Lazarsfeld, Paul Felix (1901–1976)

Paul Felix Lazarsfeld was an Austrian-born applied social psychologist who, somewhat improbably, became a dominant figure in postwar American sociology. With a conventional academic career blocked by anti-Semitism, Lazarsfeld in the late 1920s created an applied market research institute in Vienna that would, after his emigration to the United States in 1933, serve as a model for his institutes at Newark and Columbia. Owing to exigencies of contract work and his own methodological interests, Lazarsfeld and his research teams would go on to generate a number of important studies of consumer behavior over the next two decades, before turning to other questions in the 1950s.

Lazarsfeld, encouraged by the physicist (and fellow socialist) Friedrich Adler, had earned a doctorate in applied mathematics in 1925, the same ...

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