Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
What research questions currently preoccupy you?
I’m interested in how work and the labor movement have been changed by neoliberal policies that have promoted unfettered markets. These policies have made employment more precarious for more workers. With my students, we examined work at Walmart, and currently I’m engaged in interviews to explore the experience of university instructors who are working under contingent contracts.
What personal factors contributed to your research?
Exploring contingent work not only fits my long-term research interests, but also is a topic that offers opportunities to include it in my teaching and work with students.
What has been most challenging in your research?
Saying no to requests for help.
How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?
My teaching in particular, has led me toward examining work and employment, not only because it is close at hand for most students, but also because it is a rich sociological topic through which we can explain many other aspects of society.
A hidden (research) talent:
A hidden research talent is that I am dogged about pursuing bibliographic references if they seem interesting and relevant.
One book that changed your life (or research) & why:
Somewhat arbitrarily, one important book is Strikes in France by Charles Tilly and Edward Shorter. This book examines strikes in nineteenth century France with an eye to explaining the causes behind the patterns of success and failure. It is a model of comparative historical sociology, and a powerful example of using evidence to build a theoretical explanation.
A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:
I regularly read the quarterly sociology journal Contexts and the web site associated with it, The Society Pages. The journal is meant to be the sociological equivalent of Psychology Today and includes short articles summarizing research pertinent to current events. It’s especially useful for my teaching.
Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:
For students, my advice would be to turn off your electronics for one hour per day, and dedicate yourself to reading a book. My suggestion for faculty, know your rights as defined in your employment contract.
Presented a paper on neoliberal universities and first generation students at the
Pacific Sociology Association in 2014.
Presided a panel at the American Sociological Association 2014 on contingent work in Bay Area colleges and universities.