UB's Gottdiener Called One of the Most Important Urban Sociologists in U.S.

The 2010 - 2011 ASA Lifetime Achievement Award to be added to his many distinctions

Release Date: September 27, 2010

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Mark Gottdiener, UB professor of sociology, has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Sociological Association.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Mark Gottdiener, PhD, of Buffalo, professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo and one of the nation's leading urban sociologists, has received the 2010 - 2011 Robert and Helen Lynd Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished career achievements in community and urban sociology from the American Sociological Association (ASA).

The Lynd is one of the most notable awards presented by the ASA and was presented at the ASA's annual conference in August.

It is one of many honors received by Gottdiener during his career, among them a number of international visiting scholar positions (three in 2007 alone), a special session of the Eastern Sociological Society' annual meeting and several distinguished lectureships and fellowships, including two Fulbrights.

Gottdiener is a devoted urbanist who lives in Buffalo's Riverside district, and a founder of what is often called "the new urban sociology," a field that considers the rise and fall of cities, their class-shaped patterns of capitalistic urban development, real estate manipulations and their symbolic dimensions.

Joseph Feagin, former president of the American Sociological Association, and a distinguished scholar and Pulitzer Prize nominee, calls Gottdiener "one of two or three leading urban sociologists in the United States…a courageous and influential pioneer in critical social sciences approaches to and research on U.S. and global cities."

"He and his work are well known by urban analysts across the globe," Feagin says.

Gottdiener was recruited to UB in 1994 from the University of California at Riverside to chair the sociology department.

He conducts research at the intersection of urban sociology and cultural studies and has earned international regard in particular for his work in socio-spatial analysis, an important contribution to urban sociological theory.

Gottdiener developed a new urban paradigm that focuses on such things as cultural semiotics and popular culture and how cultural issues are related to social problems. Much of this cutting edge research is presented for undergraduates in his book, "The New Urban Sociology" (McGraw Hill, 2010), which originally was published in 1986 and is now in its 4th edition.

His leadership in the field is evidenced by the nearly two thousand citations to his work by scholars across the disciplines of sociology, urban studies and economics. More than 95 percent of his books and articles are single authored, thereby making his number of citations all the more impressive.

Like Gottdiener, Kevin Fox Gotham, professor of sociology and director of the Social Policy and Practice Program at Tulane University, conducts research that looks to tourism as a force of global standardization or heterogeneity. The author of several important books in the field, Gotham concurs with Feagin's assessment of Gottdiener as a world-class scholar.

"His work is well known and respected everywhere," Gotham says. "He has synthesized an impressive range of explorations on urban space and semiotics, notably in his famous book 'The Social Production of Urban Space,' originally published in 1985," which has been called "the best theoretically-oriented book" by an American urban sociologist in more than 50 years.

"His research overall provides a theoretically sophisticated and politically incisive examination of the ways in which the restructuring of cities has become central to the new geographies of power," Gotham says.

Another of his celebrated books looks at the commodification of everything: in the "Theming of America: Dreams, Visions and Commercial Spaces" (2001, Westview Press), about to be published in a third edition, Gottdiener investigated and offered reasons why the U.S.-built environment increasingly consists of shopping malls, theme parks, fast food franchises and various hybrids of all three.

In 2006, he was awarded the Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was invited to give the annual Roth and Symonds Endowed Lectureship at the Yale University School of Architecture and was recognized by his peers with a special session devoted to his work at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society.

Gottdiener has presented 65 invited papers at sociological conferences since 1982 and has served as editor or editorial board member for eight sociological journals, including the prestigious American Journal of Sociology and the international journal, Urban Studies, arguably the highest rated journal in the field, where he served as managing editor for North America from 1996 to 2002.

He chaired the National Task Force on Urban Governance of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and in 2005, when the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art mounted a major traveling exhibition titled "Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist's Eye," featuring the work of 70 important artists from 30 countries, it employed excerpts from Gottdiener's writings in both the exhibition itself, and in the exhibition catalog.

Gottdiener says he is "most honored" by receiving the Lynd Award, but it hasn't slowed him down much. He is under contract to produce another urban book, this one comparing urban development in Las Vegas with that of Dubai and Macau, and has just recently completed editing a special issue of the journal Critical Sociology on the topic of urban sociology and critical theory.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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