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Reinhard Bendix (February 25, 1916 – February 28, 1991) was a German American sociologist.

Born in Berlin, Germany, he briefly belonged to Neu Beginnen and Hashomer Hatzair, groups that resisted the Nazis. In 1938 he emigrated to the United States. He received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and subsequently taught there from 1943 to 1946. He then taught for a year in the Sociology Department of the University of Colorado before moving to the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947 where he remained for the rest of his career.

In 1969 Bendix was elected President of the American Sociological Association. From 1968 to 1970 he served as Director of the University of California Education Abroad Program in Göttingen, Germany. In 1972 he joined the Department of Political Science at Berkeley.

He held guest professorships at numerous universities, including at Columbia University, St. Catherine's and Nuffield Colleges at the University of Oxford, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Constance, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the University of Heidelberg.

In the course of his lifetime, he received many honors, including fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the Guggenheim, a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, as well as being named a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, and was accepted into both the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1969.[1] Bendix was also a member of the American Philosophical Society and received honorary doctorates from the University of Leeds, Mannheim, and Göttingen.

Bendix, who was deeply devoted to teaching, died in 1991 of a heart attack shortly after conducting a graduate seminar together with a young colleague.

Reinhard Bendix built bridges between American and European sociology, he did regard himself as a mediator. Bendix introduced to American sociologists a new perspective, the comparative-historical studies, moving beyond their local boundaries. The constellations of legitimating ideas were not mere reflections of life conditions, or social structure, but independent and real forces. In his terms Americans better understand their own history through its relation to the histories of European nations. The methodological problems raised by such comparisons could inspire him to propose a philosophy of history, but it was not his goal.[2]

Selected publications