Jeffrey Manza (1987)

Professor of Sociology, New York University

I did both my undergraduate and graduate work in sociology at Berkeley, with a few years off in between. I took my first sociology course -- a tiny undergraduate seminar on Marxism -- as a 19 year-old sophomore with Michael Burawoy in the spring of 1982. This was a transformative experience intellectually, and it led me directly into sociology as a field of study as well as defining the shape of the intellectual questions I would be interested in for some time. Throughout both my undergraduate and graduate years, Bill Kornhauser encouraged and provided a sounding board for my emerging interests and ideas in political sociology, social movements, and the study of social change. My own trajectory as a graduate student reflected some of the changes in the Berkeley department. On the one hand, I continued a line of work on class analysis and radical political change that led to a dissertation on the U.S. New Deal, under the direction of Jerry Karabel and Mike Rogin. At the same time, however, I also began developing a research program (with Mike Hout and especially with Clem Brooks) in political sociology that makes use of survey data and quantitative methods, and that is the type of work that I have mostly pursued since leaving Berkeley.

I currently teach at Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL. I think the central imprint my years at Berkeley have been a desire to do sociology that will speak to general audiences and engage political and policy concerns. For the most part, I haven't succeeded. But my major current project as I write this (in October 2002), a study of the political and social consequences of felon disenfranchisement in the United States, is contributing to an emerging political debate, getting a fairly significant amount of media attention, and is even connecting up with an emerging social movement to re-enfranchise offenders. I'd like to imagine it is the sort of public sociology that reflects something of the Berkeley sociological tradition, and I hope to work in that vein in the future as well.

Dissertation Title: 
Policy Experts and Political Change During the New Deal