Skip to main content

Coser, Lewis A.


COSER, LEWIS A. (Ludwig Cohen ; 1913–2003), U.S. sociologist. Born in Berlin, Coser left Germany in 1933 and went to France. In 1941 he immigrated to the United States, where during the war he worked for American government agencies. He taught at the University of Chicago (1948–50) and in 1951 was appointed professor at Brandeis University, where he founded the sociology department, and in 1968 at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, New York. Along with Irving *Howe and others, he founded the socialist magazine Dissent and was its co-editor for many years. Coser served as president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (1967–68), the American Sociological Association (1975), and the Eastern Sociological Society (1983). He retired to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987, where he was professor emeritus, first at Boston College and then at Boston University.

Coser was a leading proponent of conflict theory, as contrasted to equilibrium theory. Although he prided himself on separating his political and sociological thinking, he was critical of modern American sociology's abandonment of social criticism.

His best-known work is The Functions of Social Conflict (1956), which was listed in a 1997 Contemporary Sociology review as one of the best-selling sociology books of the century. Among Coser's other publications in political sociology and sociological theory are The American Communist Party: A Critical History, 1919–1957, with I. Howe and J. Jacobson (1957); Sociological Theory, with Bernard Rosenberg (19672); Sociology through Literature (1963); a symposium on Simmel (1965); Continuities in the Study of Social Conflict (1967); Menof Ideas: A Sociologist's View (1970); Masters of Sociological Thought (1977); The New Conservatives: A Critique from the Left (with I. Howe, 1977); The Pleasures of Sociology (1980); Books: The Culture and Commerce of Publishing (1982); Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and Their Experiences (1984); and A Handful of Thistles: Collected Papers in Moral Conviction (1988).

[Pearl J. Lieff /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Coser, Lewis A.." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 21 Aug. 2019 <>.

"Coser, Lewis A.." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (August 21, 2019).

"Coser, Lewis A.." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.