Bruce Fuller

Big institutions continue to disappoint. We worry much about the uneven efficacy and alienating ties we feel inside many organizations – from expansive school systems or impersonal health care, to impersonal firms in the private sector.

Bruce Fuller, a sociologist, digs into the roots of this breakdown, along with the rise of nimble and motivating organizations. His book, Organizing Locally (University of Chicago Press, 2015), traces stiff forces that have moved big institutions to decentralize everyday management and relations with clients over the past half-century. He then identifies key ingredients of potent, locally run firms, looking across charter schools and health care companies, an international bank and rural nonprofits. 

This work stems from earlier research on the promise and pallid character of many early childhood settings, as educators earnestly aim to lift poor children. Prof. Fuller’s earlier book, Standardized Childhood (Stanford University Press, 2007), reports on the four-century old debate over how to nurture and teach young children in modernizing societies. He then asks whether a universal entitlement to one regimented form of preschool offers the optimal answer for kids, parents, and pluralistic societies.

Prof. Fuller presently digs into diversifying forms of schooling that now sprout in many cities – especially Los Angeles, hosting hundreds of magnet and charter schools, along with site-run campuses where principals and teacher-leaders enjoy (ever contested) autonomy from the central bureaucracy.

His second major line explores the everyday lives of young children and their parents – asking how formal institutions serve diverse families. He tracks the early learning and socialization of Latino children, identifying buoyant factors operating inside families and classrooms. Prof. Fuller coordinates the Latino Contexts and Early Development Project – identifying mechanisms through which integrated neighborhoods and schools advance children’s growth – in collaboration with colleagues from developmental psychology, economics, pediatrics, and sociology.

Prof. Fuller teaches in education policy and the sociology of organizations, mentoring graduate students in economics, education, public policy, and sociology. He presently hosts students from China and Saudi Arabia, exploring the implications of economic sustainability and cultural pluralism for educators.

He has previously served as education advisor to the California legislature, then for an eccentric governor. Following graduate school at Stanford University, Prof. Fuller worked as a research sociologist at the World Bank. He taught comparative policy at Harvard University, before returning to California.




The Verdict on Charter Schools? The charter movement is 25 years old, but whether it’s fulfilling the mission early advocates had envisioned is far from clear. (The Atlantic, July 2015)

Preschool is important, but it’s more important for poor children (The Washington Post, February 2014)

Differing Cognitive Trajectories of Mexican American Toddlers: The Role of Class, Nativity, and Maternal Practices (Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, January 2015)


Lee, J., & Fuller, B. (2017). How decentralizing school finance may narrow achievement gaps: Uneven progress in California after $41 billion. Berkeley: Institute of Human Development, working paper.

Fuller, Bein, Bridges, Kim, & Rabe-Hesketh (2017). Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis,dosage, and early learning. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

Fuller, Study finds pre-school benefits middle-class kids, with biggest boost for black youngsters (graphics)

Fuller, Castillo, Lee, & Ugarte (2016). Will $4 Billion in New Spending Make a Difference? Narrowing Achievement Gaps in Los Angeles. Berkeley and Los Angeles: United Way of Greater Los Angeles


Sociology of Children and Family
Fuller with Bridges and Pai (2007) Standardized Childhood: The Political and Cultural Struggle over Early Education. Stanford University Press.
Duerr Berrick and Fuller (eds. 2005) Good Parents or Good Workers? How Policy Shapes Families' Daily Lives. New York: Macmillan.
Fuller and Hannum (2005). Childhood, Class, and School Achievement across Societies. Review of Research in Sociology of Education. Oxford: Elsevier.
Holloway and Fuller (1997) Through My Own Eyes: Single Mothers and the Cultures of Poverty. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Sociology of Education
Fuller, Hannum, Baker, and Werum (eds. 2004). Inequality Across Societies: Families, Schools, and Persisting Stratification. Review of Research in Sociology of Education. Oxford: Elsevier.
Fuller and Hannum (eds. 2002) Schooling and Social Capital in Diverse Cultures. Review of Research in Sociology of Education. Oxford: Elsevier.
Fuller (ed. 2000) Inside Charter Schools: The Paradox of Radical Decentralization. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Fuller (1999) Government Confronts Culture: The Struggle for Local Democracy. New York: Taylor and Francis.
Fuller, Elmore, with Orfield (eds. 1996) Who Chooses, Who Loses? Culture, Institutions, and the Unequal Effects of School Choice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Fuller (1991) Growing Up Modern: The Western State Builds Third World Schools. New York: Routledge.
Fuller and Rubinson (eds.1992) The Political Construction of Education: The State, School Expansion, and Economic Change. New York: Praeger.
Articles - Sociology of Education, Families, and Policy

Jung, Fuller, & Galindo (2012). Family functioning and early learning practices in immigrant families. Developmental Psychology (in press).

