Lazarsfeld, Paul Felix

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lazarsfeld, Paul Felix


Born Feb. 13, 1901, in Vienna. American sociologist. One of the leading specialists in the area of methodology and the application of mathematical methods. Studied mathematics in Vienna; engaged in empirical research on the conditions of young workers and unemployed people.

Lazarsfeld has been in the USA since 1933. In 1940 he founded the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. Since 1966 he has been professor emeritus of sociology at Columbia University. He was president of the American Sociological Association (1960).

Proceeding from a neopositivist standpoint, Lazarsfeld considers the most important means for the development of sociology to be the borrowing of methods from the natural sciences, often replacing qualitative sociological theory with formal methodology. He elaborated the theory of two-stage communication and a number of valuable research methods and mathematical models for the analysis of latent (hidden) structures, and for panel analysis (the Lazarsfeld index). He directed a number of major empirical studies devoted to problems of mass communication and the mechanisms of the electoral struggle in the USA. He is in favor of narrowing the gap between sociology and the other social sciences, and he defends the false conception of the “deideologization” of sociology and its transformation into a “value-free” natural science. Lazarsfeld holds bourgeoisliberal political views, for which he was subject to attacks during the McCarthy period.


Radio and the Printed Page. New York, [1940].
The People’s Choice. 3rd ed. New York-London, 1968. (With B. Berelson and H. Gaudet.)
Radio Listening in America. New York, 1948. (With P. Kendall.)
Studies in the Scope and Method of “The American Soldier.” New York, 1950. (Co-editor with R. K. Merton.)
The Language of Social Research. New York, 1969. (Co-editor with M. Rosenberg.)
“Sociology.” In: Main Trends of Research in the Social and Human Sciences, part 1. Paris-The Hague, 1970, pages 61–165.
In Russian translation:
“Metodologicheskie problemy sotsiologii.” In: Sotsiologiia segodnia: Problemy i perspektivy. Moscow, 1965.
“Logicheskie i matematicheskie osnovaniia latentno-strukturnogo analiza.” In: Matematicheskie metody v sovremennoi burzhuaznoi sotsiologii Moscow, 1966.


Andreeva, G. M. Sovremennaia burzhuaznaia empiricheskaia sotsiologiia. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.