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Rose Laub Coser

Sociologist Rose Laub Coser redefined major concepts in role theory—the idea that our actions are largely dictated by our roles in society—and applied them to expectations of women’s roles in the family and the workplace. Coser earned a PhD in sociology from Columbia in 1957. She taught at Wellesley College from 1951–1959 and then at Northwestern before joining the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1968. She served as president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems from 1973–1974 and of the Eastern Sociological Society from 1985–1986, and cofounded the journal Dissent in 1954. Coser expanded role theory to include ambiguous and overlapping roles—for example, psychiatric residents who are simultaneously doctors and students. She also examined women’s roles in the “greedy institution” of the family, which demanded their total commitment, and the lack of child-care policies that made it difficult for women to work outside the home, further cementing their role in society. An ardent feminist, Coser initiated a class action lawsuit for SUNY’s female faculty and staff to combat wage discrimination. She retired from Stony Brook in 1987 to become adjunct faculty at Boston College and distinguished visiting professor at Harvard.

More on Rose Laub Coser
Date of Birth
May 4, 1916
Place of Birth
Date of Death
August 21, 1994

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rose Laub Coser." (Viewed on January 16, 2018) <>.


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