Stebbins, Robert A. 1938- (Robert Alan Stebbins)

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Stebbins, Robert A. 1938- (Robert Alan Stebbins)


Born June 22, 1938, in Rhinelander, WI; immigrated to Canada, c. 1976; naturalized Canadian citizen, 1980; son of William N. (a business executive) and Dorothy Stebbins; married Karin Y. Olson, January 11, 1964; children: Paul, Lisa, Christi. Education: Macalester College, B.A., 1961; University of Minnesota, M.A., 1962, Ph.D., 1964.


Home—Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Office—Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].


Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC, associate professor of sociology, 1964-65; Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, assistant professor, 1965-68, associate professor of sociology and chairman of department of sociology and anthropology, 1968-73; University of Texas at Arlington, professor of sociology, 1973-76; University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, chair of department of sociology, 1976-82, professor of sociology, 1982-99, faculty professor and emeritus, 2000—. President, St. John's Symphony Orchestra, 1968-69. Military service: Minnesota National Guard, 1956-64; became staff sergeant.


World Leisure, International Sociological Association, Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (president, 1987-88), American Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, Society for the Study of Social Problems (member of publications committee, 1976-79), Pacific Sociological Association, Leisure Studies Association.


Canada Council leave fellowship, 1971-72; National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend, 1976; Calgary Institute for the Humanities fellow, 1987-88; Academy of Leisure Sciences fellow, 1996; Royal Society of Canada fellow, 1999; Prix Marguerite Dentinger, Association Canadienne Française de l'Alberta, 2003.


Commitment to Deviance: The Nonprofessional Criminal in the Community, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1971.

The Disorderly Classroom: Its Physical and Temporal Conditions, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Newfoundland, Canada), 1974.

Teachers and Meaning, E.J. Brill (Leiden, the Netherlands), 1975.

Amateurs: On the Margin between Work and Leisure, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1979.

(Editor, with William B. Shaffir and Allan Turowetz) Fieldwork Experience: Qualitative Approaches to Social Research, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1980.

(Editor, with Allan Turowetz and M. Michael Rosenberg) The Sociology of Deviance, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1982.

The Magician: Career, Culture, and Social Psychology in a Variety Art, Irwin [Canada], 1984, reprinted with a new preface and references as Career, Culture, and Social Psychology in a Variety Art: The Magician, Krieger (Malabar, FL), 1993.

Sociology: The Study of Society, Harper (New York, NY), 1987.

Canadian Football: The View from the Helmet, University of Western Ontario (Ontario, Canada), 1987.

Deviance: Tolerable Differences, McGraw-Hill/Ryerson Press (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 1988, 2nd edition published as Tolerable Differences: Living with Deviance, 1997.

The Laugh-makers: Stand-up Comedy as Art, Business, and Life-style, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1990.

(Editor, with William B. Shaffir) Experiencing Fieldwork: An Inside View of Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences, Sage (Newbury Park, CA), 1991.

Amateurs, Professionals, and Serious Leisure, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1992.

Predicaments: Moral Difficulty in Everyday Life, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1993.

The Franco-Calgarians: French Language, Leisure, and Linguistic Life-style in an Anglophone City, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

The Barbershop Singer: Inside the Social World of a Musical Hobby, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

The French Enigma: Survival and Development in Canada's Francophone Societies, Detselig Enterprises (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2000.

Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences, Sage Publications (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2001.

New Directions in the Theory and Research of Serious Leisure, Edwin Mellen (Lewiston, NY), 2001.

The Organizational Basis of Leisure Participation, Ventura Publishing, 2002.

(Editor) Volunteering as Leisure/Leisure as Volunteering: An International Assessment, CABI Publishing (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Between Work and Leisure: The Common Ground of Two Separate Worlds, Transaction Publishers (New Brunswick, NJ), 2004.

Challenging Mountain Nature: Risk, Motive, and Lifestyle in Three Hobbyist Sports, Detselig (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2005.

(With David Horton Smith and Michael A. Dover) A Dictionary of Nonprofit Terms and Concepts, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2006.

Serious Leisure: A Perspective for Our Time, Transaction Publishers (New Brunswick, NJ), 2007.

(Editor, with Elie Cohen-Gewere) The Pivotal Role of Leisure Education: Finding Personal Fulfillment in this Century, Ventura Publishing, 2007.

Contributor of articles to journals in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Member of editorial board, Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 1970-73, World Leisure Journal, 2004—, Loisir et Société, International Journal of Crime, and Journal of International Volunteer Tourism and Social Development. Associate editor, Journal of Jazz Studies, 1973-82, Leisure Sciences, 1997—, Deviant Behavior, 1999—, and Leisure/Loisir, 2003-05.


Writer and educator Robert A. Stebbins was born in 1938 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and later became a naturalized citizen of Canada. He earned his undergraduate degree from Macalester College and went on to get his graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota prior to commencing his teaching career. He has served on the faculty of several universities and is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. In addition to his educational duties, Stebbins is a prolific writer has published a number of books on topics ranging from leisure time to volunteering to works on French-Canadian society.

Deviance: Tolerable Differences, which was later re-released as Tolerable Differences: Living with Deviance, examines what it means to practice various behaviors that, while not strictly considered within the bounds of normality, are not considered to be so far outside society's restrictions as to cause widespread difficulties. In the book, Stebbins divides behaviors between types that are considered inexcusable and those that are tolerated as different but not worthy of censure. The primary difference between these behaviors is how they affect the population overall. True deviance is considered to be abnormal behavior that affects society in some adverse way, while tolerable differences tend to affect only the person involved in the behavior directly; in the latter case, society at large remains ignorant of the occurrences or, at least, unaffected by them. Stebbins looks at these issues on a grand scale and considers the application of the term "criminal" under both definitions. Tammy L. Greer, in an article for the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, remarked that "while encouraging readers to search for a better understanding of social life, this text exhibits something essential to all social science discourse: encouraging people to understand differences, like Stebbins does, through experience and a more informed awareness of circumstances and larger belief systems."

In The French Enigma: Survival and Development in Canada's Francophone Societies, Stebbins examines the various francophone communities in Canada and discusses the ways in which they resemble one another and the ways they can stand on their own. He looks into how the various communities developed and provides a history of such communities in general. As most reference books on the subject are written in French, Stebbins has provided a useful text for non-French speakers who wish to learn more about the francophone phenomenon in Canada. A reviewer for Quebec Studies commented: "With this study and its excellent bibliography, Robert Stebbins opens the door to the burgeoning field of North-American Francophone Studies and we should thank him for the effort." Josee Makropoulos, writing for the Social Science Journal, declared Stebbins's work "a well-documented book which succeeds in pulling together diverse approaches to examine current issues relevant to French communities in the Canadian context."



Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, November, 1997, Tammy L. Greer, review of Tolerable Differences: Living with Deviance, p. 468.

Quebec Studies, fall, 2000, review of The French Enigma: Survival and Development in Canada's Francophone Societies, pp. 124-126.

Social Science Journal, April, 2001, Josee Makropoulos, review of The French Enigma, p. 346.