Born in Berthierville, Quebec, he received a B.A. from the Université de Montréal in 1943, an M.A. in sociology from Université Laval in 1950, and a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University in 1958. From 1952 until 1960 he taught at Université Laval. From 1960 he has taught at the Université de Montréal._x000D_
While a professor at Laval, Rocher in 1957 became one of the founders of the Association internationale des sociologues de langue française, of which organization he was treasurer and a member of its first executive. In 1960, he became a full professor of sociology at Université de Montréal. There he was director of the sociology department (1960–1965), vice-dean of the social sciences faculty (1962–1967), and from 1979 onwards he has been a researcher in the Centre de recherche en droit public. Rocher also worked for the government of Quebec, as deputy minister for cultural development (1977–1979) and as deputy minister for social development (1981–1983)._x000D_
Rocher is one of the pioneers in the application of contemporary social sciences to Quebec society, especially including the relationship between Church and State, intergenerational mobility and education, and the sociology of law. He is the author of several books and of numerous articles and scientific reports. He has lectured extensively throughout Canada and abroad.