Barrie Thorne has been active in the collective effort to bring feminism into the US academic world. She has fought relentlessly for over 40 years to promote women and gender studies in higher education. This creative sociologist is also a much appreciated teacher and mentor. Laurence Bachmann, from the University of Geneva, interviewed her in February 2012, a few months before she retired.
Barrie Thorne joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1995 with a joint appointment in Gender & Women's Studies and in Sociology. She previously taught at Michigan State University and the University of Southern California, where she was active in creating and rejuvenating interdisciplinary feminist studies programs. In 2002 she received the American Sociological Association Jessie Bernard Award in recognition of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass the role of women in society. She has also received awards for teaching and mentoring.
Barrie Thorne's research and teaching focus on the sociology of gender; feminist theory; the sociology of age relations, childhood, and families; and ethnographic methods. She has been an editor of Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research and has served as Vice President of the American Sociological Association and as Chair of the A.S.A. Sections on the Sociology of Children and Youth, and the Sociology of Sex and Gender. From 1998-2002 she co-directed the Berkeley Center for Working Families, helping to build a feminist intellectual community focused on the themes of "cultures of care" and the changing contours of family life in the context of global economic restructuring. Barrie Thorne is the author of Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School (Rutgers, 1993) and co-editor of Feminist Sociology: Life Histories of a Movement (Rutgers, 1997), Rethinking the Family: Some Feminist Questions(Northeastern University Press, 1992); Language, Gender and Society (Newbury House, 1983), and Language and Sex: Difference and Dominance (Newbury House, 1975). Her current ethnographic writing focuses on girls and boys growing up, and parents raising children, in a mixed-income, ethnically diverse area of Oakland.
Watering surrounding deserts: A lifetime of spreading feminist insights. An interview with Professor Emeritus Barrie ThorneJul 15 2014 - 8:36am
This collection of thirteen life stories recaptures the history of a political and intellectual movement that created feminist sociology as a field of inquiry. The life history is a crucial tool for sociological thought. Life histories can be a bridge between individual experience and codified knowledge, between human agency and social structure.
Breaking with familiar conventions for thinking about children and gender, Gender Play develops fresh insights into the everyday social worlds of kids in elementary schools in the United States. Thorne draws on her daily observations in the classroom and in the playground to show how children construct and experience gender in school.
Contributors from a range of disciplines address issues such as the increase in divorce and single-parent families, employment of married women and mothers, the relationship of poverty to family structure, controversy over access to abortion, the increasing visibility of varied family forms, and debates over the very meaning of "family."
- Feminist theory
- Sociology of gender, families and childhood