1978: I arrive at Berkeley, 21 years old, with little cultural capital, some political idealism, and the shakiest hopes of succeeding in graduate school. I relied throughout on Michael Burawoy and Arlie Hochschild and my warm, funny, brilliant fellow students for the recognition to reimagine myself. I became set on showing that the social world too could be reimagined.
Breathtaking moments: Gertrude Jaeger's last seminar on Freud; Habermas' seminar on Weber. Picketing to name and sanction sexual harassment. The incredible privileges of TAing for Jim Stockinger, twice, of discussing Michael's early drafts of 'Painting Socialism' and Arlie's early fieldwork for The Second Shift. Fighting among our dissertation group over Habits of the Heart, listening to women of color find their voices in Arlie's gender seminar.
Since leaving, I have written two books, moved around, survived some pretty cynical days, finally learned how to teach, and now am wrestling with a new project. I try to use the critical qualitative methods I felt so inspired by to puzzle out issues of changing gender and class relations. I've chosen issues I was ambivalent about, and then worked hard to decenter myself and learn from those I interview. I also work hard at writing accessibly following what an ex-senior colleague once snidely labeled, 'the Berkeley School of Pop Sociology.' A breathtakingly ironic moment: a Christian memoirist's suggested reading list starts with my At the Breast: 'It's a work of sociology, but it's so well written you won't mind! (Debra Reinstra, Great With Child.)