Neil J. Smelser was a University Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and the former Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. His academic career included various faculty positions at the University of California Berkeley. Dr. Smelser was Special Assistant to the Chancellor at UC Berkeley in 1965, Assistant Chancellor for Educational Development from 1966-1969, and Associate Director of the Institute of International Studies from 1969-1973 and again from 1980-1990. He also served as Chair of the Department of Sociology and Special Advisor on Long-Term Planning to the President of UC Berkeley.
Professor Smelser earned his B.A. in Social Relations from Harvard College and his B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University in 1952. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University in 1958, and was a graduate of San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute. His faculty grants included a Guggenheim Fellowship (1973-74); a Russell Sage Fellowship (1989-90); and various grants from the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Education, the Ford Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. He was honored as a Rhodes Scholar, a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was a Member of the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Smelser was elected Vice-President of the Sociological Association in 1990; was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993; received a Berkeley Citation in 1994; was elected President of American Sociological Association in 1995; and received the Mattei Dogan Foundation Prize for Distinguished Career Achievement from the International Sociological Association in 2002.
Dr. Smelser was the editor, co-editor, author or co-author of numerous books, including Economy and Society, with Talcott Parsons (1956); Social Change in the Industrial Revolution (1959); Theory of Collective Behavior (1962); The Sociology of Economic Life (1962, 1973); Essays in Sociological Explanation (1968);Comparative Methods in the Social Sciences (1976); The Changing Academic Market (with Robin Content) (1980); Sociology (1981, 1984, 1987, 1991, 1995);Handbook of Sociology (editor) (1988); Social Paralysis and Social Change (1991);Social Change and Modernity, with Hans Haferkamp (1992); Sociology (1994); The Handbook of Economic Sociology, with Richard Swedberg (1994); Problematics of Sociology (1997); The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis (1999); and Diversity and Its Discontents (1999), with Jeffrey C. Alexander.