Alumni Book


Michele Dillon

In 2001, I joined the sociology department at the University of New Hampshire after eight years at Yale University. Most of my research and publishing had been in the area of religion and culture. In addition to research articles on the cultural framing of abortion, and the construal of religion in contemporary sociological theory (e.g. Habermas, Bourdieu), I have published Debating divorce: Moral conflict in Ireland (University Press of Kentucky, 1993), Catholic identity: Balancing reason, faith, and power (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and edited Handbook of the sociology of religion (in press, Cambridge University Press). I am currently working with extensive life review interview data from a longitudinal study of lives that originated at Berkeley in the 1920s. My main interest is in mapping the place of religion and spirituality in individual lives and exploring how life course, institutional, historical, and cultural changes impact each other.

I loved the cultural diversity and intellectual exuberance at Berkeley and especially enjoyed what I perceived as its pluralistic approach to theory and research. It is this openness to multiple theoretical perspectives and methodologies that has probably influenced my own research and teaching the most. In turn, when I speak to larger publics outside the university (through the mass media and to non-academic groups and conferences) I emphasize the empirical and theoretical compatibility of pluralism and community, and show, for example, how the doctrinal pluralism contained within Catholicism allows for a greater inclusivity of diverse social identities than acknowledged by church officials.

Brian Rich

Occupational history (why only teaching, research and beyond)? Gardener, umpire, dishwasher, ice production, packing and shipping, wallpaper hanging, researcher, liberal arts college professor (Bingham Associate Professor of Sociology at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky), and attempting to be as public a sociologist as I can.

How did Berkeley influence my use and development of sociology? Incredibly. Berkeley's sociology department was a whirlwind of intellectual currents, all pulling in various, at times antinomian, directions. It was quite painful and incredibly humbling at times, but looking back after almost 10 years out, a wonderful way to grow, witness and be part of so much knowledge and intellectual vigor. I started with interests in technological developments in the workplace and then moved into the gender/work/inequality nexus which formed the basis of my dissertation research on the feminization of the banking industry.

In recent years I have been focused on ethnoracial and class dynamics, viz., multiculturalism as a social practice (as distinguishable from anideology) and am working to examine its empirical dynamics in applied and activist research on the process of Latino immigration to novel destinations in the U.S like Lexington. I have always been engaged by the intellectual history of sociology, but especially the role of social critics (marxists, feminists, queer theorists, ecologists and others) in the perpetual reform and radicalization of sociology as more than just an academic discipline.

I see sociology as needing desperately to break out of the academy and invade all domains of society, as a way of making life better, somehow. Thus I have tried to be a public sociologist and encourage my students, colleagues, and fellow citizens to think and act sociologically, as a form of praxis. The sociological imagination cannot be just an intellectual process; it must be lived to have any real effect.

How has my sociology shaped the world? I would have to say that I have seen and believe in the genetic power of ideas and actions, ones that we receive, reinvent, and transmit from the past and the present, with future targets. Thus while I might be pessimistic about trying to measure empirically the impact of any specific actions on the world, I am certain that my praxis has and will leave its traces on the people that have worked with me in the classroom, the civic center, and in the streets.""

Arvind Rajagopal

I came to the U.S. to do a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1981, and eventually ended up at Berkeley in 1984. My first formative experience at Berkeley, like for so many, was the first year methods course with Michael Burawoy, and TA-ing for him. Berkeley was my first experience of a relatively cosmopolitan environment in the U.S. and in addition to grad school, I was also tasting the pleasures of civilized friendship. Todd Gitlin and Bob Bellah were my advisers, and they were very tolerant with me. This was part of the freewheeling, pluralistic spirit of Berkeley sociology, which I valued. But I think that the theoretical understanding of western modernity that I absorbed was historically limited, and this was clearest when studying non-western societies.

My dissertation was a reception study of a Hindu epic serialized on Indian television in the late 'eighties. The movement that grew in the serial's wake became the largest in post-independence history in India. In effect, I was able to study a historical conjuncture in formation; the movement went onto reshape Indian politics and culture. My book on this, Politics After Television (Cambridge, 2001) has won a couple of prizes. Since then, I've studied questions of religion and secularism, the cultural politics of emerging markets, and specifically, of late, urban politics in Bombay. I now teach at New York University in media studies. I enjoy working here. And I've found that New York City is an easy place to get used to.


Beth Roy

Having gotten my BA in mathematics in 1961 (from Brandeis), I made my way by loops and by-ways to a doctorate in sociology at UC exactly thirty years later. In between I lived in India for seven years, publishing two books, Bullock Carts and Motor Bikes: Ancient India on a New Road in 1972, and On a Tree of Trouble: Tribes of India in Crisis in 1974.

In 1972, I returned to the US, with a small son, a militant set of principles about child-rearing, few ideas about earning a living, and good friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. With the latter, I began a lay practice in an alternative approach to psychotherapy, work grounded in a social theory of alienation and a practice focused on community-building, including group therapy and conflict resolution. We taught workshops in mediation and trained therapists and mediators in long-term apprenticeships.

After some fourteen years, as my son considered where he wanted to go to college, I began enviously to long for a contemplative space in which to explore more deeply, and more theoretically, the ideas on which my practice was based. I applied to the sociology department at Berkeley and was accepted.

The faculty afforded me precisely the forum I wanted, to talk, to read, to write about the questions that occupied me, both in my therapist persona and as an activist. I saw academia as a way to bring together my attachments in South Asia to my more recent wanderings in the intersection of psyche and society. Under the tutelage of Bob Blauner, Sandy Freitag, and others, I returned to the subcontinent to study Hindu-Muslim conflict. In 1992 UC Press published Some Trouble with Cows: Making Sense of Social Conflict, an analysis of a riot in a Bangladeshi village, based only on the oral accounts of the villagers.

While continuing my therapy practice, I've gone on since then talking with people about moments of intense social conflict they've lived, and trying to draw from those oral histories sociological theory with a social justice bent. Bitters in the Honey: Tales of Hope and Disappointment across Divides of Race and Time was published in 1999 by University of Arkansas Press, a study of white racism in the context of working people's problems; the study derives from interviews with people from Little Rock, Arkansas, whose lives were touched by the crisis there when Central High School was desegregated in 1957. Currently, I'm talking with people around the country about the police killing of Amadou Diallo in New York to explore wide circles of social issues.

From time to time, I also teach at UC Berkeley in the Peace and Conflict Studies program and the Sociology Department.

Colin Samson

Colin Samson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex in England. He has been working with the Innu peoples of the Labrador-Quebec peninsula in Canada since 1994. His associations with them led to co-authoring the widely-cited human rights report Canada's Tibet: the killing of the Innu which won the Italian Pio Manzo peace prize in 2000. His book A Way of Life that Does Not Exist: Canada and the Extinguishment of the Innu (Verso Press) won the Pierre Savard Award given by the International Council for Canadian Studies in 2006. He has written a number of recent book chapters and articles on indigenous peoples' human rights and the role of anthropology in indigenous rights conflicts. In 2009 he worked with German film-maker Sarah Sandring on a film about the relocation of the Mushuau Innu in 1948. Over 2009/10 he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Arizona, where he has been completing another book on the effects of colonialism on indigenous peoples and their potentials to reverse its most damaging effects through maintaining cultural continuity.

John Torpey

I was drawn to Berkeley because of its tradition of sociological reflection on important public issues. After graduating from Berkeley in 1992, I had a variety of interesting opportunities that broadened my intellectual horizons. Chief among these were a year as a post-doc at the Center for European Studies at Harvard; a stint as a program officer in the Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.; and a year-long fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. During the summer of 1999, I had the good fortune to be a visiting professor in the Department of Sociology at Boðaziçi (Bo-WA-zi-chi, aka Bosphorus) University in Istanbul, Turkey, at the invitation of another fellow Berkeley Ph.D., Faruk Birtek.

Over the years, my work has addressed the transformation of formerly socialist societies (my dissertation) and the development of nation-states (The Invention of the Passport). My current research on reparations for historical injustices concerns the worldwide spread of that idea to many historical experiences and explores why the past has come to play such a prominent role in contemporary politics. In connection with that project, I have grown increasingly engaged by questions concerning the nature, history, and fate of social hierarchies based on the idea of race.

I remain interested in the history of modern social thought, an interest nurtured at Berkeley. I see the classics as entirely relevant to the situation in which we find ourselves, and am grateful that I have the opportunity to teach social theory here at UBC. In this regard, I am working on a new edition of Tocqueville's classic, Democracy in America, for the Oxford World's Classics series.

Christian Joppke

Of Berkeley I will not forget the frantic first year, with drinks and cigarettes in North Beach bars and late-nights walks from Bart station on Shattuck to Grizzly Peak (home of the friendly family that provided me with a roof in the first month). I'd rather forget the following years of single-minded dissertation work, which were spent in a Spruce Street cloister (with a view). If I stayed intact, then thanks to certain Russian and Germanic authors, such as Turgenev, Musil, and Bernhard (the last time I read that sort of thing), and the occasional mental massage by Neil Smelser (without whom I'd not be able to write these lines). Two more bright Berkeley lights should be mentioned: Ricky's Star Show at Sather Gate and the Lowenthal seminar.

In 1993, I quit my job as assistant professor at the University of Southern California, and moved to the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Having failed to get tenure there (a fate that I share with famous Berkeley alumni), I'm currently on the move again from New York, where I'm writing these lines in my lush townhouse office at the Russell Sage Foundation, to Vancouver, where I will be reunited with my old mate John Torpey at the University of British Columbia.

My source of happiness are Catherine, Benjamin and Nicolas (two life-long fiorentini), who follow me around.

I forgot: intellectually I started as a Habermasian; I'm now a reactionary liberal; what will I be next?

Steven Epstein

Graduate studies at Berkeley shaped my fundamental interest in understanding the relation between knowledge and power in modern societies. My faculty mentors and fellow students provided me with intellectual tools to bring social theory to bear on social issues that mattered, and they encouraged me to develop an 'engaged' sociology. The faculty members with whom I worked also had no hesitations about providing me the space to explore areas and empirical topics that sometimes were unfamiliar to them.

After leaving Berkeley, I accepted a postdoc and then a faculty position at UCSD, where I am presently an associate professor. Although my appointment is in Sociology and I feel strong allegiances to that field, my interests have become increasingly interdisciplinary. I am active in UCSD's interdisciplinary graduate program in Science Studies, as well as in our undergraduate Critical Gender Studies Program, and I am an affiliated faculty member in the Ethnic Studies Department. I teach a range of courses on topics that include biomedicine, science studies, social theory, social movements, and sexuality.

