Thomas B. Gold

Job title: 
Professor of Sociology Emertius, UC Berkeley.

Thomas B. Gold is Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught in the Sociology Department from 1981 until 2018. From 2000 until 2016 he was Executive Director of the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies, a consortium of North American universities that administers an advanced Chinese language program housed at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He also served as Associate Dean of International and Area Studies and Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies at Berkeley.

Tom got interested in China as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. After graduating he taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan. He then received a Masters in Regional Studies-East Asia and a PhD in Sociology, both from Harvard University. In February 1979, while at Harvard he was a member of the first group of American exchange students to study in China, spending a year at Fudan University in Shanghai studying modern Chinese literature. He also worked for many years as an interpreter for Chinese delegations visiting the U.S.

Prof Gold’s research focuses on many aspects of the societies of East Asia, primarily mainland China and Taiwan. In the largest sense, he examines the process of the emergence of the increasingly empowered and autonomous individual and a private sphere in societies that have combined traditional and modern forms of authoritarian rule. He explores this from many angles: private business and entrepreneurship, personal relations (guanxi), popular culture, youth and the life course, non-governmental organizations and civil society.

His book, State and Society in the Taiwan Miracle (1986) is a standard work in the field, and pioneered in applying theories of dependent development and world systems to Asia. He continues to research social change in Taiwan since the end of Martial Law in 1987.

 A strong advocate of public sociology, Tom has served on the boards of many non-profits focused on Asia, as well as one that supports college access and persistence for underprivileged youth in Oakland, California, where he lives with his family.