Fuller (2011). Preschool as public entitlement: Advancing children or political interests? Pp. 27-33 in Zigler, Gilliam, & Barnett (eds.) The Pre-K debates: Current controversies. Baltimore: Brookes Pub.

Fuller (2011). College credentials and caring: How teacher training could lift children. Pp. 57-63 in Zigler, Gilliam, & Barnett (eds.) The Pre-K debates: Current controversies. Baltimore:  Brookes Pub.

Fuller & García Coll (2010). Learning from Latinos: Contexts, families, and child development in motion. Developmental Psychology, 46, 559-565.

Livas-Dlott, Fuller, Stein, Bridges, Figueroa, & Mireles (2010). Commands, competence, and cariño: Maternal socialization practice in Mexican American families.Developmental Psychology, 46, 566-578.

Galindo & Fuller (2010). The social competence of Latino kindergartners and growth in mathematical understanding. Developmental Psychology, 46, 579-592.

Fuller, Bein, Bridges, Halfon, Jung, Rabe-Hesketh, & Kuo (2010). Maternal practices that influence Hispanic infants' health and cognitive growth. Pediatrics, 125,

Fuller, Bridges, Bein, Jang, Jung, Rabe-Hesketh, Halfon, & Kuo (2009). The health and cognitive growth of Latino toddlers: At risk or immigrant paradox? Maternal and Child Health, 13, 755-768.

Loeb, Bridges, Bassok, Fuller & Rumberger(2006). How much is too much? The effects of duration and intensity of child-care experiences on children’s social and cognitive development. Economics of Education Review.

Loeb, Fuller, Kagan, and Carol (2004) Child Care in Poor Communities: Early Learning Effects of Type, Quality, and Stability. Child Development , 75, 47-65. 

