Earl Robert Babbie (1938–)

Earl Robert Babbie of Hot Springs Village (Garland and Saline counties) is an acclaimed sociologist best known for his book The Practice of Social Research, which has been reprinted in fifteen editions and is acknowledged to be a standard text in the field of social research. In addition to social research, his other textbooks deal with communications, criminal justice, and social work and, like his social research texts, are reprinted in foreign language editions around the world. He is also known for the Earl Babbie Research Center, which was established in his name at Chapman University in California. In addition, he is recognized for his online project, “Solutions Without Problems,” for which he coined the term “SoluProbs.”

Earl Babbie was born in Detroit, Michigan, on January 8, 1938. His parents were Earl and Marion Arbuckle. After growing up in Vermont and New Hampshire, he went to Massachusetts in 1956 at age eighteen to attend Harvard University on a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. He graduated from Harvard in 1960 with a BA in social relations.

Serving tours of duty in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) from 1960 to 1963, Babbie was a disbursing officer in areas including Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines. While stationed at the Atsugi Marine Air Station, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, for graduate studies. He earned a master’s degree in sociology in 1966. Also that year, he received an honorable discharge from the USMC Reserve with the rank of first lieutenant. He remained at the University of California in Berkeley to complete a PhD in sociology in 1969. After earning his doctorate, Babbie moved to Hawaii, where he taught sociology from 1968 to 1979 at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

In 1979, Babbie resigned his faculty post to concentrate on research and writing full time, which he did for the next eight years. In 1987, he joined the sociology faculty at Chapman University in Orange, California. He remained there until his retirement from teaching in January 2006.

Upon his retirement, Babbie was awarded the title of Campbell Professor Emeritus in Behavioral Sciences at Chapman University. Throughout his career, he was an active member of the American Sociological Association, serving on its council and executive committee. He also served as president of the California Sociological Association in 1995–1996 and president of the Pacific Sociological Association in 2003–2004.

Babbie is most highly renowned in academic circles for his book The Practice of Social Research. It was first published in 1975 and widely adopted in colleges and universities throughout the United States and other parts of the world as a standard text in the field of sociology. Since its publication, the book has never been out of print. He has also written a wide variety of research articles and monographs.

Babbie moved to Hot Springs Village in 2007, marrying Suzanne Clem in 2008.

In 2016, Babbie launched the online project, Solutions Without Problems, for which he coined the term “SoluProbs.” The project spotlights the many instances when “solutions” have been instituted to solve “problems” that are non-existent. These include the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600s as well as a number of contemporary examples. The project’s goal is to prompt awareness of the type of damage that misguided social policies can inflict on society.

Among his many honors and awards, Babbie was named a Distinguished Visiting Professor at California State University at Chico. He also received the Lester F. Ward Award, which is conferred by the Society for Applied Sociology for outstanding contributions to applied sociology.

The Earl Babbie Research Center at Chapman University was dedicated in 2012. Its global mission is to conduct studies that address concerns in behavioral issues, economics, environmental sustainability, human rights, and social justice as well as to seek pathways to peaceful conflict resolution.

For additional information:
Earl Babbie Research Center, Chapman University. https://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/research-centers/babbie-center/index.aspx (accessed March 3, 2022).

SoluProbs. http://www.soluprobs.com/ (accessed March 3, 2022).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


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