Sean O'Riain (1992)

Professor of Sociology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

My research has focused on 'grounding globalization' by investigating the local foundations, consequences and politics of a globalizing political economy. Most of my research has been on the political economy of high technology regions, particularly in Ireland, and on the state and workplace politics of such regional economies.

Berkeley in the 1990s was a department producing 'professionals', while at the same time there was freedom to pursue theoretical and political implications of research and teaching. Among the 'scattered hegemonies' within the sociology department, there was a great group of people interested in critical political economy and close connections to City Planning and Geography made it a great place to study globalization. Working with my fellow graduate students and Michael Burawoy doing 'global ethnography' was an experience to treasure forever. As an immigrant too I made many US friends among my fellow grad students and it was in my first teaching assistant job that I first felt that I was actually part of the society around me in the US. Meanwhile, every now and then a reaction to my research in Ireland helped to reassure me that research could have an impact beyond the university. If you started falling through the cracks in Berkeley sociology you might not have much to hold on to, but it was a great place to pursue sociology that was global and local, interdisciplinary, politically motivated and theoretically informed.

It was in becoming an assistant professor at UC Davis, also a pluralist department, that I realized what kind of 'sociological professional' that I had become. Mentoring students and supporting dissertations pursuing critical sociology has been a central part of my life as an assistant professor, a value learned at Berkeley.

Dissertation Title: 
Remaking the Developmental State: The Irish Software Industry in the Global Economy
Dissertation Book Title: 
The Politics of High-Tech Growth: developmental networks and states in the global economy