“Si” Goode was born in Houston, Texas in 1917. He died in 2003, holding the position of Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Stanford University. In his career, he held many distinguished positions within academia, including his election as 63rd president of the American Sociological Association, in 1970. Goode earned a long list of academic awards, beginning with his career as a student. In 1994, he earned the William J. Goode Award, established in his honor. Goode published 20 books and over 80 articles. As a sociologist, Goode’s research focused on social organization and social structure. He contributed to anthropological literature in his cross-cultural analysis of love, marriage, family life, and divorce. He also contributed to sociological theory in his study of social control, violent force, and religion. Goode’s most widely recognized research, World Revolution and Family Patterns, was published in 1963. The data covered over a half century and over 50 countries. It called upon Goode’s mastery of nine languages to complete. Thirty years later, Goode published World Changes in Divorce Patterns, in which he introduced the conceptual basis for analyzing and predicting divorce patterns across the globe. He was particularly interested in the consequences of divorce for women.
Goode believed in the role of theory in scientifically generated knowledge. His contributions were greatest in the practice of middle-range theory and the use of multiple research methods. While he was trained as a classic sociologist, Goode practiced rigorous anthropological methods. He introduced his students to systematic and comparative analysis of social structures and functions across cultures. He had an uncanny ability to make his work accessible to the very people he studied, a method typically attributed to anthropologists.
Goode was a distinguished success in all pursuits, both academic and personal. He left his PhD studies at Pennsylvania State University to enlist in the Navy during World War II. He served as a radar man on a trans-Pacific troop transport ship between 1944 and 1945. In 1946, Goode became an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University. He moved to Columbia University in 1950, where he earned tenure (1952) and was promoted to full professor (1956). At Columbia, he became quite active in the feminist movement as a scholar and an activist. He coedited The Other Half: Roads to Women’s Equality with Cynthia Epstein and worked with Betty Friedan as she wrote The Feminine Mystique. Goode joined Stanford University in 1977 and Harvard University in 1986.
Goode was described by friend and colleague Amitai Etzionia as “the man who studied with much gusto and to perfection, anything that sparked his interest, the list of which was very hefty indeed.” Si Goode was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Referred to as a “renaissance man” by his friends and colleagues, Goode was internationally recognized as a scholar and a teacher. He served as a guest lecturer and visiting professor in many foreign countries. His legacy continues in the form of the William J. Goode Award, established during his lifetime, and the William J. Goode International Fellowship, which was established in his memory.
- Goode, W. J. (1963). World revolution and family patterns. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
- Goode, W. J. (1964). The family. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Goode, W. J. (1965). Women in divorce. New York: Free Press.