Three factors shaped my history: family, 14 years of political and union activism, and Berkeley: family provided fundamental direction; activism provided an understanding and grounding in organization, politics, people, stratification, social analysis, especially Marxism; Berkeley gave me social science discipline.
Initially I followed a standard academic trajectory -- African studies and appointment at Cornell -- until the upsurge of the mid-1960s reactivated me. This led to a search for ways to survive within the university while engaging in social change teaching and research. I began at Cornell but found less academic bureaucracy and a willingness to experiment at UC Santa Cruz where I became the founding chair of Community Studies, an undergraduate department training students for activism by preparing them for six months fulltime field study followed by a senior thesis. Since 1969, teaching in Community Studies provided fine usage of my sociological and anthropological training geared at social change.
Activist research was more problematic. Agricultural interests brought me to research the UC's role in agricultural mechanization. This culminated in a decades long suit against the UC (we won, but lost on appeal). Bumping into rural sociologists in the late 1970s after finding zero interest in agriculture in the ASA, I found a supportive milieu. Mostly what I've tried with my rural sociology colleagues is convince them that gemeinschaft and rurality no longer exist in agriculture; modern agriculture consists of many discrete industrial systems. While it has been somewhat of an uphill struggle, it has had its rewards and satisfactions.