Jean Guy Vaillancourt (1965)

Professor of Sociology, University of Montreal

I entered the Ph.D. program in sociology at Berkeley in September 1965, spent four exhilarating years there, left for Montreal in 1969, and finally got my Ph.D in 1975. My thesis was published in 1981 by U.C. Press under the title Papal Power. Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites and received over 25 quite good reviews. Since 1979, I have been assistant (1969-1976), associate (1976-1983) and full professor (1983- ) in the sociology department at the University of Montreal, which I chaired from 1984 to 1987. I was a visiting professor in four other Quebec Universities over the years, and also at the University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1997) and at the Architectural University in Hanoi, Vietnam (2000 and 2001).

From 1976 to 1980, I was city councillor in the town of Dunham, Qué, where I had built my own house in the early seventies. I have a daughter, Véronique, who is now a practicing social worker and psychotherapist in Houston, Texas. My favorites activities consist of taking care of my tree farm in Dunham, writing in the areas of sociology of the environment and of religion, mentoring students and/or activists and travelling abroard to visit family and friends, to give papers at conferences and lectures at various universities.

My major fields of interest are political sociology, sociological theory, sociology of religion and especially sociology of the environment which I call ecosociology. Over the years, I have authored, edited or co-edited 25 books or special issues of journals, nearly all in French, mostly in the field of ecosociology. Although my original training was in organizational and political sociology, and sociology of religion, my more recent books have been on social movements (peace and especially green movements), and in ecosociology (sustainable development, human dimensions of climate change,energy, acid rain, water). I have remained quite involved in peace, environmental and international solidarity groups over the years, and I have labored to promote interdisciplinary and socially-relevant approaches in the social sciences. I have started thinking about retirement, but I am not quite ready for that yet, because I love my work and feel I have a few more productive years ahead of me.

My four years at Berkeley were among the best years of my life, and I remain deeply grateful to my professors (Glock, Schurmann, Selznick, Bendix, Vallier, Smelser, Somers, Lowenthal, Blumer and others) for their dedication, and to many students in my cohort who have also helped and inspired me, and whose friendship remains precious to me to this day. The Sociology Department at Berkeley was the place to be for a young sociologist in the late sixties, and by what I can now see and hear, I still think it remains to this day one of the best places in the world to get a graduate education in sociology.

Dissertation Title: 
Papacy and Laity: The Vatican's Control over Catholic Lay Elites at the Supra-Diocesan Leval
Dissertation Book Title: 
Papal power : a study of Vatican control over lay Catholic elites