Alison Woodward (1975)

Professor of Sociology, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

Berkeley's sociology was full of people who knew that the best sociology is comparative : Smelser, Wilensky, Castells, Schurman, Burawoy. Coming to Berkeley via Sweden, I found among both fellow students and faculty appreciation for the challenge of doing comparative research in a critical framework across disciplines. I also discovered I was happier in Europe. Thus I probably take up a rather strange position among the graduates of being an American working in Europe. Doing field work for the dissertation in Sweden, I went native, and worked as a researcher on policy projects in housing and energy for the government and the Royal Institute of Technology before finally finishing the dissertation. Berkeley continued to affect me however, as it was the Swedish arm of E.O. Wright:s International Class Project of that got me interested in gender and class.

Gender became my claim to fame upon moving to Belgium where I am now Professor at the Free University of Brussels, teaching comparative politics, policy and sociology. I helped start women's studies in Belgium and write mostly on gender issues, doing consulting for the European Union, the Belgian government and the Council of Europe. The focus has been on elites in the EU and in Belgium and policies to engender and diversify the elite. Doing policy research and advocacy probably only indirectly shapes the world, but thanks to Claude Fischer, my knowledge of networks helps keep my expectations realistic.

Dissertation Title: 
Social Ambitions: Planning for Community in Sweden and America
Dissertation Book Title: 
Social ambitions : planning for community in Sweden and America
Uppsala