Professor Howard Becker

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Distinguished Sociology Professor Howard Becker was awarded an honorary doctorate (DLit) from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2015.

Born in 1928, Howard Becker worked during World War II as an underage jazz musician in Chicago’s bars.

In 1951, Becker received his PhD from the University of Chicago and became associated with what has come to be known as the Chicago School of Sociology.

He became a leading figure in sociology, spending most of his career teaching at Northwestern University, from 1965 to 1991. Professor Becker made major contributions to the sociologies of art, deviance and music, wrote extensively on sociological writing styles and methodologies, and helped shape a generation of scholars.

His books include Boys in White: Student Culture in Medical School with Blanche Geer, Everett C. Hughes and Anselm Strauss (1961), The Other Side: Perspectives on Deviance (1964) and Sociological Work: Method and Substance (1970). In the 1980s, Becker published the influential book on the sociology of art entitled Art Worlds.

He recieved a host of international honours and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978, and the Award for a Career of Distinguished Scholarship from the American Sociological Association in 1998.

Becker’s 1963 book 'The Outsiders' remains a critical text for A-level Sociology students, 'labelling theory' having become a timeless sociological idea.