Ron Rothbart (1980)

Senior Technical Writer, Financial Engineering Associates, Berkeley

If I use translation, web presence, awards, and purchase price as measures of influence, my most influential works pre-date and post-date my brief, ten-year sojourn in sociology. "Economic Law and Class Struggle", authored in my early, Marxist period has been translated into French, Italian, and German and appears on two web sites. Getting Started with Workspace, a product of my later, corporate period, was translated into German, French, and Swedish, garnered an award for excellence in technical communication, and was available only with the purchase of a software system that cost approximately $200,000.

By contrast, my dissertation remains unpublished; the article derived from it, "Homes Are What Any Strike Is About" (The Journal of Social History, 1989), is merely listed on the web; and my post-doctoral "The Ethnic Saloon as a Form of Immigrant Enterprise" (International Migration Review, 1992) is only summarized. 

Actually, my personal favorite is "Venturing on Your Own" (Oakland Tribune, 1985), an account of trekking in the Himalayas during a brief respite between sociology courses and orals. As for how my "sociology shaped the world", that would have to be the articles I wrote in the early 90s for the Trail Guardian, a newsletter I founded to spearhead local hikers' class struggle against mountain bikers who were lobbying for access to narrow trails on Mt. Tamalpais.

Sociology did not become a career for me, or even a pastime. If I had to choose between an ASA conference and backpacking in the Sierras, you'd find me at that mountain lake. To make a living, I took up technical writing, became a manager of technical writers for a while, and rode the high tech boom up and down and around. Now I'm working at a small software firm in Berkeley within walking distance of campus. 

I certainly learned a hell of a lot during my sojourn in sociology at UC Berkeley. But by far the greatest benefit came from meeting my wife, Anne Machung, fellow refugee from sociology and hiking and backpacking partner for life.

Dissertation Title: 
Work, Family, and Protest: Immigrant Labor in the Steel, Meatpacking, and Anthracite Industries, 1880-1920