James Q. Wilson dead at 80

Mar 2 '12

Some sad breaking news for the political science community: James Q. Wilson died this morning. A preliminary obituary is here.

Wilson had returned to Massachusetts recently to teach at Boston College after long stints at Harvard and UCLA, as well as at Pepperdine. The obituary focuses almost entirely on Wilson’s sometimes-controversial contributions to the sociology of crime and “the moral sense,” but his influence ranged far more widely. He was a founding and frequent contributor to The Public Interest.  And his books Political Organizations (1973) and Bureaucracy (1989), among others, are classics. I will expand on Wilson’s contributions to the study of American public administration in a future post. As further evidence of his wise influence I will only point out for now his observation that his descendants “feel a legal obligation to live within 30 minutes of Fenway Park.”