Eric P. Strayer
Sociology instructor at large
My personal history is perhaps a bit different from the average college instructor. Prior to returning to college in an “adult reentry” program at the University of California at Santa Cruz, I had been in the photography trade, and later, in the restaurant business where I remained for a dozen years working with family. Later, after having been self-employed for so long, I tried the impossible. I took a normal job. In a normal corporation.
Sadly, or happily, it did not last long and through circumstance and serendipity, I returned to school (UCSC) where I received a bachelors degree in sociology. But now my academic apatite had been sufficiently whetted so I went on to graduate school at the University of New Mexico, where received my masters degree. Due to some family misfortune and personal turmoil my formal education ended there.
[Note: this is one reason I council my students to get their education early, if possible. As time goes by, life gets more complicated, family members die, and obligations tend to increase. It wasn’t always this way. Life-long education use to have some significant social capital, but since Reagan…]
Why sociology? First, during the restaurant years, I upon occasion got into trouble asking certain customers rather personal questions. There was one instance in particular that went quite badly. That, of course, is now simply part of the job. I am a certified snoop. Second, during my stay in that “corporation,” I continually asked for information which I was continuously told was none of my business. Oh yeah? Not liking this “work” thing, that is, working for “them”, I began reading about “work” (Jeremy Rifkin for example) and about labor (to wit: Irving and son Barry Bluestone). Then, in college upon my discovery of classical social theory, it really came together. I’ll leave it at that. You get the picture.
So here I am, sitting about not teaching, twiddling my thumbs or sitting on my hands watching the world spin by – albeit on a flat screen on the internet.