As a graduate student, I found Berkeley sociology's long traditions of intellectual criticism and social engagement to be inspiring, sometimes frustrating, never boring. Sociology at Berkeley offered an alternative to the model of social scientists as professional monopolists of expertise and purveyors of the same to privileged elites. Instead, the department preserves an ideal of sociological knowledge that addresses, and enlarges, the democratic public sphere. Such a vocation demands, if anything, an even greater analytic clarity, investigative rigor, and accountability to a wider audience.
Since leaving the Bay Area I have taught courses in political sociology and social movements, urban sociology, labor relations, race and ethnicity, and historical methods, at Michigan State University and currently at Yale University. I've published articles on the Ku Klux Klan movement of the Nineteen Twenties and the 1946 General Strike in Oakland, California, and my book No There There: Race, Class and Political Community in Oakland is forthcoming from the University of California Press. My current research interests include contemporary alliances between labor unions and community organizations in selected U.S. cities, and industrial relations within the mass media. Methodologically, I am interested in narrative forms of sociological explanation, and problems of representing collective agency. Given the pervasive individualization of American politics and culture, my goal in sociology is to recover the history of collective actors, and to show how they contribute to social change.