Category Archives: Organizational Theory and Social Movements

In Appreciation of Mayer Zald

By Elisabeth Clemens

In the classic model, the five stages of grief end with acceptance.  In remembering Mayer Zald, however, appreciation seems much more possible, indeed necessary.  In the weeks since his death, stories and expressions of gratitude for his enormous generosity have tumbled out in conversations, in print, and in pixels.  But his so-unexpected absence also forecloses the opportunity to reciprocate directly, to thank him fully for everything.    It leaves only the possibility of generalized exchange, sharing with others what we received from Mayer.  In that spirit, let me contribute one lesson that Mayer taught me, namely how to make our work both a craft and a calling, rather than simply a job-to-be-done or an idea-to-be-thought in solitary brilliance.  This lesson came in many forms, but perhaps most clearly over the course of a pair of Mayer and Joan’s spring visits to Arizona in the late 1990s, when Mayer and I co-taught Contemporary Sociological Theory, then Organization Theory and History.  My notes for an early session that I led in that second seminar capture the flavor of a teaching apprenticeship with Mayer: Continue reading


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