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Robert N. Bellah, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of California-Berkeley and winner of the National Humanities Medal in 2000, died July 30.
Fred H. Goldner, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Queens College, CUNY, died at the age of 86 on August 19 after a three-year battle with cancer.
William Gray, former Congressman and United Negro College Fund President, died at the age of 71.
Rita J. Simon, American University’s School of Public Affairs and Washington College of Law, died due to cancer on July 25. She was 81.
Philip E. Slater, author of The Pursuit of Loneliness, died at 86 on June 20 at his home in Santa Cruz, CA.
The French sociologist Raymond Boudon died on April 10, 2013, at the age of 79 in Paris. With his passing, sociology is bereft of one of its finest thinkers and the author of a considerable and original body of work. Most notably, Boudon accomplishment restored the individual in the analysis of social phenomena in the tradition of Max Weber, but also, more surprisingly, in the tradition of Émile Durkheim as well since he proposed an original re-reading of the latter’s work challenging the conventional holistic and determinist interpretation.
Boudon elaborated the concept of individual rationality in the explanation of social and economic phenomena. Being critical of rational choice theory, Boudon distinguished several types of rationalities—such as the rationality of values, which has spurred new avenues of sociological research. According to him, values are not arbitrary and relative but rather soundly founded on shared good reasons (les bonnes raisons) providing a standard by which some values may be considered preferable to others, such as gender equality.
Contrary to a common critique he has received, the individual as defined by Boudon is not an atom abstracted from time and space, but rather a person whose actions and decisions are firmly rooted in context, an important concept in his sociological approach. For this reason, the choices of a socially embedded actor are not optimal, nor always satisfying.
Boudon proposed interpretative schemas for social phenomena, such as social mobility and the inequality of education, and he build indispensable models to explain social change for the understanding of social reality. Boudon’s sociology offers the proper theoretical tools to explain at the same time what Alexis de Tocqueville—an author he held in high esteem and those thoughts he helped incorporate in the sociological canon (see Tocqueville aujourd’hui 2012) —called les faits anciens et généraux and les faits particuliers et récents. His most recent works on individual and collective beliefs may be considered milestones in sociology. Why do individuals believe what they believe? How to explain the success of certain theories, which, with hindsight, have revealed themselves false or of limited external validity?
Raymond Boudon did not attempt to establish a school of thought, nor did he wish to establish himself as a maître-à-penser. Boudon co-founded the series Sociologies in 1977 at Les Presses Universitaires de France, often referred to as the blue collection, which now boasts more than 150 titles, one of the most important sociology series in the world.
Boudon leaves us a rich heritage of books that have aged well since his goal was to construct a solid scientific corpus based on what he called des savoirs fondés. The clearest expression of this goal can be found in La Sociologie Comme Science (2010), a book that may be considered his legacy and in which the reader will also find an autobiographical essay.
Mohamed Cherkaoui and Peter Hamilton (eds) have published an important liber amicorum, offered to Boudon that contains 83 contributions on his works or inspired by them: Raymond Boudon. A Life in Sociology (Bardwell Press 2009).
Simon Langlois, Université Laval (Québec)Back to Top of Page
Andrew M. Greeley, Catholic priest, sociologist, and author, died at his home in Chicago on May 30 at the age of 85. He suffered brain injuries in an accident involving a taxi on November 7, 2008; he had been in poor health since the accident.
A prolific scholar and writer, Greeley advanced our understanding of the cultural roots of religion and the achievements, attitudes, and politics of American Catholics, among other subjects. In his cultural sociology, Greeley viewed religion as starting out in pre-cognition with images, symbols, and stories. He formalized these ideas in Religion as Poetry and Religion: A Secular Theory, but you get more of the pre-cognitive feel when reading his inventory of fleshed out instances in The Catholic Imagination and God in the Movies. Interestingly enough he turned out to be proof of his own pudding as the more analytical books on the essence of religion are secondary to his illustrative books about stories, ritual, movies, and paintings—virtually all forms of cultural expression. Scholars read the analytical books to get the idea, theory, and theology; you read the illustrative books to experience, feel, and see the reality, which he struggled to formalize.
