Harry Perlstadt is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology. He discovered sociology as an undergraduate political science major when he chanced across Max Weber’s Methodology of the Social Sciences. He did his graduate work at the University of Chicago and his dissertation research was one of the first to categorize medical schools by types of physicians they produced. He spent his academic career in the Sociology Department at Michigan State University (MSU) with appointments in the Office of Medical Education, Research and Development, and Institute for Public Policy & Social Research. He also served as Director of the Program in Bioethics, Humanities and Society at MSU.
His career path shifted towards sociological practice in 1978 when he received an National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) post doc in evaluation research and social policy at the University of Michigan’s Center for Research in Social Organizations. During that time he earned an MPH in Health Planning and Administration. Over the years he did evaluations of health programs and initiatives for the Kellogg Foundation (community health access), Michigan Department of Community Health (blood lead level screening), Center for State and Local Government Excellence (retiree health care plans), Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (school based substance abuse prevention), Health Resource Services Administration (HIV-AIDS), and World Health Organization (national environmental health action plans in Europe). He has published in academic journals and has chapters in Handbook of 21st Century Sociology; Sociologists in Action; Doing Sociology: Case Studies in Sociological Practice; and in Clinical Sociology Perspectives from around the World.
Professor Perlstadt has worked to promote the status of sociological practice in many ways. In 1995 he helped found the Commission for the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology which promotes quality sociological education and practice through the accreditation of programs in applied, clinical, and public sociology. He chaired the ASA Sociological Practice Section, and served on the ASA Certification Committee on Social Policy & Evaluation Research and the Task Force on Assessing the Undergraduate Major. He is currently Secretary-Treasurer of the ISA RC-46 Clinical Sociology. He brought his sociological perspective to the American Public Health Association, serving as chair of its Science Board and Joint Policy Committee.
Harry has volunteered with the American Lung Association since 1986, serving in a variety of capacities including on its National Scientific Advisory Committee and National Board of Directors. His public service has included working on an implementation advisory committee of the Mid-Michigan South Health Systems Agency, the Michigan Tobacco Reduction Task Force of the Michigan Department of Public Health, and an advisory committee on research to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control.
He was an exchange scholar on a Civil Society Project between Michigan State University and Babe?-Bolyai University, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In 2010, he held a Fulbright Lectureship on American Health Care Policy and Politics at the Institute of Public Health, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. With the collaboration of his Hungarian colleague, Harry has published three articles that trace the history of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in Egészségügyi Gazdasági Szemle (Medical Economic Review).
This award seeks to identify individuals whose careers can serve as a model for the next generation of sociological practitioners. The committee recognizes Harry Perlstadt for balancing a career in an academic department with a commitment to promoting the status of sociology through his service in professional associations, voluntary organizations and governmental advisory bodies.