Karen Halnon, Associate Professor of Sociology, passed away on January 21, 2018. Halnon was a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State-Abington for 18 years. Halnon earned her doctorate in sociology from Boston College in 1995 and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Amherst College in 1986. Previously, she taught at the University of Vermont and Bowdoin College.
Halnon was an accomplished scholar, passionate teacher, compassionate person, and activist. She made very important contributions to the field of sociology, including her 2013 book, The Consumption of Inequality: Weapons of Mass Distraction (Palgrave Macmillan), in which she demonstrated the ways in which cultures of the poor are appropriated in popular culture. In this work, as well as in journal articles, she developed and elaborated on the concept of “Poor Chic” which she defined as “an array of fads and fashions in popular consumer culture that make stylish, recreation and sometimes expensive ‘fun’ of poverty, or of traditional symbols of working-class and underclass statuses.”
Her research covered diverse aspects of popular culture, focusing on how cultural outcasts make meaning and how sub-cultural belonging shapes identities including, but not limited to, shock music, heavy metal, carnival culture, the “power of 420,” and tattooing. Her research was widely published and reprinted, including articles in Contemporary Sociology, Current Sociology, Journal of Consumer Culture, andSymbolic Interaction. More recently her research focused on Latin America, where she was interested in liberation theology and revolution politics. Also, she recently had started a blog called “sociological vistas” (sociologicalvistas.com), which shows glimmers of her keen sociological mind, as well as her concerns about oppression and injustice.
She championed the successes of others and as a professor, and in her words, believed in “providing a forum for equality of voice; and stimulating the desire to improve – to the greatest degree possible – our humanity and the humanity of others.” She is missed by friends, students, and colleagues.
Beth Montemurro, Pennsylvania State University-Abington
Wynona Smutz Garretson Hartley
Wynona Smutz Garretson Hartley, a member of the “Iowa School” of symbolic interaction in the late 1950s and early 1960s, passed away on February 6, 2018, in Kansas City, MO, at the age of 90. There were few positive role models, mentors, or sponsors for women PhDs entering academia in the 1950s; yet Wynona confidently charted her own course to build a successful career as a professor and researcher, working at the interface of sociology and medicine.
Born in 1927 in Iowa City, Wynona received an AA degree in 1946 from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, followed by a BA (1948), MA (1951), and PhD (1961), all in Sociology from the University of Iowa. As a graduate student, she worked with Manford Kuhn and Thomas McPartland who were operationalizing and creating testable measures for symbolic interactionist concepts. Their most notable contribution was the Twenty Statements Test (TST) for self-concept, which she (as Wynona Garretson) helped develop in her PhD dissertation. This work was published as “The Consensual Definition of Social Objects” in the Sociological Quarterly (1962) and later reprinted in the well-known Manis and Meltzer symbolic interaction reader of that era. Another of her papers, “Self-Conception and Ward Behavior in Two Psychiatric Hospitals” appeared in Sociometry (1961). Through much of her scholarly life, Wynona continued to promote and serve as an expert interpreter of the TST. Also during her early years in Iowa, Wynona served on the sociology faculty of Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant, first as Instructor (1952-55), then Assistant Professor (1955-58), and finally as Associate Professor and Department Head (1955-61). Indicative of how atypical academic career trajectories were for women in those years, Wynona initially was asked to (and did) combine her teaching position with the role of secretary to the college president.
After receiving her PhD, Wynona left Iowa Wesleyan and held a research position at the University of Iowa. By that time, she had met Richard Hartley, her second husband and the love of her life. Dick took a job in a small Nebraska town where she spent the next several years until they relocated to Kansas City in 1967. There, Wynona took a job as Senior Research Associate with the NIMH Epidemiology Field Station affiliated with the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Foundation, and held an appointment as Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. In 1970, she was asked to join the new Department of Human Ecology and Community Health (now the Department of Preventive Medicine) at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, just a few miles across the state line in Kansas City, KS. She remained there as a tenured Assistant Professor, sadly without opportunity for promotion, from 1970 until her retirement in 1995. During that period, she developed and published a TST codebook, served as PI for an NIMH-funded study, “Preventive Outcomes of Small Group Education with School Children: the Kansas City School Behavior Project,” and as co-PI for an NIH-funded study of high blood pressure among employed women. She published the results of the latter study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (1982).
