Robert Bierstedt

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Robert Bierstedt (1913–1998) was an American sociologist who often wrote about sociological theory, culture, and constitutional law. He was a native of Burlington, Iowa and graduated in philosophy from the University of Iowa in 1934. He received a master's degree in philosophy in 1935 and a doctorate in sociology in 1946 from Columbia University.

He headed the department of sociology at City College of New York and at New York University before becoming emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.[1] He was a student of the Russian-American sociologist Pitirim Sorokin when he was a visiting graduate student at Harvard University during the 1930s.Bierstedt served as vice-president of the American Sociological Association when Sorokin was elected president.

Bierstedt was a longtime director of the American Civil Liberties Union, serving as chairman of its academic freedom committee and the church-state committee in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, he was a former director of the American Council of Learned Societies, a federation of scholarly groups focused on the humanities, and president of the Eastern Sociological Society. In his 1959 presidential address "Sociology and Humane Learning" to the Eastern Sociological Society he argued for the role of debate in sociology and the importance of what he referred to as the "theoretic bias" in interpreting social phenomena.

He also held Fulbright Senior Lectureships at Edinburgh University and the London School of Economics.

He wrote several books, including The Social Order, Power and Progress: Essays on Sociological Theory and American Sociological Theory and has published many papers and essays in several sociological, anthropological, and literary journals.

He died on September 8, 1998 at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia at 85.


  • Durkheim, Emile; Bierstedt, Robert (1969). Emile Durkheim: Selections from His Works Together with a Brief Biography by Robert Bierstedt. Orion. ISBN 0-297-17985-3. 
  • Znaniecki, Florian (1969). Robert Bierstedt, ed. On Humanistic Sociology: Selected Papers. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-98842-2. 
  • Bierstedt, Robert (1974). Power and Progress: Essays on Sociological Theory. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-005230-1. 
  • Bierstedt, Robert (1974). The Social Order. McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 0-07-005248-4. 
  • Znaniecki, Florian (1980). Robert Bierstedt, ed. Cultural Sciences: Their Origin and Development. Transaction. ISBN 0-87855-689-3. 
  • Bierstedt, Robert (1981). American Sociological Theory: A Critical History. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-097482-7. 


  1. ^ Williams, Monte (17 September 1998). "Robert Bierstedt, 85, Sociologist Interested in Constitutional Law". New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 

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