homeprev issuesexecpublic affairsSTAFFASA home

Sociologists Remember William J. Goode

I miss Si dearly, not only because he was a world-class scholar and a true renaissance man, but also because he was such a good friend, much like an uncle. Others will evaluate Si’s great contributions to sociological theory, the study of stratification, and of course the family, among many others. Only those of us who had the privilege to spend time with him, know the other Si: The man who studied with much gusto and to perfection, anything that sparked his interest, the list of which was very hefty indeed. Flowers, sailboats, wine, Hebrew, archaeology, and much, much more. Si knew a great deal about each of these, and with a little encouragement, would share his knowledge with you. But, it was never in the spirit of lecturing or trying to impress you, or imply that you knew less. Si truly enjoyed whatever he was involved with, and he wanted to share that joy with all.

Above all, for me, Si was a very special friend. He hired a whole legion of foreign scholars to teach at Columbia University in the early 1960s. They included a Swede, a Norwegian, a German, Israeli-Americans, and the son of a house painter, a true working class man, among others. His study was a few buildings away from the main department offices. It was there that we went seeking a shoulder to cry on, advice on how to conduct ourselves, and a place to vent our personal frustrations. He had a special sensitivity to these things; he would truly listen, ask germane questions, and give carefully laid out and kind guidance. (When I recently reconstructed some of these conversations for my memoirs, Si kindly reviewed the text and modified the words I put into his mouth. As far as I know, these are the last lines that he ever wrote.)

We all need friends, and we all—especially me—are very short, now that Si left us so hurriedly.

Amitai Etzioni


“Sociology is a field where a mediocre mind can rise right to the top,” was the first thing that I can remember Si Goode saying in his class on Introduction to Social Theory at Columbia University, where I was an awe-struck graduate student in the early 1960s. I can still remember his voice—the flat Western Texas accent etched with East Coast irony. He was an impressive figure, strikingly handsome, parading around the classroom with a rolled cigarette in a long holder that he used to emphasize the frailties of the discipline.

Si was not a modest or self-effacing man—not then, not ever. He thoroughly believed that for sociology to mature, it must go the way of all science by developing a robust theory. And, he retained throughout his academic career, which spanned the last half of the 20th century, an unswerving commitment to fashion the tools to get the job done. He leaves a legacy of some of the very finest and, I believe, most enduring contributions of anyone practicing sociology in this period.

When I arrived at Columbia, however, Si was just beginning to emerge as a leading figure in 20th century sociology. Along with Merton, Lazarsfeld, and lesser luminaries, Si preached and practiced an ambitious “middle-range theory” and “multiple methods.” He was just completing his monumental book, World Revolution and Family Change, a book that would set much of the agenda for research on the family during the decades to follow. (His grand, but thoroughly misguided, Propositional Inventory, an attempt to systematize all empirical sociological knowledge into middle-range theory, soon followed.) What a heady time it was for him and for his students!

As a mentor, Si was relentlessly demanding. On the first draft of several chapters of my dissertation, he liberally scrawled “shit!” alongside other challenges to my statements. I was devastated, only to discover some weeks later that he had recommended these chapters to another student as a model of what a dissertation should be. Full of contradictions and sharp edges, Si was not a warm or especially supportive mentor, but he pushed his students, as he pushed himself, to produce their best.

Yet, he could also be tender and intimate. His macho toughness was laced with a sense of his own vulnerability and a willingness to share the most revealing and sometimes painful parts of his complex character. From 1966 to 1968, Si and I and my fellow student, Larry Mitchell, spent a week each year collecting the works of Willard Waller, with whom, Si had a great intellectual affinity. During that time Si plied us with abundant food and endless stories. I came to discover Si could be a warm and caring friend. We stayed in touch over the years. The last time I saw him, we laughed a lot about the fact that some of his students were approaching retirement. With a twinkle in his eye, he confided that he never thought I would amount to much. “Why,” I asked. “You were too damn interested in having a good time,” Si answered.

Frank Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania


Looking at his photographs, I still can’t believe Si is gone. In spite of his age, death was unexpected and traumatic. He was active and vigorous his entire life. For decades, he skied, scuba dived, and sailed. I can still picture him back in the 1950s, clearing and hauling underbrush, chopping logs, and cutting down trees, and climbing and sawing off the branches of others so we could see the Hudson River from the deck of our house in Piermont, New York. Only a few weeks before he died, Si developed mantle cell lymphoma; the day after his first treatment, he was out on the courts, playing tennis. The day before he died, he took a long walk with several friends through Central Park.

