The Practice of Social Research
A Note from the Author
riting is my joy, sociology my passion. I delight in putting words together in a way that makes people learn or laugh or both. Sociology shows up as a set of words, also. It represents our last, best hope for planet-training our race and ﬁnding ways for us to live together. I feel a special excitement at being present when sociology, at last, comes into focus as an idea whose time has come. I grew up in small-town Vermont and New Hampshire. When I announced I wanted to be an auto-body mechanic, like my dad, my teacher told me I should go to college instead. When Malcolm X announced he wanted to be a lawyer, his teacher told him a colored boy should be something more like a carpenter. The difference in our experiences says something powerful about the idea of a level playing ﬁeld. The inequalities among ethnic groups run deep. I ventured into the outer world by way of Harvard, the USMC, U.C. Berkeley, and twelve years teaching at the University of Hawaii. I resigned from teaching in 1980 and wrote full-time for seven years, until the call of the classroom
became too loud to ignore. For me, teaching is like playing jazz. Even if you perform the same number over and over, it never comes out the same twice and you don’t know exactly what it’ll sound like until you hear it. Teaching is like writing with your voice. At last, I have matured enough to rediscover and appreciate my roots in Vermont each summer. Rather than a return to the past, it feels more like the next turn in a widening spiral. I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend.
The Practice of Social Research
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