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Stanford Report, June 4, 2003

Sociologist William Goode dies at 85


William Josiah Goode, professor emeritus of sociology and former president of the American Sociological Association, died unexpectedly in Washington, D.C., on May 4. He was 85. Goode lived in Fairfax, Va., and had homes in East Hampton, N.Y., and Cambridge, Mass.

Goode, who was called Si and whose last name rhymes with food, was best known for his cross-cultural analysis of marriage and divorce and the consequences of divorce for women. His work also covered basic issues in sociological theory focusing on social control systems of prestige, force and force threat, and love.

"Si Goode was one of the most outstanding sociologists of his generation," wrote Alex Inkeles, professor emeritus of sociology. Goode wrote 20 books and was best known for his pioneering 1963 work World Revolution and Family Patterns. The book, which included data from more than 50 countries over a half-century period, analyzed the impact of families on societies.

Thirty years later, Goode published a cultural analysis of divorce, World Changes in Divorce Patterns, which laid out the conceptual basis for analyzing and predicting patterns of divorce. It revealed anomalous patterns in some societies, said his wife, Lenore J. Weitzman, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Sociology and Law at George Mason University. In 1994, the book earned the American Sociological Association's William J. Goode Award, a prize for the best book on family sociology that was first established in Goode's honor in 1982.

According to Inkeles, Goode also took a keen interest in general sociological theory, on the development of which he wrote several insightful essays. Articles such as The Theoretical Importance of Love, A Theory of Role Strain, The Protection of the Inept, Violence Among Intimates and Why Men Resist "typically unearthed hidden social processes that were contrary to popular wisdom and provided blueprints for new paradigms," Weitzman said.

Goode's book The Celebration of Heroes (1978), of which he was proudest, focused on the subtleties of social forces involved in the production and distribution of prestige, honor and respect, Weitzman said. Sociology Professor Emeritus Morris Zelditch, a lifelong friend and colleague, said Goode was a major contributor to social exchange theory, which was used to explain power exchange phenomena. "Rather than people explicitly calculating terms of exchange, they do so implicitly," Zelditch said. "People expect to get back something of equal value to what they give and, if they don't, differences emerge in prestige and power."

Goode was born in Houston in 1917. Encouraged by his high school debating coach, future President Lyndon B. Johnson, Goode entered Rice Institute when he was just 16. After being expelled for wearing tennis shorts to class, Goode completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1938 and 1939. He was studying for his doctorate in sociology at Pennsylvania State University when he enlisted in the Navy as a radarman in 1944.

After World War II, Goode became an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University. He moved to Columbia University in 1950 and chaired the sociology department several times during the 1960s and 1970s. According to Weitzman, during his years at Columbia, Goode was an early supporter of the nascent women's movement and was a mentor to his lifelong friend, Betty Friedan, while she was writing The Feminine Mystique. "He was an intellectual mentor, not only to Betty, but to a generation of women at the forefront of the movement," Weitzman said. Unlike many male professors of his generation, she added, Goode encouraged and promoted the careers of his female graduate students.

In 1977, Goode joined the faculty at Stanford, where he taught for nine years. In 1986, he retired and joined the Department of Sociology at Harvard. In 1994, Goode received an honorary appointment at George Mason University.

Goode's academic reputation was widely acknowledged internationally, and he lectured and taught in many countries. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received numerous awards and prizes for his scholarship.

Beyond academia, Goode enjoyed a wide range of interests, including painting, sculpture, sailing, scuba diving, tennis, skiing, mushrooming, gardening, gourmet cooking and birding. "He really was a Renaissance man," Zelditch said. In 1974, Goode's creative cooking was featured in a full-page article in the New York Times. Craig Claiborne, the food critic, joined Goode in East Hampton, N.Y., on a search for oysters and periwinkles to make ceviche. Goode also was an accomplished tennis player, winning several senior tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region. He celebrated his 85th birthday by hiking in Tuscany and the Galapagos Islands, Weitzman said.

Goode is survived by Weitzman, who was an associate professor for research in Stanford's Department of Sociology from 1978 to 1986; three children, Erich Goode of Silver Spring, Md.; Barbara Baldwin of Washington, D.C.; and Andrew Josiah Goode of Shingle Springs, Calif; a sister, Rosalie Grizzle of Magnolia, Texas; and five grandchildren. Goode's marriages to Josephine Cannizzo of Silver Spring, Md., and Ruth Rosenbaum of Chapel Hill, N.C., ended in divorce.

A funeral ceremony will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 3. The family welcomes contributions to the William J. Goode International Fellowship, which is being established by the American Sociological Association, 1307 New York Ave. N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005.


William Josiah Goode