September/October 2012 Issue • Volume 40 • Issue 7

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F. James Davis, Illinois State University, passed away on April 24, 2012, at the age of 91.

Mayer Nathan Zald, a professor of sociology, social work, and business administration at the University of Michigan, passed away on August 7, 2012.


Debra S. Emmelman

Debra S. Emmelman, professor in the department of sociology at Southern Connecticut State University, passed away from breast cancer on May 26, 2012, at the age of 60. She was diagnosed in May of 2007 and fought the disease with a defiant dignity until her last day.

She was born on January 29, 1952. She loved astrology and was a quintessential Aquarius. True to this cosmic assignment, she focused her career and personal life on social and economic issues. Because of her concern for the struggles of others, she was a naturally generous and dedicated teacher, mentor, and colleague.

Debby Emmelman received her BA in sociology at Indiana University, the institution of her home state. She did graduate work at the University of California-San Diego, working with Jacqueline Wiseman and Joseph Gusfield. Her areas of expertise included deviance and law, criminal justice, and qualitative methods. She culminated her MA and PhD degrees in 1990. Upon completion of her graduate studies, she spent four years teaching at Southwest Missouri State University, before joining the faculty at Southern Connecticut State University in 1994. She achieved full professor at Southern Connecticut State in 2004.

Debby grew up as one of four children in a working-class family. It was her father’s employment in law enforcement that initiated her interest in the criminal justice system. Her interest in intersections between working class groups and the legal system took many written forms, including book reviews, encyclopedia entries, and articles in well-regarded journals such as Symbolic Interaction, Law and Social Inquiry, and Law and Society Review. She also refereed for several journals, including, but not limited to, Social Problems and Crime and Delinquency. Her 2003 book, Justice for the Poor: A Study in Criminal Defense Work, featured the role of court-appointed defense attorneys in the adjudication of criminal cases and the the ways in which hegemonic cultural practices misconstrue or marginalize the position of the poor. While she spent the majority of her career in advocacy of disadvantaged and deviant groups, her later research centered on environmental law and its impact on working people; specifically, the corporate disposal of fats, oils, and grease in California and its relationship to EPA mandates. She was analyzing data for this research when she died.

In addition to Debby’s written accomplishments, she was active in university, professional, and community life. She served a long tenure as graduate coordinator for the Department of Sociology at Southern Connecticut State University, which began spring of 1996 and ended summer of 2002. She was a long-time member of American Sociological Association, Law and Society Association, and Society for the Study of Social Problems. She was especially active in Law and Society, and presented at international conferences about topics within law and peace, law and class justice, and environmental management. She was also active with the ACLU,, and Habitat for Humanity

Debby was also a dedicated mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students under her charge. She spent many hours overseeing research projects in their formative and later stages, being equally happy to hone in on creative questions or meticulously edit completed materials to ensure their sociological vibrancy. She was especially committed to the theoretical and methodological principles of interpretive sociology, and always favored the work of Alfred Schutz.

In addition to her scholarly and activist achievements, Debby was a unique, fun-loving person. She had long, wavy hair that hung to her knees most of her life. She loved comfortable sandals, red wine, and progressive politics. She had a deep affinity for rescue dogs, and adored biking her way through the peace of the wilderness. She enjoyed traveling, and spending time with loved ones at the lake of her home in Guilford, CT. She is survived by her husband, two sisters and a brother, nieces and nephews, three dogs, and the numerous undergraduate and graduate students, friends, and colleagues to whom she was devoted. She is survived by all among us who love and miss her so much.

Melissa F. Lavin, University of Connecticut

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Nelson Northrup Foote
1916- 2012

Born into a family of anarchists and free thinkers in rural Nebraska and raised on a farm in western New York, Nelson devoted his life to challenging the status quo and expected to be in jail for it by the time he was 30. Instead, he became a respected professor of sociology at Cornell, Chicago, and CUNY-Hunter.

In 1940, Nelson married Geraldine Roach, and they both spent the next few years working alternately for war agencies in Washington and the CIO in Detroit before returning to Ithaca. In 1951, he was named director of the Family Study Center at the University of Chicago, which published his best known book, Identity and Interpersonal Competence, describing what would later be termed “emotional intelligence.” His interest in conceptualizing identity and the processes of identification led him to write a widely cited article, “Identification as the basis for a Theory of Motivation” (ASR, 1951), which many social psychologists consider a path-breaking work. During this period, he also wrote several Simmel-like essays on subjects that most empirical-minded sociologists would have been too shy to tackle, for example, “Sex as Play”(Social Problems); “Family Living as Play” (Marriage and Family Living); and “Love” (Psychiatry).”