My dissertation, advised by Jerry Karabel, was awarded the ASA's dissertation prize, and the book that developed from it, Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge, received three prizes, including the C. Wright Mills award. I am pleased about the book's influence in helping people think through the complexities of relations between experts and laypeople. I am currently writing a second book which examines the 'politics of inclusion' and the 'management of difference' in U.S. biomedical research.

I am also active in professional circles outside the walls of UCSD. In recent years, I have served as a contributing editor of AJS, as a member of the governing council of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and on the National Research Advisory Board of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.


Mona Younis

I was drawn to sociology for the license to practice social change it promised! In 1980, I traveled to the Middle East to see what I could do with an M.A. from the University of Michigan. After six years of work with a community-based organization, research and teaching, I returned to graduate school to prepare for a teaching career. I chose Berkeley, which I imagined to be teeming with Marxist sociologists. Of course quality is better than quantity, so I did not regret my choice, but midway through the program I realized that academia was not where I belonged. I managed to resist leaving the program by launching into a dissertation that was personally meaningful to me: a comparative study of the South African and Palestinian national liberation movements.

The job search was extremely difficult; human rights jobs were few and the chasm between the worlds of academia and non-profits difficult to bridge. After nearly a year, I landed in philanthropy another world altogether but one that, fortunately, values the other two. The Mertz Gilmore Foundation, a leading human rights funder, provided me with an extraordinary window into the field -- a veritable gold mine for a sociologist! From Berkeley, I brought methodological and analytical questions to the evaluation of funding proposals and programs, and I'm making a modest contribution to social change through the International Human Rights Funders Group an international network of funders committed to the realization of the full spectrum of human rights globally, including in the U.S.

Gwo-Shyong Shieh

My academic career began with an attempt to decipher 'the Taiwan economic miracle.' The subcontracting network provided a key: its variegated and tiny units of production, its flexible mobilization and combination of these units, its downward-squeezing mechanism, its deployment of homeworkers, and its opportunity for 'becoming one's own boss.' This was the hidden abode of Taiwanese capitalism at its export-oriented phase.

A further deciphering of the category of 'wage' disclosed that the 'labor-only consciousness' dominated their everyday life in the shop floor. Only when the employment relationship threatened to break asunder did they realize that their labor power meant more than their piece wage only, thanks to the specifications of labor law.

I just finished an ethnography of a tea-producing village in the northern Taiwan to uncover the cultural base of the 'labor-only consciousness.' The native categories of understanding that concern the villagers' conceptions of 'personhood,' 'positionality,' 'cause,' and so on articulate with the category of 'wage,' and hence present a complicated and unanticipated local landscape of capitalism.

My future study will be a phenomenological investigation of commodity fetishism as it is encountered in the community of Taiwanese workers. While recognizing Power is Knowledge, which collective social action can directly challenges and perhaps changes, I nevertheless believe that Knowledge is Power, especially the profound knowledge that can bring to light the disguising mechanisms that make power as knowledge. That kind of profound knowledge comes from rigorous and original academic research at its base, to which I have dedicated myself.

Sara Diamond

As of this writing, in 2010, I have drifted far afield from academic sociology. I still like to think that my life was forever impacted by having gone to graduate school, so long ago.

My dissertation became my second book, Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, published in 1995 by the Guilford Press.

I published two other books after that, then donated my archives on right-wing movements to the Bancroft Library and retired from doing research and writing on the subject in 1998. I stopped doing the work simply because it was unsustainable for me personally and financially. I was unable to get a full-time teaching position in the bay area and I could not afford to continue to work as a part-time adjunct at Cal State Hayward, which I did for five years.

In 2000 I went to law school, and as soon as I passed the bar exam, I established my own solo law practice, in the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration. My office is in downtown Berkeley, and about half my clients are UC employees. I hear from them about the many ways in which the university is no longer what it used to be, let alone what it was intended to be. I feel both sad about that and glad that I transitioned out of academia. I like being an entrepreneur, and I enjoy the field of law I'm in. I do no litigation and a lot of counseling with a diverse group of people, including many who are in the midst of health problems and other crises.

I rarely get a chance to read social science any more. I mostly read fiction, and I garden, knit, and tend to my house and partner. Aside from work, my private life is pretty all-consuming. I sometimes miss having a rigorous intellectual life, but not often.

Heidi Tarver

I don't think my bio would be quite what you are looking for - no teaching or research, no shaping as a sociologist, and as to how sociology shapes the world, well, I'm not sure it does that much. I'm working as an artist, raising my children, and living pretty happily most of the time. Sociology seems kinda like ancient history to me, but not bad history, just not that relevant toi my life in the here and now.

My work has grown over the years out of a deep interest in ornamentation; how ornament has evolved in and across cultures, its usage in functional and decorative art, and the psychological function of ornamentation in modern as well as premodern culture. I have worked with ornament in the context of textile art, sculpture and, more recently, mixed media works onm paper and furniture art.

Leah Carroll

Leah's book Violent Democratization:  Social Movements, Elites, and Politics in Colombia's Rural War Zones, and update of her dissertation, is scheduled to be released in January, 2011.

Kathryn Fox

I was greatly influenced by the graduate student and local political culture of Berkeley. So I am happy to have ended up in a Progressive city and state. The lifestyle is sublime here. My department, for the most part, sees itself as political, leftist, feminist, and sociologically ecumenical. 'Berkeley sociology' is appreciated here. This makes my life easier as a scholar, teacher, citizen, and mother, although in another biography I would not list my identities in that order.

I came to Berkeley from the Midwest to work with David Matza, at a time when few people studied deviance anymore. After conducting field research on AIDS outreach to injection drug users on the streets of a West Coast city, I entertained grand ideas (which were later dashed) of doing applied ethnography. But I took a job in academia after all; I figured one could leave the tenure track after a time easier than one could jump onto the track after a time. But I'm still here! Strangely, I wound up at the ideal place for me, the University of Vermont (in Burlington, sometimes described as Berkeley's sister city), where I am an associate professor of sociology. And now, two kids later and more gray hairs, I do field work in rather circumscribed settings, such as prisons.

I came to Berkeley with some vague idea that I was a symbolic interactionist and ethnographer. I left a Burawoyian ethnographer, with a focus on the less visible constraints that actors resist. My work now focuses on discourses of discipline and resistance. Insofar as my interactionist/constructionist bent has been modified, I try to address one of the fundamental weaknesses of interactionism by squarely tackling the role of power in discursive practices. Since Berkeley, I have come to enjoy and incorporate the works of Foucault and Dorothy Smith and the like.

As a student of (and former participant in) deviant behavior, I have been disenchanted with the elitism and humorlessness of (most) academic work. I still struggle with the value of the kind of academic research I enjoy doing. I could scarcely write this bio because I was so daunted by the question of how my sociology has changed the world! A list of my publications would not answer that question. Like frightfully many sociologists, a handful of people read my work, some like it. My work on prison therapy contributes a dissenting view from the traditional corrections literature which is uncritical of its own discursive/disciplinary techniques. Because so much of the research on prisons is of the what works variety, the Berkeley-ness of my sociology comes through in its theoretical flavor. What these publications change beyond my job security is anybody's guess, but it is fun stuff to think about. What I continue to enjoy about sociology is the intellectual play, which Berkeley gave me a taste for. And let's face it: academia provides a very nice life (despite all of our whining). Where else can one get paid to think, read and write? And the autonomy! But I suspect the people who are really changing the world are the ones who quit grad school or avoided academia.

I still feel like an ethnographer, even in/of academia, participating successfully enough, but still observing, scratching my head and taking notes?

Charles Kurzman

I was fortunate to get a job within a year of my doctoral defense, and taught for four years at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Since then, I've been teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with several fellow Berkeley grads. My research has branched out from social movements and revolutions, the field of my dissertation, to political sociology more broadly. I am currently working on a comparative history of new democracies that emerged around the world, and quickly failed, in the decade before World War I -- a project that builds on my Berkeley training in historical sociology. At the same time, my dissertation's focus on Iran has led to an interest in Islamic studies more generally. I edited two anthologies in this field, one on "Liberal Islam" (1998) and one on "Modernist Islam, 1840-1940" (2002), and am working to bring Islamic studies and sociology into more meaningful conversation with one another, after years of separate (though often parallel) trajectories. Since September 11, 2001, I have been asked to speak to public audiences and journalists who want to know more about Islamist movements. While preparing myself for these out-of-classroom educational settings, I have drawn lessons and taken heart from the careers of the public intellectuals on the Berkeley sociology faculty, who were a big part of the place's initial attraction for me when I was considering going to graduate school, back in the mid-1980s.


Krishna Bhattachan

I started my teaching career in 1981 as one of the founding faculty members of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology in Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal. When I was nominated for a Fulbright-Hays scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. degree in sociology in USA in 1987, I gave top priority to UC-Berkeley because of my interest in qualitative sociology. I spent six years (1987-1993) there. I am very proud that I did it from Berkeley. I miss Berkeley and its very excellent, stimulating and inspiring academic and socio-cultural environment. I have a very fond memory of inspiring teaching style of Prof. Michael Burawoy, guidance of Prof. Robert N. Bellah, administrative and academic help and support of Ms. Elsa Tranter, books and journals of the library and local book stores, specially MOE's, sproul plaza, family life in UC Village at Albany, social diversity of the campus, and fellow graduate students with great academic performance.

After my return from Berkeley to Nepal in 1993, I developed my own working model, which I call RATOS: R stands for Research, A for Advocacy, T for teaching & Training, O for Organization building and S for Social Mobilization. I believe that this model is a Nepalized version of what life was at Berkeley as I experienced during my six years of stay. Since 1993, my only goal has been to contribute for rapid transformation of the Nepalese society for social equity and equality. By now, I have presented dozens of papers in international and national seminars, published about 150 articles on Nepalese society, culture and ethno-politics, and co-edited several books. The kind of research I do is mostly what I call it 'advocacy research' and I am heavily engaged in right-based social movements of indigenous nationalities, women, Dalit ("untouchables"), Madhesi (people of Terai region), mother tongue speakers, religious groups and other minorities. My teaching has spread its wings from graduate classrooms to outside the university premises including the remote villages. Also, I encourage different suppressed, oppressed and marginzalized groups to get organized and socially mobilized to claim their rights. Berkeley has given me full confidence and re-chargeable epistemological, theoretical, methodological and practical energy in juggling with these five different balls at the same time.

