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Blau, Peter Michael


BLAU, PETER MICHAEL (1918–2002), sociologist. Born in Vienna, Blau immigrated to the United States. He received his doctorate in sociology from Columbia University in 1952 and held professorial appointments at the University of Chicago. He was a professor of sociology at Columbia University. During the academic year 1966–67, he was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge. His main interests were the development of group social structure, formal organizations, and occupations. Considered one of the founders of contemporary American sociology, Blau studied macrostructural characteristics of society. His theories sought to explain how such social phenomena as upward mobility, occupational opportunity, heterogeneity, and population structures influence human behavior.

In addition to numerous contributions to professional journals and books, Blau published a large number of his own books, which include The Dynamics of Bureaucracy: A Study of Interpersonal Relations in Two Government Agencies (1955), Bureaucracy in Modern Society (1956), Formal Organizations: A Comparative Approach (1962), Exchange and Power in Social Life (1964), The American Occupational Structure (1967), The Structure of Organizations (1971), The Organization of AcademicWork (1973), On the Nature of Organizations (1974), and Crosscutting Social Circles (1996).

Blau was editor of the American Journal of Sociology from 1961 until 1967, a member of the board of the Social Science Research Council in 1967–69, and served as the 65th president of the American Sociological Association in 1974.

From 1979 through 1983 he taught at suny-Albany as Distinguished Professor. He taught in Tianjin in China at the Academy of Social Sciences as a Distinguished Honorary Professor (1981 and 1987). In 1988 he retired as a faculty member from Columbia University but taught at unc at Chapel Hill as the Robert Broughton Distinguished Research Professor until 2001. Blau was professor emeritus at Columbia, a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, senior fellow at King's College, fellow of the American Philosophical Society, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

[Jacob Jay Lindenthal /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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