I came to Berkeley's department of Sociology to learn a sociologically sophisticated way of theorizing the role of the spatial environment in human social life.
Unfortunately, I entered graduate school too soon. The current large post-modern and Marxist relevant literature had not been translated or even written. I changed emphasis, studying the then current urban literature with Claude Fischer. I also began studying the theoretical assumptions behind the use of various methodologies - in practice this means that I took or audited every methodology, theory of methodology and statistics course that I could.
While that had not been my initial intent, it proved to help shape my work career since my graduate degree. I have worked as a full-time researcher since that time. After the degree, I extended my doctoral work on how cultural understandings of private property help shape how people organize community by studying common interest developments. Because of what happened to a family member, I changed research interests and worked for a number of years as the Research Director and Co-Principal Investigator for The Center for Self-Help Research. Steve Segal, the Principal Investigator, and I worked collaboratively with some of the major figures in the mental health consumer rights movement to understand the effectiveness of consumer run organizations for people with mental health and substance abuse problems.
I currently am the Research Director at the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at the University of San Francisco. We do applied research in service to nonprofit sector.
While I continued teaching for several years after my degree at Berkeley, I have not taught there for some time. Instead, I have taught on an adjunct basis at USF, San Francisco State and at one of the few remaining local alternative colleges: New College of California.
Is this the career I envisioned for myself when I entered Berkeley? No. I don't get to engage in the critical theoretical perspective that Berkeley teaches, except in my own teaching. There are, however, a number of personal rewards in doing applied and policy based research.