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Prof. J. Milton Yinger '37, Who Originated Concept Known as 'Counterculture', Dies at 95

July 29, 2011

4663July 29, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "Milton Yinger’s death is a great loss for the American Sociological Association and the discipline of sociology," notes Sally T. Hillsman, executive officer of ASA.  "Professor Yinger was one of the Association’s most loyal and active members, and his contributions to ASA and sociology will long be remembered."

Dr. Yinger, a 1937 graduate of DePauw University and former president of ASA, passed away yesterday.  He was 95 years old.

"One of his most notable contributions to sociology, and certainly one known best to the general public, came in 1960 when he originated the concept of 'contraculture' in an American Sociological Review article," notes Newswise. "Yinger defined 'contraculture' as a group whose values contain 'as a primary element, a theme of conflict with the values of the total society.' With the stylistic switch to 'counterculture,' which uses an alternative form of the same Latin prefix, his concept and term became widely known during the next decade. His own work on this topic culminated with the 1982 publication of his book, Countercultures: The Promise and Peril of a World Turned Upside Down, a book, according to one reviewer, 'of immense range, 94750erudition, and sophistication.' " His other books included The Scientific Study of Religion.

A sociology major at DePauw, where he was a Rector Scholar, Yinger earned a master's degree at Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught at Ohio Wesleyan University, from 1941-47, then Oberlin College from 1947 until his retirement in 1987.

The professor had a working relationship with Martin Luther King Jr. and presented an honorary degree to Dr. King at Oberlin's commencement in 1965.

Dr. Yinger received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from DePauw in 1982.  In 2007, the North Central Sociological Association (NCSA) honored him for his long career and his many contributions to the field of sociology by creating the J. Milton Yinger Distinguished Lifelong Career Award, which is awarded annually.

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