M.E. Foster (1966)

Independent Contract Writer and Researcher. Ashland, Oregon

I entered the sociology graduate program in 1966 in my mid-30s. I had a law degree and had been working in law-related jobs for ten years. From law school on, I had been fascinated by the curious nature of law, and I was looking for an appropriate academic discipline from which to study it from the outside. Berkeley in the late 1960s was an exhilarating place for me, although I found myself a full half generation out of synch with the passionate young Marxists who seemed to make up most of my classmates.

My most interesting academic experiences were courses with Erving Goffman; two historical studies I did (law of early Puritan Massachusetts; law in the French Revolution); my struggle to put together coherently the wildly different perspectives in social theory; and the field work for my thesis. I owe a debt of gratitude to Philip Selznick, Philippe Nonet and Sheldon Messinger for guiding my work.

It took me an unconscionably long time to get my Ph.D.; I did not finish until 1981. By that time much of my interest in both law and sociology had drained away and I was moving my life in very different directions. I moved from Berkeley to Ashland, Oregon in 1976. I met my present wife here. We started a business together, doing editing, research and contract writing. One client has been the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for which we have written articles for one of its publications for many years. I am currently at work coediting a long and absorbing novel.

We have two children, a boy and a girl, 19 and 15, both great kids.

In many ways, life began for me at age 50 and has continued to be happy and surprising for the 23 years since. I am proud of my Berkeley degree and feel remiss that I have made no professional use of my sociology training, but that is the way my life has gone

I would be delighted to hear from any graduate school contemporaries.

Dissertation Title: 
Regulatory Activism: A Socio-Legal Case Study of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission