G. William Domhoff

George William "Bill" Domhoff (born August 6, 1936) is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus and research professor of psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a founding faculty member of UCSC's Cowell College.[1][2] He is best known as the author of several best-selling sociology books[3], including Who Rules America? and its six subsequent editions (1967 through 2014).[4]

G. William Domhoff
Born (1936-08-06) August 6, 1936
ResidenceSanta Cruz, California, US
EducationDuke University (BA Psychology, 1958)
Kent State University (MA Psychology, 1959)
University of Miami (PhD Psychology, 1962)
Known forWho Rules America? (1967-2014)
The Higher Circles (1970)
The Powers That Be (1979)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Santa Cruz (1965-1994)
InfluencesC. Wright Mills, Calvin S. Hall


Early life

Domhoff was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and raised in Rocky River, 12 miles from Cleveland. His parents were George William Domhoff Sr., a loan executive, and Helen S. (Cornett) Domhoff, a secretary at George Sr.'s company.

In high school, Domhoff was a three-sport athlete (in baseball, basketball, and football), wrote for his school newspaper's sports section, served on student council, and won a contest to be the batboy for the Cleveland Indians. He graduated as co-valedictorian.[2]


Domhoff received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at Duke University (1958), where he finished freshman year as sixth in his class, wrote for the Duke Chronicle, played baseball as an outfielder, and tutored the student athletes. As an undergraduate, he also wrote for The Durham Sun and received his Phi Beta Kappa key.[2] He later earned a Master of Arts degree in psychology at Kent State University (1959), and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in psychology at the University of Miami (1962).[5]


Domhoff has four children; his son-in-law is former Major League Baseball player Glenallen Hill.[2][6]



In the early 1960s, Domhoff was an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. In 1965, he joined the founding faculty[7] of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) as an assistant professor at Cowell College; he became an associate professor in 1969, a professor in 1976, and a Distinguished Professor in 1993. After his retirement in 1994, he has continued to publish and teach classes.[2]

Over the course of his career at UCSC, Domhoff served in many capacities at various times: acting dean of the Division of Social Sciences,[8] chair of the Sociology Department, chair of the Academic Senate, chair of the Committee on Academic Personnel, and chair of the Statewide Committee on Preparatory Education.[2] In 2007, he received the University of California's Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, which honors the post-retirement contributions of UC faculty.[9]


Domhoff's first book, Who Rules America? (1967), was a 1960s sociological best-seller,[2] arguing that the United States is dominated by an elite ownership class, both politically and economically.[10] Who Rules was followed by a series of sociology and power structure books like C. Wright Mills and the Power Elite (1968), Bohemian Grove and Other Retreats (1978), and three more best-sellers: The Higher Circles (1970), The Powers That Be (1979), and Who Rules America Now? (1983).[2]

Domhoff has written six updates to Who Rules America?; every edition has been used as a sociology textbook. He also has a "Who Rules America?" web site, hosted by UCSC.[11]


In addition to his work in sociology, Domhoff has been a pioneer in the scientific study of dreams.[12][13] In the 1960s, he worked closely with Calvin S. Hall, who had developed a content analysis system for dreams. He has continued to study dreams up to the present day, and his latest research advocates a neurocognitive basis for future dream research.[14]

He and his research partner, Adam Schneider, maintain two web sites dedicated to quantitative dream research: DreamResearch.net and DreamBank.net.[13]


  1. "Psychology Faculty". University of California at Santa Cruz. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  2. "G. William Domhoff: The Adventures and Regrets of a Professor of Dreams and Power". University of California. February 13, 2014.
  3. Gans, H. (1997). "Best-sellers by sociologists: An exploratory study". Contemporary Sociology. 26: 131–135.
  4. Seidman, Derek. ""Who Rules America?" After 50 Years: An Interview with Professor G. William Domhoff". Eyes on the Ties (LittleSis). Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  5. Domhoff, p.209 in Class in America: An Encyclopedia. by Robert E. Weir ABC-CLIO, 2007
  6. "Sunday, Dec. 3, 1995 C-7. Weddings, Engagements, Anniversaries". Santa Cruz Sentinel. December 3, 1995.
  7. "G. William (Bill) Domhoff, founding faculty, and psychologist Calvin S. Hall, at the Cowell College fountain". UCSC. 1968.
  8. "William (Bill) Domhoff, dean of the division of social sciences". UCSC.
  9. "UCSC's Michael Nauenberg wins UC distinguished emeriti award". Santa Cruz Sentinel. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  10. World of Sociology. Gale. November 2000. ISBN 978-0-7876-4965-4.
  11. "Who Rules America?"
  12. "Keynote Speakers: 2017 Annual International Dream Conference". International Association for the Study of Dreams.
  13. King, Philip; Bulkeley, Kelly; Welt, Bernard (2011). Dreaming in the Classroom: Practices, Methods, and Resources in Dream Education. SUNY Press. p. 245.
  14. The Emergence of Dreaming (2018), Oxford University Press
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