He left academia for General Electric in New York, where he worked on development projects, including the new city of Columbia, MD, and initiatives in Trinidad-Tobago. Returning to teaching, he joined the Hunter faculty in 1969 and began elucidating a theory of development based on universal professionalization and investment in human potential.

His most enduring contribution to sociology, however, was his advocacy for a program that would put “sociologists to work.” Drawing on his experiences at GE, Nelson was one of the founders of what today would be called “applied sociology.” He maintained that as sociology stood then it was merely producing scholars who emerge with doctorates in the field and then go on to produce more doctorates in an academic version of the Ponzi scheme. We must train, he argued in an article in The American Sociologist (Vol.9, 3:125-134), sociologists who can work in fields outside the academy. He wrote “the salvation of sociology lies in shifting its attention from colleagues to clients…and to orient training to the intelligible purposeful presentation of sociology to non-sociologists.”

Not satisfied with making merely a declaration to this effect, he put himself to work in creating a master’s program in applied social research at Hunter College, where he was Chair of Sociology for several years. This program—the Master of Science in Social Research—was the first of its kind and has been producing applied sociologists for the last 30 years, nearly every one of whom is employed in the marketing and media research industries of New York City and beyond (though a few have gone on to a PhD and an academic career). Versatile, innovative, and pioneering, Nelson was a supportive colleague, remembered by many of us at Hunter for his helping hand, impeccable manners, and old-school style.

(We have adapted some observations from the obituary notice published by his family in the New York Times.)       

Robert Perinbanayagam and Pamela Stone, Hunter College, CUNY

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Irving Louis Horowitz

Irving Louis Horowitz passed away in Princeton, NJ, on March 21, 2012, following complications of heart surgery. He grew up in Harlem, received a BSS from New York’s City College, an MA from Columbia University, and a PhD from the University of Buenos Aires. He was Hannah Arendt Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Political Science at Rutgers University, where he taught for three decades. He also taught at the University of Buenos Aires, at Bard College, and then as chairman of the sociology department at Hobart and William Smith College before going to Washington University in St. Louis in 1963. In addition to a distinguished academic and scholarly career, Irving was chairman of the board and editorial director of Transaction Publishers and chairman of the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. At Washington University, he founded (with Alvin Gouldner) the journal Trans-Action: Social Science and Modern Society (changed in 1972 to Society),which he edited single-handedly for 35 years. Transaction Publishers became “the publisher of record in the social sciences,” and although at the outset principally linked with the field of sociology, the firm developed a broad publishing record in the social sciences, a tribute to Irving’s vision of an independent voice for all disciplines.

Irving published nearly 50 books during his career, spanning an extraordinary range of topics and concerns, including philosophy, genocide, Cuban communism, political theory, academic and institutional politics, and social policy. Among these many works, he will long be remembered for The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot (1967), an edited collection of responses across the spectrum of disciplines and politics to the ill-fated efforts in Latin America to anticipate and respond to social unrest sponsored by the U.S. Army. The involvement of social scientists set off heated debates about government-sponsored social science research and about how best to oversee the scope of such research. A half-century later, this single work remains the best starting point to understand the evolution of professional ethics generally. Irving also wrote often about the ideas and ideals of publishing, most recently a volume of essays titled Publishing as a Vocation (2010), which explored the changing environment of publishing and its implications for the future of its business model and also for academic careers and scholarship. Irving recognized long before others that business and scholarship were irrevocably tied to one another and that they share mutual fates along the road of technological advance. Finally, the work that I will personally cherish is Daydreams and Nightmares: Reflections on a Harlem Childhood (1990). Various accounts of Irving following his death remarked on his gruff manner and appearance. Anyone who knew him well enough also knew there were many parts intellectually and personally to the man. His autobiography of his early struggles explains how those parts came together in a life devoted to fair-mindedness and passionate engagement.

Irving’s many interests were also moral commitments to approaching social realities in their numerous inflections, and as a publisher and editorial director, he never mistook those commitments as either political endorsements or criticisms of what Transaction Publishers agreed to publish. On occasion his independence and editorial judgment earned him characterizations that were both unfair and misleading, but he recognized that they came with the territory. Even the ASA at one point was caught up in a controversy over the use of its mailing list to send a controversial work on race and intelligence by a Transaction author to all of its members. It is fair to say in retrospect that if the work had not been controversial in its particular way, hardly a voice would have been raised or a concern noted. This was nevertheless a testament to Irving’s insistence on Transaction Publishers independence from all professional associations, even as he believed in their essential importance to intellectual progress.