Fuller, Loeb, Strath, and Carrol (2004) State Formation of the Child Care Sector: Family Demand and Policy Action, Sociology of Education, 77, 337-358.
Fuller (2003) Education Policy under Cultural Pluralism. Educational Researcher, 32, 15-24.
Fuller and Strath (2001) The Child Care and Preschool Workforce: Demographics, Earnings, and Unequal Distribution. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23, 37-56.
Fuller and Caldwell (2000) Education in Southern Africa: The Paradox of Progress. Pp. 301-326 in The Uncertain Promise of Southern Africa, edited by Y. Bradshaw and N. Ndegwa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Fuller and Liang (1997) Market Failure? Estimating Inequality in Preschool Availability. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15, 255-278.
Fuller (1996) School Choice: Who Wins, Who Loses? Issues in Science and Technology, 12:61-67 (Magazine of the National Academy of Sciences).
Fuller et al. (1999) School Choice: Abundant Hopes, Scarce Evidence of Results. Berkeley: University of California, Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE).
Fuller, Snyder, Chapman and Hua (1994) Explaining Variation in Teaching Practices? Effects of State Policy, Teacher Background, and Curricula in Southern Africa, Teaching and Teacher Education, 10:141-156.
Fuller, Raudenbush, Holloway and Wei (1993) Can Government Raise Child Care Quality? The Influence of Family Demand, Poverty, and Policy, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15:255-278.
Fuller, Hage, Garnier and Sawicky (1992) Nation Building and School Expansion under the Fragile French State. Social Forces 70:923-936.
Fuller and Aklilu (eds.1992) Adjusting Educational Policies: Conserving Resources while Raising School Quality. Washington DC: World Bank [monograph].
Garnier, Hage and Fuller (1989) The Strong State, Social Class, and Controlled School Expansion in France, 1881-1975. American Journal of Sociology 95:279-306.
Fuller, Hage and Garnier (1990) State Action and Labor Structure Change in Post-colonial Mexico. Social Forces 68:1165-89.
Hage, Garnier and Fuller (1988) The Active State, Investment in Human Capital, and Economic Growth: France 1825-1975. American Sociological Review 53:824-837.
Fuller and Dornbusch (1988) The Organizational Construction of Intrinsic Motivation. Sociological Forum, 3:1-24.
Fuller (1986) Raising School Quality in Developing Countries: What Investments Boost Learning? Washington DC: World Bank (monograph).
Sociology of Children and Education
Loeb, Fuller, Kagan and Carol (2004) Child Care in Poor Communities: Early Learning Effects of Type, Quality, and Stability. Child Development, 75, 47-65.
Fuller, Kagan, Loeb and Chang (2004) Child Care Quality: Centers and Home Settings that serve Poor Families, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19,505-527.
Hirshberg, Huang and Fuller (2005) Which Low-income Parents Select Child Care? Family Demand and Neighborhood Organizations, Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 1119-1148.
Loeb, Fuller Kagan and Carol (2003) How Welfare Reform Affects Young Children: Experimental Findings from Connecticut, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 22, 537-550.
Fuller, Holloway, Bozzi et al. (2003) Explaining Local Variability in Child Care Quality: State Funding and Regulation in California. Early Education and Development, 14, 45-66.
Fuller, Caspary, Kagan et al. (2002) Does Maternal Employment Influence Poor Children's Social Development? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 17, 470-497.
Fuller, Kagan, Caspary and Gauthier (2002) Welfare Reform and Child Care Options for Low-Income Families. Future of Children (Packard Foundation), 12, 97-119.
Mensing, French, Fuller and Kagan (2002) How Welfare Mothers Select Child Care: Balancing Welfare and Work Requirements. Early Education and Development, 11, 573-596.
Holloway, Kagan, Fuller, Tsou and Carroll (2001) Assessing Child-Care Quality with a Telephone Interview. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 16, 165-189.
Liang, Fuller and Singer (2000) Ethnic Differences in Child-Care Selection: The Influence of Family Structure, Parental Practices, and Home Language. Early Education Research Quarterly, 15, 357-384.
Singer, Fuller, Keiley and Wolf (1998) Early Child Care Selection: Variation by Geographic Location, Maternal Characteristics, and Family Structure. Developmental Psychology, 34, 1129-1144.
Fuller, Holloway, Rambaud and Eggers-Piérola (1996) How Do Mothers Choose Child Care? Alternate Cultural Models in Poor Neighborhoods. Sociology of Education, 69:83-104.
Fuller, Liang and Hua (1996) Did Black Literacy Rise After Soweto? Public Problems and Ethnic Archipelagos in South Africa. Int'l Journal of Comparative Sociology, 37,:97-120.
Fuller, Holloway and Liang (1996) Which Families Use Child Care? The Influence of Family Structure, Ethnicity, and Parental Practices. Child Development, 67:3320-3337.
Edwards, Fuller and Liang (1996) The Mixed Preschool Market: Explaining Local Variation in Family Demand and Organizational Supply. Economics of Education Review.
Fuller, Eggers-Piérola, Liang, Holloway and Rambaud (1996) Rich Culture, Poor Markets: Why Do Latino Parents Forgo Preschooling? Teachers College Record, 97:400-418.
Holloway, Rambaud, Fuller and Eggers-Piérola (1996) What is "Appropriate Practice" at Home and in Child Care? Low-Income Mother's Views on Preparing their Children in School. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 10, 451-473.
Fuller and Clarke (1994) Raising School Effects while Ignoring Culture? Local Conditions and the Influence of Classroom Tools, Rules and Pedagogy, Review of Educational Research, 64:119-157.
Holloway and Fuller (1992) The Great Child Care Experiment: What Are the Lessons for School Improvement? Educational Researcher, October.
Gorman, Holloway and Fuller (1988) Preschool Quality in Mexico: Variation in Teachers Organization and Child Activities. Comparative Education 24:91-101.
Holloway, Gorman and Fuller (1987) Child-Rearing Attributions and Efficacy among Mexican Mothers and Teachers. Journal of Social Psychology, 127:499-510.
