Merit Award

Karen V. Hansen is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. The author or editor of six landmark books and numerous scholarly articles and chapters, Professor Hansen’s work bridges the crucial gap between historical sociology and the sociology of family and gender. Her work combines careful ethnography and historical sociology.

Her work explores the nexus of social class, gender, and race/ethnicity in a variety of settings and time periods. Her most recent monograph, Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930, is based on extended fieldwork on a Native American reservation, oral history, and archival research. Her monograph on contemporary inequalities and kinship, Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care, vividly illustrates the conflicts, hardships and triumphs of four family networks that span the economic spectrum. It argues for the importance of studying families as fluid entities embedded in kinship and community, in order to fully understand how working parents manage the crisis of care that is structurally produced and individually experienced.

Professor Hansen’s work has an international reach and interdisciplinary influence. Her research has been supported by many fellowships, including those from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She has held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. Hansen has also received awards and recognition from many professional organizations, including the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Western Association of Women Historians. 

A longtime ESS member and former Vice-President, Professor Hansen has been active through presiding and presenting at annual meetings, organizing sessions for mini-conferences, and serving on numerous committees. She serves as Editor for the “Families in Focus” series at Rutgers University Press.

Her work with students has been recognized with the Outstanding Mentoring Award from Brandeis University. Professor Hansen’s mentorship for students has consistently included introducing them to professional networks, prompting their own active involvement in the ESS from early in their careers.

For the 2020 award, the ESS Merit Award Committee invites members to recommend candidates. Those suggested should be distinguished scholars who have made outstanding contributions to the discipline, the profession, and the ESS. The committee may reconsider past recommendations but would appreciate a short statement to re-activate them. Recommendations should include a statement in support of the nominee and should be sent by October 31, 2019 to the committee chair:

Anne Roschelle
Associate Professor and Department Chair
SUNY New Paltz

Previous ESS Merit Award Winners

Year, Winner 
1960, Maurice Davis
1961, Welman J. Warner & Ray Abrams
1962, Robert S. Lynd
1963, Pitirim Sorokin
1964, Donald Young
1965, Leonard Cottrell Jr
1966, Thorsten Sellin
1967, Talcott Parsons
1968, Robert MacIver
1969, Negley Teeters
1970, Theodore Abel
1971, Jessie Bernard
1972, Everett C. Hughes
1973, Helen MacGill Hughes
1974, Alfred McClung Lee & Elizabeth Briant Lee
1975, Charles H. Page
1976, Paul Lazarsfeld
1977, Mirra Komarovsky
1978, Robert K. Merton
1979, Hylan Lewis
1980, A. B. Hollingshead & David Reisman
1981, William F. Whyte
1982, Robert Bierstedt
1983, Lewis Coser
1984, Robin M. Williams Jr
1985, George Homans
1986, Matilda White Riley
1987, Rose L. Coser
1988, Digby Baltzell
1989, James Blackwell
1990, Morris Rosenberg
1991, S. M. Miller
1992, William J. Goode
1993, Renée C. Fox
1994, Melvin Kohn
1995, Herbert Gans
1996, Charles Tilly
1997, Charles B. Perrow
1998, Harrison C. White
1999, Eliot Freidson
2000, Suzanne Keller
2001, Kai Erikson
2002, Marvin Bressler
2003, Bernard Barber
2004, Cynthia Fuchs Epstein
2005, William A. Gamson & Caroline Hodges Persell
2006, Charles V. Willie
2007, Judith Lorber
2009, Richard Alba
2010, Nancy Denton
2011, Jerry Jacobs
2012, Margaret L. Anderson
2013, Karen Cerulo
2014, Kathleen Gerson
2015, Phil Kasinitz
2016, Robert Zussman
2017, Elijah Anderson
2018, Nancy Foner 
2019, Karen V. Hansen