Remembering Robert Hintz, Jr. (1944 – 2016) #sssi #sociology #IowaSchool


Shing-Ling Sarina Chen

Robert Hintz, Jr., a formative member of the New Iowa School of Symbolic Interactionism, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, December 16, 2016. Bob  was 72 years old. Bob received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the University of Iowa. As a graduate student, Bob studied under Carl Couch in the Department of Sociology, and became one of the key contributors of the formation of the New Iowa School, led by Couch.

One notable attribute of Bob’s work with Couch was Bob’s complete mastery of Couch’s scholarship. Areas of Couch’s scholarship spanned from Symbolic Interactionism and formal sociology, qualitative laboratory research, to information technologies. Most of Couch’s graduate students usually specialized in one or two areas of Couch’s scholarship, Bob was the only one who mastered all three areas of Couch’s works. Bob’s comprehensive mastery of Couch’s scholarship led Couch to invite him to co-edit, *Constructing Social Life: Readings in Behavorial Sociology From the Iowa School*, a foundational text of the New Iowa School, for publication in 1975. 

Bob had taught sociology at the university level for years before becoming a family counselor. He worked for Foundation 2 Youth Shelter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for over 27 years, till his death. His colleagues at Foundation 2 remembered him for always providing an element of calm. He was appreciated for having a chill personality and a great sense of humor, along with a great source of knowledge. He was known for having a thoughtful approach to working with people in crisis. His colleagues believed that Bob had impacted many, many lives in the community for the better.

Other than his great work in family counselling, Bob remained active in academia as well. He published manuscripts, co-authored with members of the New Iowa School, Michael Katovich, Dan Miller and Steve Buban. Bob’s commitment to scholarship was best illustrated by his work editing the 2nd edition of *Constructing Social Life* for publication in 2015, forty years after the initial publication in 1975. He tirelessly updated each chapter to illustrate the utilities of this timeless masterpiece in studying contemporary social life. The book is widely used in both sociology and communication classes. Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research presented Bob the 2016 Couch Center President’s Award, the highest honor in the Couch Center, to acknowledge his sustaining effort in promoting the New Iowa School sociological thought that contributed to the longevity of the New Iowa School.

Bob was active in academic conferences. He was a fixture in the annual meetings of the Midwest Sociological Society, where I met him in 1985. Like any conference attendee, I was stunned time and time again by the astonishing insights offered by this quiet and calm person sitting in the audience. I sensed the incongruence of his calm demeanor and his spectacular comments. I often sought him out in the Midwest Sociological Meetings to obtain his guidance.

Bob’s colleagues in Foundation 2 as well as in the field of sociology would agree that they all had learned so much from Bob. Bob was a sage, intelligent, knowledgeable and resourceful. But most of all, Bob’s calmness touched on so many, as if he was saying to us, “Keep calm and carry on….” Bob will be greatly missed.


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The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) is an international professional organization of scholars interested in the study of a wide range of social issues with an emphasis on identity, everyday practice, and language.
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