Dr. Nathan Glazer
Class of 1944
Professor Nathan Glazer will be linked forever with several brilliant thinkers and City College alumni — including Daniel Bell, Irving Howe, and Irving Kristol — who gathered in the legendary cafeteria alcoves in the 1930s and 1940s to debate and argue about political and economic justice, socialism and the tyranny of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Together, they were immortalized in Joseph Dorman's award-winning 1999 documentary, “Arguing the World: The New York Intellectuals.” Glazer has stated: “One of the characteristics of [our] group was a notion of its universal competence . . . culture, politics, whatever was happening we shot our mouths off on . . . It was a model created by the arrogance that if you’re a Marxist you can understand anything and it was a model that even as we gave up our Marxism we nevertheless stuck with.”
The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Glazer was born Feb. 25, 1923 and grew up in East Harlem and the East Bronx. He is professor emeritus of education and social structure at Harvard University and a leading authority on issues of race, immigration, urban development and social policy. His books include “We Are All Multiculturalists Now”; “Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians and Irish of New York City”; “The Limits of Social Policy”; and “The Lonely Crowd,” with David Riesman and Reuel Denney.
“Beyond the Melting Pot,” written with Daniel Patrick Moynihan and published in 1963, grew out of a series of articles Glazer wrote in the early 1960s about New York City’s ethnic groups. The book challenged the cherished idea of America as a great melting pot, maintaining that the phenomenon of persistent ethnic identities would continue to endure.
A consultant with the Model Cities Program during the Johnson administration, he grew skeptical of Washington-based reform efforts. In his book, “The Limits of Social Policy,” he maintained that the breakdown of traditional modes of behavior is the chief cause of the nation’s social problems and that they could not be addressed effectively by government.
Glazer was for 30 years co-editor of The Public Interest, an influential journal founded by Bell and Kristol. He has been a contributing editor of The New Republic, an assistant editor of Commentary magazine and a past professor of sociology at the University of California/Berkeley. He has held Guggenheim Fellowships and Fulbright grants, has honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities, and has served on presidential task forces on education and urban policy as well as the National Academy of Science’s committees on urban policy and minority issues. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University and a master’s in anthropology and linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.