Obituary: Dan Clawson, Sociology Professor, 70

Dan Clawson
Dan Clawson

Dan Clawson, a professor in the sociology department for 40 years, died unexpectedly May 6. He was 70 years old.

A caring, thoughtful scholar on the topics of organized labor, Clawson merged his academic interests with his deep passion for organized labor and its impact on the well-being of families. He served as president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors, and he led the faculty union during the tumultuous state budget cuts in the 2000s, advocating for his colleagues both here and at other institutions facing similar fiscal challenges. He was the former national chair of Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice, which worked to connect intellectuals and the labor movement. He was recently serving as a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s executive committee and as co-chair of its educational policy and practice committee.

Clawson spent his entire academic career at UMass Amherst, arriving in 1978 after earning his Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. At UMass, he was affiliated with the Center for Research on Families. He also chaired the Labor and Labor Movements section of the American Sociological Association. He also served as editor of the journal Contemporary Sociology and co-editor of the Rose Series in Sociology. He also was a visiting scholar at the Russell Safe Foundation in New York in 2011-12. He published extensively on his research on American labor movements and the impact of corporate money on U.S. politics. His research is widely cited and was well-received outside of academic circles. His impact on the field of sociology will be felt for years to come.

He was the author of several books, including “Unequal Time: Gender, Class, and Family in Employment Schedules” (2014); “The Next Upsurge: Labor and the New Social Movements” (2003); “Families at Work: Expanding the Bounds” (2002); “Dollars and Votes: How Business Campaign Contributions Subvert Democracy” (1998); “Required Reading: Sociology’s Most Influential Books” (1998); “Money Talks: Corporate PACs and Political Influence” (1992), and “Bureaucracy and the Labor Process: The Transformation of U.S. Industry 1860-1920” (1980).

He was born in Alexandria, Va.,  in 1948. In addition to earning his Ph.D. at SUNY Stony Brook, he also earned his master’s degree there. He received his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., in 1970.

Among those Dan leaves are his wife, Mary Ann, a professor emerita of sociology at Wesleyan College; a daughter, Laura and her husband, Arjun Jaikumar; and a grandson, Danny.