Becker was the son of Charles Becker, a notoriously corrupt New York police officer who went to the electric chair for murder in July 1915, and Letitia Stenson, of Ontario. His parents divorced six years after his birth and his mother married Charles Becker's brother Paul.
Howard P. Becker was brought up in Reno and Winnemucca, Nevada. He is perhaps best remembered as the author of the book Man in Reciprocity. At the time of his death he had just been elected President of the American Sociological Association, and his Presidential Address, entitled "Normative Reactions to Normlessness", was delivered by his son, the historian Christopher Bennett Becker.
Becker, Howard Paul (1946). German Youth: Bond or Free. New York: Oxford University Press, 1946. Detailed history and sociology of the various aspects of the youth movement. Remarkable for the times, the discussion of homoeroticism and homosexuality within some of these groups is non-judgmental. OCLC 2083809 In 1998, Routledge reprinted this work as Volume 8 of its International Library of Sociology and The Sociology of Youth and Adolescence series. OCLC 761549797ISBN 978-0-415-86351-3
Becker, Howard Paul (1950), Through Values to Social Interpretation, Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, OCLC562723
Becker, Howard Paul (1956), Man in Reciprocity: Introductory lectures on culture, society and personality, New York: F. A. Praeger, OCLC973583