Holloway and Fuller (1983) Situational Determinants of Causal Attributions: The Case of Working Women. Social Psychology Quarterly 46:131-140.
Fuller, Wood, Rapoport and Dornbush (1982) The Organizational Context of Individual Efficacy. Review of Educational Research 52:7-30.
Fuller (1981) Educational Evaluation and Shifting Shifting Youth Policy, Evaluation Review April. Reprinted in Ernest House, editor (1982) Handbook of Evaluation. Beverly Sage.
Comparative Sociology and Policy
Rivarola and Fuller (1999) Nicaragua's Experiment to Decentralize Schools: Contrasting Views of Parents, Teachers, and Directors. Comparative Education Review, 43:489-521.
Bradshaw and Fuller (1996) Policy Action and School Demand in Kenya: When a Strong State Grows Fragile. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 37:72-96.
Fuller, Singer and Keiley (1995) Why Do Girls Leave School in Southern California? Family Economy and Mothers' Commitments. Social Forces, 74:657-680.
Fuller, Hua and Snyder (1994) When Girls Learn More than Boys: The Influence of Time in School and Teaching Practices. Comparative Education Review
Fuller and Snyder (1991) Vocal Teachers, Silent Pupils? Life in Botswana Classrooms. Comparative Education Review, 35.
Fuller and Heyneman (1989) Third World School Quality: Current Collapse, Future Potential. Educational Researcher 18, 12-19.
Lockheed, Fuller, and Nyirongo (1989) Family Effects on Student Achievement in Thailand and Malawi. Sociology of Education 62, 239-256.
Fuller, Edwards, and Gorman (1986) When Does Education Boost Economic Growth? School Expansion and Quality in Mexico. Sociology of Education, 59:167-181.
Fuller (1986) Is Primary School Quality Eroding in the Third World? Comparative Education Review, 30, 4, 491-507.
Fuller and Izu (1986) What Shapes the Organizational Beliefs of Teachers? American Journal of Education 94:501-535.
Fuller, Noel, and Malouf (1986) Polity and Competence: Can the State Change Teachers' Skills? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 7:343-354.
Fuller and Rapoport (1984) Indigenous Evaluation: Youth Programs in the United States and Israel, Evaluation Review, 8:25-44.
Stern, Fuller, and Harter (1984) Education and Production in the United States. Journal of Education and Production, Gaborone, Botswana.
Fuller (1983) Youth Job Structure and School Enrollment. Sociology of Education, 56:145-156.
Short Essays - Selected Commentaries
Fuller (2007) No Child Left Behind lowers the bar on school reform. San Francisco Chronicle , June 11.
Olsen & Fuller (2007) Clinton’s hostile preschool takeover. Investor’s Business Daily, July 23, A17.
Fuller (2006) Accountability Plus: As National Test Scores Stall, Rethinking No Child Left Behind. Education Week, August 9.
Fuller (2006) No Toddler Left Behind? Sacramento Bee, May 7.
Fuller (2006) The Preschool Spin. Los Angeles Times, April 4.
Fuller (2004) Only the Politicking Gets an 'A'. Washington Post, February 1.
Fuller (2004) Schwarzenegger Budget Lets Poor Pay the Price. San Jose Mercury News, May 27.
Fuller (2004) Accountability Rises, Scores Fall. Los Angeles Times, August 22.
Fuller (2004) Are Test Scores Really Rising? School Reform and Campaign Rhetoric, Education Week, October 13.
Fuller (2003) Federalism on the Cheap: School Reform Edicts Grow Longer, State Budgets Implode. Education Week, January 15.
Fuller (2002) Even Tougher Love for Welfare Moms. Los Angeles Times, June 11.
Fuller (2001) What's in a State Budget? Values. Los Angeles Times, November 26.
Fuller (2000) What Lies Beyond the Sound Bites? Bush vs. Gore on School Reform. Education Week, October 18.
Fuller and Holloway (1996) Poor Families, Rich Values. Boston Globe, July 28.
Fuller (1996) Virtual Policy: The Earned Income Tax Credit Feels Good, But Does It Lift Families Out of Poverty? Chicago Tribune, January 3.
Fuller (1981) Carter's Program for Youth. New York Times, February 12.
Fuller (2006) Universal Preschool: Democrats’ New Embrace of Big Government. San Francisco Chronicle, January 29.
Fuller (2006) Preschool Reform Measure Won’t Close Learning Gap for Poor. San Jose Mercury News, February 26.
Fuller (2006) Reiner Flubs His Preschool Plan. Riverside Press-Enterprise, February 21.
Fuller (2005) Measure Would Obliterate Schools’ Funding Guarantee. Riverside Press-Enterprise and Ventura Star, October 23-24.
Fuller, Bridges, and Livas (2005) Community Involvement, Not State Bureaucracy — Early Education Debate, Sacramento Bee, July 24.
Fuller (2004) Bush Punts on Child Care, but Families Could Still Win. San Francisco Chronicle, April 6.
Fuller (2003) Hardball Question: As Governor, How Would You Fix Education? Sacramento Bee, August 21.
Fuller (2002) Families Can’t Live on Wedding Rings Alone. Los Angeles Times, March 4.
Fuller with Kuboyama and Park (2002) Davis Gets So-So Marks in Education. Los Angeles Times, September 4.
Fuller (2001) "Ready to Read, Ready to Learn" Needs Someone Ready to Lead. Los Angeles Times, July 25.
Fuller (2001) Ready They Are Not: School Reform… but Children Start School Already Behind. San Francisco Chronicle, January 14. Sunday Opinion section.
Fuller and Huerta (2000) The State Deserves a Lot of Credit for Better Test Scores. Los Angeles Times, July 27.
Fuller (2000) Bush, Gore Push Early Education to Gain Women’s Vote. San Francisco Chronicle, April 11.
Fuller (1999) Will Davis’ School Reforms Be Able to Make the Grade? San Francisco Chronicle, March 3.
Fuller (1999) School Reform Plans Must Address Poverty. San Jose Mercury News, January 3.
Fuller (1998) Serious Reform or Policy Schizophrenia? Los Angeles Times, October 28.
Fuller (1995) Weld to AFDC Moms: Tough Luck. Boston Globe, August 22.
Fuller and Holloway (1994) Welfare: It's No Reform if it Harms Children, Los Angeles Times, June 20.
Fuller and Holloway (1994) Why the Silence on Welfare Reform? School Leaders Should Focus on Poor Families and Young Children. Education Week, September 28.
Fuller (1993) Should Head Start Be Sacred? Boston Globe, July 14.
Brunner and Fuller (1978) Student Aid Plan: Too Little or Too Much? Los Angeles Times, February 26.
Fuller (1977) A Skeptic's Look at Brown's Era of Limits. Los Angeles Times.

