Posts Tagged deviance

Stanley Cohen, Professor 1974-1981. Died January 2013.

Stan Cohen,Professor of Sociology, University of Essex 1972-1981

Stan Cohen,
Professor of Sociology, University of Essex 1972-1981

Stan Cohen arrived at Essex in 1972 – and became the 4th Professor of Sociology between 1974 and 1981. He chaired the department between 1974 and 1978, and after this he spent most of his time on leave at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was a kind and influential figure in the  in the formative yeas of the department – not least in bringing the sociology of  deviance as  a critique of criminology to the department.  Years later, it was reinstated as ‘criminology’ and now it attracts the largest group of students in the department.

He also was  a pioneer in the field of human rights.

Stan left Essex over thirty years ago but he will always be remembered as an intellectual giant and an inspirational force: he changed lives.

There have been many obituaries to Stan.

We have downloaded The Guardian obituary on our obituaries page.

Y0u can also connect up with the oration given when he was awarded an honorary degree at Essex in 2004.

Here is the statement issue from the London School of Economics where he went in 1996 and was Emeritus on his death:

Professor Bridget Hutter, Head of the Department of Sociology, expressed the sorrow of colleagues from the Department upon learning the very sad news that Stan Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at LSE, passed away on the morning of Monday 7 January 2013 after a long illness.

Stan had a long and distinguished career. He grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and was an undergraduate sociology student at the University of Witwatersrand. He left in 1963 for London where he completed his doctorate at the London School of Economics while working as a social worker. He lectured in sociology at the University of Durham and then the University of Essex, where he was Professor of Sociology from 1974.

In 1980, Stan and his family left Britain to live in Israel. He was Director of the Institute of Criminology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and also became active in human rights work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He returned to LSE as a visiting centennial professor in 1994 and in 1996 was appointed Martin White Professor of Sociology. He has received the Sellin-Glueck award from the American Society of Criminology and in 1998 was elected as a fellow of the British Academy.

Stan Cohen has written about criminological theory, prisons, social control, criminal justice policy, juvenile delinquency, mass media, political crime and human rights violations. His books include:

  • Images of Deviance (1971);
  • Folk Devils and Moral Panics: the making of the mods and rockers (1972);
  • Psychological Survival: the experience of long-term imprisonment (with Laurie Taylor) 1973;
  • Escape Attempts (with Laurie Taylor), 1977;
  • The Manufacture of News (with Jock Young) 1977;
  • Social Control and the State (with Andrew Scull) 1983; and
  • Visions of Social Control (1985); and Against Criminology (1988).

His most recent book, States of Denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering (Polity Press, 2001), dealt with personal and political reactions to information, images and appeals about inhumanities, cruelty and social suffering. States of Denial was chosen as Outstanding Publication of 2001 by the International Division of the American Society of Criminology and was awarded the 2002 British Academy Book Prize.

The 30th anniversary edition of Cohen’s classic Folk Devils and Moral Panics (Routledge) came out in 2002. In the introduction, he reviewed the uses of the concept of ‘moral panics’ in the 30 years since 1972.

Stan was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Essex (2004) and Middlesex (2008) and in 2010 was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the LSE. In 2009 he received the Outstanding Achievement Award of the British Society of Criminology.

Bridget Hutter adds: “The Department was so fortunate in having Stan join us in 1996. His health was by then ailing but his intellectual vitality was ever present. He came to us as one of the world’s leading criminologists and his criminological work and theories of social control remain highly influential. Some of us were very privileged to work with Stan, in my case on MSc Criminology in the late 1990s, and also later sharing our experiences of setting up interdisciplinary research centres in the School. We will all miss him and send our condolences and fond memories to his family.”

While in the Department Stan was also absolutely fundamental to the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at LSE in 2000 and establishing a central sociological presence in the human rights field. Stan was a wonderful and generous human being. In many ways, he was the heart of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights. He will be deeply missed even as his vision and his work continue to influence and shape the Centre.

