| Gabriel |
The culture section listserv sent out an announcement this morning that Richard Peterson died yesterday. Pete of course was probably the single most important figure in laying out the production of culture paradigm in the mid-1970s as a process-oriented alternative to the functionalist and Marxist approaches that predominated until then. At a personal level, like more than a few production of culture scholars I knew Pete well and co-authored with him (and in fact still have an incomplete manuscript with him on the omnivore hypothesis that he always optimistically referred to as “the ASR version” as compared the “book chapter” version we published last year). Aside from my advisor, he was my biggest mentor when I was in grad school and he wasn’t even at my institution. Working with Pete ultimately resulted in both good work and mentorship more broadly but could be frustrating at times. For instance, he was so curious about what was in the data and how it spoke to various (orthogonal) theoretical and substantive problems that he’d ask for dozens of cross-tabs that had no chance of ending up in the paper. His personality was cynical in principal but generous in practice. Ultimately what counts from the perspective of the discipline is that it remains popular to analyze culture using the tools of economic sociology, both among the many people who worked with him and also among those who did not. From the perspective of humanity it’s probably more important that he was a good family man, always telling you about his grown children’s accomplishments and inviting you to have lunch with him and Claire.