The achievement she was most proud of was the annual conference and seed grant program for small community-based health promotion projects, titled “The Roots of Responsibility,” which she originated and directed from 1971-1976. This was a direct expression of her sociological perspective that the health of individuals is tied to the social arrangements of their families and communities.
Wynona lived a full and active life with her husband, who died in 1996, their champion boxers, and her bonsai creations. She loved the Rocky Mountains and especially summer vacations in Vail, Colorado. While she had no children of her own, she adored her nephew and step-grandson.
In one of life’s strange twists, I had read and used Wynona’s 1962 TST article in my undergraduate thesis at the University of Michigan. Nine years later, I was at the University of Kansas searching for a social scientist in the medical school who could be my postdoctoral fellowship mentor. I happened to be introduced to Wynona. When she told me about her background and TST work, I made the connection. Amazed and gratified that I knew her work, she became a wise and inspiring mentor and remained a dear and loyal friend for the next 42 years.
Mary K. Zimmerman, University of Kansas Medical Center
1928 - 2018
Gene Sharp was arguably the most widely influential sociologist in the last 50 years. His endeavors have increasingly influenced the use of nonviolent action in struggles around the world. They also profoundly influenced academic sociology in the study of social movements, social conflicts, and social change, as well as other social sciences and interdisciplinary fields such as peace studies and conflict resolution. Of course, nonviolent action as a means of struggle was known about before Gene Sharp’s studies of it. But, as exemplified by Mohandas K. Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, it was considered rare and depended on extraordinary, principled leaders, who stressed its morality, as well as its effectiveness. Sharp, however, drew upon the sociological understanding that authority derives from the goodwill and obedience of the subjects. Authority collapses if obedience is withdrawn. This fits his tough-minded approach. In 1973, he published The Politics of Nonviolent Action, which immediately drew much attention. In this monumental book he analyzed the bases for the power of nonviolence and documented the very many cases of its effectiveness.
Gene Sharp was born on January 21, 1928, in North Baltimore, OH, and he died on January 28, 2018 in Boston. He received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in 1949 and his master’s degree in sociology there in 1951. His thesis was: Nonviolence: A Sociological Study. Concerned about the great violence of World War II, he was searching for alternatives. He refused to cooperate with the conscription process, which was renewed during the U.S. war in Korea, and was imprisoned for nine months. Afterwards, he undertook intensive research about Gandhi that resulted in his first book, published in 1960, Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power, with a foreword by Albert Einstein.
In 1955, Sharp left for Norway, first as a fellow at the University of Oslo and then as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo. He investigated the extensive Norwegian resistance to the Nazi occupation. In 1961, he began his doctoral studies at St. Catherine’s College, receiving his PhD from Oxford University, Faculty of Social Studies in 1968. He had returned to the United States, and in 1967 he began teaching at various universities in the Boston area. From 1970 until 1986 he taught in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at Southeastern Massachusetts University. His main base for his work was in the Program on Nonviolent Sanctions in Conflict and Defense, at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, which he led. In 1983, he established the Albert Einstein Institute to study and promote nonviolent alternatives in conflict and defense. Based in Boston, it continues its global activities. Many materials are available at no cost from its website: www.aeinstein.org.
During all these years, Sharp published many books, articles, and pamphlets. The work included broad surveys, deep analyses, and manuals for action, such as, Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential and From Dictatorship to Democracy.Much of this work was translated into 35 languages. He traveled widely giving lectures and consulting with academic programs, non-governmental organizations, and governments. Funding for these activities was generally limited and also required Sharp’s continuous effort. In addition, however, several organizations in the United States and abroad, drawing on his work, continue training in and education about nonviolent action. They include: the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. In addition, important research assessing the short- and long-term effects of employing nonviolent action is increasingly being published (Chenoweth & Stephan, 2011) (Ackerman & Duvall, 2000; Zunes, 1999).
Gene Sharp is most known as the theorist for the many nonviolent struggles to overcome authoritarian rule or gain autonomy and independence. Indeed, he has provided a basic understanding of the power of popular resistance, strategic insights, and lists of possible tactics. Major weapons in nonviolent struggles include boycotts, hunger strikes, provoking counter-productive responses, and symbolic challenges. He stressed the importance of careful planning. His ideas were applied, sometimes not thoroughly enough, in the Baltic countries, Serbia, Myanmar, Tunisia, and Egypt in the Arab spring.
