How I became sociologist?

All life experiences are important, especially for ethnographers.

“Participant observation”, in a Warsaw’s lab. 2010.
With Roald Hoffman, professor of chemistry at Cornell, Nobel Prize Winner, Ithaca, NY, January, 2011, after an interview.
Moje CV w wersji polskiej/ See my full C.V. – in Polish [pdf]

Recent information about me:
Presently I am an Associate Professor (in Polish Adiunkt) at the Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw in Poland.

In parallel I am an Associate Researcher at the CEMS (Center for Social Movements) at EHESS in Paris.

My main research method is Ethnography; in the past I carried out long lasting projects focusing on careers of artists (violin virtuoso classes in France, Poland, Germany). Then I conduct several projects focused on careers and mobility of researchers (life-science laboratories mainly in France, Poland, the US). My last project was hosted by Department of the History of Science at Harvard and I was able to pursue my work thanks to the support of Kościuszko Foundation.
Ethnography means that I am observing the work and the life of scientists (before it was young musicians), trying to understand the functioning of their world, their professional culture and the international creative work settings (I include to the category of creative work the scientific occupations).

I was born November 1964 in Wołow (Poland) into a family of musicians. My parents are teachers of classical music, my father is a composer. As a child, I learned to play the piano, and I followed my parents’ path into professional music education. In 1983, I finished the Poznan Music High School, receiving the Diploma of Teacher of the Rhythmic Method of Jacques Dalcroze. That same year, I began studying at the University of Music in Poznan at the faculty of Pedagogy of Music, and four years later I received a Master of Arts with the Award of Excellence for all studies and First Prize with Honors for my MA thesis (with faculty distinction). In 1987, I emigrated from Poland to France (for personal reasons) and lived in the Paris region for 19 years. There I taught piano, music theory, solfege and general music in the Conservatory of Music in Nanterre from 1988 to 2002. During the same time I gave private piano lessons to children of some of the Parisian elite. I also stayed deeply involved in the music world because my son began his professional violin education. Soon, the whole family became involved in this intensive training in the Parisian soloist classes, which was obviously the experience that grounded my interest in this career path as a professional sociologist.

In 1996, I enrolled in the sociology doctoral program jointly offered by the Ecole Normale Superieur, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and Universit of Paris 8. In parallel with my studies, I began my fieldwork in the world of violinists. My double education in music and sociology gave me the access to this special, exclusive milieu and to be a participant observer. The tools of sociology gave me an outside perspective and framework to analyze this specific world. My musical training gave me the knowledge to understand and distinguish technical musical factors from social processes.

Because my teacher in the sociology department and PhD advisor was Professor Jean-Michel Chapoulie (Sorbonne), a specialist of the Chicago School, my sociology education included intensive training in qualitative methods developed for the sociology of work by Everett Hughes, Howard Becker, and other sociologists in this intellectual tradition. After ten years of research about the socialization of soloists and the career-making process in the artistic elite world, I wrote my PhD thesis La production sociale des violonistes virtuoses (“The Social production of the virtuoso”). I defended it at EHESS in 2006 and received the highest grade (according to the French system). The chief of the PhD Commission was Monique de Saint Martin, a specialist of elite education and close collaborator of Pierre Bourdieu. I prepared my book, Producing Excellence: The Social World of Young Virtuosos based on this research, now in the process of publication.

Since my PhD thesis research, I have been conducting ethnographies of other elite professional worlds in several countries in Europe—France, Germany and Poland, and in the US. In 2003, in order to better understand the phenomenon of career coupling (see in my published work), I began to investigate career paths in the life sciences, with the help of a post-doctoral position jointly located at the EHESS in Paris and the University of Warsaw, and financially supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2008, I obtained a research contract for the study of the mobility of young Polish researchers from The Foundation for Polish Science, called „The Polish Fulbright.“ On the basis of that research contract and my previous ethnography work I wrote the book „Transnational Professional – Mobility and Career of Young Elite of Polish Science“ published by Scholar Wydawnictwo Naukowe (Scientific Editor Scholar) (This book is in Polish, and I am working on the translation into English).

In 2010/2011 I spent one semester in Cambridge, MA, conducting my project “Polish Scientists in America”. My host institution was Department of the History of Science at Harvard and I carried out two ethnographical researches in Harvard life-science laboratories (plant biology and cancer research). Presently I am working on the analysis of all data which I was able to obtain during my scholarship in the US. I am grateful to Kościuszko Foundation for their support of my project.

In May and June 2012 I was visiting professor at FUDAN UNIVERSITY in SHANGHAI – I thought there Globalization and Culture and have amazing time totally devoted to my research, teaching, writing and discovering this part of fascinating China. It was an amazing and very inspiring experience.

Currently, I am an Associate Professor at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw. I am also a member of the research group “Center for Social Movements” at the EHESS in Paris, and a member of the board of Qualitative Network Section – ESA (European Sociological Association).

In September 2012 I became director of didactics in our Institute (UW) which comport a lot of duties (administrative, organizational etc) – several tasks which I never did… Kind of auto-ethnographical experience of a fool time faculty with several obligations which I consider being my contribution to the community of teachers and students from my faculty.