Peter Stemp


Source: In Memoriam: Peter Stemp
Department of Sociology
University of Western Ontario

Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

In 1975 I took a Masters class in Sociological theory at Western. A prof and 10 students. The prof was Peter Archibald, the last Marxist standing. Forced to leave in 1977; denied tenure. Developed the rest of his career at McMaster, ending as Professor Emeritus.

There were two especially interested students in that class. Peter Stemp always battled from the perspective of Social Exchange Theory – so right wing, I’ve always thought. Neil Abramson (the Remington came later) always battled from the point of view of Symbolic Interactionism – so liberal. We three battled incessantly, Marx vs Exchange vs Mead and Blumer: a battle royal as the other 8 students looked on silently. One of the best classes I ever took.

When Peter Stemp wrote his 100 page Masters dissertation, he said he could have done it in 10 pages of symbolic logic. He said he was going to, but I don’t know whether he did.

I told this story to my wife and she asked, “Have you ever googled Peter Stemp?” So I did, 50 years later, and look – he’s dead!!! Over two years now, at the age of 65. So sad. We lived parallel lives, though complementary as academics, yet totally ignorant of each other.

And I realize it could just as easily been Peter’s wife asking him if he googled me, and him finding out I was the one dead…

And how would that have been different now, except to him and me (wherever we might be), and to our wives and families?


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