Michael Rose, 1937-2009

September 10, 2009

Michael Rose, a leading industrial sociologist, has died.

He was born in Bray, Berkshire on 24 November 1937 and grew up by the River Thames - where his family owned a well-known boat-building business. At Sir William Borlase's Grammar School he excelled academically and as an oarsman. He had planned to take up a place at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth until a medical revealed mild colour blindness. He therefore opted for National Service in the Army, after which he took a degree in archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College, Cambridge.

After postgraduate research at the University of Cambridge, Professor Rose took up a lectureship at what is now the University of Salford. In 1969, he moved to the University of Bath as a lecturer in sociology. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1980, then reader in the sociology of economic life in 1985.

Although based at Bath for four decades, Professor Rose had a notably international outlook. He held a number of visiting posts in Algeria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France and the US. He produced several books presenting the French sociological tradition to an English-speaking readership. He also wrote a celebrated student text, Industrial Behaviour: Theoretical Development since Taylor (1975).

A heart attack led Professor Rose to take early retirement from his full-time post in 1988, although he remained a visiting fellow, active both as a researcher - winning four separate Economic and Social Research Council funding awards - and as editor of the Work, Employment and Society journal. He became a professorial fellow in 1996 and an emeritus professor in July.

Accessible as well as erudite, Professor Rose often attracted attention for his work on employee attitudes and values - he once compared the satisfaction levels of hairdressers and vicars - although it was always rooted in deep quantitative, as well as qualitative, research. He also co-edited an important volume on Trade Unionism in Recession (1996).

Peter Cressey, acting head of the department of social and policy sciences at Bath, describes him as "one of the leading lights of industrial sociology", notable for "taking a critical or alternative view, attacking stereotypes and going beneath the surface. Despite his health problems, he was irrepressible, a force of nature, and a real mentor for many younger researchers. And he had a great sense of mischief, too, always asking the pertinent question in seminars with a twinkle in his eye."

He died of a heart attack on 18 August and is survived by his wife, Jane, a daughter from a previous marriage, three stepsons, three grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.


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