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Bruce Fuller

Professor *
Ph.D., Stanford University

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.

We love the local. From the cherries we buy, to the grocer who sells them, to the school where our child unpacks them for lunch, we express resurgent faith in decentralizing the institutions and businesses that arrange our daily lives. But the fact is that huge, bureaucratic organizations often still shape… (read more). An array of childcare and preschool options blossomed in the 1970s as the feminist movement spurred mothers into careers and community organizations nurtured new programs. Now a small circle of activists aims to bring more order to childhood, seeking to create a more standard, state-run preschool system. Read more.

 

Contact Info
Office: 
3527 Tolman Hall
Phone: 
(510) 642-9163
Email: 
b_fuller@berkeley.edu
Staff Contact: 

Research