Berkeley taught me to think, imagine and practice sociology for common good and also to eat, drink, smell, play and live with sociology. I would have never been what I am in Nepal now, if I was not lucky enough to get a Ph.D. degree from Berkeley.

Leslie Salzinger

When I applied to graduate school, a mentor suggested any social science degree would do. How wrong she was! Any education worth its salt is transformative. Certainly Berkeley sociology transformed me. Graduate school (classmates at least as much as faculty) changed the world I saw and inhabited, revealing 'structure' wherever I looked. Since then, I use the language of structure more rarely like many others I've come to be as interested in surfaces as hidden bones, and in contingencies as much as determinations. But the conviction that individual lives are patterned beyond our single skins, and an intuition for how one might make that visible, legible, maybe even movable, has become a fundamental part of who I am.I left Berkeley for the University of Chicago, where I was lucky enough to continue to be student as well as teacher turning increasingly to anthropology and history. My book, Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico's Global Factories (2003), was slow in coming, and so bears the marks of those shifts. Today I'm about to make another move, to Boston College, seeking a place where my closest colleagues can be inside as well as outside sociology. I've also begun shifting my attention from the economy as context to the economy as object. I'm currently studying finance looking to delineate how meanings and subjectivities shape, organize and constitute economic processes, and thus to help chip away at their status as forces of nature that operate beyond our reach.

Ernest Brooks

As a political sociologist, I am interested in the operation of actually-existing democracies, including processes related to public opinion, elections, and the level of legitimacy of, and degree of comprehensiveness in, welfare state policies. A good deal of contemporary political-sociological work is informed by the assumption that comparative-historical variation between welfare states, especially with reference to their effects on public social provision and civil rights/liberties, has far-reaching political and policy-relevant implications. The encompassing welfare states of Scandinavia, for instance, present an important alternative to laissez-faire democracy, and one whose relevance extends from left political parties and policy-makers to social movement actors and intellectuals.

My orientation has been influenced by the traditions of Berkeley sociology. My work is shaped by power resources theory and its variants, and by the tradition of empirical democratic theory that has emerged from U.S. political behavior research. Finally, I take seriously survey research methods and the quantitative analysis of cross-section and also panel data.

Much of my past research has investigated causal mechanisms behind the historical development of U.S. voter alignments in the postwar era. Another part of my research has analyzed structure and trends in American public opinion during the past three decades. Several new strains of research seek to situate the U.S. within a cross-national perspective to better gauge the effects of political system type, political culture, and other country-specific characteristics. In one such project I bring together comparative research on welfare states with empirical democratic theory to see whether exogenous shifts in public opinion contribute to the policy activities of national governments within the developed democracies.

Joshua Gamson

I came to Berkeley from Boston, where I'd worked for a couple of years after graduating from Swarthmore College. Coming from a sociology family, I was ambivalent and vaguely embarrassed about the Sociology PhD part of the plan, but I figured it was warmer in California, physically and culturally, and I liked the idea of being both learned and tanned. It turned out to be a great place for me. I immediately adored my cohort, even though I was scared of how smart everybody was, and I was impressed by how often people were in the mood to drink. The faculty was accessible and interesting. I didn't really know quite what I wanted to do with myself, besides teach and write, so it suited me to have people who could push me in different areas but who never wanted to make me into mini-thems. Gradually, some interests started to emerge. With Ann Swidler and Todd Gitlin, I started to get more serious about the sociology of culture, especially media culture. With Michael Burawoy's intense P.O. seminar, I started to get interested in social movements, especially sexuality-based movements. Somehow, I wound up writing a dissertation about celebrity culture, which became a book, and then a few articles about gay and lesbian movements. The next thing I knew I was teaching at Yale--a mixed blessing, though a great experience. In 2002, I moved back to the Bay Area to teach at University of San Francisco. I think what Berkeley gave me was a sense that I could confidently pursue things that really interested me, however strange my choices might seem to others, and that the best work would come out of the pursuit. I've tried to pass on to students during the past decade. I suppose you could argue that I've taken that all a bit far; I've written about tv talk shows and sex scandals,among other things, and published a life-and-times biography of the late disco star Sylvester. But I thank the Berkeley faculty for teaching me that rigor and intelligence can be combined with curiosity, humor, and play.

Deborah Little

I entered Berkeley in 1987 as a legal services attorney who had hoped to make the world fairer for poor women. After 5 years of practice I was cynical about the prospects for changing anything, much less the lives of my clients. I chose Berkeley because I was a pragmatic progressive feminist in search of explanations for inequality and injustice.

Once there, I traveled the intellectual terrains of welfare state theory, Marxism, feminism, race theory, and post-modernism with Burawoy, Hochschild, Luker, Blauner, and others. A fantastic group of women graduate students with whom I read in gender, race, and theory challenged me even more than the faculty! In 1991, I moved to New York, got married, had 2 children, practiced disability law to pay the bills, and did ethnographic research on welfare reform. My dissertation examined welfare state reconstruction in the U.S. as the state stopped supporting mothers' care work and began demanding wage work. I remain interested in the ways oppressed groups forge alternative visions of work, independence, and entitlement in the face of a contracting welfare state, and thanks to a post-doc fellowship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, am currently doing ethnographic research on independence and inclusion for people with disabilities. I anticipate a career of teaching, research, and social justice work, and while I don't yet know how my sociology will shape the world, I do know that Berkeley training demands a sociology that is local and global, critical and political, engaged and meaningful.

Jeffrey Manza

I did both my undergraduate and graduate work in sociology at Berkeley, with a few years off in between. I took my first sociology course -- a tiny undergraduate seminar on Marxism -- as a 19 year-old sophomore with Michael Burawoy in the spring of 1982. This was a transformative experience intellectually, and it led me directly into sociology as a field of study as well as defining the shape of the intellectual questions I would be interested in for some time. Throughout both my undergraduate and graduate years, Bill Kornhauser encouraged and provided a sounding board for my emerging interests and ideas in political sociology, social movements, and the study of social change. My own trajectory as a graduate student reflected some of the changes in the Berkeley department. On the one hand, I continued a line of work on class analysis and radical political change that led to a dissertation on the U.S. New Deal, under the direction of Jerry Karabel and Mike Rogin. At the same time, however, I also began developing a research program (with Mike Hout and especially with Clem Brooks) in political sociology that makes use of survey data and quantitative methods, and that is the type of work that I have mostly pursued since leaving Berkeley.

I currently teach at Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL. I think the central imprint my years at Berkeley have been a desire to do sociology that will speak to general audiences and engage political and policy concerns. For the most part, I haven't succeeded. But my major current project as I write this (in October 2002), a study of the political and social consequences of felon disenfranchisement in the United States, is contributing to an emerging political debate, getting a fairly significant amount of media attention, and is even connecting up with an emerging social movement to re-enfranchise offenders. I'd like to imagine it is the sort of public sociology that reflects something of the Berkeley sociological tradition, and I hope to work in that vein in the future as well.

Ching-Kwan Lee

After I got my PhD, I began teaching sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I moved to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2000 where I am currently an assistant professor. I travel to China regularly, doing ethnographic fieldwork, offering graduate seminars in Chinese universities in Beijing, and collaborating with Mainland Chinese sociologists. My current projects look at changing patterns of labor politics and collective memories of socialism. As Chinese sociology recovers and booms after thirty-year of state suppression, it immediately faces the challenge of grappling with the momentous social transformation unleashed by market reform. Making mutual sense of China and sociology is the daunting task we face now.

I do not know yet how my sociology may matter to the world but I am increasingly aware of a unique Berkeley vision of sociology that has quietly nurtured my work. That vision is a mix of transnational, humanistic and critical sensibilities that faculties and students there have created and sustained together. Berkeley sociologists embody transnationalism not only in their work grounded in societies outside of the United State, but more importantly in their insistence on critical engagement between sociology and area-specific insights. The search for productive tension and mutual illumination of both kinds of knowledge is a challenge and impetus for my erratic moves across research projects and countries. Moreover, the Berkeley tradition of ethnography has kept me in touch with the humanistic and critical impulse of sociology, whenever I felt the need for an intellectual and moral anchor.


John Martin

Inspired by the new class theory of Gouldner, I came to Berkeley in 1987 to study with Erik Olin Wright, who had been described by my Columbia-school mentors as a Marxist but a good sociologist. Upon visiting, however, Wright informed me that he was going back to Wisconsin, where the average daily temperature was a good 400 degrees colder (Celsius). Since students at Berkeley seemed so jolly, and I found an advisor who liked to talk almost as much as I did, I ended up staying. In the next ten years, I raised koi in a baby pool in my back yard, gardened, worked constantly on two motorcycles and a microbus, learned to play the banjo, and had two sons. I also vaguely remember completing a dissertation, a crime for which I was cruelly expelled.

While at Berkeley I learned much about the history of theory from Jim Stockinger, and advanced methods from Jim Wiley. But I also got something from the regular faculty: I got inspiration and caution regarding the pursuit of new methods from Mike Hout and Claude Fischer (respectively), I learned how to defend dogmatism while remaining intellectually open from Michael Burawoy, and I learned how to analyze fields without being evicted from the one in which my profession was embedded from Neil Fligstein. In addition, I profited from courses with Almaguer, Arditi, Evans, Goodman, Hochschild, Luker, and Schluchter. And of course I got my sense of how to do sociology and I think all the ideas that seem to be mine from Ann Swidler.

Completely unqualified for anything else, I have remained in sociology, still trying to understand what culture is all about. What did I learn most from Berkeley? To distrust methodological sophistication a great deal, and theoretical sophistication completely, and instead base one's scholarship on a passionate love of social life, even if you find most people pretty irritating.

Ricky Bluthenthal

Ricky N. Bluthenthal's major research contributions have been in the areas of HIV epidemiology and prevention for drug injectors, racial/ethnic differences in alcohol consumption, consequences, and treatment outcomes, and community approaches to health promotion. Dr. Bluthenthal has published over 75 studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Addiction, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, and Social Science and Medicine. He was formerly a Senior Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation (1998-2010), Dean of Graduate Studies and Research (2009-2010), Director of the Urban Community Research Center (2006-2010), and Professor (with tenure 2006-2010) at the California State University Dominguez Hills.

