IUS - The Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society

Morris Janowitz: A Professional Scholar

Morris Janowitz was born in 1922 in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Polish immigrants. A site of intense labor and ethnic conflicts, Paterson revealed the high human costs imposed by the Great Depression. These hard events worked on his imagination, instilling a life-long concern to minimize the roles played by violence and coercion in social life. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 reinforced this concern, awakening his interest in war and deepening his distrust of violence to advance radical ideological aims.

After graduating from New York University in 1941, on the eve of World War II, he was quickly put to work studying mass communications and wartime propaganda at the Library of Congress and then at the Department of Justice. In 1943 he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and sent to Europe where he interviewed German prisoners of war. He completed his PhD in sociology at the University of Chicago in 1948 and began his extraordinary academic career, primarily at the University of Chicago. There he led a renaissance of the Chicago School of sociology, edited a highly successful book series on the heritage of sociology, and completed a three-volume work on the social evolution of American liberal democracy.

His major achievement was to establish study of armed forces and society as a subfield within sociology. He did this by example, most notably through his classic study of The Professional Soldier, published in 1960. That work created a fertile research agenda that others still follow. He raised money to support research on a wide variety of topics in the field, ranging from historical comparative studies of the military profession to policy-relevant research about the all-volunteer force. He founded the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society (IUS) and later started the journal, Armed Forces & Society. These provided institutional support, encouraging scholars at work in the field. The IUS has since become a major interdisciplinary and international professional society and the journal is the major outlet for research on military organization and civil military relations.

Morris Janowitz's contributions were widely recognized. He was elected Vice-President of the American Sociological Association and received that association's Award for a Career of Distinguished Scholarship. He was also an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Association. Upon his death in 1988, he was buried in the U.S. military cemetery at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

James Burk
Texas A&M University

The Morris Janowitz Career Achievement Award