James Jasper (1979)

Sociology Professor at the Graduate Center of CUNY

I am a moralist and a hedonist, and went to Berkeley in 1979 because it promised serious political analysis and a luxurious environment (the Bay Area, not Barrows Hall). I was attracted to the Frankfurt tradition's combination of politics and culture, the same intersection that all of my books have explored in one way or another. At the same time, observing Leo Lowenthal at close range helped me see the underside of that tradition. The authoritarian personality in the flesh!

Friends from that period Judy Auerbach, Vicki Smith, Mary Waters, Chris Williams and many others remain the central reason I attend the ASA meetings (almost) every year.

I had a fairly normal junior-faculty career at NYU until the tenure process, the breathtaking pathologies of which persuaded me to leave the academy altogether. Being a writer is a lot like being unemployed, except it doesn't pay as well. I also spent the late nineties doing some consulting for nonprofit theaters, speculating in the fevered stock market, joining the rentier class and digging for buried treasure near Palmyra.

Currently I am at work on a sociological theory of strategic interaction, a kind of cultural and institutional answer to game theory. I am also trying my hand at writing fiction and doing stand-up comedy. (I get easy laughs just from announcing I am a sociologist.)

Dissertation Title
The Politics of Nuclear Energy in France, Sweden, and the United States
Dissertation Book Title
Nuclear politics : energy and the state in the United States, Sweden, and France