions were, he also made vital pedagogical contributions. In 2001 he was awarded University of Pennsylvania’s Ira Abrams Award for Excellence in Undergraduate and Graduate Teaching. He also mentored many graduate and undergraduate students and made his highest priority the nurturing of younger scholars.

My association with Ivar during the past three decades was both professionally rewarding and great fun. After being inspired as a young graduate student by his book, Education and Jobs, we established a long-term friendship and worked on a series of collaborative efforts. Our writing projects always challenged my spell checker, as his wide-ranging command of vocabulary consistently exceeded the limits of my word processor and his encyclopedic knowledge of American history, politics, economics, and sociology provided me with a constant tutorial. I, along with his many friends and colleagues, will miss him greatly.

Ivar is survived by his wife, Sharon (Calli) Berg, a son and daughter-in-law, Geoffrey and Amy Berg, and stepsons Tim Smallwood (and his wife, Staci Smallwood) and Jim Smallwood (and his fiance, Catta Keith).

Arne L. Kalleberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Theodore Caplow

Theodore “Ted” Caplow, Commonwealth Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Virginia, died peacefully of kidney failure in Charlottesville, VA, on July 4, 2015, at the age of 95. A big supporter of the inspiration that “Mr. Jefferson” is for UVA, Ted would have noted that its founder had also died on the Fourth of July.

Ted’s sociological interests varied across a wide range and he made contributions in many areas. On higher education, his book with Reece J. McGee, The Academic Marketplace, is considered a classic. His books about family and religion in Muncie, IN (Middletown Families, with Howard M. Bahr, Bruce A. Chadwick, Reuben Hill, and Margaret Holmes Williamson, and All Faithful People, with Bahr and Chadwick) updated and expanded the original Lynd studies. His theoretical book, Two Against One: Coalitions in Triads, published in 1968, was an early example of explaining sociological phenomena in terms of their social structure. Ted’s 1954 book, The Sociology of Work, is still valuable reading for its clarity and breadth of thought. So, too, is his early work on formal organizations, Principles of Organization, and its applied cousin, Managing an Organization.

Ted had an extremely orderly, but also capacious and creative, mind. It is a rare combination. He had a habit of using succinct rubrics for complex ideas. For example, in one context, Ted explained a model of conflict that he organized around the l etters SIVA, which stood for Subjugation, Insulation, Violence, and Attrition. In another context—a pair of individuals doing a common task—the letters VISA stood for Valence, Interaction, Status, and Activity. Applied to the problems of managing an organization, VISA became Voluntarism, Integration, Stability, and Achievement.

Ted worked on numerous research projects, large and small, from studies of Air Force morale in the 1950s to the latest iteration of the Middletown studies in 1999. This latest effort, in conjunction with PBS’s end-of-the-century television documentary, The First Measured Century, brought Ted’s career full circle, for a second time. He had originally become interested in sociology when, as a teenager at Columbia, he heard Robert Lynd give a lecture. He followed Lynd to his office for a chat and eventually transferred to the University of Chicago for a BA and MA in sociology. Lynd had done the study we now call Middletown I in the 1920s and Middletown II in the 1930s. Decades later, Ted led the NSF-funded Middletown III project in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Ted’s interest in social change went beyond Middletown—a case study—to an extreme macro focus with his involvement in the Comparative Research Group for the Comparative Charting of Social Change (CCSC). The CCSC group was active from the late 1980s to the 2010s with a series of conferences in Europe and North America. McGill-Queen’s University Press published a series that included profiles of social change in individual countries (the U.S., Quebec, West Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, and Canada) and four comparative studies (Convergence or Divergence?; Leviathan Transformed; Changing Structures of Inequality; Multicultural Variations).

By one measure of academic productivity, Ted Caplow had, I believe, no peer in American sociology in the 20th century: the length of time over which he published in ASA’s flagship journal, American Sociological Review. His first article appeared there in October 1940. It was about hoboes, “Transiency as a Cultural Pattern.” He was 20 years old. His last contribution to ASR appeared in 1998, “The Case of the Phantom Episcopalians.” But Ted also found time for applied sociology, including evaluations of the effectiveness of programs for the elderly, retirement, emergency management, adolescent curfews, zoning and building regulation, and the operation of a medical mediation service that he hoped would alleviate what he considered a crazy lottery of medical malpractice litigation.

