This book derives from my dissertation work undertaken in the
Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, which I
completed in 1998. Navigating graduate student existence can be
tricky as one confronts the tension between one’s own need to seek
models of scholarship and professionalism that are worthy of emu-
lation and the tendency of most mentors to create protégés.
Fortunately for me, I did not have to face this dilemma work-
ing with Gerald Suttles. He exhibits a grace, a genuine concern,
which allowed me to find my own way without having to do so
alone. His kind directives, combined with hard-hitting critiques,
o√ered needed encouragement without coddling. His impact on
my life, professional and otherwise, is large and everlasting. I am
fortunate to know him and to enjoy his continual friendship.
Jean Comaro√ put her faith in me and in this project long before
I knew that I had an idea worth the e√ort. The time, support, and
careful criticism she gave me is in itself flattering. She has helped
make me a scholar because she treated me like one from the start,
something for which I am grateful. William Sewell is a master of
listening with patience. His gentle manner and quiet demeanor
o√ered me a way to find agency within structure and to combine
rigor with imagination.