Academic Biography

In my freshman year at Boston University College of Liberal Arts, and without any prior knowledge of what it might be about, I enrolled in Principles of Sociology with Professor Frank Sweetser. Intrigued by the course, in my sophomore year I enrolled in Research Methods in Sociology with Professor Jean Hendry and it was during one of her classes that I made my decision to become a sociologist. My interest in phenomenological sociology began in a Boston University Graduate School course taught by Professor George Psathas and led to my realization that this perspective had general applicability to the kind of sociological work that I wanted to do. My coursework with Professor Erazim Kohák reinforced my commitment to a phenomenological perspective.

I have been most influenced by the philosophical works of Edmund Husserl and the sociological works of Emile Durkheim, George Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, Herbert Blumer, Howard Becker, David Matza, Harold Garfinkel, and Harvey Sacks.

In my teaching I drew upon phenomenology to provide students with a framework for understanding sociology. I wrote "Rules for Reading and Writing Sociology" as an Appendix to my Studying the Social Worlds of Children to articulate some of the phenomenological ideas relevant to the sociological enterprise and used it in all my courses to provide a common framework for students.

Over the years I offered a wide variety of courses, all from an implicit if not explicit phenomenological perspective. As a part-time faculty member at Boston University I offered "Sociology of Sex Roles" from 1969-1972 at a time when courses and texts in gender studies were not generally available (as is evidenced by the rather dated course title). Once I joined the faculty of Wheelock College I transmuted this course into "Women in Cross-Cultural Perspective." In 1977 I offered "Studying the Social Worlds of Children," a sociology of childhood course, when such courses were rare. I continued to teach this course throughout my career. The following list includes courses I taught, the variety necessitated in part by the time during which I was the only sociologist in the Psychology and Sociology Department.

Personal Biography

Fran with Greta in the garden

I was born in Cambridge, MA and have stayed in the Boston area. I married Norman Waksler in 1962, having met him when we were both undergraduate students at Boston University. He is a fiction writer ( We live in Cambridge with my whippet, Greta Garbo, and his English coonhound mix, Duchess, a box turtle, and 2 finches. I retired from teaching in December, 2008 and now spend my time writing, reading, playing with and training my dog, gardening, and wondering why I never seem to have all the extra time that I thought retirement would bring.

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