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Michael Burawoy

Public Sociology






Michael Burawoy


Michael Burawoy has been a participant observer of industrial workplaces in four countries: Zambia, United States, Hungary and Russia. In his different projects he has tried to illuminate -- from the standpoint of the working class -- postcolonialism, the organization of consent to capitalism, the peculiar forms of class consciousness and work organization in state socialism, and, finally, the dilemmas of transition from socialism to capitalism. Over the course of four decades of research and teaching, he has developed the extended case method that allows broad conclusions to be drawn from ethnographic research. The same methodology is advanced in Global Ethnography, a book coauthored with 9 graduate students, that shows how globalization can be studied "from below" through participating in the lives of those who experience it. No longer able to work in factories, he turned to the study of his own workplace – the university – to consider the way sociology itself is produced and then disseminated to diverse publics. His advocacy of public sociology has generated much heat in many a cool place. Throughout his sociological career he has engaged with Marxism, seeking to reconstruct it in the light of his research and more broadly in the light of historical challenges of the late 20th and early 21st. centuries. He has been President of the American Sociological Associastion (2003-4); President of the International Sociological Association (2010-14); founding editor of the ISA magazine, Global Dialogue (2010-2017); and he is now Chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association.

For an amusing account of his research see Jeff Byles' article in the Village Voice, "Tales of the Kefir Furnaceman."

Recent and Forthcoming Publications

Remembering Erik Wright: Real Utopian in Practice and in Theory

Empiricism and Its Fallacies (Contexts, 2019)

Making Sense of Bourdieu (Catalyst, 2018)

A New Sociology for New Social Movements (forthcoming)

The Poverty of Philosophy: Marx Meets Bourdieu (Oxford Handbook of Bourdieu, 2018)

Privatization Increases Inequality and Reduces Quality of Education (Daily Californian, August, 2017)

Desmond: The Limits of Spontaneous Sociology (Theory and Society, 2017)

"Social Movements in the Neoliberal Age," in Marcel Paret, Carin Runciman and Luke Sinwell (eds.), Southern Resistance in Critical Perspective (Routledge, 2017)

The Neoliberal University: Ascent of the Spiralists (Critical Sociology, 2016)

The Promise of Sociology: Global Challenges for National Disciplines (Sociology, 2016)

Sociology as a Vocation (Contemporary Sociology, 2016)

Public Sociology: Öffentliche Soziologie gegen Marktfundamentalismus und globale Ungleichheit (2015)

"Facing an Unequal World" (Address to International Sociological Association, Current Sociology, 2015)