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Rose Laub Coser

COSER, ROSE LAUB (1916–1994), U.S. sociologist. Born in Berlin but educated in Antwerp, Rose Laub immigrated to New York with her parents in 1939. Three years later, she married Lewis A. *Coser (1913–2003), a fellow refugee from Nazi Europe, who, like Rose, was a committed socialist and also became an eminent sociologist. Both Cosers received their Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University, Lewis in 1954 and Rose in 1957. Like many women in academia at that time, Rose Coser followed a much more difficult career path than her husband, working for many years as a research associate first at Columbia and then the University of Chicago and later in the psychiatry department of Harvard Medical School. She also held positions as an instructor and then assistant professor at Wellesley College (1951–59) and as associate professor at Northeastern University (1965–68). In 1968, Rose and Lewis Coser both became professors at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where they remained until their retirement in 1987. Rose Coser published extensively and made many important contributions to the fields of medical sociology, sociology of the family, and gender roles. Her major works include Life in the Ward(1962), The Family: Its Structure and Functions (1964 and 1974), Life Cycle and Achievement in America (1972), Training in Ambiguity: Learning Through Doing in a Mental Hospital (1979), Access to Power: Cross-National Studies of Women and Elites (1981), In Defense of Modernity: Complexity of Social Roles and Individual Autonomy (1991), and Women of Courage: Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York (1999, published posthumously). An ardent feminist and vocal supporter of affirmative action and social justice, Coser was a founder and frequent contributor to the journal Dissent and served on numerous editorial boards. She was also actively involved in professional associations, serving as president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (1973–74) and the Eastern Sociological Society (1984), as well as vice president of the American Sociological Association (1985–86). Her papers are found at the John J. Burns Library at Boston College.


P.E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, I, (1997) 290–92; M.J. Deegan (ed.), Women in Sociology: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook (1991), 110–17; J.R. Blau and N. Goodman (eds.), Social Roles and Social Institutions: Essays in Honor of Rose Laub Coser (1991); C.F. Epstein, "In Memoriam: Rose Laub Coser 1916–1994," in: Dissent, 42 (Winter 1995), 107–10.

[Harriet Pass Freidenreich (2nd ed.)]



Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.