Jim Loewen, 1942-2021

August 22, 2021
Posted by Jay Livingston

The last time I saw Jim Loewen was at the 2018 ASA meetings in Phildelphia, a session on blogging as public sociology. It was in one of those small rooms and there were about forty of us in the audience. Jim was sitting quietly towards the back of the room. The irony struck me immediately. Here were bloggers, public sociologists, whose publics were perhaps a few hundred people, mostly sociology professors and graduate students — and sitting unnoticed was a sociologist whose work had reached more than a million people. My son had read Lies My Teacher Told Me in high school.

After the session, I said hello. He didn’t remember me.  Our grad school careers had barely overlapped; I was in social psych then, not sociology. But a couple of my friends of mine knew him from grad school and from leftist student politics. They both wound up at prestigious business schools, one teaching business law, the other teaching about leadership and doing well-paid consulting for corporate executives.

Jim remained true to the concerns he had back then. As I recall, he now said he was interested in people’s hometown experiences with race and class. I told him that I might not have much to contribute. When was growing up, my hometown had no known African Americans, though my parents had said that there were some families that were passing. “No, no. Write it up and send it to me,” Jim said, handing me his card.

I never did, an omission I now regret.

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