Interests and Professional Affiliations

Charter Schools

Child Care

Early Childhood Development

Educational Equity

Ethnic Issues

Family Issues

Immigrant Issues

Policy Analysis and Evaluation

Reform Issues

Expanding Preschool in New York City

BRIEF 1. Which Communities Benefit from Gains in Supply? October 2014
A first look at differing growth rates in pre-k supply across the city’s diverse neighborhoods, based on preliminary data early in year 1 of the mayor’s initiative. Includes maps showing the distribution of growth tied to the city’s initiative.

BRIEF 2. Lifting Poor Children or Middling Families? March 2015
A wider analysis of all licensed preschool centers across the city, revealing a somewhat regressive distribution of supply. Includes a survey of pre-k programs not funded under the mayor’s program, revealing significant migration of children, tempering claims of increased access.

BRIEF 3. Failing to Count Children Entering Catholic, Charter, and Jewish Schools, New York May Fall Short of Universal Pre-K. April 2015
Detailing how the city is under counting 4 year-old children eligible for the mayor's program, suggesting that universal access will not be achieved in the 2015-16 school year. This disadvantages low-income families as they compete with better-heeled parents for rationed pre-k seats.

BRIEF 4. Almost 19,000 Children Remain Outside Any Public Preschool, Newly Released Data Reveal
Mayor de Blasio has expanded pre-k seats in many low-income neighborhoods. But data released by the city – resulting from the university’s freedom-of-information petition – show that nearly 19,000 four year-olds in poor and working-class neighborhoods remain outside any city-run preschool program. The mayor’s focus on his own initiative has led to falling enrollments in existing child-care and pre-k centers, rather than extending access to additional families.

BRIEF 5. Year 2 Expansion Yields Few New Seats for Poor Neighborhoods
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious effort to widen children’s access to preschool resulted in just a 1% increase in new seats for young families in the poorest fifth of New York City neighborhoods. Looking across the two-fifths of zip codes with low household incomes, more than 12,000 four-year-olds remain outside any public preschool, Berkeley researchers find.

REVIEW ESSAY. What Pre-K Expansion Teaches Us about Family Entitlements
The expansion of quality preschool – no longer focused on lifting poor children and families – offers lessons about the potential and the hazards of universal entitlements. This review essay, looking back at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s two-year effort to extend access and lower pre-k costs for better-off families, examines alternative policy strategies for narrowing inequality, while backstopping the true middle class.


Ph.D., Stanford University

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

Office #4117

Graduate School of Education
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UC Berkeley
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