Obituary (corrected) from The Hampshire Gazette

Marc W. Steinberg, a master teacher, scholar, and mentor to several generations of college students, passed away on June 7, 2019 at his home in Northampton. He died after a year-long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Marc was born on June 21, 1956 and grew up in Pittsburgh. He attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, where he received a PhD in sociology.

Marc was the Sydenham C. Parsons Professor of sociology at Smith College, where he had taught since 1994. Prior to his arrival at Smith, Marc had taught in the Sociology Department at Clark University in Worcester from 1991-1994. At Smith, he served as Chair of the Department of Sociology at various points (from 2004-2007, 2008-2009, and 2015-2017).

Marc was a beloved professor to his students. His courses were always heavily enrolled and well-regarded by students. He taught courses on sociological theory, social movements, rock music, power, and politics. He was known to mark his lessons with deliberate gestures of quirkiness and comedy, to help students grasp difficult concepts and to be sure that they stayed wide awake. Marc worked particularly hard to help his students learn to write effectively and to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. He kept in touch with countless students, mentoring them years after they had graduated from Smith.

Marc was also a most helpful and thoughtful colleague to his peers. He read voraciously across a wide range of topics and routinely passed along notes of references to his colleagues when he came upon something he thought would be of interest to them.

Marc conducted painstaking historical research on work and workers in 19th Century England for his influential first two books, Fighting Words: Working-Class Formation, Collective Action, and Discourse in Early Nineteenth-Century England and England’s Great Transformation: Law, Labor and the Industrial Revolution, the first of which received the Zelizer Award for Best Book in Economic Sociology from the Economic Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Marc’s most recent book, Beyond Betrayal: The Priest Sexual Abuse Crisis, The Voice of the Faithful and the Process of Collective Identity (co-authored with Patricia Ewick) will be published in the coming months. Based on extensive interviews with Church members, the book charts the development of a group of Catholics who, in the wake of the priest sexual abuse revelations, acted on their feelings of betrayal by redefining what the Catholic Church might become and, simultaneously, defined and redefined themselves.

In addition to his books, Marc was the author of over 25 articles, receiving major awards for two of them, while writing numerous essays and book reviews, appearing on scholarly panels, and giving many conference presentations over the course of his three-decade long career.

Marc is survived by his brother, Alan Steinberg, sister-in-law, Patty Mooney, nephew Jared Steinberg, and many close friends, including his close friend Sabina Knight.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to establish a fund in memory of Marc Steinberg to support student research either by check to Smith College, 33 Elm Street, Northampton, MA 01060 (please write Marc’s name on the check) or online at (after selecting the amount, there is a prompt to enter the memorial name). Donations may also be sent to Friends of the Homeless: or Hospice of the Fisher Home:, both of which were causes close to Marc’s heart.