November 2008 Issue • Volume 36 • Issue 8

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A Festschrift in Honor of Pearlin Looks to the Future of the Stress Process Paradigm

For more than 50 years, Leonard I. Pearlin has contributed significantly to sociological research and theory on issues central to the sociology of mental health, medical sociology, the sociology of aging and the life course, and social psychology. He is internationally regarded as a leader in the field and as a strong advocate for the importance of sociological research. In recognition of Pearlin’s remarkable career and legacy, his friends, colleagues, and students participated in a Festschrift to honor him.

The Festschrift was held in Boston on July 31, 2008, prior to the 2008 ASA Annual Meeting. The one-day event was organized by Carol S. Aneshensel (UCLA), William R. Avison (University of Western Ontario), Scott Schieman (University of Toronto), and Blair Wheaton (University of Toronto). In addition to the 14 sociologists who presented papers at the Festschrift, there were well over 50 attendees at the event.

ASA Involvement


Leonard I. Pearlin (third from the right)
with the MFP Fellows.

The Festschrift began with a breakfast hosted by Jean H. Shin, Director of the ASA Minority Affairs Program. Pearlin has been a long-time supporter of the ASA Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), which receives its primary grant funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The breakfast provided the newest MFP Fellows with the opportunity to meet Pearlin and many other sociologists with research interests in the fields of stress and health. The Festschrift formal program then began with a presentation by Sally T. Hillsman, ASA Executive Officer. She noted that Pearlin has been a member of ASA for 58 years and presented him with a plaque that acknowledged his contributions to MFP, which is in its 35th year of existence.

Stressing Issues

The remainder of the day was given over to three sessions in which participants highlighted the ways in which Pearlin had a formative influence on their research and described their vision for future research on the stress process. The first session (Jay Turner, Schieman, Peggy Thoits, Aneshensel, and Wheaton) focused on conceptual and methodological developments in stress research. The second (Bill Avison, Melissa Milkie, K.A.S. Wickrama, and Betty Menaghan) emphasized the stress process in social roles, especially in the context of family and work issues. The final session (Elena Fazio, Carmi Schooler, Joe Mullan, Marilyn Skaff, Alex Bierman, and Heather Turner) focused on new developments in the study of psychosocial concepts in the stress process paradigm.

The day concluded with comments from Pearlin himself. As is always the case, his thoughts provided even more insights into the possibilities for research in the stress process. Pearlin drew attention to the contributions made by his collaborators over the years, many of whom were in attendance, including Betty Menaghan and Joe Mullan, co-authors of the 1998 citation classic, "The Stress Process," and Carmi Schooler, co-author of another citation classic, “The Structure of Coping,” both written while Pearlin was at the Laboratory for Socio-environmental Studies at NIMH. Co-workers at his next stop, the University of California-San Francisco, included Joe Mullan, Marilyn Skaff, and Aneshensel. At the University of Maryland, his current academic home, he has worked closely with presenters Schieman, Elena Fazio, and Alex Bierman. At the end of his comments, Pearlin was presented with a framed and autographed picture of the Festschrift participants, and that evening, all participants joined Pearlin and his wife Gerrie for dinner and much conversation.

The papers from the event will be collected as an edited book, tentatively titled Advances in the Conceptualization and Study of the Stress Process: A Festschrift in Honor of Leonard I. Pearlin. Royalties from sales of the book will be donated to the ASA Section on the Sociology of Mental Health.

The bulk of the content for this article was provided by William R. Avison, University of Western Ontario, with additions from Jean H. Shin, American Sociological Association. small_green


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