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Marris, Peter 1927-2007 (Peter H. Marris, Peter Horsey Marris)

Marris, Peter 1927-2007 (Peter H. Marris, Peter Horsey Marris)


See index for CA sketch: Born July 6, 1926, in London, England; died of cancer, June 25, 2007, in Guilford, CT. Sociologist, educator, novelist, and writer. Marris once told CA that the theme of all his writings, regardless of scale or genre, was the way people deal with social change. Born in England, he served as a district government official in Kenya in the mid-1950s. From 1955 to 1975, he was affiliated with the London-based research facilities of the Institute for Community Studies and the Centre for Environmental Studies. Moving to the United States in 1976, Marris was a professor at various American universities, including the University of California at Los Angeles from 1976 to 1991, followed by a post at Yale University. In books like Widows and Their Families (1958), he studied individuals as they experience bereavement and emerge from it sufficiently recovered to face the future. In Family and Social Change in an African City: A Study of Rehousing in Lagos (1962), he looked at the way tribal groups deal with the sense of loss as they experience change on a wider scale. In Dilemmas of Social Reform: Poverty and Community Action in the United States, he and coauthor Martin Rein examined the effects of urban renewal on poor communities in a modernized society. In Loss and Change, Marris explained to CA, his purpose was to show how all social change involves similar processes of grieving for loss (even if it has a positive purpose, such as personal or community improvement), reliving the "good old days" before the change (even if they weren't so good), and rushing toward the future beyond the time of grief. Overall, his concern was the way people preserve meaning in their lives, even in what he called "complex urban societies like contemporary America." In an effort to extend his ideas beyond academia, Marris wrote a novel, The Dreams of General Jerusalem (1988).



Los Angeles Times, July 5, 2007, p. B7.

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