Some people thought Si a wild man. In some ways, they were right. He was passionate and free spirited. There was no separation between the passionate man and the passionate sociologist, the free-spirited husband, lover, father, and friend, and the researcher and scholar who refused to bow to intellectual fad and fashion, trendy theories, and boutique topics. He was intense and filled with wonder, regardless of whether the issue at hand was mushrooms, music, birds, food, the scandalous doings of others—or sociology.

Once, for his birthday, I bought Si a pair of rather expensive Italian pigskin leather racing gloves. He and Lenni, his wife, met my wife-to-be, Barbara, for the first time; we four took a hike, tramping through the muddy woods near Princeton, New Jersey. Suddenly, Si spotted something growing on a log dangling over a creek, and shimmied out onto the log to snag it. The gloves were covered with mud and probably ruined, but back on land, Si triumphantly held aloft a bunch of wild oyster mushrooms, which he cooked for dinner that night. For him, the joy of the discovery and difficult acquisition of the mushrooms equaled the sensuous delight of eating them—and clearly vastly outweighed the value of the fine Italian gloves.

Many of his generation in the sociological fraternity are familiar with the well-publicized story of Si being kicked out of Rice Institute at the end of his sophomore year for wearing short pants. He explained he had to go directly from class to tennis practice; the president of the university said no shorts or you can’t study here. It is the mark of the man not only that he refused to knuckle under to such an edict but, perhaps more telling that, as a scholarship student with quite literally no money, even for a nominal registration fee, he left for the University of Texas, after the president of Rice had changed his mind and asked him to stay. Si was stubborn and independent to his core, and those qualities informed the way he thought and everything he wrote.

As a 12-year-old, in the Red Bank, New Jersey, home of Patricia Salter West, I saw Si, well into his cups, execute a perfect swan dive down a flight of stairs into his good friend Peter Rossi’s open arms. Si insisted that Pete could catch him; Pete was dubious. Sturdy though Rossi was—he was an MP during World War II—they both ended up on the floor in a tangle of arms and legs. It is easy to dismiss the act as little more than the foolish byproduct of intoxication. I am inclined to demur. Instead, I see that same wild exuberance in his intellectual endeavors, his thirst to know, his ceaseless questions about how the world is put together, his powerful bursts of insight, and, if you will, his leaps of imagination. The swan dive and his passion for sociology were woven from the same cloth.

My brother Andy tells me that, while driving on Route 9W, Si hit a deer with his VW Beetle. He only wounded the unfortunate beast, but got a police officer to finish it off with a shot to the head, convinced a judge to allow him to keep its carcass, then drove it home, dragged it down the concrete stairs leading to our house, strung it up on the branch of a maple, and, covered with blood, gutted, skinned, and dressed it in front of a dozen of his own horrified dinner guests who were staring out the window. Andy’s mother, Ruth, insists the onlookers were not guests, but fascinated neighborhood children. Either way, many of Si’s dramatic gestures drew a crowd. Everything he did had a larger-than-life quality to it.

Yes, Si Goode was a flamboyant, charismatic, romantic figure—as they say in Brazil, uma figura mesmo. He was that way, genuinely and sincerely, and he cultivated that image more or less self-consciously. For a time, at festive social gatherings, he wore a silk cape, black on the outside and red on the inside, and black patent leather shoes. For much of his life, he baked an apple into a half-pound tin of Half & Half tobacco, then rolled his own cigarettes and smoked them in a filtered cigarette holder at a jaunty, rakish tilt. Although he gave up smoking years ago, I still associate that baked tobacco-and-apple smell with my dad.

I was born only weeks after Si graduated from college, at the University of Texas. He had hoped to win a Rhodes scholarship, and was bitterly disappointed when he did not. A year later, after completing a master’s degree in philosophy at UT, he headed south to study at the University of Mexico, where he had hoped to run into Leon Trotsky. (Shortly before Trotsky’s assassination, through Trotsky’s bodyguard Si had set up an appointment to talk to the great man.) Instead, he ran into Bernard Barber who, the academic year being 1939-1940, rather than accepting a fellowship to Europe, was vacationing in Mexico after visiting Robert Merton in New Orleans. Merton later told Si about a wonderful field of study—sociology—and of several good friends, Kingsley Davis and George Eaton Simpson, who taught the subject at Penn State. Instantly, Si had new worlds to conquer, and he trudged north to accomplish that mission. The rest, as we say, is history.

Si wanted to be an intellectual conquistador, much in the style of Sigmund Freud, a sociologist on the grand scale of Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. He didn’t appreciate the fact that in a fractured, fragmented field, and in an era, like ours, such titans do not and cannot exist. Si felt his work on social theory was insufficiently appreciated, believing that lesser scholars received greater acclaim. He told me about his bitter disappointment at the response to a book he had just published. He thought he was commanding the field, “Come on, everybody, let’s take that hill!” Yet when he looked around, he realized no one was following him.

Si was an eclectic thinker: His work did not fit into a system or a formula. He elicited unconventionality in others and encouraged his students and readers to think about issues passionately and in an unfettered fashion. His favorite expression was from Walter Pater, “burn with this hard, gemlike flame.” He did, and Si always remained his own man, a sociologist with a message and a legacy: Go thou forth and do likewise.

Erich Goode, University of Maryland-College Park


Si—as everyone knew William J. Goode—was the prototypical man with many strings to his bow. I was never sure which of his many selves he valued most—whether the very learned sociological theorist, the supreme authority on historical continuity and change in family patterns worldwide, the amiable raconteur, the chef seriously striving to dazzle his guests with some culinary masterpiece, or, in his later years, the sophisticated gardener and the emergent artist struggling to find his particular style while facing the empty canvas in his suburban studio outside Washington, DC. Of course, for the sociological profession, it is the work and not the life that counts, and from this perspective we recognize the absolutely exceptional impact of his World Revolution and Family Patterns, which surely has earned the status of a sociological classic. With an awesome range of relevant data he revealed the worldwide tendency to move to a common pattern of family arrangements, while meticulously finding, documenting, and explaining variations on, and exceptions to, his general thesis.

While acknowledging the importance of World Revolution for the profession, I hold in special esteem Si’s effort to serve a more general audience by writing The Family, which he contributed to Prentice Hall’s Foundations of Modern Sociology Series. Through the many printings of this wide ranging, exceptionally concise, and richly informative small book he introduced thousands and thousands of students to a systematic, analytic, and rigorously comparative perspective on the structure and function of the family worldwide.

Si’s propensity was never to waste an opportunity to stress an important principle or to share a significant insight. In keeping with this orientation, he took the occasion of writing the preface to the second edition of The Family to make some observations on the state of our field, observations that are as pertinent now as they were when he first wrote them in 1982. I offer the following samples:

The complexity of modern society suggests we should be cautious about supposing we have finally hit upon a single cause for anything.

If we wish to use the image of causation, we must be willing to do the hard work necessary to pinpoint precisely how anything caused anything.

Whether or not we work out better family systems, at least some of our future social planning will be wiser if we base it on the best of sound sociological research.

And finally:

It is useful to remember that science cannot tell us how we ought to behave. It can only tell us how people actually behave.

If only we had the power to be like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca addressing Sam, his favorite piano player, and could count on a response if we called out: “Play it again, Si!”

Alex Inkeles, Emeritus, Stanford University


William J. Goode made fundamental contributions to our understanding of an astonishingly vast array of behavioral and social phenomena, from love and religion to roles and norms to force and revolution.

But of all his contributions, to me the most dazzling, for both its elegant simplicity and its far-reaching implications, is his insight, discussed in his 1978 work The Celebration of Heroes, that social status increases at an increasing rate with rank on the dimensions which generate status. Goode’s convexity condition sets status apart from other primordial outcomes, such as the justice evaluation, which increases at a decreasing rate with the individual’s amounts or levels of valued goods. Goode’s convexity condition leads to the prediction, among many others, that in a network animated by status, an actor is closer to the neighbor below than to the neighbor above, while in a network dominated by justice concerns, an actor is closer to the neighbor above than to the neighbor below. Of course, status theory depends on many foundational insights, contributed from many quarters, but Goode’s convexity condition is a bedrock.

Although Si never carried out a mathematical analysis, he had a remarkable mathematical intuition (a trait, incidentally, shared with other giants of his generation). He knew as if by instinct that three things are necessary to begin to understand how a sociobehavioral process works: (1) identify clearly what is the outcome and what are the inputs; (2) describe the direction of the effect of each input (increasing, or decreasing, or nonmonotonic); and (3) explore the outcome’s rate of change as each input changes.

Si Goode understood that if the devil is in the details, the secrets of human behavior are in the second derivative.

In his work and in his life—and blessedly until the end—there was an exuberant curiosity and a profound confidence that, through the adventures of many minds and many approaches, sociological knowledge would grow. And at an increasing rate, he might have added, with his customary grace and wit.

Guillermina Jasso, New York University


Si Goode and I were friends and colleagues for more than 50 years, from the early 1950s when we were both Assistant Professors in the Sociology Department of Columbia University, through a decade of great closeness at Stanford University (1977 to 1986), to our last ten years together at George Mason University (1993 to 2003).

Si questioned conventional wisdom and was a pioneer in cross-cultural and comparative research. He was a man of professional integrity, someone I counted on and trusted. He was always direct, and had no patience for posturing and no tolerance for academic pettiness. He was a moral and honorable man.

I have strong personal memories of Si. He and his wife Lenore Weitzman lived next door to my late wife Elsie and I in Stanford. He was a great talker and a passionate conversationalist, coffee drinker, and cigarette roller.

A farm boy from Texas and a Jew from the Bronx—we shared the warmth and intimacy of family. We had wonderful Seders at Passover, although Si undermined my efforts to shorten the service by singing every song. He had an exceptional voice.

In 30 years, I never saw Si in anything but sneakers. This gave him an appearance of being on the go, which he was.

I also admired Si’s intellectual curiosity and his wide ranging interests. When he moved to George Mason, my wife Sydnee and I enjoyed Si’s excellent cooking and hospitality. Si was also passionate about his garden, painting, collecting mushrooms, bird watching, tennis, and music. He pursued all of these interests with great seriousness in his later years, when he claimed he had earned the right to be “a mandarin.” Most recently, in his late 70s, he also decided to learn Hebrew.

He was happy in his pursuits, his family, and his intellectual work.

Seymour Martin Lipset, George Mason University


I first met Si at Wayne State University (then Wayne University), where he was a new faculty member and I was a World War II veteran student. Detroit was an exciting, expanding city with a booming automobile industry, an expanding union movement and a sense that everything was possible. The University reflected that excitement; staffed with young faculty only a couple of years older than the veterans they taught. Boundaries between faculty and students as well as disciplines disappeared and for one brief period there was an ideal forum of mutual learning and friendship. Si referred to the students he met then as the Detroit (academic) Mafia, his acknowledgement of the extraordinary intellectual ferment that permeated that student body. Among the small group of my friends, five became professors of sociology, one went into history, and two went into philosophy. They did their graduate work at Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and the New School. The young faculty at Wayne who were part of our group also moved on to Columbia, Princeton, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Berkeley.

Si loved that period of his life because it mirrored his own life. He lived life with gusto—teaching sociology, sculpting, painting, learning new languages, and was an unabashed physical fitness nut long before it was fashionable. Little did I know at the time that my academic career would become entwined with Si’s. I was present at the beginning of his teaching career at Wayne and when he left Wayne to start his career at Columbia I was there as a graduate student. During the mid-span of his career, I returned to Columbia as his colleague. In the last several years of his life, he, my wife, and I would spend long hours over the phone reminiscing.

Si’s orientation to life remained unchanged from the first day I met him to the day before he died when he told me that he was learning a new language, Hebrew, his tennis game was still going, and he continued to paint. His interest in sociology was as keen as ever. Si’s zest for living was infectious, raising both the level of discourse and the joy of living for students and friends.

Eugene Litwak, Columbia University


Half a century ago, as a graduate student, I was assigned the then-leading methodology textbook in sociology. William J. Goode was senior author with Paul Hatt. As years passed, I came to read his writings on the professions, stratification, and of course, the family. His work in this area was an inspiration, especially as Arlene developed our family reader, and her other writings on the family. But he was still an eminence, not a companion.

He and I became friends when he was President of the ASA and I served on the Council. He became “Si.”

Sociology had brought us together, but our friendship was sustained around skiing, tennis, hiking, dinners with Lenni and Arlene, and talking about everything.

Si was the most naturally gifted man I have ever met. An athlete, a French chef, a polymath who spoke several languages, Si could lecture in German, read Hebrew, sing Spanish love songs a capella, sculpt, paint, play piano, accurately identify plants and wildlife. He set high standards, especially for himself. Consequently, he rarely took full pleasure in his estimable achievements—although he was kind and forgiving of my inadequacies.

Athletic and vigorous into his 80s, I thought that Si, who followed the teachings of his father, a health and fitness guru, would outlive most of his younger friends.

On Saturday, May 3, 2003, (the morning after Bob Merton’s Memorial—the reason for Si and Lenni’s New York visit) he and Lenore and I walked through Central Park’s Harlem Meer and Conservatory Garden. The day was glorious. The sun shone brightly, the apple blossom trees and tulips were in full bloom. We talked about old friends, but as always, a walk with Si also became a lesson in botany and birding. We also talked politics, mostly about frustrations with the Bush administration. Later, in 5th Avenue’s Neue Museum, Si critiqued German art of the Weimar period.

Arlene and I were shocked to learn on Sunday morning that Si had died at 7 am. He had never grown old.

Jerry Skolnick, New York University School of Law


My relationship with Si Goode started with fear and developed into friendship; both were somehow tied to language. Goode was chair of my orals committee at Columbia in 1969. His part of the exam was the ‘sociology of religion’ and he asked me a question about the “Pharisees.” Although this is the name of an ancient Jewish sect, I had no idea what this word means. For a foreign student from Israel, Si probably thought this was an appropriate question. The problem was that in the original Hebrew this name is pronounced very differently and in the excitement of the moment I did not make the connection. Si seemed angry that I did not know the answer and I was terrified, until another committee member came to my rescue.

Years later, after I had many opportunities to realize that Si was a very warm, concerned, and generous person and we were already friends, he and his wife Lenni Weitzman came to Israel for a Sabbatical. I invited them to spend the “Seder” (the festive Passover meal) in Ein-Gev—a large Kibbutz on the East shore of the Sea of Galilee where I have family. Si was very interested in Jewish tradition and the Hebrew language.

He was also a gourmet cook. The next day when we had dinner in the Kibbutz’s restaurant for tourists Si demanded that his St Peter’s fish “should not be overcooked!!” The waitress kept saying “Yes, Yes,” though she had no idea what he wanted and even if she did, she had no control over the cooking- time of hundreds of fish regulated by a computer.

It so happened, that many years after my oral exams I was helping Si with his Hebrew—now I was the teacher and he the student. As in other endeavors he was a perfectionist. His ability to learn this strange and difficult language was amazing, and so was his motivation. After some time he could read a Hebrew newspaper but he was always impatient, aiming for more.

Just a week before Si’s death, I was re-reading his 1960 work A Theory of Role Strain—testimony to the lasting contribution of his brilliant, often provocative, thinking and analysis to sociological theory and research. I will miss him.

Nina Toren, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


My colleague Marty Whyte and I have known many outstanding sociologists, but after our supper with Si Goode in the fall of 2002, we found ourselves singing his praises, convinced that this extraordinary, unique scholar was among the very best. His World Revolution and Family Patterns, written four decades ago, remains the most systematic study of changes in the family. We were impressed by the lasting value of the five decades of scholarly works that followed.

But we were also awed by Si’s sheer vitality, intellectual and physical. He was asking us penetrating questions about Chinese society that got to the heart of key issues that few scholars other than China specialists took an interest in.

At 85, Si walked with a bouncy springiness that many a 50 year old would have envied. He was still enjoying tennis. He loved painting. He kept up his piano even if his lessons had stopped a while before. He was a gourmet cook.

Goode had a classic sociological training and raised questions in the tradition of Weber, Parsons, or his Columbia colleague, Robert Merton. But his perceptiveness of the little details of social life rivaled that of Erving Goffman. Like Marion Levy and Kingsley Davis, other Texas-bred sociologists of his generation who studied with the great institutional economist Clarence Ayers, Si retained an abiding interest in studying social institutions, a joy in cutting through pomp and pretense, and a love of intellectual debate. For a person who at 16 almost apprenticed to his father to become a plumber and who was thrown out of Rice University for wearing shorts to class after a tennis match, Si revealed almost no signs of bitterness. He could engage in penetrating detached analysis, adding insight to injury, criticizing himself and fellow intellectuals as well as upper-crust elites and the disadvantaged poor, but he did so with an engaging fun-loving bemusement.

I agree with Si that his best work is The Celebration of Heroes: Prestige as a Social System, a book that combines his classic sociological imagination with broad-ranging examples from history and different sectors of life, a range that few of us could aspire to, especially with Si’s zest.

I first met Si Goode in 1960 when he invited me to his home in New York. I had been studying the Japanese family and he was preparing his volume on World Revolution and Family Patterns. He wanted me to comment on how well his theories worked for Japan. Very few generalists I have met have shown the willingness to plunge into other cultures with the depth that he did. I have been an admirer ever since.

Whatever unhappiness Si may have had in his earlier marriages, his marriage with Lenore Weitzman over the last 25 years seemed to me among the best. Lenore enjoyed all of Si’s activities and brought a personal warmth that enhanced the richness, breadth, and joy of their intellectual life.

Si leaves a big void and for a man who at 85 still had such vitality, he died too young. He enriched us all.

Ezra F. Vogel, Harvard University


I first met Si Goode in 1953 as my professor at Columbia in a course called “sociological analysis.” I was not his student. I be­came his friend, as a colleague on the faculty of Columbia. As I think back on it, he was the only member of the Columbia pantheon with whom I at least could feel entirely, and always, at ease.

He was absolutely open, frank, and warm at a personal level. He discussed ideas, always listening, always arguing, always inte­res­ting. He never pontificated. He was a learner. In the 50 years since then, he never lost those qualities.

He made his noteworthy and noted contributions in the study of the family, seen as a worldwide phenomenon. But I think he always thought of himself not as a sociologist of the family, but as some­one engaged in sociological analysis. He was impatient of fads, and long on common sense. He was a rare bird. I shall miss his counsel, both wise and flippant. I shall miss his warmth.

Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University


Celebrating The Celebration of Heroes celebrates one of my heroes, Si Goode. It does not capture the caring mentor and demanding teacher, the perennial youth and athleticism, or the crotchet at the restaurant table on a mission to educate all the chefs of the world. It does not capture the gaiety, the wit, charm, and sparkle, the sheer joy of the conversational Si. But it does capture, and to some extent enlarge, the “creatively serious” Si (which is how he describes what he aimed at in his memoir of Merton).

The conversation itself was almost always “creatively serious.” The conversational Si seldom gossiped, seldom intrigued. His conversation was always about ideas, always probing, questioning, inquiring, doubting, ironic, irreverent, iconoclastic, always with a quirky originality, a way of looking at things differently that made you yourself look at things differently, with an insight that made you yourself more insightful.

His work was in most ways like his conversation. It reflected the same inquiring, questioning mind, the same irony, the same iconoclasm, the same quirky originality—that the sociology of the family was not about predicting happy families, that the theoretical importance of love was as much its capacity to disrupt as to bond, that a theory of social exchange was the reduction of role-strain as much as exchange.

But it also had a grand design. Although famous for two great comparative studies of the family, he was above all an apostle of abstract, general theory. Although he appeared to be into everything (religion, family, professions, political sociology, stratification), he was committed to probing beneath the surface of diverse, concrete, observable social orders for the smallest possible number of analytically distinguishable fundamental social processes that created them: analytically distinguishable because of their differences in nature, conditions, and consequences; fundamental because they underlay the social order of any continuing social system. He distinguished four such processes: Force and force threat, wealth, prestige, and sentiment (friendship, love, affection). Although he could seem like a gad-fly, the entire oeuvre was one long-sustained project, on the one hand, to bring rationality, exchange, back into each of these processes, and, on the other hand, to bring the social back into exchange theory.

The culmination of the design was The Celebration of Heroes. Analyzing the nature, conditions, and consequences of one of these fundamental processes, prestige, its objective was to “move beyond the concrete or particular situation, to social regularities or generalizations that can help to explain or illuminate specific social behavior, not only in the twentieth-century United States, but also in other epochs and places” (page vii) and to do so by, on the one hand, bringing rationality, self-interest, and exchange back into status processes, while, on the other, bringing the social back into exchange. It is in many ways like his conversation. It has a quirky originality: It is less about how honor is distributed, or how it embodies values, rewards, or incentives, than about prestige as a mechanism of social control, how it shapes us. It is ironic: Its title is a not so subtle example of his penchant for puncturing pomposity. It is iconoclastic, it breaks not one but two icons. First, it is a cogent critique of the empirical weaknesses of normative consensus; it doubts consensual norms, coherent values, their correlation with action. Second, it is a cogent critique of his own icon, exchange theory—of calculating actors, contracts, and material, as against symbolic, gain, but especially the freedom of markets. His analysis of the regulative role of third parties in exchange is more far-reaching than even Blau’s or Coleman’s. It is inquiring, questioning, questing, never satisfied with the easy answer: Intended as a summing up, it raises more questions than it answers. But what it does sum up is the endlessly creative career of the man.

Morris Zelditch, Jr., Stanford University