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Janowitz, Morris

Janowitz, Morris 1919-1988


The sociologist and political scientist Morris Janowitz was born on October 22, 1919, in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of an immigrant family from eastern Europe. He attended Paterson East Side High School, and in 1937 he enrolled at Washington Square College of New York University, where he came under the influence of the political scientist Bruce Lannes Smith and the philosopher Sydney Hook. He graduated with a degree in economics four years later.

After college, Janowitz worked briefly for Harold Lasswell, who was heading the Experimental Division for the Study of War Time Communications at the Library of Congress. He then went to work for Attorney General Francis Biddle at the Department of Justice Special War Policies Unit. In 1943 he was drafted to serve in the armed forces. He was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in London, and then moved to the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. He worked on mass communication, morale, and propaganda before being sent to Compiègne, France, where he directed interviews of German POWs. This experience fed his calling as a social scientist, as well as his awareness about issues he would always consider important, such as the inescapability of collective violence and the fabric of social control. The experience also provided data for seminal coauthored papers, including the classic 1948 article, written with Edward Shils, about the effects of primary groups on cohesion and fighting capabilities in the Wehrmacht.

After being discharged, Janowitz was employed briefly as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. State Department. But the advice of friends such as Edward Shils and his own attraction to a stimulating and distinguished academic environment led Janowitz to enroll at the University of Chicago in 1946. He became a lecturer in sociology the following year, and in 1948 he obtained a doctoral degree with his thesis Mobility, Subjective Deprivation, and Ethnic Hostility. It was also at Chicago that he formed close associations with Bruno Bettelheim, William Ogburn, Quincy Wright, Lloyd Fallers, and Edward Shils.

Early in 1951, the same year he married Gayle Shulenberger, Janowitz went to the University of Michigan, where he became full professor in 1957. He returned to the University of Chicago in 1961, where he stayed till his premature death on November 7, 1988. Between 1967 and 1972 he chaired the Sociology Department, helping to restore the prestige it had enjoyed in the past.

The centrality of the themes Janowitz dealt with and the depth and originality of his thinking gave his scholarship an exceptional quality and made him a major figure in American social sciences. In addition, the variety of his interests is astonishing. He explored issues such as social stratifications, mass communication, propaganda, race and ethnic prejudice, collective action, voting behavior, and the institutional use of armed force (an issue to which he drew other social scientists). His work cut across numerous fields of the social sciences, from psycho-sociology to international relations, and from urban studies to comparative politics. The list of his publications is indeed impressive. Many of his books are now considered to be classic reference works. Among them are The Dynamics of Prejudice (1950, with Bruno Bettelheim), Community Press in an Urban Setting (1952), The Professional Soldier (1960), Institution Building in Urban Education (1969), The Social Control of the Welfare State (1976), The Last Half-Century (1978), and The Reconstruction of Patriotism (1983). His major edited pieces include The New Military (1964b), Reader in Public Opinion and Communication (1966, with Bernard Berelson), and Civil-Military Relations (1981). Some of his leading articles have been republished in collections such as Political Conflict (1970) and Military Conflict (1975). These works offer a system of innovative hypotheses, each having a value of its own, at the same time addressing the larger, all-encompassing issues and problematics in the social sciences, giving coherence and logic to the whole. His hypotheses about the modern militaryfor example, his developments on the changing format of military institutions, comparative models of civil-military relations, or the constabulary use of force in contemporary international relationare illustrative in this regard, for they served both to define the perimeter of a new field of social science inquiry and to orient research on the subject.

One of these central concerns Janowitz touched upon was how the organization and the regulation of societiesnever more than an ensemble of loosely aggregated institutionsoperate in an orderly manner, especially in constantly changing environments, and especially when subjected to the disruptive forces of modernization. In other words, how can social control, which helps to mitigate self-interest in favor of common values, be maintained, when coercion and socialization have only a limited effect? To grasp such an all-encompassing issue, Janowitzwho considered grand theories inadequate as they postulate more social coherence than in realityfavored an institutional perspective that underlines interorganizational linkages and reciprocations, which, in some circumstances, can be negative, leading to fragmentation or disarticulation, as with contemporary extended welfare states, for example, affected by lower social cohesion, weakened citizenship, and fragile political legitimacy. At the same time, his analysis is multileveled and shows a preoccupation with micro-macro interactions, without which the complexity of modern society cannot be understood. These include the links between primary groups and larger structures, as well as the formation of social personality, a concept derived from W. I. Thomas to refer to enduring predispositions externalizing the psychic and which carry over from one interpersonal and social setting to the next.

Pragmatism was Janowitzs intellectual standpoint. He was directed to it by Sydney Hook, as well as by his own reading of John Dewey and his familiarity with the outlooks and methods of the Chicago school of sociology. A pragmatic approach provided him with intellectual direction, informed him with the thematic centrality of his sociological concern, and gave him the theoretical and methodological unity his work demonstrates. It also fashioned his career conceptions and his ideas on the social role of a scholar, rejecting on the one hand the engineering posture essentially concerned with applied research, and on the other hand the ivory tower style of pursuit of knowledge. He always argued that the social sciences should contribute to the alleviations of social strains, the maintenance of democracy, and effective citizenship by offering the public as well as decision makers reasoned evaluations of problems and possible solutions and policies. He was thus a fervent advocate of the Enlightenment model. In this regard, he considered himself a citizen sociologist, and his conception of institution building highlights his belief in the public calling of social scientists. He was concerned with searching for renewed forms of social control to cope with fragmented social systems, such as an enhanced civic consciousness, which could emerge from converging reforms aimed at enlarging the professional outlook of the military, education, and justice.

