I came to Berkeley in 1974 to study how multinational corporate investment had transformed cultures and identities in French West Africa. I left in 1981 with a dissertation on revolutions in 17th century France and England. Since finishing, I've developed an expertise in the Sociology of Gender, and have been instrumental in developing the subfield of Men and Masculinities.
While this may strike one as a textbook case of sociological dilettantism, I prefer to see the ways in which Berkeley sociology with its emphasis on being theoretically informed, comparative and historically grounded, and politically engaged underlies each of these moves. In the first case, I was captivated in the late 1970s by the new synthetic works that sought to explain the rise of modern society (Moore, Tilly, Wallerstein, Skocpol, Bendix, Anderson) that seemed to return to original sociological questions raised by the classical theorists.
By the time I arrived at Rutgers in 1982, I had split my interests, and worked on both gender and comparative social movements. I've sustained those interests both separately and together since arriving at Stony Brook, my home since 1987. (I returned to Berkeley in 1992-3 as a Visiting Professor, and was voted 'Best Professor' on campus that year by the Daily Cal.) My work on the history of American manhood has been coupled with books and articles that represent my intellectual and political engagement with various issues raised by feminism: pornography, the 'men's movements,' homophobia and aggression. That distinctly Berkeley sensibility a sociology that brings together history, theory, and political commitment - has, I believe, guided all my work.
My Berkeley years also committed me to public education, and I have spent my entire career at large, public universities, educating the next generation of Americans, who have little sense of entitlement.
A New Yorker by both birth and temperament, I could not be happier than living in a turn of the century brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn -- a community that is rivaled, perhaps, only by Lake Merritt for the vitality of multiculturalism.