At times, the specter of civil resistance worried the Iranian government and some other authoritarian governments, which were leftist as well as rightist. Some banned Sharp’s writings and absurdly accused him of being an agent of the CIA. As Sharp made clear in an open letter in June 2007, he never worked for or received money from the CIA. He wrote, “The Albert Einstein Institution receives no funding from any government…[It] neither creates conflicts, nor becomes a participant in a conflict once one exists.” In any case, Sharp always urged both sides in a struggle to use nonviolent methods. Furthermore, he generally argued that the United States government should not become involved in indigenous revolutions.
Gene Sharp devoted his life to the promotion of carefully planned use of nonviolent action and has left a remarkable legacy. He produced a sound base upon which important work can be built. Such work is greatly needed now, as anti-democratic forces are so evident.
Louis Kriesberg, Syracuse University
Robert Benjamin Smith
Robert (Bob) Benjamin Smith, sociologist and statistician, died at Massachusetts General Hospital on August 29, 2017, at age 81.
The son of Norman Harold Smith and Marion (Lurie) Smith, he was born in Grand Rapids, MI, and raised in Chicago. Smith earned a doctorate in sociology at Columbia University, under the direction of Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton. For nearly a decade, he taught political sociology and research methods at the University of California-Santa Barbara, taking one year off to teach as a Senior Fulbright-Hays Lecturer at the State University of Ghent in Belgium.
Always open to new ideas and acquiring news skills, Smith worked in applied research after leaving Santa Barbara in the late 1970s, chiefly at Aetna Health Plans in Middletown, CT, and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group in Weston, MA. Later, he enjoyed work at Cytel Statistical Software and Services, Cambridge, MA, and the University of Cambridge-MIT Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Smith was an avid reader and dedicated researcher. He edited The Handbook of Social Science Methods(in three volumes) and wrote three books, Cumulative Social Inquiry: Transforming Novelty into Innovation(Guilford Press, 2008), Multilevel Modeling of Social Problems: A Causal Perspective(Springer, 2011), and Social Structure and Voting in the United States(Springer, 2016), and dozens of articles. For many years he also served as advisory editor for Quality and Quantity, to which he contributed 20 articles over three decades. An active member in the Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association, he served on its planning committee for many years and as its president for two years, 2001-02. For many years he also served as advisory editor for Quality and Quantity,
Above all, Smith loved life. He derived great joy from his grandsons, children, and friends, and from music, art, travel, and swimming. He treated family and friends with wit, humor, joy, and optimism, and to the end he treated others with kindness and generosity. For six years, he determinedly fought the heart failure that finally took his life.
Smith is survived by his wife of 33 years, Joanna (Flug Handlin) Smith, by two children from a previous marriage, Sarah Smith and Noah Smith, their spouses, Vinod Parmeshwar and Elizabeth Labovitz Smith, five grandsons, and his sister, Barbara Willenson.
Joanna Handlin Smith, Harvard University
Frank Arved Freudenfeld Steinhart
At six months of age in 1944, Frank, his mother, aunt, grandmother, and great-aunt fled his birthplace of Riga, Latvia, to Hamburg, Germany, where they lived in camps of Displaced Persons until 1952. At age eight, Frank, his mother, and aunt immigrated to the United States. They settled in Chicago and later became United States citizens. Frank earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and later a PhD in sociology from Loyola University of Chicago.
He began teaching at North Park University in 1973 and completed the 2016 fall term. During his tenure at North Park, he was chair of the Department of Sociology, registrar, and assistant dean and served on numerous committees, including, most recently, the Institutional Review Board. He was one of the guiding forces for having laptop computers issued to faculty members to facilitate the use of technology in teaching. He was influential in developing the Urban Studies and Criminal Justice programs within the sociology major. Frank and Margot spent the 2003 spring semester teaching in North Park’s exchange program in Jonkoping, Sweden, and the 2007 spring semester teaching in the University’s French program in Paris.
