Irving Krauss (1950)

Emeritus Professor, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb

My 1962 Ph.D was preceded by an M.A.from the University of Chicago, and prior to that a B.A. in Communication and Public Policy at Berkeley. My first teaching position was at the University of Hawaii, for ten years, and then Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, for the next 16, including a stint as department chair. I retired in 1985, and live in Alpine County, on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 40 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe. The county has the smallest population in the state, about 1,000; our local community, Woodfords, has some 150 residents.

My perspective was shaped by my experiences as a child in the Great Depression, which included observing a broker negotiating with people who would return to sell their gold fillings and crowns, after removing them from their mouth; working the swing shift as a turret lathe operator in the industrial part of Chicago while attending classes during the day, and participating in the labor movement in the places where I lived. Berkeley's radical groups and activities influenced a socialist orientation. Classes with Herbert Blumer and Tamotsu Shibutani, especially Blumer's social movements work, suggested ways of achieving change to improve people's lives.

Because of a talent in art I began at Berkeley as an art major. my early career goal was a political cartoonist, and while an undergraduate I was Art Editor of the Daily Californian. However, the realization that few newspapers would appreciate work highly critical of capitalism led me to abandon that goal. The Berkeley milieu encouraged a reorientation, and a key influence which eventually led to graduate work in sociology was one of Marty Lipset's classes. While a Ph.D candidate at Berkeley I was president of the sociology graduate students association and one of the founders and first editor of the Berkeley Journal of Sociology.

My main interest continues to be stratification and class, and was reflected in my teaching and research, with special concern for the underprivileged. As a faculty member and citizen I have tried to apply sociological knowledge to improve conditions in academe and the community. In Hawaii I was head of the campus chapter of the ACLU and a board member of the congressional campaigns of Representative Patsy Mink, co-author of Title 9 of the Voting Rights Act. I was politically active in DeKalb as well as in Alpine County upon retirement. In Alpine, as an elected member of the county school board, I was responsible for establishing a voting district containing most of the county's Native Americans. For years none was on the school board, even though a quarter of the population was Native American as were half the students. For many years I was a board member of the county arts commission, and presently am on the boards of the historical society and the Alpine County Democratic Central Committee. Thus, in a sense, my interest in art, sociology, and politics has come full circle.

Dissertation Title: 
The Determinants of Individual Social Mobility