In short, Greeley’s is a trickle-up theory of religion. First comes human experience, feeling, wonderment, suffering, and hope that can then be brought to consciousness in symbol and image. Weaving together images, organized religion and theology emerge as the last, most distant points from their origin in experience. Greeley turned Durkheim on his head; religion is not a blank slate written upon by society but a primordial human experience that comes to constitute societal culture, including organized religion.
His work built on earlier myth-busting research on American Catholics. His dissertation was conceived as a search for explanations for Catholic underachievement. The data revealed a burgeoning Catholic middle class. Or as Andy liked to say, “Notre Dame beat Southern Methodist” that year. In books like The American Catholic and The Catholic Myth, he documented the centrality of neighborhood roots and university education—at Catholic and state universities (and, on occasion, the Ivies) — in Catholic upward and inward mobility. Credentials opened doors, and Catholics moved into the professions and management, politics, and popular culture. Roots kept their values and connections intact.
In journal articles he addressed religious beliefs and practices, the efficacy of Catholic schools, the religious imaginations that made Catholics different from Protestants, ethnic and religious intermarriage, religion and ethnicity as factors in voting, sexual intimacy, and happiness.
He was among the most visible sociologists in the United States. More than a priest with a point of view, Greeley had scientific evidence. From his first article in the New York Times Magazine in 1964 to his last appearance on NBC’s Today showin 2008, he used NORC and other data to inform the public. And he always insisted that the media identify him as “priest, sociologist, and author.”
When Greeley’s novels became international best-sellers, he had a new platform. Fiction mainly allowed Greeley-the-priest to tell stories of love and redemption (and concoct mysteries). But his fiction served sociology too. He subsidized religion questions in the General Social Survey (GSS) , some of which have migrated into the GSS core. He bankrolled Ireland’s participation in the International Social Survey Programme (the global GSS) until conventional grant support was secured. He endowed a chair in Catholic studies at the University of Chicago. In smaller increments, he supported several young scholars with mini grants to help revise their dissertations for publication.
Greeley earned his PhD in sociology at the University of Chicago in 1962. He was a researcher with various titles at NORC from then until his accident in November 2008. He was a faculty member at the University of Chicago from 1962-1973 and again from 1996 until 2008, at the University of Illinois Chicago in the mid-1970s, and at the University of Arizona from 1977-2008.
At Arizona and Chicago, he was an immensely popular teacher. His favorite course was “God in the Movies,” which he gave at the University of Chicago and cotaught with Albert Bergesen at Arizona. It went like this: About 120 chatty, noisy undergraduates assemble. House lights go down, screen brightens, and all become quiet. They watch ordinary movies hand-picked, of course, for their rainforest of symbols and metaphors of God, angels, and heaven. Greeley and Bergesen always told students they were sociologists who took no position on the existence of God; they just showed what was in the movies. Never has one course so raised the level of abstract thinking among undergrads as seeing Audrey Hepburn, Will Smith, and Jessica Lange as God metaphors. (Guess the movies.)
Over the years Andy listened, advised, and collaborated with both of us and many others. He insisted on asking big questions and addressing them with the best data. The person, the calling, the research, the fiction, and the colleagueship formed a seamless web. He even conducted marriage ceremonies for several sociologists—Catholic and not.
Andrew Greeley was religiously committed in a secular discipline, yet most famous for criticizing the church that ordained him. He was a perpetual outsider who many insiders envied. In the terms of his generation, he was a “personality.” To us he was a truly amazing guy. How we miss him.
Michael Hout, New York University, and Albert Bergesen, University of ArizonaBack to Top of Page
Won Moo Hurh, an early pioneer of Korean-American studies and Professor Emeritus at Western Illinois University, died April 12, 2013, at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL, of complications from heart bypass surgery.
Hurh was best known for his research on Korean-American immigration and was among the first sociologists to study Korean-American cultural adaptation and mental health during the post-1965 wave of Asian immigration. Hurh also formulated a uniquely sociological account of human personality through the application of a cross-cultural approach. Through his work on Korean immigration, cross-cultural personality, and his often philosophical memoir, Hurh sought to promote global cultural understanding through sociological study.