This high sense of responsibility, together with his conception of the academic profession, led him to devise means, both institutional and material, to support, encourage, and expand research. Thus, in 1960 he founded the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, as well as the organizations quarterly Armed Forces and Society, a leading interdisciplinary journal that has given a strong impetus to the social science study of the military and armed conflict. Similarly his editing of the Heritage of Sociology series offered the academic community important comments and analyses about classical sociological works, beginning with the Chicago school. His challenging teaching and thesis direction are remembered by many who now occupy a prominent place on the academic scene in America and elsewhere.

SEE ALSO Bettelheim, Bruno; Civil-Military Relation; Lasswell, Harold; Militarism; Military; Military Regimes; Organization Theory; Organizations; Pragmatism; Prejudice; Selective Service



Janowitz, Morris. 1948. Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II. (With Edward Shils). Public Opinion Quarterly 12: 280315.

Janowitz, Morris. 1952. Community Press in an Urban Setting: The Social Elements of Urbanism. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.

Janowitz, Morris. 1959. Sociology and the Military Establishment. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. (Revised with Roger Little in 1965, 3rd edition published in 1974.)

Janowitz, Morris. 1960. The Professional Soldier: A Social and Political Portrait. New York: Free Press. (Expanded edition in 1971, 3rd edition in 1975.)

Janowitz, Morris. 1964a. The Military in the Political Development of New Nations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Re-edited in 1977 as Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Nations.)

Janowitz, Morris. 1964b. The New Military: Changing Patterns of Organization. (Edited volume). New York, Russell Sage Foundation.

Janowitz, Morris. 1969. Institution Building in Urban Education. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Janowitz, Morris, ed. 1970. Political Conflict: Essays in Political Sociology. Chicago: Quadrangle Books.

Janowitz, Morris, ed. 1975. Military Conflict: Essays in the Institutional Analysis of War and Peace. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Janowitz, Morris. 1976. The Social Control of the Welfare State. New York: Elsevier.

Janowitz, Morris. 1978. The Last Half-Century. Societal Change and Politics in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Janowitz, Morris, ed. 1981. Civil-Military Relation. Regional Perspectives. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Janowitz, Morris. 1983. The Reconstruction of Patriotism: Education for Civic Consciousness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Janowitz, Morris, ed., with Bernard Berelson. 1966. Reader in Public Opinion and Communication. 2nd ed. New York: Free Press.

Janowitz, Morris, with Bruno Bettelheim. 1950. The Dynamics of Prejudice: A Psychological and Sociological Study of Veterans. New York: Harper and Row.


Burk, James. 1991. Introduction: A Pragmatic Sociology. In Morris Janowitz: On Social Organization and Social Control, 156. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Burk, James. 1993. Morris Janowitz and the Origins of Social Research on Armed Forces and Society. Armed Forces and Society, 19 (2): 167186.

Martin, Michel Louis. 1984. Of Arms and the Man: A Short Intellectual History of Morris Janowitzs Contribution to the Sociology of the Military. In The Military, Militarism, and the Polity: Essays in Honor of Morris Janowitz, eds. Michel Louis Martin and Ellen Stern MacCrate, 131. New York: Free Press.

Shils, Edward. 1990. Biographical Memoir: Morris Janowitz. In Yearbook of the American Philosophical Society 1989, 201207. Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society.

Smith, Denis. 1988. The Chicago School: A Liberal Critique of Capitalism. London: Macmillan.

Suttles, Gerald D. 1985. A Tribute to Morris Janowitz. In The Challenge of Social Control: Citizenship and Institution Building in Modern SocietyEssays in Honor of Morris Janowitz, eds. Gerald Suttles and Mayer N. Zald, 1319. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.

Michel Louis Martin

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"Janowitz, Morris." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . 22 Aug. 2017 <>.

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Janowitz, Morris

Janowitz, Morris (1919–88) An American sociologist, student at Chicago University in the mid-1940s, then Professor in a number of North American departments. He was the author of numerous books, including The Professional Soldier (1946), Sociology and the Military Establishment (1959), Social Control of the Welfare State (1976), The Last Half-Century (1978), and The Reconstruction of Patriotism (1983). Janowitz will be remembered as probably the leading sociologist of the military, and for his argument that the transition from early to advanced industrial society created forms of institutional organizations that made democracy harder to sustain, although he also researched and published significant studies on the topics of urban and political sociology, race and ethnic relations, and sociological theory generally. A useful selection of his papers—prefaced by an excellent biographical introduction—is James Burk's Morris Janowitz—On Social Organization and Social Control (1991). See also MILITARY AND MILITARISM.

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