Prominent sociologist Lord Ralf Dahrendorf held a York honorary degree

A prominent sociologist, Lord Ralf Dahrendorf, who received an honorary degree from York in 1979, died June 17 in Cologne, Germany. He was 80.

“He was a leading analyst of Western societies and an admirer of York’s Atkinson College,” says President Emerita Lorna R. Marsden, adding he never lost his pride at having received the honorary doctorate from Atkinson. “He retained his admiration for York’s outreach and involvement with Ontario’s people, including part-time students and our international networks throughout the years.”

Right: Ralf Dahrendorf

A philosopher and politician born in Germany, Dahrendorf was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982, became a British citizen in 1988 and was appointed a life peer in 1993. He was the first foreign director of the London School of Economics in the UK and was warden of St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.

Throughout his life, he served in both British and German parliaments. He was a German member in the European Commission in Brussels for the Free Democrats and he sat in the British House of Lords as an independent. In addition, he was a sociology professor at several universities, including Stanford University in California and the universities of Tübingen and Konstanz in Germany, where he examined social classes and democracy in the modern world.

He was the author of numerous books, including Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society, Homo Sociologicus, Society and Democracy in Germany and Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.