Joseph Berger passed away on December 24, 2023.

Berger was an emeritus senior fellow (by courtesy) at the Hoover Institution and professor of sociology emeritus and former chairman of the department at Stanford University.

His expertise was in the area of status process and status relations among members of different groups, processes of legitimation, reward expectations and distributive justice, and theory construction in the behavioral sciences. His research focused on gender relations in interpersonal settings, status characteristics theory, and cumulative theory in social science.

He compiled (with M. Zelditch) a collection of theoretical papers in the volume New Directions in Contemporary Sociological Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2002). He has coauthored and coedited many scholarly books, including Status, Power, and Legitimacy; Theoretical Research Programs; Status Characteristics and Social Interaction; and Sociological Theories in Progress, volumes 1–3.

Berger published, with his collaborators, numerous academic journal articles including "Gender and Interpersonal Task Behaviors," Sociological Perspectives, 1997; "Status Inconsistency in Task Situations," American Sociological Review, 1992; "Do Sociological Theories Grow?" American Journal of Sociology, 1986; and “Diffuse Status Characteristics and the Spread of Status Value” American Journal of Sociology, 2006.

In 1968, Berger was appointed a professor of sociology and in 1976 became vice chairman of the Department of Sociology at Stanford. He was chairman of the department from 1977 to 1983 and again from 1985 to 1989.

Berger also served in the US Army in the Headquarters of Military Intelligence Service, European Theater of Operations, and the Information Control Division, Office of the Military Government of Greater Hesse, Germany, between 1943 and 1946. He received a direct commission in France in 1945 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Army Commendation Award.

Berger was the recipient of the Cooley-Mead Award, which is awarded by the Social Psychology Section of the American Sociological Association to honor long-term distinguished contributions to the intellectual and scientific advancement of social psychology. In 2007 he was awarded the W.E.B. DuBois Award for a career of distinguished scholarship in the field of sociology.

A magna cum laude graduate of Brooklyn College, he received both his MA and his PhD (1958) degrees from Harvard University.

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