Dorothy Smith (1955)

Adjunct Professor of Sociology, University of Victoria

My years at Berkeley were in many ways the unhappiest of my life, but I learned a lot inside and outside the formalities of academic instruction: I learned a kind of sociology (including survey methods and mathematical sociology) that I was fundamentally at odds with though I didn't realize this until later; I learned George Herbet Mead from Tamotsu Shibutani's brilliant course; I learned a lot I could have done without about North American sexism (I've always been grateful to John Clausen who did not share the pervasive sexism of other departmental faculty of the time); I learned a great deal from the Free Speech and Anti-Vietnam War movements on campus though I did not participate very actively because I was not an American citizen and didn't want to be deported as an English friend of mine had been; I learned a radically different conception of poetry from once hearing Alan Ginsberg recite at Sather Gate; I discovered by accident in the university bookstore a copy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's The phenomenology of perception that furthered the intellectual transformation that originated with Shibutani's course. I resolved when I taught my first undergraduate course in sociology that I had to find a different way of doing sociology. These experiences at Berkeley were foundational to the step I took as I became active in the women's movement (three or four years after I left) to start writing a sociology that would know how to begin in the actualities of people's lives.

Dissertation Title: 
Power and the Front Line: Social Controls in a State Mental Hospital