ITHACA

 

BERNARD CARL ROSEN (1922- 2009).  Professor emeritus at Cornell University since 1993, died on November 9, 2009 ending a long and distinguished career in sociology.  Before returning to Cornell in 1966, where he had taken his doctoral degree in 1952, he taught at Yale University, the University of Connecticut and the University of Nebraska.

            Rosen wrote five books, co-authored another that was published in Italian, and co-edited still another.  He wrote numerous articles for the major American professional journals, as well as chapters in books.  His articles were reprinted in 34 books and translated into French, German, Portuguese and Italian.  In 1983 he was featured in Current Contents as one of the most cited authors in sociology.

            Rosen’s early work explored the themes –socialization, adolescence, family, religion, ethnicity, race, and achievement- that were central to sociology in the early post-war period but beginning 1960 with his field work in Brazil, he began a series of comparative studies of social change, elaborating the industrial change à socialization à personality paradigm that was “in the air” at that time.  The titles of his books reflect this master theme.  The Industrial Connection (1982) summarized his Brazilian research, Women, Work and Achievement (1989) explored the impact of industrialization on gender differences, and Winners and Losers of the Information Revolution (1998) described the dynamics of class and personality as the U.S. moved from an industrial to a techno-service economy.  His last book, Masks and Mirrors (2001) pulled together the evidence supporting his discovery of the “chameleon personality” type, that he believed was becoming typical in the fast changing, cross-pressured world of work.  At his death, he was working on a book tentatively entitled The Flim-Flam Man, a study of the many confidence crooks and scam artists who, along with politicians, represented the ultimate chameleon personalities.

            Rosen was an outstanding example of the Cornell international professor.  He was a visiting professor at the University of Sao Paulo and the Escola Sociologica Politica, Brazil, the London School of Economics, and the University of Padua.  In addition to many conferences, projects and collaborations in the U.S., he worked for USAID and collected data in many countries, learning and working in several languages along the way.

            Rosen was the son of a Russian immigrant from Kiev who arrived in the U.S. with five dollars in his pocket but soon managed to set up a grocery store in Miami and again in Philadelphia where Bernard was born.  Like many future academics, Bernard was an early bookworm, and it is no accident that he left a bequest to the support of small libraries in the Ithaca area.  After serving in the U.S. Army in France and Germany (1943-46), he returned to Temple University and graduated in history in 1948.  He then explored the possibility of an academic career in history, but he found out how biased the field of history was at the time against “outsiders” he decided on sociology at Columbia University.  But he continued to read history books all his life and his books reflect this wide knowledge, especially of Rome and Europe.

            Bernard Rosen was a genial, often witty fellow.  He could be quite sociable but he was primarily dedicated to scholarly work.  His career benefited from the golden age of development research on poor countries that began in the 1950’s.  His career was independent and successful but along the way Bernie suffered more than his share of Job-like personal burdens.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley and daughter, Michele. He is survived by his brother Boris and his nephews, Mark, Adrian and David.