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Michael Burawoy

Public Sociology





These imaginary conversations with Pierre Bourdieu began as notes for Loïc Wacquant’s boot camp course on the enormous scholarly and political corpus of Bourdieu, a course I took in 2005.  Listening to Wacquant’s conversation with Bourdieu, I became curious about other conversations, specifically the repressed ones between Bourdieu and Marxism, conversations concerning conceptions of society and its social transformation as well as the meaning of science and the place of intellectuals. I first presented these in 2008 as 6 conversations at the Havens Center of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where they were subjected to animated interrogation. I then expanded them from 6 to 8 conversations in 2010 for presentation at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where they received another rowdy welcome. Leading the discussion after each lecture Karl von Holdt showed how Bourdieu could be selectively appropriated to illuminate social and political processes in South Africa. My conversations and his responses are available below. The conversations continue.  


1. Sociology as a Combat Sport: Bourdieu Meets Bourdieu

Bourdieu in South Africa: order meets disorder

2. Theory and Pracrtice: Marx Meets Bourdieu

Resurrecting the subaltern: bodies of defiance

3. Cultural Domination: Gramsci Meets Bourdieu

Subaltern crowds challenge authority

4. Colonialism and Revolution: Fanon Meets Bourdieu

The state and the people, symbolic violence and physical violence

5.Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Freire Meets Bourdieu

Discipline, the canon and the ‘imperialism of reason"

6.The Antinomies of Feminism: Beauvoir Meets Bourdieu

Gentle violence, brutal violence and the struggle to empower women

7.Intellectuals and Their Publics: Mills Meets Bourdieu

The ‘Realpolitik of reason’ meets the symbolic world of politics

8.Homo Ludens vs. Homo Habitus: Burawoy Meets Bourdieu

Bourdieu, symbolic order and the ‘margin of freedom’: four sketches for a theory of change