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Subject: Charles Tilly, the community network analyst
From: Barry Wellman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Barry Wellman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 1 May 2008 10:06:45 -0400

TEXT/PLAIN (154 lines)

*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****

This is my note to the ASA community/urban section.

I do want to emphasize on this list that Chuck Tilly's work was always
suffused with network ideas, both community and historical analyses.

 Barry Wellman

  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC              NetLab Director
  Department of Sociology                        University of Toronto
  725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388                  Toronto Canada M5S 2J4            fax:+1-416-978-3963
  Updating history:
         Elvis wouldn't be singing "Return to Sender" these days

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 1 May 2008 10:03:08 -0400
From: Barry Wellman <[log in to unmask]>
To: asa com&urb section e-list <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Charles Tilly, the urbanist

As many of you have heard, Charles Tilly, my mentor, died April 29, after
a long battle with lymphoma (and chemo side-effects). I was fortunate
enough to see and say good-bye to him a few weeks early when I did my
"Back to the Bronx" lecture at Lehman College. (And please note that the
Bronx IS back).

Most obits of Chuck will justifiably focus on his work at the intersection
of sociology and history. However, Chuck was a fine urban sociologist. His
interest was most explicit at the start of his career, when he was the
Joint Center for Urban Studies (of Harvard and MIT) and then at the
University of Toronto. Not coincidentally, I first met Chuck at Harvard
and followed him to Toronto, a journey I celebrate every day (except in
February). I append a list of Chuck's explicitly urban/community articles
at the bottom of this note. And I daresay that the historical stuff
is always suffused with a deep understanding of how cities and communities
operate -- in social network terms.

I want to tell some brief Chuck stories.

1. Chuck explicitly started me off on the East York studies by getting
Toronto to hire me in 1967 to be co-PI of the first EY survey. His ideas
permeated the research -- see his "Community: City: Urbanization" piece in
_An Urban World_ for example.

His work was seminal for the network conception of community that I have
taken and run with. In many ways, I have just been filling in his 1970
research agenda.

2. Working next door to Chuck at Toronto, I had to learn early not to
compete with him. He would, and always would, work more days/hours than me
and write more papers and books. (some note yesterday claimed 51 books
written/edited; 600 articles).

3. I also learned that I couldn't compete in many other ways, even though
I had been a TV quiz show star a few years earlier. For example, Bev/I
went to a jazz concert with Chuck/Louise. "Really nice playing," I said.
"His left hand is not as strong as his right," Chuck replied.

4. Besides his writing, I could always count on walking into Chuck's
office with some inchoate idea, watch him process for a few minutes, and
then have him say: "What I think you mean are 1. .... 2. ......   3 ....,
etc." Out would come a fully-formed analysis.

5. Chuck once did me a big favor. I forget what now, but I did say, "How
can I thank you?" His reply has become a guiding principle: "Don't thank
me, but pass it on to your students."

6. My last visit with Chuck was a few weeks ago, just before he moved from
hospital to hospice. He was mostly asleep, but when Bev/I said "Hi Chuck",
he roused to reply (with expressive arm motion), "It's a complex
situation", and then feel back asleep. Analytic and complexity-driven to
the end!


Here is the final paragraphs of my recent review of Chuck's compendium of
essays [Identities, Boundaries and Social Ties] in the American Journal of
Sociology (2/08). I wrote it in 2007, and didn't think of it as an obit
(Chuck was going strong then altho battling cancer), but it will have to

//Tilly always has been generous with where he has put things -
specialized journals, book chapters, invited lectures - so this
compilation of essays, originally written between the mid-1990s and the
early 2000s, allows many ideas to reach wider audiences. Tilly steals from
himself: he confesses to "self-plagiarism" in the second paragraph of the
book. But as choreographer Martha Graham once said, "We all steal ideas,
dear, but in the end we are judged on who we stole them from and what we
did with them"  (quoted in John Fraser, "The Essence of Courage," Toronto
Globe and Mail, February 23, 1981: A8). In this collection, you can see
Tilly continuously revising his work using his "Invisible Elbow" approach
to forging a scholarly path (Sociological Forum 11 [1996]: 589-601).

For nearly fifty years, Tilly has always been a step ahead. Young and old,
Tilly finishes what he starts: the preface tells of his driving hundreds
of miles through blizzards to give a talk at Cornell in 1995, far above
Cayuga's icy waters. Like Two Buck Chuck, this book is great value and of
mixed vintage, even if you must get it from Amazon rather than Trader

/end review


Some Explicitly Urban/Community Readings

Tilly, Charles. 1967. "Anthropology on the Town." Habitat 10 (1): 20-25.

Tilly, Charles and C. Harold Brown. 1967. "On Uprooting, Kinship, and the
Auspices of Migration." International Journal of Comparative Sociology 8:

Tilly, C. 1967. "Translation of Major Variables in Community Structure
into Network Terms." October.

Tilly, Charles. 1969. "Community City: Urbanization." Working Paper.
University of Toronto: Department of Sociology.

Tilly, Charles. 1970. "Community: City: Urbanization." Working Paper. Ann
Arbor: Department of Sociology, University of Michigan.

Tilly, Charles. 1973. "Do Communities Act?" Sociological Inquiry 43:

Tilly, Charles. 1974. "The Chaos of the Living City." Pp. 86-107 in An
Urban World, edited by Charles Tilly. Boston: Little, Brown.

Tilly, Charles (ed.). 1974. An Urban World. Boston: Little Brown.

 Barry Wellman

  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC              NetLab Director
  Department of Sociology                        University of Toronto
  725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388                  Toronto Canada M5S 2J4            fax:+1-416-978-3963
  Updating history:
         Elvis wouldn't be singing "Return to Sender" these days

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