Hurh was born in South Korea. His senior year in high school was interrupted by the Korean War in 1950. He became an artillery officer in the South Korean army and served as a forward observer on the front lines. After the cease-fire, he continued in the army as a captain in the Secretariat of the General Staff until August of 1958.
Hurh was selected through a competitive exam to receive a scholarship for study in the United States. He received a BA in economics from Monmouth College, IL, and a PhD in sociology and ethnology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1965. He started his professional career at Monmouth College in Illinois in 1965, moved on to Trinity College in Texas, and then to Western Illinois University, where he taught and conducted research for 29 years, becoming one of America’s leading scholars of Korean-American immigration. He was the principal co-investigator (along with Kwang Chung Kim) for two significant surveys on Korean immigrants funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the recipient of many awards from Western Illinois University. Hurh was fluent in reading, writing, and speaking four languages: Korean, English, German, and Japanese.
In the course of his career, Hurh published five single-authored books and two co-authored books (with Kwang Chung Kim) and numerous articles. Pyong Gap Min, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, noted these books as especially important: The Korean Americans (1998), Personality in Culture and Society (1997), and Korean Immigrants in America (1984). The last book was co-authored with Kim and was based on results of a major NIMH survey. Min indicated that the three most widely cited articles co-authored by Hurh and Kim are “The Success Image of Asian Americans: Its Validity, Practical and Theoretical Implications,” Ethnic and Racial Studies (1989), “Adaptation Stages and Mental Health of Korean Male Immigrants in the United States,” International Migration Review (1990), and “Religious Participation of Korean Immigrants in the United States,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (1990). His last sociological writing was the chapter “Korean Immigrants,” published in Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans (2011).
Hurh was very critical of racism, which had a strong effect on the ways he analyzed research issues in race relations and Asian American studies. Throughout his life, Hurh had a strong sense of social justice. To illustrate this, he could not continue his academic position at Seoul National University in 1969 because of his critical attitude towards the military dictatorship going on at that time. Min and Kim related having great respect for him and for his critical attitudes toward racial issues in the United States.
In retirement, Hurh completed a project that had been his goal for many years: a memoir of his experiences during the Korean War, titled I Will Shoot Them from My Loving Heart (McFarland, 2012). The book describes his wartime experiences while exploring the psychological trauma and the absurdity of war. War taught him to respect life, and his scholarship reveals his commitment to peace and cross-cultural understanding.
Hurh married his wife, Gloria Goodwin, in 1963, at a time when mixed-race marriages were rare and often unsuccessful. Their love and commitment to each other lasted and remained strong. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Written by the family of Won Moo Hurh in consultation with Pyong Gap MinBack to Top of Page
Bernard Lazerwitz was the epitome of a professional social scientist from the days of his undergraduate training in the 1950s in the United States to his passing in 2012 in Israel. His undergraduate training at Washington University (St. Louis) was in sociology and mathematics. He later took an MA from the University of Chicago in sociology (where he studied with Louis Wirth) and a PhD from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where he was Phi Beta Kappa.
Bernie’s methodological expertise was in the design of complex samples, interview schedule construction, the training and management of field forces, and complex statistical analysis. Substantively, he was involved in the analysis of urban social structures, neighborhood organizations, and the factors leading to involvement in urban public affairs. His ethnic and religious studies focused on the components and consequences of religiosity, and he made a major contribution in designing the survey schedule and developing statistical analysis plans for the first National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), 1969–1971. His analyses of these data appeared in such eminent journals as the American Sociological Review and the American Journal of Sociology.
His prominence as the foremost contributor to the design of the first National Jewish Population Survey of 1970-71 led him to be the co-convener of a meeting in 1970 at the ASA Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Washington, DC, which led to the formation of the Association for the Sociological Study of Jewry or ASSJ (now the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry). He was the primary author of a book comparing the data from NJPS 1971 with those gathered in the second NJPS in 1990 (Jewish Choices: American Jewish Denominationalism, 1998). In addition to more than 15 book chapters and 50 articles in refereed journals, he was also the co-author of three other books: Charitable Choices: Philanthropic Decisions of Donors in the American Jewish Community (2009); Americans Abroad: A Comparative Study of Emigrants from the United States (1992); and Pathways to Suicide: A Survey of Self-Destructive Behaviors (1981).