Christopher Rhomberg

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.

Karin Martin

I went to Berkeley in sociology at the encouragement of wonderful faculty at Hampshire College. Until I got on the plane to Berkeley, I'd virtually never been out of New England, and I arrived thinking graduate school took four years, just like undergrad. After a tough first semester, I became inspired by the political and intellectual climate at Berkeley. Courses on feminism, sexuality, race, and psychoanalysis with Chodorow, Almaguer, Blauner, Luker, Hochschild, and Rogin were influential in developing my understanding of gender, sexuality and the self in everyday life. Just as important were the continuous conversations with my fellow graduate students, especially Elizabeth Armstrong and Arona Ragins, that took place in cafes all over Berkeley and that integrated the personal, academic, and political.

After finishing my dissertation, I got a job at the University of Michigan, where I am now an Associate Professor. My dissertation became a book with Routledge, and since then I have done research on how children's bodies are gendered in preschool and on how gender identity shapes labor and childbirth. I am currently finishing a project on the appearance routines of college women and starting a new one on parenting experts and gender, called, "William Wants a Doll. Can He Have One?" In my teaching and mentoring I try to teach students what I learned at Berkeley--how to think critically about the taken for granted, everyday, social world.


Richard Wood

After several years of political/educational work in Central America in the 1980s, I sought deeper intellectual formation and was attracted to Berkeley by the work of faculty members Bellah, Swidler, and Burawoy. Theoretical training under these three, along with more empirical studies with Cole, Voss, Evans, Hout, and Fischer, gradually focused my interests on the cultural and institutional bases of democracy. Meanwhile, my political praxis and faith commitments drew my empirical attention to grassroots forms of democratic engagement. My dissertation involved a comparative analysis of the internal cultural dynamics of faith-based and race-based forms of community organizing in multiracial organizations in the U.S., and was ultimately published as Faith in Action: Religion, Race, and Democratic Organizing in America (University of Chicago, 2002). 

Berkeley shaped me as an analytic ethnographer and as a public intellectual. I strive to use a theoretically-driven version of participatory action research to understand, explain, and help re-shape the social world. I chose to become a faculty member at the University of New Mexico, a leading minority-serving doctoral institution and the premier research university in the poorest state of the U.S. I teach graduate and some undergraduate courses there, and have published steadily but not voluminously. In teaching and research, I strive to contribute to both disciplinary progress and "public sociology" -- the latter through dialogue with institutional leaders in foundations, political organizations, policing, and religious denominations.

My core intellectual interests remain the cultural and institutional underpinnings of democracy. Following an excursion into studying urban policing and its relationship to the democratic process (publications soon to emerge), I am now launching a new project to analyze the symbiotic and parasitic outcomes when political movements forge links to faith communities. 

Laura Schmidt

Dr. Laura Schmidt is a sociologist with Masters degrees in public health and social welfare. She is currently Principal Investigator for the Welfare Client Longitudinal Study funded through the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Study. Implementing Welfare Reform, and collaborates on other studies examining access to care, managed care and stigma in health care organizations. Dr. Schmidt has an extensive publications record in health services research focusing on organizational responses to substance abuse problems, access and utilization. She has consulted for the World Health Organization on studies of the social determinants of health and the cross-cultural applicability of diagnostic concepts related to addiction. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, The Corporate Transformation of American Medicine: Building the Health Care Market, under contract with Princeton University Press.

Eric Gordy

The reasons for my fascination with authoritarian states and the ways that people manage to live in them are probably better left unexplored. In any case, they have led me to research on rhetorical strategies, cultural conflicts and strategies of everyday life in dictatorial environments like 1970's Argentina and 1990's Serbia. On some level, this has put me in the company of area-studies researchers, which is only partly consistent with my motivation. One of the principal reasons for going far afield to study life in authoritarian contexts has been the perception that authoritarianism is never very far away. As Theodor Adorno put it not too long after the Second World War, "the continued existence of fascism within democracy is more threatening than the continued existence of fascist tendencies against democracy." The examples that make this insight applicable to the contemporary United States will change several times long before the productivity of the insight is exhausted.

Berkeley's sociology department first attracted me because of its tradition of exploring the connections between political structures, cultural forms and social outcomes. While recognizing that "professional" sociology offers a foundation, it is "public" sociology that opens the opportunity for a dialogue about essential issues. The faculty provided outstanding models for the practice of public sociology, and the program offered me the freedom to find a path into the field. Several years out, it is still a difficult path to trace forward. But the impulse to affirm basic human values by inviting audiences to consider the cultural dimensions of political issues is strong, and it developed under the (not always conscious or intentional) guidance of Berkeley scholars like Franz Schurmann, Todd Gitlin, Troy Duster, Bob Blauner and Robert Bellah.

When my dissertation was published in 1999 as The Culture of Power in Serbia, I saw it as an affirmation of how ground-level sociological explanation could move political discussions beyond the level of moralism and essentialism. I was gratified to see it praised as insightful, complex and nuanced, and also to see it condemned as an apology for, depending on the reviewer, Serbian fascism or US imperialism. I took these as signs that public sociology still has the potential to catalyze both scholarly and political attention. My present research, on processes of social accounting for guilt and responsibility in the wake of gross human rights violations will, I hope, be no less productive or controversial.

One primary goal remains finding ways to bring the discussion back home. I have been privileged to have the chance to bring the strands of concern together in courses on political sociology, popular culture, human rights and genocide. If research can make the strange familiar, and education make the familiar strange, there may be some purpose in engaging in both after all.

Daniel Dohan

I feel fortunate that my professional life to date has built on the ethnographic work on poverty I did in the department. I had a pair of post-doc's in Berkeley (thru the school of public health) that moved me into health policy--something I'd studied as an undergrad. The transition included some extremely painful professional moments and miscues that taught me a lot about academic politics. Thanks to Laura Schmidt, a cohort-mate in the dept, I ended up doing ethnographic work on how welfare reform is affecting recipients with substance use problems. I am grateful to Laura and many others that my dissertation will come out as "The Price of Poverty" from UC Press in Dec, 2003.

I'm now at UCSF in a soft-money faculty position in health policy and medical anthropology. In addition to the work on welfare reform, I'm doing an ethnography of cancer care among the poor. I'm ambivalent about my arms-length relationship with the discipline of sociology. During grad school, my professional aspiration was a faculty position in a soc dept. But I'm comfortable in interdisciplinary and policy-oriented UCSF, and the sociology I learned at Berkeley--training in an intellectual approach more than a disciplinary field--serves me well here.

The good fortune I've enjoyed in my professional life is dwarfed by what I've had personally. I'm madly in love with my wife and daughter, and living in San Francisco is dreamy.


Nathan Newman

I never intended to be an academic, but I always saw my Ph.D. training as a way to inform committed activism with the broad range of social insights that a Berkeley training was especially useful in instilling. My research, since turned into a book called 'Net Loss: Internet Prophets, Private Profits And The Costs To Community' (published by Penn State Press in 2002), was a way to analyze how changes in technology had shaped and been shaped by broader policies effecting economic inequality in society. I went to law school after Berkeley and, after a short stint in a law firm representing workers and unions, I now am employed as a policy analyst and counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice, which is affiliated with NYU Law School. My work focuses on supporting community groups and unions that are fighting for more work rights and smarter economic development for low-wage workers. It combines a nice combination of legal work, research, policy advocacy and community organizing.

Miki Kashtan

The last several months of writing my dissertation (Beyond Reason: Reconciling Emotions with Social Theory) were one of the high points of my life so far. I experienced a fountain of creativity and energy, and felt truly blessed to have the opportunity to express ideas so dear to my heart in a systematic and rigorous way.

While I did not pursue an academic career, I did not give up on teaching. While still in school, I became acquainted with Nonviolent Communication, a process and a philosophy which have informed my thinking and transformed my life. Since before my graduation I have been teaching people how to put human needs and feelings at the center of both theory and practice. I co-founded a local organization ( which is part of an international network of organizations and individual trainers, and I am happy to say that I have found my calling.

Just as much as my study of Nonviolent Communication affected my dissertation, my research in social theory has affected my teaching. I often find myself relating to my students stories, ideas, facts, and conceptualizations I came upon as part of my study of sociology. The writing bug has definitely stayed with me. I have published several articles since my graduation, and although my dissertation did not get accepted for publication, I continue to nurture a hope of revising parts of it into a book for the general educated public. I have a blog that is quite beyond the personal (, and I run a monthly TV program on a local community channel that is uploaded regularly ( If my sociology contributes to more people in the world learning to value their feelings and needs and to act empathically towards themselves and each other, there is nothing more I could hope for as a consequence of 10 years of my life.

Robert Bulman

I entered the Berkeley Sociology Department in the fall of 1990. The first few years of my education at Berkeley were entangled with the anxiety of the Gulf War, the trauma of the Oakland Hills firestorm, a labor strike to demand collective bargaining rights for AGSE, and graduate student protests over a controversial faculty hire. I sought temporary relief from these events as an editor for the Berkeley Journal of Sociology and as a member of one of Michael Burawoy's legendary Participant Observation seminars. It was in that class that I found my passion for the sociology of education and learned of the power of ethnography. That class ultimately pointed me towards my dissertation topic the cultural dimensions of school choice.

The most lasting effect Berkeley had on me, however, was that it turned me into a teacher of sociology. Ann Swidler and Michael Burawoy modeled ideal teaching methods in and out of the classroom. I began teaching out of financial necessity and ended up teaching because I loved it. In an attempt to raise the profile of teaching as part of our graduate education I initiated the GSI training seminar in the sociology department.

Since I graduated in 1999 I've been teaching sociology at Saint Mary's College of California, a small Catholic liberal arts college. I have the pleasure of teaching undergraduate courses on theory, methods, education, social movements, whiteness, disasters, adolescence, and film. In spite of a heavy teaching load I still find time for research. My book, Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools and American Culture (Worth Publishers, 2005) analyzes the representation of schools and teens in popular films. It is now in its second edition (2015).


Michelle Motoyoshi

Since graduating in 1998, Dr. Motoyoshi has worked in and around the field of education. She briefly held a position as writer/editor for Toucan Valley Publications, where she wrote and published books on ethnic groups in California. She has also worked as a private tutor and as a freelance writer, providing content for educational websites.

Taking a brief break from education, in 2006 Dr. Motoyoshi created and produced a monthly variety show for Eth-Noh-Tec, an Asian American storytelling organization in San Francisco. The shows were designed to expand the organization's local presence and to provide an accessible venue for emerging talent. The shows continue to run today.

