Profile: Archibald Haller, Professor Emeritus

by Craig Shaar, ASA Membership

Archibald Haller…has been a leading authority on the structures of social stratification and the variations they exhibited. He worked with [William] Sewell and Alejandro Portes (ASA president in 1999) to develop a new theory, called “Status Attainment Processes,” measuring sociological influences on social mobility. The theory focused on educational and occupational backgrounds of individuals. Sewell, Haller, and Portes published an influential article from this research in 1969, after which the article took on a life of its own, having been republished continually through 2007….

hallerIn 1962, Haller was granted a Fulbright teaching award for a faculty position at the Rural University of Brazil. During his time in Brazil, he analyzed stratification trends in Brazilian society. “There was no allowance in the theories of sociology for an idea of evolutionary changes in stratification. Sociologists thought about Marx and revolutionary changes at the time, but were unaware of less spectacular ones,” said Haller. Brazil was undergoing rapid evolutionary change in the structure of stratification, suggesting that this might be happening everywhere. If so, the theory of Status Attainment Processes would have to be modified. Thus, Haller went to Brazil to see if he could learn how that nation’s society has evolved, and to revise the status attainment theory accordingly.

There would be several other Fulbright faculty awards for his research in Brazil. During his visits, he contincontinued to study how stratification systems shape Brazilian society. Among other things, he discovered that there were five distinct socioeconomically developed regions in that nation. The Brazilian federal government used Haller’s research to spearhead development projects in poorer regions. In 1981, he was decorated by the President of Brazil with the Order of Merit of Labor, Rank of Grand Officer….

Haller is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a past president of the Rural Sociological Society. In 2007, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Social Science from Ohio State University.

[Although retired, Haller]…is still contributing his knowledge of social stratification; he is currently publishing several articles on stratification in Population Review. One of these reviews the history of empirical research on stratification, from Ibn Khaldun in 1377 through Max Weber, Pitirim Sorokin, Kaare Svalastoga, and O.D. Duncan.

This article is excerpted from a version that originally appeared in Footnotes (January 2010, 38:1. American Sociological Association) and is reprinted with permission.

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