Bernie was born in 1926. Shortly after completing his service in the United States Navy (at the end of WW II), he visited Israel for the first time in 1951. He married in 1956 and moved to Israel with his family in 1974. His initial appointment in Israel was as Professor of Sociology at Bar Ilan University, and he remained there until his retirement in 1991. In addition to his considerable teaching load and research responsibilities, he also served as department chair (1975-1978) and as the director of the university’s Institute for Community Studies for many years.
His many research grants funded studies of fertility trends in Israel (1969); development of a detailed model of religio-ethnic identification (1973); absorption and ethnic group processes of United States migrants to Israel (1974); urban renewal activity in Tel Aviv (1980-3); trends in Jewish identification (1983); and the impact of urbanization on the public and private spheres of life in Israel (1994).
Many colleagues expressed their concern and condolences to Bernie’s family during the course of his illness and following his passing. Those sentiments were best expressed by one colleague who wrote: “Dov – or rather Bernie as I liked to call him – will be remembered as a scholar of great independence and integrity, who never followed ‘fashion,’ went his way, and impressively contributed to the literature and to the profession, generously sharing his resources with those like me who were younger.”
Bernard (Dov) Lazerwitz is survived not only by his wife, Gertrude (Trudy), and their children Ellen and Elliot, and grandchildren Osnat, Yael, Oren, and Yoav. In addition, he is also followed by his seven doctoral students who benefited from his warm and close supervision, and who have followed his path in their own intellectual pursuits, along with the many academic colleagues with whom he interacted on a worldwide stage.
Ephraim Tabory, Bar Ilan University, and Arnold Dashefsky, University of Connecticut
Adapted from ASSJ Newsletter (December 2012) with permission.Back to Top of Page
Gerald Marwell, a social scientist internationally renowned for his pioneering research on social cooperation and social movements, died in New York City on March 24, 2013. He was 76.
Marwell’s productive career spanned the last half-century and was distinguished by far-sighted contributions that ranged across the social sciences. He was one among a highly select group of American scholars during this era to publish articles in the top professional journals of sociology, economics, political science, and psychology. All told, Marwell published more than 60 articles and book chapters. He also coauthored five influential books.
A creative theorist and researcher, Marwell conducted studies on topics as varied as conflict in the U.S. House of Representatives, adolescent delinquency, parental child-rearing practices, geographical obstacles to women’s academic careers, and processes of religious secularization.
He cemented his stature with an audacious series of studies on different facets of the “problem of collective action.” These studies culminated in two landmark co-authored books, Cooperation: An Experimental Analysis (1975) and The Critical Mass in Collective Action (1993).
Motivating these studies were some of the central questions of contemporary social life: under what conditions will individuals in a social group forgo self-interest in favor of cooperation and other potentially costly courses of action that benefit other members of the group? When will individuals who could obtain publically available benefits at no personal expense abstain from free-riding and act to increase the general supply of public goods?
In the 1970s when Marwell first began tackling these questions, scholars in social psychology assumed that individuals were fundamentally non-cooperative, while economists insisted that individuals exhibited a natural tendency to free-ride when they are provided with public goods.
Marwell effectively confuted these theories by means of elegantly designed small-group experiments and computer simulations. His research showed that, because of their perceptions of fairness, individuals were significantly less likely to free ride than previous scholarship predicted.
Still further, Marwell demonstrated how the presence of a “critical mass” of individuals, able to devote substantial resources to collective undertakings, deterred free-riding and induced other individuals to join and contribute to those undertakings. These findings, as well as a range of complementary results from additional experimental work that he carried out, have had worldwide impact on altering the direction of research on collective action.
