Fred Block (1968)

Professor of Sociology, University of California, Davis

Both what I received and what I failed to receive from my six years in the Sociology program at Berkeley have had lasting consequences. I learned a tremendous amount from faculty and peers, but probably because of the political struggles of that period, I was spared the 'disciplining' that is often thought to be indispensable for graduate 'training'. Nobody taught me that I could only address certain questions and must ignore others. This was an extraordinary gift'the freedom to explore those issues at the intersection of sociology and economics that have always excited my imagination.

My undisciplined direction did have its risks. When I first went on the job market and explained that my dissertation was about the rise and fall of Bretton Woods, interviewers looked at me as though I was from another planet. When I did get a job, I had a hard time keeping it. I had a long, difficult battle for tenure at the University of Pennsylvania.

But I have also been lucky because in the 1980's, economic sociology suddenly emerged as a legitimate and trendy new subfield within sociology. I found myself no longer at the margins but part of an effort to reclaim the core of the sociological tradition. Yet old habits die hard; I get nervous amidst too much agreement. So I continue to work at developing a heterodox and critical economic sociology -- one that I still dream could have real and progressive political consequences.

Dissertation Title: 
The Political Economy of United States International Monetary Policy, 1941-71.
Dissertation Book Title: 
The origins of international economic disorder : a study of United States international monetary policy from World War II to the present