Frank was active in professional associations, including managing a website for college registrars and for the Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work of the American Sociological Association, and graded AP statistics exams for many years. He became a member of Winnetka Covenant Church in 1981, served as a deacon, and participated actively in one of the church’s koinonia groups. Frank was a Boy Scout leader for more than 25 years and was serving as district commissioner with Boy Scout Troop 55 in Glenview. He was an avid photographer and was often recruited to take event photos for organizations to which he and his wife belonged, in addition to taking photos of their family.
Married on January 25, 1969, Frank is survived by his wife, Margot, his son Eric of Silver Spring, Maryland, daughter-in-law Jane Ricci, and three grandchildren, Anja, Nicholas, and Claire, who called their grandfather “Opa.”
Devon T. Wade
Devon Wade, at the age of 28, left this life prematurely on November 26, 2017. A sibling to three brothers and a sister, Devon was raised by his grandparents in Houston, TX, and is the son of formerly incarcerated parents. Despite his difficult life circumstances, Devon went on to attend Louisiana State University and majored in Sociology/Criminology and African & African American Studies. As an undergraduate, he participated in the Ronald E McNair Scholars program and the Leadership Alliance Summer Research program at the University of Chicago. He graduated with honors and received the prestigious Truman Scholarship.
In 2011, Devon enrolled in the sociology doctoral program at Columbia University and became one of Columbia’s most gifted PhD students. Devon’s research focused on stigma, trauma, and the ways in which school disciplinary and support services impact youth mental health. The basis of his sociological contributions stem from his previous involvement in No More Victims both as a high school student member and later on as a program director. No More Victims is a Houston-based organization that aids children of incarcerated parents. Devon began his fieldwork with No More Victims in May 2016 to examine how schools respond to the needs of young people who have experienced trauma.
Through his fieldwork, Devon argued that more punitive school environments negatively impact students experiencing trauma and mental health issues, and that these experiences are disproportionately experienced by students already in more marginalized positions. His work sheds light on schools as sites for necessary socio-emotional development and institutions that stratify via multiple pathways, particularly the “school to prison” pipeline. Devon received multiple awards for his promising scholarship including the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Fellowship. In honor of his impactful work, Devon was awarded his doctorate degree posthumously by Columbia University.
In addition to his commitment to research, Devon was passionate about teaching and creating inclusive and equitable learning environments. He taught students that their social justice orientations and identities are important assets to knowledge production and research. In his Race, Crime and Law course, he used marginalized and intersectional perspectives to reorient how students engaged with definitions of and data on crime. He demonstrated how popular conceptions of crime are the byproducts of a racialized and economically stratified society.
Devon was deeply devoted to building networks of support, mentorship, and activism. He served as a mentor for the No More Victims program through his involvement with its parent organization, Cherish Our Children International. He was also an active member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, participating in several community service initiatives. Devon genuinely cared for the wellbeing of others and was a generous mentor to fellow graduate students who sought his guidance. He also served as a mentor in the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Program (SRP) at Columbia for three consecutive summers. Many of his SRP mentees went on to pursue doctorate degrees.
Devon was one of the founding members of the Graduate Students of Color Alliance (SoCA) at Columbia University, which provides critical resources to graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds in the form of professional development workshops, lectures on topics related to diversity and inclusion, and networking events. When the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences eliminated the Assistant Dean of Diversity position, Devon was on the front lines of the graduate student protest. Along with his SoCA colleagues, he persuaded the administration to reinstate this position and address other important grievances of graduate students of color.
Devon’s legacy lives on through many in the academy and beyond. Devon was well known for his work on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. Devon tirelessly gave of his time and talents to charity and youth programs. When not paying his success forward, he enjoyed traveling, weightlifting, and active sports. Devon leaves behind a vast community of family and friends who miss him greatly. As a way to honor his remarkable legacy, we encourage sociologists to reflect on the words of W.E.B. DuBois that “education must not simply teach work--it must teach life,” a quote that Devon deeply cherished.
Donations to Devon’s memorial fund can be made at www.nomorevictimsglobal.org/donations. All proceeds will support No More Victims.
Bailey A. Brown, Columbia University; Anjanette M. Chan Tack, University of Chicago; Brittany Fox-Williams, Columbia University; Dialika Sall, Columbia University; Anthony Urena, Columbia University