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American Sociological Association: Arnold M. Rose
Arnold Marshall Rose
July 2, 1918 - January 2, 1968
Arnold Marshall Rose was born July 2, 1918 in Chicago. Rose was educated at the University of Chicago, receiving his A.B. in Sociology in 1938, an A.B. in Economics in 1939, an M.A. in Sociology in 1940, and a Ph.D. in Sociology in 1946.
Following completion of his Ph.D., Rose served as a Professor of Sociology at Bennington College from 1946 to 1947, Associate Professor of Sociology at Washington University from 1947 to 1949, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota from 1949 to 1952, and Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota from 1952 until his death in 1968.
In 1959 Rose ran for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council but was defeated. He was elected to the Minnesota Legislature from the 41st District in 1962 and represented the district from 1963 to 1965. Though he was interested in a second term, Rose declined to run when he learned he had terminal cancer.
Arnold M. Rose was elected to serve as the 59th President of the American Sociological Association. Unfortunately, he died from cancer at the age of 49 a few months before he was to take office as President. The ASA Council decided that Rose would be regarded as a President of the Association even though he had not served in that capacity. His Presidential address was read at the 1969 Annual Meeting by his wife, Caroline Rose.
In 1967, Rose and his wife, Caroline Bauer Rose, a sociologist who collaborated with him on some of his work, donated $200,000 to the American Sociological Association to establish the Arnold and Caroline Rose Fund. The Rose Series aims to bring the best of sociology to wide audiences in the social sciences.
Over the years, the Series has emphasized the publication of research monographs. Past volumes in the Series include such classics as Black and White Self-Esteem: The Urban Social Child by Morris Rosenberg and Roberta Simmons; Cities with Little Crime: The Case of Switzerland by Marshall Clinard; The Shape of Culture: A Study of Contemporary Cultural Patterns in the United States by Judith Blau; and Gender Differences in Scientific Careers by Gerhard Sonnert. For additional information on the Series, please check out the page on the Rose Series within the Publications portion of this website.
The following article by Carl A. Auerbach was published in the University of Minnesota Senate Minutes for 1967-1968:
No one can read the writings of Arnold Rose without being impressed by his optimism about the human condition; his fierce love of the liberal values of freedom and equality; his sense of sober responsibility as a social scientist and his tolerance for all who labor in the intellectual vineyards.
Those who had the privilege to be his colleagues or to work with him in any of his manifold endeavors or to know him as a friend had no doubt that these characteristics marked the inner man. We grieve for his loss and pay tribute to his memory.
Arnold Rose was imbued with the conviction that society had a right to expect social scientists to assist in combating the evils afflicting it. So many of these evils, he saw, could be alleviated by legal ordering. He did not look upon law merely as the product of the social and psychological factors that mold human behavior. He insisted that law could affect man’s environment, his behavior, and even his attitudes – and so could be used as an effective instrument of peaceful social change in a democracy.
This possibility attracted him to the study of the legal ordering. Appreciating that judges, legislators, administrators, lawyers, and citizens had to deal with society’s problems here and now, he worked to assure that their efforts would be informed about the nature of man and society as his generation’s state of knowledge could make them.
In addressing himself to our problems and entering the political arena to cope with them even more directly, he was not swayed by the criticism he heard from time to time that he was wandering from the main paths of scholarship and should better spend his time constructing theoretical systems.
The fact of the matter is that Arnold Rose was a theorist and methodologist of power. He was troubled because so much social theory was inadequate precisely because it failed to consider law as a factor making for social change. And he undertook to remove this “blind spot,” as he called it, of so many contemporary American sociologists.
He also never thought it necessary to keep his theory pure and unpolitical by avoiding intimate contact with the realities of social disorder and conflict. His academic life guided and enriched his role as a legislator. And his political involvement and experience deepened his insight as a sociologist.
Even more important, his reflection on social responsibility of the social scientists led him to activity which made him a leader of a generation in the struggle against the greatest brutality of our time – race bigotry and race discrimination. To this struggle he committed his mind and his heart.
This commitment began at least as early as September 1941 when only 23 years old, he joined Gunnar Myrdal in the research and writing of An American Dilemma. Even then, Myrdal wrote of Arnold’s “wide knowledge of the social science literature and his sound judgment on methodological problems.” After the book was published, Myrdal acknowledged Arnold’s deep and intimate identification with it. Arnold Rose’s commitment to work for fundamental change in American race relations continued until the day he died.
The very last article he published – in November of the past year – dealt with school desegregation and hammered at his favorite themes. “If there even had been a doubt,” he wrote, “that the United States Supreme Court decision can change social behavior and social institutions, the implementation undertaken by the federal court in Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 should have dispelled it quickly.” And then he proceeded, as he did so many times before, to present a legal theory and supporting sociological data – this time to persuade the courts to outlaw de facto public school segregation and thereby convert “equal justice under the law” from a shibboleth to a reality.
