Howard Schuman named the 2017 recipient of the Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research

February 7, 2018

By Lee Ridley

Howard Schuman, former SRC director and Research Scientist Emeritus, has been selected by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research as this year’s recipient of the Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research.

The Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research is awarded each year to honor individuals whose work on public opinion and/or survey methodology has a lasting and significant impact on our understanding of public opinion. The award distinguishes important work on public opinion or survey methodology that has been published in a book, journal, magazine, or newspaper, or presented at a professional conference or online. Special consideration is given to work that is based on data obtained by the researcher or author directly from the Roper archive, as well as to work that utilizes multiple data sources or compares survey results over time. The award takes into account both work published recently and from the past that continues to have a significant and demonstrable impact on our understanding of society.

The Roper Center Award Ceremony for the Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research

About Howard Schuman

Howard Schuman (PhD, Sociology, Harvard University; MS, Psychology, Trinity College; and A.B., Philosophy, Antioch College) is a distinguished and respected sociologist, survey researcher, and scholar. He is an emeritus professor at the University of Michigan, where he began his teaching career in 1964, and he is an emeritus research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research’s Survey Research Center.

Professor Schuman’s research has traversed an expansive list of topics, but reviewing his body of work reveals an abiding interest in three major areas of study:

Howard Schuman

Howard Schuman

(1) racial attitudes in America, intergroup relations, and cultural changes over time — particularly Racial Attitudes in America—Trends and Interpretations by Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, Lawrence Bobo, Maria Krysan (1985; revised edition 1998). In a biographical article about Professor Schuman, Tom W. Smith writes that Racial Attitudes in America “remains the best study of trends in white-black, racial attitudes and what he referred in his book and other writings as the “complexity” of intergroup relations in America.”

(2) the quality of the question-answer process in survey research — notably Questions & Answers in Attitude Surveys—Experiments on Questions Form, Wording, and Context by Howard Schuman and Stanley Presser (1981). In naming it one of Fifty Books that have Shaped Public Opinion Research, AAPOR stated that Questions & Answers in Attitude Surveys “is a path-breaking analysis of the often subtle dynamics involved in the interview process. The research and analysis in this volume have served continually as reference and caution for public opinion scholars in the 30 years since its publication.”

(3) the impact of generational experiences and events on collective memory—most recently, Generations and Collective Memory by Howard Schuman and Amy Corning (2015). Public Opinion Quarterly stated in its review of Generations and Collective Memory: “It demonstrates the value of rigorous, programmatic research in the social sciences, placing a strong emphasis on replicating findings over time and across social contexts.”

Professor Schuman’s collective works reflect his diverse and extensive interests in sociology, survey research, and public opinion. He is a strong supporter of the Roper Center and, for over forty years, has used the Roper Center’s archive of public opinion and polling data for his many studies on racial attitudes in America and intergroup relations. He is also a past President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the recipient of many AAPOR awards, including the AAPOR Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement. He has been on the editorial boards of many scholarly journals, as well as on the boards of many academic organizations and professional associations, notably AAPOR and the American Sociological Association.

His long history of academic achievement and his many books and other publications have been matched with many awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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