Marwell’s concern with this subject led him also to conduct one of the earliest systematic studies of the American Civil Rights movement. Reported in his seminal 1971 book, Dynamics of Idealism: White Activists in a Black Movement (co-authored with N.J. Demerath and Michael Aiken), the study analyzed the experiences of Northern college students who worked as volunteers for the 1965 voter registration drives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Using evidence from a novel blend of interviews, questionnaires, diaries, and other documentary sources, Marwell examined what happened when the high idealism that originally inspired the student activists collided with the cold realities of local community power in the South. He documented the ways in this collision pushed activists to adopt more radical views about community organization and American politics.
Marwell was born in Brooklyn on February 12, 1937, the only child of Henry Hilton Marwell, who ran a local business, and Pearl Berman Marwell, a history teacher. He earned a BS in engineering and business from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1957. In 1959 he received his MA and in 1964 his PhD in sociology from New York University. His first teaching position was as an instructor at NYU, followed by a year as an instructor at Bard College.
In 1962, Marwell joined the sociology faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. During his Wisconsin years, he combined his path-breaking program of research with unstinting work as a teacher, mentor, and citizen of his university and his profession.
A skillful and benevolent academic administrator, Marwell served as Chairman of the Wisconsin Sociology Department from 1982 to 1985 and helped to spearhead its rise to the first-ranked department of sociology in the United States. In 1989, the American Sociological Association chose Marwell as Editor of its flagship journal, the American Sociological Review.
In recognition of his career of outstanding scholarship, bold leadership, and dedicated teaching, the University of Wisconsin awarded Marwell in 1991 the prestigious Richard T. Ely endowed chair of sociology.
Following his retirement from the University of Wisconsin, Marwell was appointed Professor of Sociology at New York University, where he taught courses on the sociology of religion and the sociology of sport and continued his innovative research on American religious practices. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, psychologist Barbara Marwell, their children Nicole and Evan, and four grandchildren.
Charles CamicBack to Top of Page
Ralph Wahrman, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Bowling Green State University, died after a short illness on September 30, 2011. He was 71 years old.
Wahrman, after graduating from New York City’s elite Stuyvesant High School, earned his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Queens College, New York. He earned his master’s and PhD from Michigan State University, the latter in 1967, and immediately joined the faculty of Bowling Green State University (BGSU).
In 1970 he became the founder and director of the BGSU small groups laboratory, after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation. The lab occupied an extensively remodeled house on the university’s main campus. Under his direction, the location and facilities encouraged the involvement of faculty colleagues and introduced both undergraduate and graduate students to experimental social research.
Although Wahrman had several research interests, the core of his research activity was in small group behavior. It was his interest in how social perceptions can be biased by differences in gender, age, and social status, resulting in the inequitable distribution of social rewards, sanctions, and influence that unifies this body of work. Ralph published numerous articles resulting from this research in a range of journals including Small Groups Behavior, Sociometry (now Social Psychology Quarterly), and the American Journal of Sociology.
In 1975 Wahrman published An Introduction to Sociology (Macmillan) with R. Serge Denisoff. This highly successful textbook was revised and published again in 1979 and 1983.
In 1988 Wahrman became the editor of Sociological Focus, the journal of the North Central Sociological Association. Many scholars will recall the gentle way in which he expressed editorial criticisms and made useful suggestions. He was known for his dry wit and wise words of advice. In the department he was renowned for his encyclopedic memory of sociological literature, and his ability to locate any document at issue from the towering stacks in his office.
After his retirement in 2001, Ralph remained an avid and eclectic reader. He loved listening to and collecting Big Band jazz music, cooking for his family and friends, observing Jewish traditions, and savoring his New York Times. In addition to his loving wife of 48 years, Judith (Stober), Ralph is survived by their three children: Francine of Hilliard, OH; Eric (Emily) of Bowling Green, OH; and Anna of New York City; five grandchildren; and brother Harvey (Stephanie) of East Windsor, NJ.
Benny Goodman, Ralph’s favorite musician, made famous the words “Here and there, everywhere/ scenes that we once knew/ and they all just recall/ memories of you.” Ralph’s family, friends, and colleagues will always honor and cherish his memory.
M. D. Pugh, Bowling Green State University