In 2008 Dr. Motoyoshi created an after school academic enrichment program under the auspices of Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. At present, she coordinates, develops,and teaches in the program, which she hopes to expand throughout the Tri City area.

In addition to her day jobs, Dr. Motoyoshi writes scripts and other fiction. Her work has been featured in several small journals and on several small stages around the Bay Area. She also has a blog on Open Salon.

Dr. Motoyoshi is married and has one child, a daughter who, at the moment, hopes to follow in her mother's Ph.D. footsteps.

Steve Lopez

After growing up in Newfoundland and attending college in Ohio, I went to Berkeley in fall 1991 because driving to California sounded more exciting than driving up the road to Toronto.

I'd worked my way through school: bussing tables, driving a delivery truck, digging ditches, waiting tables. I did not know what I wanted to do in life, but I liked reading books and hated working. Also, I had a tee-shirt that said 'capitalism sucks' in Russian and I thought this shirt would be more relevant in the 1990s than it had been in the 1980s.

As a strategy for avoiding work I decided to study it. In Kim Voss's industrial sociology seminar I wrote what would become my first published paper, on route sales work. I put it in Burawoy's box thinking he might get back to me in a month or two, and he woke me up the next morning at an unreasonable hour to tell me we had to talk.

Ten years later, thanks mostly to Burawoy, I'm my first year as an assistant professor of sociology at The Ohio State University. My first book, Re-Organizing the Rust-Belt, is forthcoming from UC Press. It's based on my dissertation, a participant observation study of SEIU nursing home organizing in southwestern Pennsylvania. In the last two years, I've worked as a housekeeper and an activity aide in several nursing homes, and I want to get myself certified as a nurses' aide. It occurs to me, however, that for someone who originally sought to avoid physical labor, I'll be doing quite a bit of it in the years to come.

Perhaps my next project should be about pro hockey scouts instead.

Heather Albanesi

After Berkeley I joined the sociology department of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Here I find myself (in common with what I understand to be a disproportionate number of Berkeley Sociology PhDs) as the theory person and have the true pleasure of getting to teach the undergrad and graduate level theory courses. I credit my love for teaching theory primarily to the multiple opportunities I had to work as a GSI for Michael Burawoy teaching social theory (as well as Michael Kimmel and Jim Stockinger). I feel fortunate that I additionally get to teach basically any substantive course I want and have taught graduate and undergraduate courses in gender, sexuality, religion, class and culture. As I teach any of these courses I am continually reminded of those that mentored me at Berkeley: Hochschild, Chodorow, Swidler, Burawoy and Fligstein.

I think of myself as a gender sociologist with shifting research interests. In the first two years of my tenure track I gave birth to 3 children, which, combined with the prospect of transforming my dissertation into a book, created some pretty exquisite anxiety. That book, Gender and Agency: How Young People Make Choices about Sex, came out just about the time my kids were entering kindergarten. In my current research I have shifted away - at least for now - from studying heterosexuality. In a qualitative interview project that looks at the redshirting of kindergarteners, I focus on how class and gender factor into the perceived competitive advantage of starting children (primarily boys) in school a year after they are legally eligible.

Russell Jeung

Since graduating, I taught Sociology at Foothill College for two years. I am now an Asst. Professor in the Asian American Studies Dept. of San Francisco State University My dissertation research, New Asian American Churches: The Religious Construction of Race, will be published by Rutgers University Press.

Sociology at U.C. Berkeley not only taught me to see the world with more analytic rigor, but it provided models for social change. As a result, while in grad school, I helped organize tenants to win a major housing legal settlement in East Oakland. The former slum where we lived will be redeveloped as permanent affordable housing in 2004 and the Cambodian and Latino residents will also get a new preschool and community center. I'm grateful that the Sociology Department provided me the time and flexibility to both organize and write my dissertation!

Laura Adams

I chose Berkeley because I imagined myself immersed in a politically active intellectual culture by day and being a coffee house free spirit by night. I was not disappointed. Right away, I got swept up in protests over departmental hiring and AGSE's struggle for recognition. Tense confrontations with professors were followed by tense support sessions with other professors. Mental gymnastics in Burawoy's seminars were mixed in with singing 'union carols' on the picket line. In our spare time, my cohortniks and I were discussing Marx and complaining about the department over cheap beer and pizza.

Berkeley's lassez-faire approach to mentoring let me explore a topic about which no one in the department was really able to guide me (culture and national identity in Uzbekistan). For better or worse, one can be a student at Berkeley without being a student of Berkeley. Other sociologists who want to understand my 'niche' wonder in what way am I a student of Ann or Michael. Though I don't always use the tools they gave me (often to my detriment!), they are in my kit.

I can't yet narrate a brilliant career trajectory upon which I was launched by Berkeley, but maybe that's the point. I have taught here and there. I publish my work here and there. I get most of the grants I apply for. And I continue to look for projects based not on carving out an alcove for myself in some well-established niche, but based on what is interesting to me and what is useful for the people I study. I came into Berkeley with a personality that pushed me to plunge into new territory and, to Berkeley's credit, I left Berkeley the same way.

Sean Stryker

My connection to the sociological profession was always tenuous at best. When I spoke with Theda Skocpol at Harvard, she told me that Habermas really wasn't an important sociologist, so I decided to study at Berkeley instead. I also had the good fortune to marry Elizabeth, another sociology graduate student at Berkeley, whose commitment to the discipline could not be shaken. It was therefore inevitable that, once I finished, the dilemma of securing two appointments in the same location would compel me to jump ship.

Drawing on skills in C++ that I had refined as an excellent technique for procrastination, I surfaced in the waters of software engineering. I am currently employed by the Indiana Proteomics Consortium, where I write software for group of analytical chemists who build time-of-flight mass spectrometers to analyze cell proteins. My knowledge of biochemistry is limited, to say the least, but I have plenty of opportunities to learn about things like enzymatic digests and laser deabsorption and ionization.

When not otherwise engaged cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, or taking my kid to soccer practice, I find time to revive forgotten calculus and study the fundamentals of physics, chemistry, and biology. After I make millions in biotech (or at least put Aaron through college) I intend to revisit some of the issues that inspired me at Berkeley and may eventually be able to contribute something of a new perspective on the relationship between the natural and social sciences.

William Rountree

I came to Berkeley Sociology after completing my law degree at the University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a rich sociological tradition which permeated law school teaching, but it was still law school. Several times at Wisconsin when I answered a question in class, a couple of professors said with a mildly degrading chuckle  "Well, Mr. Rountree, that's a very interesting 'policy' consideration, but how does the 'law' resolve that issue." I realized then that I was more interested in the policies behind the law, and I wanted to be in an environment where I didn't have ignore what I thought was really going on. At Wisconsin, I was lucky enough to find professors who prided themselves for being sociological in their approach to the law, which then led me on the path to Berkeley.

Since graduating from Berkeley I've been working as a trial consultant, assisting trial attorneys in preparing their cases to present to a jury. Much of this work involves pre-trial research such as surveys, designing trial simulations and analyzing results to help uncover attitudes and experiences that may influence how jurors will understand, and reach a verdict, on a particular case. I help attorneys navigate issues like pre-trial bias in high-profile cases, juror comprehension in complex business/patent litigation, as well as assisting them in jury selection. All of the methodological tools of the sociological trade come in handy. It's fascinating work and I love it.

Troy Duster and Arlie Hochschild provided me so much intellectual support and kept up my morale. The Institute for the Study of Social Change provided a great opportunity to engage in applied research, which kept me tuned in. A few other graduate students in the department and in my cohort gave me sanity checks at key moments.

San Francisco helped provide an even thicker blanket of comfort than I ever thought a city could provide. When it came time to think about leaving to go on the job market, I couldn't do it. So I'm not teaching full time as I expected when I started the program, and I'm so much happier because of it.

My advice to incoming students: Try to keep a positive attitude. Stay open everything and everyone for as long as you can. Remember that methodological and theoretical debates are important, but it's all sociology. If you're put on the spot of having to choose a method or a theoretical orientation, navigate that minefield with rigor and humor. Find questions you're interested in and work with people who will give you the time and the tools to help answer those questions. Don't fall into the trap of confusing mean-spiritedness with intellectual rigor. Nor should you confuse kindness with a lack of seriousness or intelligence. And don't sweat the small stuff - it won't matter in the long run.

Rebecca King-O'riain

I came to the Berkeley Sociology Department in 1991 from Chicago via Kumamoto, Japan where I had been teaching English as a second language to pursue a dissertation ostensibly about Japanese education and to work with Robert Cole. Bob Cole was lovely but it was clear to me after the first term, that I wasn't that interested in Japanese education and was much more turned on by ideas of racialization brought on by teaching in the Asian American Studies Department. I also enjoyed our methods course taught by Michael Burawoy. Our cohort was infamous both for its size and strong will. We even managed to drive Michael out of one of our seminar sessions in a fight over politics and method. I remember thinking - what do we do now? In the end, I was elected to retrieve him and ask him to return to conclude the class. Converted by Michael, we became the same cohort that led the campaign to retain Michael when he was being wooed by another sociology department complete with a top 10 list of reasons to stay at Berkeley and "no dialectics" t-shirts.

After being in Berkeley for a year, I changed my topic to study racialization and Japanese American beauty pageants. Studying race in the early 1990s in the department wasn't easy and Troy Duster kindly agreed to supervise me. I was involved the next year in Loic-gate in an attempt to lure someone to Berkeley to teach race and by the end of that experience sought refuge in the Asian American Studies Department with Evelyn Nakano Glenn and Michael Omi. In the end, Barrie Thorne and Troy came to my rescue and got me through the dissertation, but it would never have happened without Evelyn and Michael and my dissertation group of J Shiao, Pam Perry, Kamau Birago and Robert Bulman who all were studying race as well. I don't think at the time I realized what a support and resource my cohort and fellow students really were and I still (12 years later in 2010) often go to them and other UCB grads to bounce ideas off of, chat about books, or just gain intellectual stimulation of a type that you can only get from a Berkeley grad.

