Robert M. MacIver
Born(1882-04-17)17 April 1882
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
Died15 June 1970(1970-06-15) (aged 88)
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Elizabeth Marion Peterkin
(m. 1911)

Robert Morrison MacIver FRS (April 17, 1882 – June 15, 1970) was a sociologist.

Early life and family

Robert Morrison MacIver was born in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland on April 17, 1882 to Donald MacIver, a general merchant and tweed manufacturer, and Christina MacIver (née Morrison). His father was a Calvinist,[2] specifically, Scottish Presbyterian.[3] On 14 August 1911 he married Elizabeth Marion Peterkin. They had three children: Ian Tennant Morrison, Christina Elizabeth, and Donald Gordon.


He received degrees from the University of Edinburgh (M.A. 1903; D.Ph. 1915), the University of Oxford (B.A. 1907), and Columbia University (Litt.E. 1929) and Harvard (1936). In his rather long period of formal education, he had never made any academically supervised study of sociology. His work in that field was distinguished by his acumen, his philosophical understanding, and extensive study of the major pioneering works of Durkheim, Levy-Bruhl, Simmel and others in the British Museum Library in London,[4] while resident as a student in Oxford.


He was a university Lecturer in Political Science (1907) and sociology (1911) at the University of Aberdeen. He left Aberdeen in 1915 for a post at the University of Toronto where he was Professor of Political Science and later Head of Department from 1922 to 1927. MacIver was vice chairman of the Canada War Labor Board from 1917 to 1918. In 1927 he accepted an invitation from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, where he became professor of Social Science from 1927 to 1936. He was subsequently named Lieber Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Columbia University and taught there from 1929 to 1950. He was president, beginning in 1963 until 1965, and then chancellor of The New School for Social Research from 1965 to 1966.[5]

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He was a member of the American Sociological Society, and was elected as its 30th President in 1940.[6] He was a member of the Institut International de Sociologie and of Phi Beta Kappa.



Entry in: A Dictionary of Sociology, George Marshall (Ed.), 1998, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-280081-7 Curriculum vitae provided by MacIver to the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in 1950, in box 428.11.01.1 of the archives of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland (


  1. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1974), Micropædia Vol. 6 (15th ed.). p. 449.
  2. ^ Hughes, Everett C. (1 April 1914). "Book Review: As a Tale That Is Told: The Autobiography of R. M. MacIver. R. M. MacIver". doi:10.1086/224621. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Bierstedt, Robert (24 September 2013). American Sociological Theory: A Critical History. ISBN 978-1-4832-7330-3. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  4. ^ Obituary by Mirra Komarovsky, The American Sociologist, February 1971.
  5. ^ Obituary by Mirra Komarovsky, The American Sociologist, February 1971.
  6. ^ asanet