Ted’s life was eventful, to say the least. He enlisted in the Army in World War II after getting his M.A. and was made an “amphibian engineer.” After fighting in New Guinea and the Philippines—for which he received a Purple Heart—he arrived in Hiroshima not long after the bomb had been dropped there. The sight left him with an enduring interest in the problem of preventing nuclear war and achieving world peace. His last published book—in 2010—was titled Armageddon Postponed. After the war, he received a PhD at the University of Minnesota in 1946 and joined the faculty there. In 1960, he moved to Columbia University, to the very room where Robert Lynd had talked to him almost 25 years earlier. After a decade in New York City, he accepted the post of Chair of the newly created Department of Sociology at the University of Virginia. He rapidly built the department into one of national prominence by recruiting such scholars as Gresham Sykes and Lewis Feuer. Active in the department until his retirement in 2005, Ted was a mentor to numerous graduate students and faculty members. Along the way, Ted was a visiting professor at Stanford, Bordeaux, Aix-en-Provence, Bogota, Paris, Rome, Utrecht, and Oslo. He served the ASA in various capacities, most notably as its Secretary in the mid-1980s. He was very active in his local Episcopal Church. His passion was sailing, which he did regularly in the summer at his home in Islesboro, ME and on many trips in the Caribbean, across the Atlantic Ocean, and in the Mediterranean. Theodore Caplow’s family and his many friends, colleagues, and students miss him very much.

Louis Hicks, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Robert M. Marsh

Robert Mortimer Marsh, Professor Emeritus at Brown University, died on November 15, 2015, from complications after a stroke. He received his PhD in 1959 from Columbia University and taught at the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and Duke University before coming to Brown University in 1967, where he remained until his retirement in 1998. He served as Department Chair at Brown from 1971 to 1975.

Marsh published seven books over the course of his career, beginning in 1961 with his classic Chinese study, The Mandarins: The Circulation of Elites in China (1600-1900). Comparative Sociology: A Codification of Cross-Societal Analysis published in 1967 was next. These two books foreshadowed the mix of country case studies and comparative research that Bob did throughout his career. Modernization and the Japanese Factory coauthored with Hiroshi Mannari was published in 1976 and The Great Transformation: Social Change in Taipei, Taiwan came out in 1996. Both of these books had a country-specific orientation whereas Trust: Comparative Perspectives, coedited with Masamichi Sasaki in 2012, had a comparative viewpoint, as did many of his articles.

Bob’s transition to Professor Emeritus in 1998 did not mean the end of his scholarly research. In addition to Trust: Comparative Perspectives, he continued to research and to contribute to the scholarly literature through a number of papers. Michael White, a colleague from Brown University, pointed to “Weber’s misunderstanding of Chinese Law” published in the American Journal of Sociology in 2000 as an example of this continuing productivity. Bob’s research collaborator, Professor Masamichi Sasaki, recalled in a note, “A conversation with him was always an enlivening experience because on many occasions he would bring sociological ideas inspired by classical sociologists such as Max Weber into the conversation.” Shortly before his death Bob submitted a paper on cross-national differences in income inequality that David Weakliem, editor of Comparative Sociology, told me will be published in 2016.

His career reflects a devoted scholar who took the steps needed to master a topic. Whether it required learning Chinese or Japanese for his case-studies or demanded studying regression techniques to further his comparative work, Bob Marsh did it. He was devoted to the life of a scholar and to Brown University, his scholarly home for most of his career.

In preparing for this obituary I heard from several of his students whose lives he touched. Doug Pressman (PhD, 1993) wrote to me from Shanghai and described Bob as “a person of integrity and decency, and plain courage.” He doubted that he would have completed his PhD without Bob’s help.

Scott Powell worked with Bob on his MA and PhD (1999) as well as serving as a teaching assistant in several of Bob’s undergraduate classes. He observed that even after retirement, “He still had a wonderful gift, that of intense intellectual curiosity and a love of learning, a passion and a true gift that inspired many of those who knew him.” Ma Rong (PhD, 1987) remembered Bob as the only faculty member at the time who spoke Chinese and how Bob helped him in his graduate career. Another international student from the UK, Ellen Annandale (PhD), fondly recalled Bob’s help throughout graduate school and in the transition to her first permanent position.

Bob’s scholarly pursuits were not his only ones. He loved to sail. I discovered this when I was a graduate student. Bob invited Mike Timberlake (PhD, 1979) and me to help sail his boat. The serious scholar from work gave way to a sailing enthusiast who clearly derived delight from it. He was a patient teacher of two amateurs. I enjoyed seeing this side of him.

Professor John B. Hattendorf of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island informed me that Bob’s sailing interests extended beyond weekend excursions. In the 1990s Professors Hattendorf and Fiering organized Summer Institutes on the history of maritime discovery and the classic age of sailing and Bob attended both. More generally, Professor Hattendorf felt that if he held an event on maritime history, he was sure to see Bob there.

Swimming, bicycling, and cross-country skiing were also among Bob’s favorites. In addition, he was a lover of Bach in particular and classical music in general.

Bob lived a full and well-rounded life. He will be missed.

Bob is survived by Josefina F. Reynes, his wife of 30 years, three children from a previous marriage, and two grandchildren.

Kenneth A. Bollen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill