March/April • Volume 43 • Issue 3

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Randy Hodson, Ohio State University, passed away on February 25 after a valiant battle with cancer. He was a founding member of the ASA Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility section and recent recipient of the section’s Robert M. Hauser Distinguished Scholar Award.

Bruce R. Roberts, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, passed away on June 10, 2014, at the age of 72. He was a Social Psychologist at NIMH where he specialized in research on Schizophrenia.


Ulrich Beck

On January 1, 2015, Ulrich Beck unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. A scholar who enjoyed a towering reputation in Europe, he spent most of his career at the Institute for Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich. From 1997 on, he was also the British Journal of Sociology Visiting Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. Although a staggering number (17, to be exact) of his monographs have been translated into English, Beck was much better known in Europe than in the United States. It may be that his global orientation and his attempts to overcome the epistemological status quo, primarily directed at the pernicious resilience of “methodological nationalism,” did not exactly contribute to the mainstreaming of his ideas in a discipline that, unfortunately, remains largely caged in what he would describe as “the national container.”

Beck rose to academic and public prominence with the 1986 publication of Risikogesellschaft, which coincided with the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. An English translation appeared in 1992 as Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. The book has since been translated into 35 languages and remains one of the most influential interventions into discussions of modernity in the global age—the grand theme that he continuously expanded. With Risk Society Beck introduced the notion of globalization to a broad audience at a time when the term still lacked precision. In that publication he explored two foundational principles of modernity: the belief in progress and the concomitant global context of the interdependencies undermining the very ability to control progress. Contrary to the conventional meaning of risk in what he calls “first modernity,” a mode for assessing uncertainty, the (largely industrial) success of “second modernity” produces its own risks that are no longer controllable. Moreover, these risks (primarily affecting the ecological system, but in his later work also involving financial risks and terrorist threats) can not be spatially contained. For Beck, contemporary modernity is best captured in the notion of “reflexive modernization.”

Focusing on risk and catastrophes, one could be tempted to read Beck as another German Kulturpessimist. Far from it, he viewed the breakup of the national container as an opportunity to advance our analytic vocabulary, much like the founding fathers of sociology who were preoccupied with the transition from Gemeinschaft toward a societal figuration whose complexities harbored potential for the future. This forward-looking approach also informed his seminal books on individualization. Together with his wife Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim, also a sociologist who was his principal intellectual interlocutor, he explored individualization in general and the transformation of love and family relationships in particular. For Beck the unintended (and often negative) side effects of modernity also produced benefits (goods). Risk consciousness yielding to a greater global awareness about the destructive potential of manmade catastrophes was not merely a factor propelling change but a more profound mode of metamorphosis (the title of his forthcoming monograph).

His recent contribution to the field consisted of developing what he referred to as “methodological cosmopolitanism.” Beck approached the theme sociologically, redirecting attention to a process-oriented notion of “cosmopolitanization.” Whereas cosmopolitanism refers to a philosophical-normative structure, cosmopolitanization is both a factum and a social-scientific research program beyond the confines of methodological nationalism. Unlike older philosophical engagements with cosmopolitanism as a universalistic principle, the sociological dynamics of cosmopolitanization imply an interactive relationship between the global and the local. They are not cultural polarities but interconnected and reciprocally interpenetrating principles.

In his last article published in the February issue of Current Sociology, draws on a book manuscript, titled “The Metamorphosis of the World,” that he finished just a few days before his death, Beck succinctly writes. “The metamorphosis of the world is about the hidden emancipatory side effect of global risk. […] They are producing normative horizons of common goods. This is what the author defines as ‘emancipatory catastrophism.’ Emancipatory catastrophism can be seen and analyzed by using three conceptual lenses: first, the anticipation of global catastrophe violates sacred (unwritten) norms of human existence and civilization, second, thereby it causes an anthropological shock, and third, produces a social catharsis.”

I have never met anyone, inside or outside academia, who was so inspired and inspiring. He bubbled with ideas and worked hard to see them through. He was also a paragon of the public intellectual and no doubt the most visible European public sociologist of the last two decades within the United States. The number of prizes, honorary degrees, and his regular op-ed contributions to the feuilleton sections of leading European newspapers are testimony to his status. His commitment to Europe (as both an idea and a practice) stood in direct relation to his cosmopolitan and theoretical sensibilities. Like them the man and his intellect defy compartmentalization. Friends, students, colleagues (in conversations and collaborations), and the public were inspired by his enthusiasm and forward thinking. I am grateful that I had the good fortune to be in Ulrich’s intellectual and personal orbit, very much a constellation of a star whose light will go on shining.

Daniel Levy (Stony Brook University)

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Homer C. Cooper

Homer C. Cooper, 91, passed away Tuesday, November 4, 2014, after a short illness. Homer retired from the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1988, having played an integral role for 24 years in the development of UGA’s sociology department. Homer is best remembered for his steadfast commitment to democratic departmental governance and the fostering of collegial relationships amongst all department members, faculty, staff, and students alike.

Homer’s career in sociology would have begun earlier than it did were it not for World War II. Homer had just entered his first year at Oberlin College when the war broke out. Demonstrating the fortitude that was an essential part of his character, Homer initially registered as a conscientious objector and then from 1943 to the end of the war volunteered to serve as a surgical technician in the China-Burma-India theater. In that capacity, he went on a secret mission into Indochina, during which he was wounded by an explosion and, after his recuperation, was made essentially the mess sergeant for American troops stationed in Shanghai. When the war ended, Homer returned to Ohio to finish his undergraduate degree. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1949 and later earned a PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan. Homer taught at the University of Montana (Missoula), Dartmouth, and the University of Pittsburgh before joining the University of Georgia faculty in the Department of Sociology in 1964.

Homer was part of the sociology department at Georgia during what a local journalist described as a “tumultuous period of transition to corporate management, when opposition to the diktats of the president and his team forced many people out of the university and caused others to keep their heads down and their mouths shut.” Homer was one of those who championed the principle of collegial academic governance, and he stood up to the administration, winning the respect of his colleagues but also the animus of the college administration. In budget conferences, successive heads of the sociology department were unable to pry loose from the college even the most minimum of salary increments, a petty recrimination to which Homer responded not with complaints but with renewed efforts to create a more democratic atmosphere within the college, in part through his longtime membership in the Georgia Conference of American Association of University Professors. The fact that the sociology department at Georgia is known today throughout campus as a model of productivity and collegiality is due in part to the commitment and indefatigable optimism of those like Homer Cooper.

Homer was also active in the state and local Democratic Party and to the surprise of more entrenched political interests in the area won a seat on the Clarke County Commission, serving with dedication and effectiveness from 1973-1975. When Homer ran for the commission, his supporters distributed a leaflet that announced, “Two people can make a difference: you and Homer Cooper.” He did his part. Now, it’s up to those of us who survive him to carry on his good work both as sociologists and as citizens of our world.

James J. Dowd, University of Georgia

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Howard J. Ehrlich

Howard J. Ehrlich, scholar and community activist, died February 2 due to complications from Parkinson’s and cardiac disease. He was 82.

Howard earned his BA and MA degrees from The Ohio State University and his PhD from Michigan State University. Indications of Howard’s wit, intellectual breadth, and willingness to challenge the status quo were evident early on in his essay “Why There Cannot Be a Field Named Social Psychology,” for a required social psychology seminar; within 10 years he was director of a graduate program in social psychology. His doctoral dissertation, a social psychological study of the Michigan State Police, found him having to rethink some stereotypes as he witnessed and analyzed the complex and difficult role of the Michigan State policeman. Power and Democracy in America, his first book, which he co-edited with William D’Antonio, provided an early illustration of his ability to link and draw implications from the major themes of essays put forth by Peter Drucker, Robert Dahl, and Delbert Miller. His critique also revealed his early concerns about alienation as a consequence of the growing power of business and government at all levels of society. He was more prescient than he realized when he stated: “Clearly, what is needed is an educational revolution—a revolution of the scope and impact of the many technological revolutions that have led to the large-scale urban-industrial societies of today. The signs that such a revolution has begun already exist” (1961, p. 151).

His academic and intellectual journey took him from Ohio State to the Mental Health Study Center in Adelphi, MD, and then to the University of Iowa where he developed and directed the Graduate Program in Social Psychology. The three assassinations of the 1960s, the turmoil caused by the Vietnam War, the racial tensions and campus turmoil led Howard to resign from his position as professor of sociology at the University of Iowa in 1971. He moved to Baltimore to become a full-time scholar/political activist. 

Howard founded “The Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy” in 1972, a half-hour radio program that ran on WBJC-FM for 20 years. He founded Research Group One, a small independent publisher of pamphlets and other materials. He founded the Baltimore School in the 1980s, intended as an alternative non-credit school where teachers held classes in their own homes and split the modest tuition with the school administrators. He also founded and edited Social Anarchism in 1980, a journal that pushed forward the boundaries of anarchist theory and political analysis. All of these activities were based in his Charles Village row house.

Howard was the Research Director at the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, based in the University of Maryland-Baltimore, from 1986-1993. He coined the term “ethnoviolence”—physical or verbal violence motivated by prejudice—and studied its emotional and physical impact on the lives of victims. He conducted the first National Survey of Ethnoviolence, two studies of UMBC students and a study of intergroup relations in an Eastern corporation, with co-PI Barbara Larcom. His ethnoviolence questionnaire was used for more than 25 college campus studies around the country. When the National Institute disbanded, Ehrlich continued his work by founding The Prejudice Institute, which he directed until shortly before his death.

He published eight books, most recently Hate Crimes and Ethnoviolence (2009)and The Best of Social Anarchism, co-edited with A.H.S. Boy (2013). An avid bread baker, he wrote Fast Breads! (1986), under the pen name Howard Early. As a wine connoisseur, he also held numerous public tastings over the years.
In addition to his other activities, Howard worked for the Maryland Committee on Occupational Safety and Health for a year, and he was President of Research Associates Foundation, an organization that awards mini-grants to progressive Baltimore activists and organizations.

According to Spud Henderson, his friend and colleague, “I read Social Anarchism in my college years. When I moved to Baltimore in the early 1990s, I realized I lived a mere 2 blocks from the Social Anarchism office, so I popped over to introduce myself. I soon found myself co-editor, and that began a relationship of camaraderie and weekly meetings that lasted two decades. I’ll miss his silly humor (he originally wanted to name the journal “Broccoli”, which always appealed to my Dada nature), and his relentless struggle against the implements of oppression, be they physical or psychological.”

In 1994 Howard received the Sociological Practice Award from the Society of Applied Sociology, for his “unique combination of applied research, community service, and social activism;” in 2004, he received the Sages Award, presented by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues to older scholars in recognition of their careers, and to support their current activities. In this case, the award was to honor him for his project, “The Production of Pathology: The Social Function of Local TV News.” In 2007 his book, Race and Ethnic Conflict, was cited by Questia as one of the 15 most important works on the subject.

He is survived by his partner of many years, Dr. Patricia Webbink; his son, Andrew Webbink; and a loyal circle of friends.

William D’Antonio, Catholic University, Barbara Larcom, Johns Hopkins University, Fred L. Pincus, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Patricia Webbink, Bethesda Wellness Centers.

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Adeline “Addie” Levine

University at Buffalo Professor Emerita Adeline “Addie” Gordon Levine, an expert on community responses to environmental disasters and one of the founders of the field of environmental sociology, died of cancer February 26 in her Buffalo home. She was 89.

Levine was a member of the University of Buffalo (UB) sociology faculty from 1968 until her retirement in 1990 and remained a champion of public education, environmental health, and the rights of women and the elderly until the end of her life.

The importance of her 1982 publication “Love Canal: Science, Politics and People” was recognized in the journal Science, and for more than 30 years it has remained central to the understanding and empowerment of communities confronted with manmade disasters.

Levine co-founded the Pro-Choice Network of Western New York to assist women harassed when seeking legal abortions in Buffalo medical clinics. The network obtained a federal court injunction to prevent illegal conduct near abortion clinics in the Buffalo area, an injunction that in 1997 was largely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a result of her pioneering efforts in environmental science, Levine was invited to a dozen countries to consult and present her findings. Her work has been cited by hundreds of researchers, and her students and followers continue to contribute to our understanding and alleviating the consequences of these disasters.

“Addie spent her life creating communities of thought and laughter — pursuing ‘ideal aims,’ a term coined by Stanley Coit, an early advocate for immigration and child welfare reform,” said her husband, Murray Levine, also an emeritus faculty member at UB. “Coit’s full quote says that when we join together in suffering, it is terrible, but ‘those who have laughed and thought together and joined in ideal aims can so enter into one another’s sorrows as to steal much of its bitterness away.’”

Levine co-authored with her husband the 1992 book Helping Children: A Social History, and she published widely in psychology and sociology journals. She also co-authored many scholarly articles with her husband.

Levine was born in 1925, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, and grew up in the small town of Geneva, NY, where she learned firsthand how working-class families with little education coped with parenting and sustaining their families during the Great Depression and World War II.

She attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges for a year, studied nursing at the Edward J. Meyer Memorial Hospital in Buffalo—now the Erie County Medical Center, and became a registered nurse in 1948. While a nurse at the Veterans Hospital in Montrose, NY, she met Murray Levine, her husband of more than 62 years.

When her youngest son turned 5, Levine entered Beaver College—now Arcadia University— in Glenside, PA, where, as a mother of two in her mid-thirties, she received a BA in 1962.

When her husband joined the faculty at Yale University in 1963, Levine began studies in the Yale sociology department, from which she received a PhD in 1968. Her dissertation anticipated the emphasis on gender research that emerged in the following decade. It was a comparative study of women preparing to enter “men’s” and “women’s” professions in the 1960s—that is, law and medicine versus nursing and education—and how the women planned to integrate their family and professional responsibilities.

Levine joined the faculty of the UB Department of Sociology in 1968 and served as department chair for four years.

In 1978, she took her graduate seminar to Niagara Falls to investigate the emerging crisis in the Love Canal neighborhood, famously built on top of a toxic dump site. Her research there contributed to our understanding of how an environmental catastrophe affects families and communities, and how communities can mobilize to cope with the crisis by gaining political support and changing public policy.

She contributed her research papers, to the large UB Love Canal Collection in the University Archives. In recognition of her contribution to this field, Arcadia University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1989.

After retiring from UB in 1990, Levine continued to write about contemporary social issues, worked with the Pro-Choice Network, and was a library volunteer at Buffalo Public International School 45, which educates children from more than 70 countries who speak more than 30 languages.

In recent years, Addie and Murray published a regular column in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Titled “Reflections from the Ninth Decade,” they used the forum to argue strongly for support of teachers, universal public education, and the elderly. She also published essays in The Buffalo News in which she reflected on events in her life.

In addition to her husband, Levine is survived by two sons, Zachary and David; three grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and four step-great-grandchildren.

Pat Donovan, University of Buffalo, the original obituary can be found at

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