Arnold sought not only to eradicate discriminatory behavior but also to strike at the roots of prejudice. He believed that legislation against discrimination was an important means of breaking tradition of prejudice but not sufficient by itself, to do the whole job. In 1963 he was honored by being named co-chairman with John Hope Franklin of Wayne State University’s celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. He took this occasion to call upon the historians to put into practice “their claimed ideals of good scholarship and science” by eliminating the falsehoods and half-truths in the written history of race relations in this country. In this way, he hoped, we would be helped to “purge race hatred from our minds.”
On occasion, during the last months of his life, Arnold expressed the fear that the fiery and bloody race riots of last summer indicated that many Negroes had weighed the law in the balance and found it wanting. But I do not think he altered the basic views he expressed at the Emancipation Centennial:
“The changes may seem slow to those who labor under discrimination … but the changes are coming.
“Discrimination is being wiped out slowly but certainly, from the laws of our country and from the practices of our industrialists, public servants, civil leaders and even the people in general. As Americans we can continue to be proud of the strength of our national ideals. They help us to be ashamed our malpractices and to make earnest and effective efforts to change them. Our own consciences and our desire to appear decent and strong before the world decree that the battles for ‘civil rights’ are almost consistently being won.”
For Arnold Rose, the ideals of the American Creed, which he equated with the liberal values he cherished, were not utopian or other-worldly. They were here to shape American reality. He always stressed “the dominant role of ideals in the social dynamics of America” and personally acted upon the precepts of that great teacher who, in his final lecture, said:
“It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heave, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”
Arnold Rose’s involvement in the battle for civil rights was the most significant, but not the only one he waged for the realization of the ideals of the American Creed. He was also a champion of the trade unions – not only because they forced American industry to share the fruits of its productivity with its workers, but because he felt that trade unions were responsible for the evolution of a rule of law in industry which secured the individual worker’s claim to his job and thereby gave him a sense of status and community and independence which made him an American citizen in the fullest sense.
It is fitting, too, that the last book Arnold Rose published should be devoted to a refutation of the notion that a small, power elite controls American public life and obstructs the realization of American ideals. He wrote with the younger generation of “new leftists” particularly in mind, because he felt that they failed to understand the society they were rejecting.
Arnold Rose also fought for American ideals in the halls of the Legislature and the courtroom. When he was libeled by a right-wing group, he insisted upon bringing suit, though many of his lawyer-friends advised him that it was risky to place his reputation in the hands of a jury of 12 ordinary people after a trial which was certain to be accompanied by a renewed attack upon him and to be enveloped in a highly emotional atmosphere.
But Arnold feared that his failure to bring suite would encourage attacks upon members of the faculty and endanger academic freedom at the University. He also despised extremist groups, whether of the right or of the left. So he acted, without any assurance at the time that he would be assisted by friends and without any thought of collecting damages.
And of course he was vindicated. This grueling trial – which I attended for many days waiting to be called as a character witness – attests to Arnold Rose’s courage and unselfishness. For in retrospect, it is clear that it was also a trial of strength that he could ill afford in vitality.
We on the Law Faculty will especially miss Arnold Rose. But we prefer to speak of our gain from having him in our midst. He was one of the ornaments of the University but a vital source of inspiration to the Law School in its efforts to build ties with other parts of the University. In 1958, he formed a University Committee to facilitate communication and cooperation in research and teaching in law and the social sciences. He became its first Executive Secretary.
Although the Committee no longer exists, Arnold constantly reminded us that it should be reconstituted. Always quiet and gentle in manner, he could be insistent. The essence of his idea has been elaborated and incorporated in a report on the future of the Law School which has been submitted to President Moos. Only a few weeks ago, we met with colleagues from other departments of the University to discuss this report. Arnold had just been released from the Hospital. Yet he read the long report, attended the meeting and participated in the discussion. That was the last time I saw him.
Arnold was equally active in building bridges between law and social sciences on the national level. He helped to found the Law and Society Association and served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Law and Society Review published by the Association. His last article – on school desegregation – was published in this Review.
Arnold Rose saw sociology as a great cooperative adventure, pursued across many centuries by men of many races, many faiths and many disciplines. He was intensely interested in the comparative study of the institutions of different societies and at the time of his death, he was engaged in comparative cross-national studies in the sociology of law.
Because of his efforts and his influence, a great deal of our most seminal sociological thought now revolves about legal problems. It is no longer possible to describe American sociology without referring to the sociology of law. I like to think this was one of the reasons the nation’s sociologists honored him by electing him President of the American Sociological Association.
Arnold Rose lived a full and productive life. His university and his country are the better for it. He took to heart the words of the ancient seer: “The day is short and the task is great. It is not incumbent upon thee to complete the whole work, but neither art thou free to neglect it.”
The tasks that Arnold Rose laid down will always command the dedication of successors. And his friends know that the most dedicated of these is his remarkable wife, Caroline Baer Rose, who joined him in working with Myrdal in 1942 and remained his closest intellectual companion and staunchest supporter until the end.
Arnold Rose is no more. This will long seem to be improbable because his work and his example live in a new generation of sociologists and legal scholars.