, ,

Leave a comment

Karim Murji, BA1983





When Ken Plummer invited me to contribute to this site my first thought was to describe my somewhat accidental journey into sociology, and to a lesser extent, into academia. Then I read Toby Miller’s account of his academic career in The Times Higher. Like. David Bouchier’s contribution to this site, it made me think that perhaps the unplanned and the accidental may actually be rather common. Maybe we should look for people who have a straightforward path into sociology! Indeed, the Sociology department at the Open University where I have worked since 2000 contains few people who actually have a first degree in sociology. There are many distinguished sociologists who come from ‘somewhere else’. But, like at least one of those people, my own tale contains a little twist to add to the mix.

When I arrived at Essex I was registered for a degree in biochemistry. This lasted less than a term and half as it finally dawned on me that science was not my future. I’m not sure who suggested I go and speak with Paul Thompson, but I think and hope it was the lovely, and sadly late, Pat Ready, who worked in the Students Union. Paul, then the head of department, was kind and asked why I would be interested in sociology (I had done it at A level). Once he felt I was genuine he was very helpful in easing the way for me to do so. Although I had not thought about leaving, that meeting became one of the main reasons I stayed at Essex rather than starting a Sociology degree elsewhere.

In retrospect, I realise the department was then in some kind of transition. Stan Cohen was still nominally a member of staff but was away in Israel and left before I got to take his deviance course. Peter Townsend taught his social structure course but also left in that time. In those days Sociological Analysis I and II (Can they still be going? When were they replaced?) were the cornerstone of the Sociology degree I can still recall the tutorial like system with Joan Busfield and three other students as we ploughed through Giddens’ (which spell checkers read as giddiness as Tony Woodiwiss memorably pointed out) Capitalism and Modern Social Theory. I can also recall being taught by Ian Craib, Dennis Marsden, Nicky Hart, and Michael Harloe. And in Ken’s deviance course I first came across Michel Foucault, probably the first sign of the break with the classical tradition we had been learning. Years before the RAE/REF and ‘research intensive’ universities, Essex sociology was an intellectually vibrant place full of academics doing fascinating and cutting edge research.

The deviance course was one of the reasons I opted to go on to LSE (rather than Kent where I was offered a studentship) and from there the tale changes from an accidental journey into one of Essex connections after Essex. At LSE I took a social theory course with Michael Mann. A few years later my second job, in drugs and criminological and social policy research, I worked with Nigel South (and I wish I could then have predicted where he would end up!). At that time, Nigel, another colleague and I were invited to provide some sessions for an MA Deviance, Stigma and Control course, my first reacquaintance with Essex and the initially odd experience of finding myself on the other side of the seminar room. And a decade or so later while I was on the BSA executive committee I found myself coming across Joan Busfield (who was the president of the BSA at the time).

The early expansion of criminology provided opportunities for jobs in academia and I taught that for most of the 1990s, mainly at Roehampton. In that decade I even tried to get a job at Essex. While I was waiting in the common room, Tony Woodwisss (then head of department) charmingly introduced himself by asking if I remembered him (rather than the other way round as it should have been)! Although that was not be, it was a pleasure to meet the department again, including the redoubtable Mary Girling who had been helpful to me and so many other students in our time there.

In recent years, research on policing and race and racism has led me to other Essex connections of people from subsequent decades such as Aisha Gill and Nasar Meer. Nowadays in the age of Facebook that is the main route to connections with my peer group and their varied careers – from youth work to law, academia, teaching and social work – and the many interesting other things they do outside of that. As the University approaches its 50th anniversary I know we all look back fondly on Essex as a key moment in our lives, the influence of which lives on.


Leave a comment

Sad News: The deaths of Stan Cohen and Mary McIntosh

Mary McIntosh c.1971We have sadly learned over the past few days of the death of two former members of staff who played a significant role in the life of the department.

Stan Cohen and Mary McIntosh

Stan Cohen was the fourth appointed Professor in the department and was chair in the mid 1970’s.

Mary McIntosh came to the department in the mid 1970’s and retired in the mid 1990’s. She was the first woman Chair of the department between 1996-1999.

They have both played a major role in their fields and will be much missed. We will honour them in detail on these pages in a little while.

, , , , , , , ,