Ranney, Austin 1920-2006

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Ranney, Austin 1920-2006

(Joseph Austin Ranney)


See index for CA sketch: Born September 23, 1920, in Courtland, NY; died of congestive heart failure and complications from diabetes, July 24, 2006, in Berkeley, CA. Political scientist, educator, and author. A retired professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Ranney was a noted authority on political party systems in American and Great Britain. He did his undergraduate work at Northwestern University, earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon in 1943, and graduated from Yale with a Ph.D. in 1948. Ranney joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1946, becoming a full professor of political science there in 1959 and serving as associate dean of the graduate college for three years. In 1962, he traveled to England to research how candidates to Parliament were selected in England. The result was one of his most important books, Pathways to Parliament: Candidate Selection in Britain (1965). Returning to America, he was hired as a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where he taught from 1963 to 1976. While there, he was involved with a movement to make political science more scientific through such means as statistical analysis; he would eventually conclude that politics could never be viewed in purely objective terms. Ranney, a Democrat, was selected as a member of the McGovern-Fraser commission in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Part of his work there involved setting up a quota system to allow more blacks to be selected as convention delegates. However, this idea quickly got out of hand as those with agendas for other groups demanded quotas as well, resulting in debates about delegate selection that satisfied no one. It was a chapter in his professional life Ranney would regret. He left academia for a time to work for the think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, from 1976 to 1986. Here he was a resident scholar and served on the editorial board for Public Opinion. His last years were spent at Berkeley, where he was head of the political science department, retiring in 1991. Among Ranney's other books are The Governing of Men (1958), The Federalization of Presidential Primaries (1978), Channels of Power: The Impact of Television on American Politics (1983), and The Mass Media in Campaign '84: Articles from "Public Opinion Magazine" (1985).



Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2006, p. B15.

Times (London, England), August 3, 2006, p. 64.