My memories of Berkeley come up almost daily as I, like many others, met my spouse in the department and hence took a bit of the Berkeley experience with me when I left. I married Sean O'Riain while we were both in graduate school at Berkeley and we started out living in San Francisco and then Albany and had two kids there. We then did the unthinkable, LEAVING two tenure track jobs in the Bay Area and moved to Ireland (Sean's home place) where we have lived since 2003. Sean is the Professor of Sociology and I am a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department here at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. While leaving the Bay Area was difficult, we have thrived in Ireland (had a third child - thus becoming a rate busting academic couple), and the move forced me to upskill myself as a sociologist and change my research agenda to become a more global sociologist, a skill that ultimately I learned at Berkeley.

At Berkeley, I regret not slowing down more (I was in some strange hurry to get done!) and taking the time to enjoy the long chats about Marx over coffee and the intellectual challenge of it all because now as a professor, there is weirdly little to no time to do that.

Jiannbin Shiao

I went directly into graduate school after undergraduate years spent in creative writing; microbiology; activism in antiracist, Asian American, feminist, and queer causes; and ultimately, women's studies. Frankly, I came to Berkeley more for its geography than the department seeking distance from an awkward immigrant youth in an elite, conservative part of Tennessee. Ironically, I found an institutional experience in which I increasingly chose to prioritize graduate school over political participation.

My Berkeley experiences socialized me to do sociology through a peculiar tension between 'liberation' and 'profession' with its messy mixture of principle and convenience. I helped create Berkeley's Asian American graduate association but also started with an exceptionally diverse cohort. We led a memorable revolt in our first year against faculty who later taught me critical lessons about theorizing 'politics' and designing research. Troy Duster, Michael Omi, and the ISSC gave us incredible opportunities to study race & ethnicity - at a time when the department seemed to devalue the field. My dissertation group provided the essential community to pursue an otherwise isolating project. And at graduation, the department permitted me to make an amusing speech about passion, rejection, and chaos.

I am now an assistant professor at the University of Oregon where I explore the relationship between demography and historical racial formations through (1) research on diversity policy and transracial adoption, (2) teaching classes on race, politics, and education, and (3) serving on diversity-related committees. At this early point in my career, I still have not found a satisfying resolution to the conflicting demands of politics and profession, but perhaps this is a good thing.

Rhonda Evans

I'm the Managing Director of Research and Development for The McHenry Group, a financial consultancy that specializes in risk management and business development support for the investment-based benefits market . At McHenry, I am responsible for conducting financial analyses, industry assessments, and research on the latest pension and retirement trends. In addition, I manage research and design for financial reporting and analytical tools, which involves improving statistical measures, data calculation and testing, and product design.

In my spare time, I'm also the Managing Director for ELM Research & Strategy, which I co-founded with Berkeley Sociology alumnus Jason McNichol. ELM provides integrated research, development, and incubation services for new ventures in the non-profit, public, and private sectors. My work at the company has focused on employment and work processes research.

For ELM, I've conducted research on taxi driver health care for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, done a series of studies on sexual minorities in militaries around the globe, analyzed commodity chains and global corporate organizations in the maritime transport industry for the ILWU, and continue to work on an innovative city-union organizational change partnership in San Francisco.

While there certainly were faster ways of getting here, I've never regretted getting my Ph.D. or pursuing a career path outside of academia. A Ph.D. from Berkeley provides instant legitimacy within my industry. The training in Economic Sociology, Organizational Sociology, Political Sociology and Quantitative Methods has been tremendously helpful in my work, providing methodological and analytical tools for understanding the quantitative financial issues and the organizational and institutional elements of the industry. And while my work is less in-depth than academic research, its breadth and pace make my present career dynamic, challenging and engaging. I work with a group of good people who care about the lack of pension security in the U.S. and who, in their own small way, are working to improve accountability and transparency in the industry.

One final note: I was consistently surprised by the number of graduate students who expressed their own doubts about an academic career path when I told them my plans. It is one option among many, and I'm glad to report that there are many satisfying alternatives for those who question the academic route. Other social science disciplines, such as Economics, Psychology and Political Science, have more established and institutionalized career paths in the private, public and non-profit sectors. I believe it would be beneficial if our discipline worked to facilitate opportunities outside of academia for its Ph.D.s.

Therefore, I'm more than happy to talk with people who are thinking about careers outside of academia, or more specifically about the private sector or the financial services industry. I can be reached at


Richard Arum

After finishing college in 1985, I received a Masters of Education in Teaching and Curriculum and worked for a half-dozen years in urban public education. In 1992, I entered the graduate program in Sociology at Berkeley with the intention of developing the analytic skills necessary to engage in policy debates around education. I completed my degree in 1996 as a result of the mentorship provided by faculty in the Department, particularly the efforts of Neil Fligstein and Mike Hout. Effective graduate education typically involves two components: interactions with peers and apprenticeship with specialists in crafts production. Berkeley provided me generous opportunities on both these dimensions. In addition to working with Mike and Neil, I also benefited from my involvement with the extraordinarily impressive graduate students there as well as with faculty such as Claude Fischer, Leo Goodman, Arlie Hochschild, Sam Lucas, Martin Sanchez-Jankowski, Neil Smelser, Ann Swidler, Kim Voss and Loic Wacquant. Following my training at Berkeley, I worked as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona (1996-2000) and am currently employed as an Associate Professor with positions jointly held in Education and Sociology at New York University. My work continues to focus mainly on education and is situated in the intersection of social stratification and the sociology of organizations.

Sean O'Riain

My research has focused on 'grounding globalization' by investigating the local foundations, consequences and politics of a globalizing political economy. Most of my research has been on the political economy of high technology regions, particularly in Ireland, and on the state and workplace politics of such regional economies.

Berkeley in the 1990s was a department producing 'professionals', while at the same time there was freedom to pursue theoretical and political implications of research and teaching. Among the 'scattered hegemonies' within the sociology department, there was a great group of people interested in critical political economy and close connections to City Planning and Geography made it a great place to study globalization. Working with my fellow graduate students and Michael Burawoy doing 'global ethnography' was an experience to treasure forever. As an immigrant too I made many US friends among my fellow grad students and it was in my first teaching assistant job that I first felt that I was actually part of the society around me in the US. Meanwhile, every now and then a reaction to my research in Ireland helped to reassure me that research could have an impact beyond the university. If you started falling through the cracks in Berkeley sociology you might not have much to hold on to, but it was a great place to pursue sociology that was global and local, interdisciplinary, politically motivated and theoretically informed.

It was in becoming an assistant professor at UC Davis, also a pluralist department, that I realized what kind of 'sociological professional' that I had become. Mentoring students and supporting dissertations pursuing critical sociology has been a central part of my life as an assistant professor, a value learned at Berkeley.

Cary Costello

Some have written of their graduate student lives studying sociology at U.C. Berkeley as years of privileged contact with esteemed professors, and others have written of a time of alienation. For me, graduate life at Berkeley came as an enjoyable escape into another world after working as an attorney in Washington D.C..

I left the law to pursue a career in sociology for a number of reasons.  The one I gave on my application, which the Berkeley faculty were kind enough to accept, was that I was devoting a good deal of time and energy to research that was being received with odd glances by my legal colleagues, along with the dismissive comment, "This isn't law, it's *sociology*."  I thought I would take that dismissal as advice, and move on to a more hospitable academic career.  Berkeley did indeed provide that to me, with professors (particularly Arlie Hochschild, Jerry Karabel, Kristin Luker, Troy Duster, and Evelyn Nakano Glenn) who nurtured my interests in sociology of law and sociology of the professions, and how these related to the construction of identity.

There was another, more personal reason that I left legal practice to study sociology at Berkeley--something I kept private.  In fact, I wanted to move on and start a new chapter in my life after an unsuccessful attempt to begin to gender transition as a lawyer.  I had made the attempt in 1991, and while I was working at what all considered a very liberal private public-interest law firm, with two prominent gay partners, accommodating gender transition was not yet on the radar for almost any business. The firm instituted a dress code just to stop me from wearing men's suits and ties. (In fact, the code applied to everyone, but the lead partner of the law firm sat me down and explained that the partnership had drawn it up with me in mind. It required "women" to wear "professional feminine dress" including pantyhose and "light makeup" in order to show "respect for clients.") I acquiesced, and went back to doing my best to present myself in a gender with which I didn't identify, but I also decided to leave for a more hospitable setting.  The Berkeley sociology department was certainly that.

Once I arrived at Berkeley, I knew I'd made a good decision.  After lawyering in Washington, D.C., seminars seemed friendly rather than intimidating. I loved the sense of intellectual community I found at Berkeley, chatting in the corridors and bantering on the picket lines. I invited my whole cohort to my commitment ceremony, and the fact that I wore the tux while my (cis) male partner wore the dress was received without a batting of an eye by my peers, treated with endearing straight-facedness by Elsa Tranter, and addressed with careful curiosity on the part of my students.  Graduate school provided me with sufficient flexibility to have a child, who was welcomed into the occasional seminar meeting.  I learned the mechanics of framing sociological articles from Claude Fischer, and continue to share that foundation with my own students today.  A course on sociology of the body with Loic Wacquant, while not directly influencing my dissertation project, set me on a research trajectory that would bear fruit years later in my career. And dissertating involved the most thrillingly unalienated labor I've ever performed.  Working with my dissertation writing group was the crowning experience of my time at Berkeley. 

Years later, after the struggle to get tenure at U.W. Milwaukee, I did at last have a secure enough setting to make a gender transition.  I earn as a tenured professor slightly less than I did twenty years ago as first year law firm associate, but I'm very happy with the life choice I made.  I teach classes I love, like sociology of sexuality and sociology of the body, and hopefully impart a critical sociological manner of thinking to the nearly 1,000 students I teach each year.  I'm very grateful to U.C. Berkeley for helping to make this possible.


Elizabeth Bernstein

My sociological research agenda focuses upon the intersections of sexuality, gender, and political economy. Economies of Desire, my forthcoming book, examines the significance of the exchange of sex for money in the late capitalist market place, based upon ethnographic research in five post-industrial cities. Subsequent research projects will explore the relationship between transnational migrations and intimate labor, comparing the trajectories of domestic workers and sex workers in New York and Barcelona.

I think that Berkeley was one of the few departments where I could have pursued the research agenda that I did--because of its strong tradition of urban-ethnography, the abundance and passion of feminist scholars on the faculty, and its location in the San Francisco Bay Area (a terrifically exciting and generative milieu for interrogating the theory and politics of sexuality). University-wide, there was a vibrant, interdisciplinary community of sexuality and gender theorists to generate productive dialogue.