In the same way, later in his career, Irving became highly critical of what has become known as “advocacy” social science. His book, The Decomposition of Sociology (1993), received a wide-range of reviews both positive and negative, but it consistently illustrated his belief that the principal moral obligation of social scientists is not to advocate but to understand. He may have been particularly hard on sociologists but not in the ways of many who excoriate sociology and who are not sociologists. He had a deep and abiding love for the history and thought that was distinctive to the sociological tradition and despaired for its loss. David Riesman called him, “simply a national treasure.” William Form, former editor of the American Sociological Review, lauded him for “making a larger contribution to fundamental theory in social development and political sociology than any individual in the profession.” Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, noted “that the empire of truth and information that Transaction has built is a tremendous accomplishment.” (These quotes are taken from the Transaction Publishers’ website.) It is fitting that under the auspices of Contemporary Sociology (July 2012), Irving has a last word on C. Wright Mills whose “sociological imagination” Irving was always intent on identifying and preserving. In recognizing the importance of his life in publishing, Irving contributed his letters and papers that date back to the founding of Transaction to the Paterno Libraries of The Pennsylvania State University. He is survived by his wife, Mary Curtis Horowitz.

Jonathan B. Imber, Wellesley College

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Harriet B. Presser

Harriet B. Presser, 75, a University of Maryland sociology professor for 35 years, died May 1 at her home in Bethesda. Survivors include her daughter Sheryl Presser of New York City and her partner of 32 years, Philip Corfman.

At Maryland, Harriet founded the Center on Population, Gender and Social Inequality, the first population research center in the country to focus mainly on gender issues. She was elected President of the Population Association of America (PAA) for 1989. In 1999, Maryland named her a Distinguished University Professor.

The American Sociological Association awarded her the Jessie Bernard Award in 2010 for work that “enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society.” The citation in the award noted that “her work helped transform the field of demography by bringing a gender perspective to bear on the study of fertility and family processes.”

Harriet Betty Presser was born in Brooklyn, NY. She was a 1959 graduate of George Washington University, which honored her as its Distinguished Alumni Scholar of the Year in 1992. She received an MA in sociology in 1962 from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a PhD in sociology in 1969 from the University of California-Berkeley.

From 1969 to 1976 she was on the faculty of the School of Public Health at Columbia. Her early work concerned fertility and family planning, birth control and sterilization. Her dissertation on sterilization in Puerto Rico uncovered the previously unknown fact that a third of Puerto Rican mothers ages 20-49 had been sterilized. This was eventually published in her book Sterilization and Fertility Decline in Puerto Rico (1973).

In the 1970s, she recognized that the age at which women have their first birth has as much of an impact on their career trajectory as how many children they have. Her research emphasized the gender dimension to teenage fertility and led to her lifelong leadership of the specialization in gender, work, and family. In the 1980s, she demonstrated how the unavailability of child care was making it nearly impossible for many women to hold jobs.

In 1983, Harriet and Virginia Cain reported in Science that one-third of dual-earner families with children had a spouse working outside of “regular” working hours. This began her path breaking research on shift work that showed how common it was in two-earner couples working different shifts for fathers to do child care. The research on shift work culminated in the 2003 publication, Working in a 24/7 Economy: Challenges for American Families. Virtually every article written on work-life balance cites her work and this book in particular.

In addition to her research contributions, Harriet played an instrumental role in establishing the need for better data collection regarding both child care arrangements and the timing of work hours (rather than simply their quantity). She was a lifelong advocate for sound data that would be a tool for researchers, useful for policymakers, and available for all. In the 1970s, she collaborated in behind-the-scenes work to get the U.S. Census Bureau to stop the sexist practice of using the term “head of household”, and automatically bestowing the headship on husbands regardless of what respondents said. As a result, the Census ceased using the “head” designation in datasets and government reports.

In 2002, Harriet was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The certificate conveying this honor states: “For innovative research on issues of population, labor force, gender, and social inequality; for exceptional institution building; and for outstanding service to demographic and sociological societies.”

As Harriet’s PAA Honoree citation notes, “Nowhere is her impact on the field more lasting than on the students and colleagues she has mentored, many of whom have become not only scholars but institution builders in their own right. Her students and colleagues know her as a tough critic whose approval is a seal of quality they continually seek, a cheerleader who is always there to support them through critical hurdles and a role model with rare ability to combine work with family and devotion to high quality research with feminist activism.”

Tributes from some of her colleagues and former students can be found on her webpage:

She will be greatly missed by Maryland, by her sociology and demography colleagues, and by feminists around the world whose cause she championed so well.

Reeve Vanneman, University of Maryland, with the assistance of Wendy Baldwin, Barbara Bergmann, Philip Cohen, Sonalde Desai, Paula England, and Sheryl Presser

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