Victoria Smith (1979)

Professor of Sociology, UC, Davis

I arrived at Berkeley in 1979, at a time when many graduate students were intellectuals and political activists and few were getting good academic jobs. People were inspired by the possibility of using academic skills to study power and inequality in the service of social change. This spirit seems to me to be the defining essence of Berkeley sociology. From what I know of Berkeley today, that spirit remains quite lively, with the added bonus that now Berkeley students routinely get hired by leading sociology departments and are able to spread it around the country.

I went to Berkeley with the goal of doing research on the family but historical timing set me off in a different direction. 1979 was the year that Burawoy published Manufacturing Consent. Harry Braverman's Labor and Monopoly Capital had been published recently. In my first term of graduate school I was introduced to and inspired by both these books; from Braverman and Burawoy it was off to my own research, publishing two books and various articles on the labor process, corporate restructuring, power and inequality.

I am now a full professor at UC Davis. Professionally, I've been involved in the Labor Studies Division of the SSSP and the Organizations, Occupations and Work Section of the ASA (chairing the latter last year). I endeavor to teach 'Berkeley sociology' by presenting a critical perspective on the world and by trying to get students to consider how they can use their university knowledge to change the world post-graduation.

Dissertation Title
Managing in the Corporate Interest: A Case Study of Conflict. Control and Restructuring Management
Dissertation Book Title
Managing in the corporate interest : control and resistance in an American bank