I have tried to give back to some of the individuals and communities that enabled my research by following in the Berkeley 'public intellectual' tradition, making my research accessible to a broader public and speaking directly to questions of public policy in San Francisco, Barcelona, and New York City.

James Ron

I came to Berkeley in 1993 after working with an international human rights group. I became enthralled by sociology, especially as practiced by Michael Burawoy and Peter Evans. I've since worked at Brown University, Johns Hopkins, and McGill. I teach courses on 19th and 20th century evils such as colonialism, fascism, Stalinism, US counterinsurgency policies, and post-colonial authoritarianism, as well as critical seminars on liberal transnational activism. My research examines the ways in which international norms shape patterns of political violence, often at the micro-level.

I've also worked as a consultant to groups such as the International Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, and CARE. When working with these organizations, I try and learn as much as I can for my own scholarly purposes. Recently, for example, I've become intrigued by the perverse financial incentives infiltrating the international NGO world, something I learned about through my consulting work. Over the coming years, I hope to train a group of graduate students interested in similar issues, combining NGO work with sociological research.

I learned some important lessons at Berkeley: the best way to understand something, I discovered, was to go where the sociological action was and to ask participants what they thought. I also learned to think critically at all times, even when this might be unpopular; this doesn't necessarily win you friends and influence, but it does generate some interesting sociology. Finally, I learned to always try and make my sociology matter in some broader political way.


Anthony Chen

After completing my dissertation in 2002 -- much to the relief of my long-suffering parents -- I took up a faculty position at the University of Michigan. My appointment there is divided between the Department of Sociology and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

I am a political and historical sociologist with interests in the political development of public policy in the United States, particularly in the area of civil rights, social policy, and health care. The centerpiece of my research agenda is a book manuscript tentatively entitled "The Fifth Freedom." Themanuscript is based on my dissertation, and it offers a new explanation for the emergence of affirmative action policies in employment. In collaboration with colleagues and students at Michigan, I am conducting related research on the politics of civil rights in the postwar urban North. With grant support from the Spencer Foundation, Lisa Stulberg (NYU) and I are beginning new research that investigates the origins of affirmative action policies in higher education. I am also completing a randomized field experiment that will be permit me to estimate the effects of racial and ethnic discrimination in a large metropolitan labor market. At the moment, I am a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Berkeley, where I am studying the political influence of organized business on the politics of American health care reform.

As a student at Berkeley, I benefitted greatly from contact with all of the faculty, but I learned the most from my dissertation advisors, Margaret Weir and Jerome Karabel. They taught me the basic skills any scholar should have: how to spot worthwhile questions, how collect and analyze empirical evidence, and how to draw defensible inferences. At the same time, they also encouraged me to communicate my research to a general audience beyond the university. I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity I had to work with them. As all of us surely recognize, Berkeley is far from a Shangri-La for graduate students, but I personally had a great experience due in large part to the care and attention that my dissertation advisors paid to me and my training.

Colleen Larimore

None stated

Susana Wappenstein


La Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Ecuador expresa su sentimiento de profundo pesar ante el fallecimiento de nuestra querida profesora y amiga Susana Wappenstein.

Susana fue profesora de FLACSO Ecuador desde el año 2009. A lo largo de su vida académica, se desempeñó como catedrática en diversas universidades de Ecuador, Colombia y Estados Unidos. Trabajó constantemente en temas relacionados a la teoría social, estudios de género, movimientos sociales y fue una defensora incansable de los derechos humanos.

En homenaje a su memoria, el día jueves 14 de febrero de 2019, a las 18h00, realizaremos una conmemoración póstuma en el Hemiciclo de la Sede.

Extendemos nuestro sentido pésame a sus padres Ovidio y Betty, a sus hermanos Julia y Daniel, a su esposa Olga Lucía y a todos sus colegas y amigos quienes guardaremos el recuerdo de Susana en nuestra memoria y corazón.


The Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Ecuador) expresses its profound sadness over the passing of our beloved professor and friend, Susana Wappenstein.

Susana joined the faculty at FLACSO Ecuador in 2009.  Over the course of her academic life she taught in various universities in Ecuador, Colombia, and the United States.  Her work focused on social theory, gender studies, social movements, and she was an indefatigable defender of human rights.

In homage to her memory, Thursday, the 14th of February, 2019, at 6:00 PM we will hold a posthumous commemoration in the Hermiciclo of the campus.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Susana’s parents, Ovidio Wappenstein and Betty Deller, to her siblings, Julia and Daniel, and to her wife, Olga Lucía, and to all of her colleagues and friends who hold Susana in our memories and hearts.




Robert North

Since leaving Berkeley in 2002, I have been a professor in the Department of Sociology, School of Human Sciences, at Osaka University. In this land of the over-worked, I study worker health and well-being, and social movements that fight to improve Japanese life at work and at home. Death from overwork (karoshi) is a long-running interest, as is the gender division of labor. Recently I've been studying leisure, of the reasons for the lack thereof, adding a third leg that provides stability to my work-famliy stool. Teaching (and professoring) in Japan is endlessly fascinating, like a trip back in time. The sociological paradigm often seems firmly stuck in early 1960s American abstracted empiricism; Parsonian functionalism and its theories of pattern maintenance remain popular, for they do appear to explain the persistent power of certain social structures in Japanese life. We are always told that change is just around the corner, but it never fully arrives. The 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster in Northeast Japan, however, liberated social forces that may hasten some long-overdue reforms. Japan's people seem to have grown tired of taking a wait-and-see attitude.


Mark Toney

Since January 2008, Mark Toney has provided leadership to TURN, a 38 year old consumer advocacy organization with a staff of 18, including 10 attorneys. TURN champions affordable, equitable, and sustainable energy, telecom, and other utility services for residential and small business consumers primarily in California. TURN wins consumer justice through legal intervention at the California Public Utilities Commission, political advocacy, and community organizing.

Mark Toney's dissertation, A Second Chance for the First Time: Movement Formation Among Former Incarcerated People, analyzes organizing efforts among the growing number of people released from prison who are fighting for the restoration of their basic rights to employment, housing, voting, and social benefits.

Employment experience for Mark Toney includes serving as executive director for Center for Third World Organizing, founding director of Direct Action for Rights & Equality, and a consulting practice focused on strategic planning and leadership coaching. Examples of his leadership recognition include: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Kellogg National Leadership Program, and the Echoing Green Fellowship.

Andrew Perrin

I came to Berkeley and to sociology after only a year away from college, and I came to it in a rather backward way. Knowing little about the institutional structure of the field, or what it would mean to get a Berkeley Ph.D., I followed the advice of mentors who said it would be a good place for me. They were right -- my socialization into being a sociologist, and being a Berkeley sociologist, opened new intellectual doors for me, and I consider it an excellent decision.

Berkeley sustained my preexisting respect for the multiple roles of serious theory in sociology. It also inculcated a sense of the importance of strong, creative, appropriate, and flexible methods, and of big questions that deserve attention. To my mind, it is this combination of theory, public importance, and methodological imagination that characterize my Berkeley experience.

After Berkeley I joined the sociology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I have continued my work on citizenship and political ideology in the United States. True to the combination I outlined, I am the only person currently in the department to teach both theory and methods -- a fact of which I am proud.


Natalie Boero

I am currently an assistant professor of sociology at San Jose State University. I teach medical sociology, qualitative research methods and all manner of introductory classes. Since leaving UCB in 2006 I have been working on two books, the first, "Fat Panic: Media, Medicine, and Morals in the American 'Obesity Epidemic'" is forthcoming from Rutgers University Press. The second, co-authored with C.J. Pascoe (also a UCB Sociology alum), "Anas, Mias, and Wannas: Identity and Community in a Pro-ana Subculture", is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press.  I consider myself fortunate to have found a position in the Bay Area as it allows me to continue to keep in close contact with many of the wonderful people who were such a huge part of my Berkeley Sociology experience and to continue to benefit from the intellectual community at UCB.

Elizabeth Berman

I started graduate school thinking I wanted to do agent based modeling to look at how collective patterns emerge from individual decisions. I ended up writing a dissertation on how academic science became imbued with market values over the past several decades. In between I took a side trip through the emergence of the medical profession in 19th-century England. No wonder it took me so long to finish.

I came to Berkeley because I wanted the freedom to pursue my own path, and not to be plugged into someone else's research agenda, and that's exactly what I got. (Although sometimes it felt like I was being given enough rope to hang myself with.) But in the process I was able to explore, to grow, and to become the sociologist I wanted to be.

Since graduating from Berkeley, I've been an assistant professor at the University at Albany, SUNY. I am finishing my first book, Creating the Market University: How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine, which will be published with Princeton University Press, and have started working on a new project looking at how our understandings of the economy have shaped the policymaking process. Although I love my current department, it was not until coming here that I realized how distinctive Berkeley sociology really is. I just sort of thought that politics, culture, and the economy were basically the center of the discipline. How surprised I was to find out otherwise! And how lucky I was to be trained in a place where I could think that was the case.

Jianjun Zhang

As the first sociologist in business school in China, I had once faced tremendous legitimacy problem: what does sociology can bring to business school? Now I have demonstrated the value of sociologists to them. By persuading the rich and powerful to be responsible and benevolent to the poor and weak, we can contribute to social progress. Of course, the prerequisite of doing this is to be accepted and respected by students. I really benefited from the training in Berkeley which taught me knowledge, insight, and care to the disadvantaged.



Manuel Vallee

I earned my BA in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, after which I obtained an MA and PhD in sociology from the same institution. My MA focused on the rise of direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs, while my PhD focused on the social construction of the American Ritalin market.

After lecturing at UC-Berkeley in 2010 and 2011, I arrived at the University of Auckland in July of 2011. Beyond my personal research, during my postgraduate career I participated on a number of research projects, including one analysing the social deterrence effect of governmental environmental enforcement actions, and another analysing the effectiveness of anti-tobacco activism.


Jodi York

My training and enculturation in Berkeley sociology has opened doors and allowed me a diverse career that has taken me around the globe solving interesting problems in and out of academia. As a visiting scholar at Chiang Mai University, I studied on natural resource conflicts involving farmers, environmentalists, and the state in northern Thailand. As a senior analyst for Statistics New Zealand, I designed better measures of natural resource inputs to economic production,  and of government-provided health and education service output. In my current role as research fellow in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics,  I study social investment (investment intended to have positive community outcome) by large corporations to model how those decisions are made, what investment practices are working and why.  While the subject matter has shifted around, the unifying thread has been helping put evidence in the hands of those trying to improve the social and environmental outcomes in the world around them.


Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin studies the relationship between innovation and inequity, knowledge and power, race and citizenship, health and justice. Professor Benjamin received her BA in sociology and anthropology from Spelman College, MA and PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics and Harvard University’s Science, Technology, and Society Program. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Institute for Advanced Study. In 2017, she received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton and, in 2020, the Marguerite Casey Foundation Inaugural Freedom Scholar Award.

Professor Benjamin is author of Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want (Princeton University Press 2022), winner of the 2023 Stowe Prize,  Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code  (Polity 2019), winner of the 2020 Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, and editor of Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and  Imagination in Everyday Life  (Duke University Press 2019), among many other publications.



Corey Abramson

Corey M. Abramson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley in 2012 and  spent the following year as a post-doctoral fellow at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.

Abramson's research uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explain how social inequality is reproduced over time. The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years, his first book on this topic, is being published by Harvard University Press in 2015. You can read more about Abramson's current  research and publications on this site.


Heidy Sarabia

Heidy Sarabia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at CSU Sacramento. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her research focuses on globalization processes such as global stratification, borders and borderlands, transnational social change, and immigrant adaptation and incorporation.  Her work has been published in Sociological ForumEthnic and Racial StudiesCitizenship Studies, Analyses of Social Issues and Public PolicyAmerican Behavioral ScientistLatin American PerspectivesMigration Letters, and Carta Economica Regional.


Stephen Cody

STEPHEN SMITH CODY is director of the Atrocity Response Program at the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law. He designs and manages research on vulnerable victims and witnesses in international criminal trials. His current studies focus on survivors of human rights violations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Uganda. He also works to improve atrocity crime investigations at the International Criminal Court. Cody holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and a JD from Berkeley Law. His dissertation documented the rise of counterterrorism laws worldwide. After graduation, he clerked for the senior judges of the District of Columbia Superior Court. He is an active member of the California bar. He is currently working on a book about victims who participate in war crime trials.


Marcel Paret

Marcel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Utah, and a Senior Research Associate with the South African Research Chair in Social Change at the University of Johannesburg, where he was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He continues to write about the politics of class formation, and in particular how the intersections of class, race, migration, and citizenship vary across space and time.

Carl (Barry) Eidlin

Barry Eidlin is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at McGill University. He is a comparative historical sociologist interested in the study of class, politics, inequality, and social change. More specifically, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies. His research has examined diverging trajectories of working class power in the United States and Canada over the course of the twentieth century, changing party-class relations in the United States and Canada, intra-class conflict and organizational transformation in the Teamsters Union, and the effect of Walmart on retail sector wages, among other things. Eidlin’s major current project revisits the question of “why no workplace democracy in America?” Starting from the paradox that most Americans take for granted certain basic rights as citizens that they then willingly check at the door when they show up for work, the project first examines the history of workplace democracy, when workers didn't make such a stark division between their economic lives as workers and political lives as citizens. It then explains how this division between economic and political life developed and became entrenched. He is also working on a series of other projects broadly aimed re-theorizing contemporary notions of class identity, ideology, and politics.

Nicholas Wilson

Fall 2015 he will start as an assistant professor at SUNY Stony Brook


Zachary Levenson

I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

I study the political struggles of populations who are marginalized, racialized, un(der)employed, or in a word, surplus to capitalist societies in the global South. When residents are excluded from participating in formal political and economic life, what alternative strategies are at their disposal? My current research examines this question in relation to struggles for land and housing in post-apartheid South African cities. I am working on a book manuscript about how mass land occupations in Cape Town challenge the way we think about displacement and dispossession in urban sociology. More broadly, I am interested in how and why governments manage surplus populations; how race, class, and ethnicity are inextricably intertwined in how we think about being “surplus”; and how these two questions force us to rethink what we mean when we refer to a thing called “the state.”

A second body of work addresses the consequences of South Africa’s post-apartheid housing program, which has unintentionally rendered apartheid’s racialized geography permanent. Unable to wait any longer for decent homes, residents make demands for immediate inclusion, fundamentally transforming the nature of the welfare state in the process. I have studied these demands ethnographically both through formal institutional channels and in the form of a citywide social movement engaging in sustained direct action. This research demonstrates that the policy effects of urban struggles extend beyond the legal terrain analyzed in my book manuscript.

My writing has appeared in Urban StudiesInternational SociologyContextsCatalyst, an edited
volume in the Mobilization book series, and elsewhere.


Jennifer Schradie

Jen Schradie is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, based in the Toulouse School of Economics. She received her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Berkeley with a designated emphasis in New Media from the Berkeley Center for New Media. She has a master’s degree in sociology from UC Berkeley and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. She studies social class, social media and social movements. Her broad research agenda is to interrogate digital democracy claims with empirical data. After she published two articles on digital production inequality in Poetics and Information, Communication and Society, the publicity she garnered from these publications earned her the 2012 Public Sociology Alumni Prize at UC Berkeley. With a National Science Foundation Grant, she researched the relationship between technology and democracy among social movement and labor organizations in the American South. Currently, she is examining how what she calls Silicon Valley Ideology intersects with French society and digital use. Before entering academia, Schradie directed six documentary films, including, “The Golf War – a story of land, golf and revolution in the Philippines.” Most of her films, however, focused on social movements confronting corporate power in the American rural South. Schradie’s documentaries have screened at more than 25 film festivals and 100 universities.

Ana Villarreal

Bio and Research

Ana Villarreal’s academic interests include criminal violence and emotion, urban inequality, illicit markets and local governance. She teaches courses on social theory and social problems with an emphasis on drugs at Boston University.

Her current book project draws on long-term ethnographic observations, in-depth interviews and historical analysis to investigate the impact of sudden shifts in violence trends and fear on urban segregation and seclusion. Her work has been funded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Association of University Women, the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, and the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology.


Pablo Gaston

Pablo Gastón is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan. A comparative historical sociologist, Pablo investigates changing patterns of economic conflict in the American labor movement, with a focus on collective bargaining in hospitals. Pablo Gastón also was a Postdoc at Rutgers University’s Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations.


Abigail Andrews

I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Urban Studies and Planning at the University of California, San Diego. I study politics and power dynamics in the areas of migration, gender and globalization. In particular, I focus on Latin America and the relationships between Mexico and the United States. I also do research and social justice work with the immigrant community in Southern California. I completed my PhD at Berkeley in 2014.


Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana

A native of Baltimore City, Zawadi was always drawn to urban issues. She spent most of her undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland at College Park in LeFrak Hall between the geography and African American Studies departments. 

After completing a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy and a minor in African American Studies, she pursued a career in evaluation research.  She learned the ropes of qualitative research at MDRC in the Low-Wage Workers and Communities policy area where she worked on workforce development and community initiative evaluations.  From MDRC, Zawadi went onto the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College where she worked on evaluations of student success courses and online courses.  Zawadi completed a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University where she focused on housing and urban policy and a Ph.D. in Sociology at UC Berkeley. 

She is now a postdoctoral fellow at New York University and will be starting as an Assistant Professor at SUNY Albany in the Sociology Department in Fall 2019.

Gillian Gualtieri

Gillian Gualtieri is a Dean's Fellow in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. She received her Ph.D and MA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and her BA in English Literature and Sociology from Kenyon College. 

Gillian's research broadly considers the relationship between culture, organizations, and inequality. In her current project, she analyzes 120 in-depth interviews with critically celebrated chefs and 1380 restaurant reviews in New York City and San Francisco to consider how processes of cultural production and evaluation reflect and reproduce broader systems of ethnoracial and gender inequality in the American fine dining field. In so doing, she shows how insidious forms of ethnoracial and gender bias affect how we understand and assess products and producers in elite cultural fields. Her previous work appears in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management and Gender Issues. 

Prior to joining NYU, Gillian was a Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation Fellow at Kenyon College.


Orestes Hastings

My current work broadly explores how economic inequalities become social inequalities. In recent projects I have investigated income inequality’s effects on class divides in parenting and housework, on household moving and indebteness, and on people's trust and financial satisfaction: how economic shocks affect marriage and fertility; the role of religion and spirituality in social connectedness; and the reliability of survey questions. I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on research design and quantitative methods.


  • Stratification & Inequality      
  • Economic Sociology
  • Social Demography
  • Social Psychology
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Social Change
  • Quantitative Methods


Joy Hightower

Joy L. Hightower recently completed her PhD at UC Berkeley. Her academic grounding in theory and social science research combined with a zest for social justice instilled in her as an undergraduate at Spelman College not only drive her work in the D & I space, but have helped to define her approach. Consulting on a range of academic, non-profit, and (bio)tech projects, she leverages the transferrable skills of PhD training to solve the difficulty of creating inclusive cultures. She is currently leading the People of Color Assessment on Genentech’s Diversity, Inclusion, & Innovation Team.


Andrei Boutyline

Andrei Boutyline's research focuses on culture, cognition, methodology, and public opinion. He examines the supra-individual aspects of attitudes, tastes, and cognitive representations, with a special focus on political views. He is broadly interested in the society-wide distribution of these cultural elements, and the social and cognitive processes that give rise to this distribution. He draws on network analysis, statistics, and computer science to develop novel methods for these investigations. In a separate research stream, he studies the effects of political disagreement on social network structure. His work has appeared in the American Journal of SociologySociological Science, and Political Psychology.

Sunmin Kim

My primary research interest lies at the intersection of race and immigration in the United States, both in the contemporary and historical setting. 

My dissertation research traces how immigration change American ideas about race in the early twentieth century, what role did social science knowledge and expertise played in the process, and how such transformation still structures the way we think about race today. I focus on the Dillingham Commission Report (1911) -- the most comprehensive study of immigrants in the early 20th century -- in answering those questions. 

In my other works, I studied political engagement of immigrants and their children, using both survey and interview data. I am also interested in the social history of political opinion polls and survey research. 


Daniela Carrillo

Daniela Carrillo is originally from Chicago Heights, IL, and graduated with a BA in Sociology and French Literature from Pomona College in 2010. For her Master’s research, she analyzed the Trajectories and Origins survey in France, and she found that exclusion, and more specifically religious exclusion, hinders citizenship behavior.

Her dissertation research focuses back to the United States, where she explores how Spanish-speaking immigrants use their networks to navigate social services in a suburban versus urban sphere.  She combines in-depth interviews and participant observation for this study. For the past two years, she served as a Graduate Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.